Advertisements

ICC

This category contains 315 posts

Why India shouldn’t try to avoid Pakistan in sporting encounters


Should India take on Pakistan in the international sporting arena?

BCCI boss Anurag Thakur doesn’t believe so.

The BJP leader, while ruling out resumption of cricketing ties with the rogue neighbour after the latest attacks from across the border at Uri, said:

“Keeping in mind that the government has adopted a new strategy to isolate Pakistan and in view of the public sentiment in the country, we request ICC not to put India and Pakistan in the same pool of the multi-nation tournaments. If the two countries reach the semi-finals and have to clash at that time, it is another situation which can’t be avoided.”

The statement above reeks of political opportunism while ignoring commercial considerations and the future success of ICC tournaments.

While it’s no one’s case that Pakistan is a sponsor of terrorism, to ask the ICC or any other sporting body to accommodate the Indian government’s  views would be setting a bad precedent—if accepted.

What happens if Bangladesh or Afghanistan make similar demands? Will the ICC oblige?

What about other sporting events such as the Olympics or World Championships? Are Indian sports persons to refuse to take on Pakistani athletes in group encounters but not in knockout rounds?

Can the US decline to play North Korea or Iran in international competitions?

India last toured their north-west neighbours in a full-fledged series in 2004. The last bilateral series occurred in 2012 with the visitors drawing the T20 series and clinching the ODIs.

India are grouped with Pakistan for the 2017 Champions Trophy.

ICC President Dave Richardson said:

“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event. Its hugely important from an ICC point of view. Its massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. Its fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”

It’s unlikely that the ICC will oblige Thakur by moving India out of the group. If the BCCI insists on making a political statement in the cricketing world, Team India might have to forfeit their game against their arch-rivals.

The men’s team are the only ones affected. The women’s side are slated to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. Should the tour be called off, their ODI ratings will be affected that may reduce their chances for automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

Thakur’s statement was greeted with disdain across the border.

Mohammad Yousuf said:

“I just don’t understand what he wants to say. For the last eight years India has avoided playing us in a proper bilateral series even when relations were better.”

He added:

“The ICC keeps on saying it will not tolerate politics or government interference in member boards and the BCCI President is making political statements. Either he speak as a BJP leader or BCCI head.”

An unnamed Pakistan Cricket Board official said:

“It is an out and out political statement from the President of the BCCI. We are disappointed as we have been trying hard for a long time now to normalize cricket ties with India and we have always believed in keeping sports and politics apart.”

In another news report, sources within the PCB revealed that they do not take Thakur’s tirades seriously.

“If they really don’t want to play Pakistan at all would they be willing to forfeit the match against us in next year’s Champions Trophy. No changes can be made now so what is the purpose of such statements except to play to the galleries.

…But for public consumption he (Thakur) gives different statements.”

Were the UN to declare Pakistan a sponsor of terror and impose sanctions, then it’s possible that sporting bodies across the world could declare it ‘persona non grata’, much like South Africa was for its heinous policy of apartheid.

But until then, it’s downright foolish to expect to be able to avoid Pakistan in multilateral contests.

At the same time, to simply claim that sports and politics shouldn’t mix is being naïve in this age of realpolitik.

Sports is a metaphor for war without weapons or bloodshed. 

It is also  a vehicle for peace such as when the Pakistani premier visited India for the crucial quarter-final encounter during the 2011 World Cup paving the way for resuming cricketing ties even if it was short-lived.

The issue at hand is complex. Simplistic statements from the BCCI chief muddy the waters especially when he must and should know better.

Advertisements

Tigers at home, pussycats overseas


Team India have lost yet another ODI series to the Aussies away from home. The tag ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ would seem apt, except that the Indians have batted well in all three games. It’s their bowling that has let them down.
You may dominate your opponents at home but if you can’t win overseas in alien and hostile conditions, you can never be considered a  great side.
Indian fans wouldn’t mind so much if their side lost a few games at home as long as they clinched a few more matches and series overseas. The only way to ensure that happens is to have conditions and  pitches much like the ones found in England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Ashish Nehra returns to Indian cricket in T20 format (Updated)


Once upon a time, Ashish Diwansingh Nehra, was the pick of the Indian pace bowlers even ahead of Zaheer Khan.

But he was plagued by injuries and inconsistency throughout his career.

Some would  even term him India’s Bruce Reid.

Reid turned out in Australian colours in a total of 27 Tests bagging 113 wickets at an impressive average of 24.63.

Nehra played 17 Tests for India bagging 44 wickets at 42.40.

One would have imagined that you had seen the last of the lanky Delhi left-armer since he was left out of the Indian side post the 2011 World Cup victory.

But, no, the fast bowler is back in the selector’s scheme of things selected for the T20 side for the ongoing tour of Australia.

Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag may have called it a day.

But the comeback man soldiers on.

Nehra performed exceedingly well in IPL 8 securing 22 wickets in 16 games at an average of 20 with an economy rate of 7.2.

Nehra said:

“I was surprised when they weren’t picking me for the last two-three years to be honest. Better late than never, hopefully I can do well, I am just working hard. If I go to Australia and play the World T20 and deliver, people will say ‘Oh he should have been there earlier.’ If I don’t, people will say, ‘It was right that they didn’t pick him!’ That’s how it works in India. Whatever is gone is gone, I am just looking forward and hopefully everything will go my way.

I have always worked hard to play international cricket. Once you have been there, you know how much pleasure you get playing for India. There were times when it was very difficult for me to motivate myself, despite not being picked, to go to the gym or ground and train. It was difficult. Age is just a number for me. If you can keep yourself fit, you can keep playing.”

Perhaps, it’s the on-off nature of his career that has ensured his longevity. And the fact that he opted out from playing Test cricket a long time ago to preserve his body.

He added:

“Some people really want match practice, I am among those who wants a lot of practice. Most of the time I like to practice in open nets, so I get the same kind of feeling. If I am bowling well in the nets or to a single wicket, I get that confidence, that’s how I have been playing for the last seven-eight years, this is not the first time I will be doing it.

People say T20 is a young man’s game, all those theories I don’t believe in. You have to be on top of your game, especially as a bowler and the kind of job I do, bowling two-three of the first six overs and one or two in the last four. In the sub-continent or outside also these days, wickets will be flat. You have to be physically fit and mentally strong, especially as a bowler. It’s a fast game but I have been playing IPL, and that’s a big boost. The intensity is as good as international cricket.”

Nehra hopes to be a mentor to the younger crop of bowlers, a role performed earlier by his partner-in-arms Zaheer Khan to perfection.

Maybe the selectors felt the need for his wise head in the camp given that Ishant Sharma has yet to fully deliver on his promise since his debut in 2008.

He said:

“This is a short tour, but whatever little I can help the youngsters, I will. If I can play till the World T20, I will definitely look at that job, I have done it for CSK and I really enjoyed it. Most of the bowlers have different strengths, but you can’t buy experience.

I made my debut 17 years ago. In the sub-continent, somebody like me, who has had so many injuries, undergone 10-12 surgeries, still standing there and playing the fastest format of all, it has taught me something which I can pass on to the youngsters and give my experience.”

Does Nehra regret giving up Test cricket?

He replied:

“My biggest regret is that I couldn’t play too many Tests because of my injuries. I played my last Test match some 11 years back. I was 25. In 2009-10, Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni asked me to play Test cricket but that point of my time I was not sure about my body. I look back now and I regret it. I should have said ‘yes’ because couple of years ago, when I was 34, I played six four-day games for Delhi in six weeks. I could have easily done it in 2009, I was than just 30.”

Harbhajan Singh , the Turbanator, another ageing player returning once again to the Indian side, supported Nehra.

He said:

“Ashish Nehra has been a match-winner for India…..Just check the scorebooks as to how many matches Nehra has won for the . He played a big part during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and he was our unsung hero in the 2011 World Cup campaign.”

There’s a twist in this tale.

Nehra is considered good enough to represent Team India and his IPL side Chennai Super Kings (under suspension) but not for his state side Delhi.

The classy bowler was omitted from Delhi’s squad for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament’s Super League stage.

A Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) official said:

“Nehra’s got a bad habit of picking and choosing domestic games, which disturbs the balance of the team. It’s not good for the youngsters in the team either, and certainly not fair on the selectors, who were upset with him after he played just two games in Baroda before leaving the team. And this has happened many times in the last few years. In recent years, no one had a clue about when he would play and when he wouldn’t. This time, though, the selectors seemed to have put their foot down and said this can’t go on. Hence, he was excluded from the team. They feel that while he can play for India and the Chennai Super Kings, he can’t play for Delhi as long as he doesn’t show enough commitment for his domestic team, which in the first place helped him become an India player.”

Nehra will thus be undercooked for the Indian tour of Australia.

He has played just three games this season.

Former Indian wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya was non-committal.

He said:

“You’ll have to ask the selectors (about Nehra). He didn’t play after two games in Baroda because we wanted to give a chance to the youngsters. He’s bowling every day at the nets in Delhi.”

Ex-India pacer Sanjeev Sharma, though, backed Nehra.

He said:

“He played 70 percent of the games when I was the Delhi coach. His commitment to the game, even at 37, is 100 percent. I saw him roll over Punjab with a deadly six-wicket spell at the Roshanara. He will strengthen the Indian pace attack with his experience. In the IPL, he was the second-most successful bowler this time.”

Lodha Committee suggested reforms turns up the heat on BCCI bigwigs


English: Ranji Trophy

Ranji Trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will the Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association be merged into one state body?

That’s the loaded question the BCCI hopes to discover answers to when the Lodha Committee  make a fresh set of recommendations on January 4 next year.

It is believed that the committee is keen on reducing over-representation from Maharashtra and Gujarat in the BCCI.

Gujarat has three Ranji associations too: Saurashtra Cricket Association, Baroda Cricket Association and Gujarat Cricket Association.

Andhra Pradesh has two but Hyderabad could be assimilated into the new state of Telengana.

These reforms could deal a body blow to Mumbai cricket and its rich traditions.

Mumbai have 40 Ranji victories to their credit in the tourney’s multi-storied history.

The record books indicate 16 Irani Cup, two Vijay Hazare Trophy, five Wills Trophy, and a single Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

CCI Mumbai - Main entrance: lobby of the club ...

CCI Mumbai – Main entrance: lobby of the club house with replica of original Ranji Trophy as centerpiece. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mumbai cricket team was formed under the Bombay Presidency and continued as part of the Bombay province until independence in 1947 when Bombay became Bombay state.

The formation of Maharashtra led to the assimilation of the city into its boundaries and it was made its capital.

Bombay continued as a separate Ranji team and continues to compete separately from Maharashtra state.

The Vidarbha cricket team was founded in 1957.

The Maharashtra cricket team has two Ranji trophy wins to its credit coming in 1939/40 and 1940/41.

Saurashtra are another side that have clinched the national title winning in 1936-37 and were also runners up in the very next season of 1937-38.

Baroda are five-time victors: 2000-01, 1957-58, 1949-50,  1946-47, and 1942-43.

They were established in 1930.

The Gujarat Cricket Association were founded in 1950.

There are 27 teams in the Ranji set-up.

19 State teams are currently participating in the tournament.

The Lodha Committee may also consider disallowing BCCI officials from holding positions in their state bodies.

This is purportedly to prevent a conflict of interest.

The implementation of this would be interesting—to put it mildly.

The ICC too functions like the BCCI with national cricket association heads elected to the ICC executive.

Similarly, the FIFA executive functions by appointing members from its respective confederations:

  • CONMEBOL: one vice-president and two members
  • AFC: one vice-president and three members
  • UEFA: two vice-presidents and five members
  • CAF: one vice-president and three members
  • CONCACAF: one vice-president and two members
  • OFC: one vice-president

What the Lodha Committee suggests is that the BCCI should function like the United Nations with country representatives differing from national heads.

This could be workable only if there are sufficiently experienced administrators available to be elected both at the state and national level.

Is that the case?

Is this an attempt to create more positions and thus more opportunities for both experienced and budding sports administrators within the annals of power within the BCCI and its member associations? That surely is not the mandate of the Lodha committee.

This could also be an ‘insidious’ attempt to bring the BCCI under the purview of the proposed Sports Bill which does not envisage more than three terms for an individual at the helm of any National Sports Federation with a cooling off period after two terms. Presidents are exempted from the cooling off period.

Office bearers are also to retire at 70.

The proposed Sports Bill (in 2013) sought to make the BCCI accountable to the general public by making it liable to respond to Right To Information (RTI) applications about its functioning.

Indranil Basu , reporting for CricBuzz, writes:

“The general belief within the BCCI is that the acumen and experience gained from being part of the board helps the administrators run their state bodies better. It is also believed that staying in the loop would only help streamline the system.

Drawing a parallel with the country’s political system, the board members said that it would create a situation where the ministers serving the government would not be allowed to be a part of the Parliament or legislative bodies. It simply can’t work. Today the board has an asset worth Rs 10,000 crore. In the last six years, the board has paid Rs 100 crore as income tax and gets the country around Rs 400 crore worth of foreign exchange every year. When India won the first World Cup in 1983, the board didn’t have Rs 2 lakh to honour its world champions. We are a professional body and deserve that respect, the official said.”

The most ‘damaging’ reform suggested may be the one that would prevent industrialists and politicians from participating in BCCI politics.

That would really set the cat among the pigeons.

Mohammad Amir divides nation and team on his return to international contention


Mohammad Amir pulling on his jumper in the out...

Mohammad Amir pulling on his jumper in the outfield. Taken during Pakistan’s third Test against England in August 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The selection of Mohammad Amir to Pakistan’s national squad stirred up a hornet’s nest not just in the local media but also had the nation and former and current cricketers divided about the merits or demerits of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision.

Two of his teammates Mohammad Hafiz and Azhar Ali refused to join the camp and relented only after some convincing by the PCB.

Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for accepting money in a spot-fixing scandal involving a Test match at Lord’s against England in 2010.

The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011.

They were also banned by the ICC for five years.

Amir was then only 18.

The ban has been served and Amir served notice of his precocious talent by handily claiming wickets by the bagful.

22 wickets in four non-first class games, another 34 in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy capped by another 14 in the Bangladesh Premier League.

The Pakistani selectors could hardly ignore him given their lack of pace options.

Hafeez said:

“My stance was based on principle and it was portrayed in a wrong sense. My stance is the same against all players who stained Pakistan’s image through corruption.

It’s my right to raise my voice, which I did, and I will do everything in my capacity to fight corruption. My stance is that all corrupt players should not be given another chance to represent Pakistan.”

The PCB stuck to their guns claiming that they were right.

Their statement read:

“There are a few players and commentators who are opposed to his selection. But in the past, spot fixers and drugs cheats have been permitted re-entry in to the international arena after serving their sentence. They include Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyson Gay [an American sprinter],

After serving his six-month probation, Amir has been participating in domestic first class cricket with success.

He has also performed well in the BPL. Accordingly, Amir has been called to the fitness camp which will enable him to bond with national players. His selection for the national team, for which he is eligible, would depend on the selectors.”

The PCB has a point. Amir has served his sentence and has to be given his chance for redemption.

Rashid Latif, who risked his career blowing the whistle on his former teammates in 1995, was not so forgiving.

He said:

“Amir is a living example of someone who betrayed Pakistan in an international match.

Let him live his life but don’t allow him to play for the country again. He can play domestic cricket and play in different leagues but don’t allow him to wear the same national colour which stalwarts like Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood and Javed Miandad wore with pride.”

Mohammad Yousuf  felt otherwise.

He said:

“Amir is a wonderful bowler and since he has completed his sentence he has every right to play for Pakistan again.

Amir is performing very well since his ban was lifted and his inclusion will strengthen Pakistan team, so I back his inclusion.”

Azhar Mahmood, writing for PakPassion.net, said:

“I think it is the right thing to do and I support the PCB in this decision. Look, we as human beings are prone to make mistakes. This is human nature. In Amir’s case, he made a mistake and has served his punishment. Now that the ban has lapsed, it’s time for everyone to move forward and give him another chance. Even from a religious point of view, we need to forgive him and move on.”

Amir , the man at the centre of  storm , said:

“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt.”

Chloe, Meringue and Popper discuss Virat Kohli’s merits and demerits (Humour)


A hen chicken (Gallus gallus)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chloe the Chicken wandered up to me and queried, “Say, do you think Virat Kohli is right?”

“Right about what?”  boomed Meringue the Meerkat.

“I wasn’t speaking to you, Merry, but the question remains. Is Virat right when he says that his captaincy efforts are under-appreciated by former cricketers especially those who never represented the country?”

English: Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula kram...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Popper the Parakeet squawked, “Is Virat right? Is Virat right? Is Virat right?”

I step in before the cacophony becomes more deafening.

“He’s right and he’s wrong, my friends. He’s right because South Africa were and are the No.1 Test side and had never lost overseas for the past 10 years—an enviable record. He’s wrong because the true test of a side’s and captain’s greatness lies in how they perform overseas in different and difficult conditions.”

“So, he’s right?”said Chloe the Chicken.

Chloe is a huge Virat fan and has a collection of postcards of the dashing youngster from Delhi. The ones featuring Anushka Sharma are carefully culled and snipped so as to exclude the sultry actress.

Meringue the Meerkat said, “But, don’t you think that it’s early days yet to pass judgment on Virat’s leadership? After all, he led bravely and from the front in Australia and though the side lost the series, they were not humiliated. And he’s cleared two stern tests on the sub-continent.”

Popper the Parakeet chimed in, “It’s early! It’s early! It’s early!”

“Yes, I agree. It’s too soon to tell. Dhoni had the Midas touch when he started out as Test skipper after Anil Kumble. He led Team India to the No.1 spot on the back of series victories at home. Virat could easily do the same. But we all know what followed overseas in England and Australia. And then MS lost the golden touch at home too when the English came calling.”

“True! True! True!” said Meringue the Meerkat.

“I believe that Saurav Ganguly was the best Indian skipper in recent times. He had the desire and the will to do well overseas. Similarly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. Is Virat in that mould? Or does he prefer easy wins on muddy patches?” I added.

“Muddy patches! Muddy patches! Muddy patches!” squawked Popper the Parakeet.

“And what do you think of Virat’s statements about non-international cricketers passing judgment on his leadership? Do you agree that they don’t have the credentials to criticise Indian cricket’s latest golden boy?” moderates Chloe the Chicken.

“That’s not quite right. International cricketers are privileged to play for the country. But they have to admit that luck and timing play an important role in their turning out in Indian colors. To paint domestic players as less capable is being unfair to their efforts and feats at the state and district level. After all, these young stars don’t have a problem turning to these very same non-entities when it comes to being coached about the finer points of batting and bowling.”

“Well, well, well, that’s settled. Virat Kohli is both right and wrong. A fine batsman, a fine cricketer, a fine leader but yet to become a fine man,” responded Chloe the Chicken.

“Hear! Hear! Hear!” echoed Meringue the Meerkat.

“Hear! Hear! Hear!” echoed Popper the Parakeet too.

Pink ball, pink ball: Sunny does the honours (Humour)


The pink ball made its Test debut in the recently concluded day-night encounter between Australia and New Zealand.

The match ended in three days with no one complaining about the vagaries of the pitch.

No sand trap there.

It was all about the ball—a pink one shining under the lights with a thin film retaining the shine.

It sparkled all night—a bright orange on the television screen with a luminescent glow.

The makers of Hate Story 2 could rededicate their hit number ‘Pink Lips’ starring the gyrating Sunny Leone and sung by Meet Bros, Anjjan and Khushboo Grewal.

The reworked lyrics could be as follows with a different Sunny ushering in Pink Ball cricket in India.

Pink Maiden deserves a fresh version of a hit. Every batsman, bowler and fielder needs to welcome the Pink Ball thus.

The red cherry could soon be a creature of the past.

Pink Ball Lyrics

Oh come to me
na na na na..
I came to see
Na na na na..
Honthon pe beimaaniyan
Karle karle, thodi nadaaniyan
Honthon pe manmaaniyaan
Karle karle, thodi nadaaniyan
Mujhe aadhi raat ko sataane lage
Mujhe apne saath tadpaane lage
Tu aaja paas, ye bulaane lage
Tujhe chhoona chaahe
Mere ye, mere ye, mere
Pink ball, pink ball , pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Na na na na..
Hello-hello bol ke
New ball khol ke
Harqataan kare naughtiyan
Missing tenu whole day
Love you menu bol de
Adaavan teri hegi naughtiyan (x2)
Meri khwahishon ko talab hai teri
Aa qareeb aa, ab kar na deri
Meri khwahishon ko talab hai teri
Aa kareeb aa, ab kar na deri
Tere faasle muje jalaane lage
Raftaar saanson ki badhaane lage
Tu aaja paas ye bulaane lage
Teri baat maane
Mere ye, Mere ye, Mere..
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Na na na na..
Oh come to me
na na na na..
I came to see
Na na na na..
Dil baarishon mein tarasne lagaa
Teri pyaas mein ye dhadakne lagaa
Dil baarishon mein tarasne lagaa
Teri pyaas me ye dhadakne lagaa
Tere seam mein haath jo aane lage
Mere soye armaan jagaane lage
Tu aaja pas ye bulaane lage
Tere hona chaahe
Mere ye, Mere ye, Mere..
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Hello-hello bol ke new ball khol ke
Missing tenu whole day
Love you menu bol de
Pink Ball..

 

Stuart Binny: Somebody’s son, somebody’s spouse


It must not be easy being Stuart Binny.

His father, Roger Michael Humphrey, was a member of the 1983 World Cup winning squad. He claimed 18 wickets at the Prudential Cup in England, arguably Team India’s greatest overseas triumph, and 17 at the epochal World Series Championship in 1985. He played 27 Tests accumulating five 50s and bagging 47 wickets.

He was the first Anglo-Indian to play for the country. He is now a national selector.

Stuart’s wife, Mayanti Langer, is a TV sports journalist with Star. The daughter of an army-man, Lt. General Sanjiv Langer, she is a BA (Hons) graduate from Hindu College, University of Delhi.

So who is Stuart Binny?

Roger Binny’s son?

Mayanti Langer’s spouse?

Take your pick.

If you know your cricketing onions, you would have guessed that Stuart is purportedly the answer to every Indian fan’s dreams of a seaming all-rounder in the mould of Kapil Dev or Manoj Prabhakar.

Team India has always been on the lookout for a pacer who can bat as well as he can bowl.

Irfan Pathan was supposed to be the next big thing. But he turned out to be an enigma breaking down more often than playing.

Pathan overshadowed Zaheer Khan in the squad when he turned out in Indian colours. His Test statistics read one ton, nine fifties with a round 100 wickets with seven instances of five wickets or more in an innings and 10 wickets in a match on two occasions. All this in 29 games.

He is described as one of the lost boys of Indian cricket by Shashi Tharoor in an article for Cricinfo.

Tharoor writes:

“Of contemporary cricketers, at least two seem in danger of adding their names to this tragically distinguished list. No one who saw Irfan Pathan swinging India to victory in the one-day series in Pakistan in 2003-04, or taking a hat-trick against the same team two years later, or scoring a century against them the year after that, or winning the Man of the Match in a Test in Australia and in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, would imagine that he could be washed up at 25. And yet he is deemed to have lost his mojo to the point where he is not even in the frame for selection for the 2011 World Cup.”

Bhuvaneshwar Kumar with his gentle medium-pace swing and combative batting promised to be the all-rounder Indian cricket deserves. But he, too, has been plagued by injuries and finds himself waging a comeback battle against the odds.

Binny, however, leads a charmed life.

Selected to be a member of the 2015 ODI World Cup, whence his father famously recused himself when his name came up for discussion, Binny was one of the rebels who joined the Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2007. He returned to the BCCI fold after two seasons and is now with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.  He surprisingly has the best figures for an Indian in ODI cricket—6-4 against Bangladesh.

Binny did not feature in a single game in the World Cup and was distinctly lucky to be recalled for India’s recent tour of Sri Lanka. India sealed the Test series 2-1 winning the last two matches. Binny did not play the first game but was swapped in for Harbhajan Singh in the latter two.

Roger and Stuart are only the fourth father-son pair to represent their country in World Cup cricket. The other three are Lance and Chris Cairns (New Zealand), Don and Derek Pringle and Chris and Stuart Broad (England).

Binny has a chance to make sure of his spot as a bowling all-rounder in the upcoming series against South Africa. He is a part of both the ODI and T20 squads.

The 31-year-old believes that he can only improve with more international outings.

He said:

“As Virat (Kohli) said, if I get more opportunities, I would get better – that’s very much true. It is not only more opportunities one gets, but also off-field preparations, that helps. International cricket is a lot of mental pressure. It is about dealing with situations which you have faced in Ranji Trophy, but it is on a much larger and bigger scale, so you have to go out and do the same in international cricket as well. I haven’t made too many changes when it comes to skill work, but I have made lot of changes when it comes to my game in my head.”

Binny’s romance with Mayanti Langer has been compared to the Iker Casillas-Sara Carbonero pairing. The Spanish TV journalist followed her beau during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Langer ,too, was around during this year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. Langer, however, was much too busy with her role to have time for her husband.

She said:

“Anchoring is now my career and I am ready to give my hundred percent for the job. Stuart is a pro while I am a professional presenter, too. Our jobs do not overlap. He is doing his job for the team while I am doing mine. There is no time even to think of doing something else, the job is so intriguing.I have a specific job to present shows. I am a member of the broadcasting company and thinking about the job assigned to me only. He is doing the same for his team, I know. It’s a huge event back in India, the ICC World Cup. I have to be ready always.”

Langer added that live anchoring is a tough job and one has to think on one’s feet.

“You are doing the job as an anchor and commenting on a particular match, but you need to know what is going around the tournament, too. You may try to be as well prepared as well before the match, but unless you know what’s happening round the corner, you cannot excel. Neither you can win hearts of the viewers then.”

Mayanti began her career as a football correspondent. She was a soccer player while in school.

She believes that she’s an original. Ask her about ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ and she’s quick to retort that she began much before that.

Is Mayanti Stuart’s lucky charm? They married in 2012 and Stuart’s career post the honeymoon has been on the upswing.

But it’s for Stuart to change the perception that he’s not just Roger’s son and Mayanti’s husband.

Will there come a time when they will be Stuart’s pater and better half respectively instead?

The forthcoming series against South Africa at home just might settle the issue.

Ben Stokes no fury at his obstructive dismissal


Was it obstruction or was it self-defence?

Was it deliberate or was it instinctive?

Preservation of one’s self is an instinctive response in any living creäture.

Was Ben Stokes any different?

There is no one way to decide it—it all depends on which side you’re rooting for.

The third umpire’s decision is final. And Joe Wilson adjudged the left-hander out.

And that’s how it should have stayed.

Sure, Stokes was the first English batsman to be dismissed in such a fashion in an ODI.

Sure, he was only the seventh batter in cricketing history to be kayoed so cruelly.

Sure, to be run-out is the unhappiest and unlikeliest  way any cricketer expects or wishes to be dismissed and to be considered wilful in obstructing the natural course of a game is worse.

The opposing skippers have their viewpoints.

Steve Smith called for a referral after appealing and has no qualms about his decision. He will not be losing any sleep over it.

Smith said:

“If you’re out of your crease and put your hand up to stop the ball, it’s out.

It might have looked a bit worse because it went back to the bowler, but it’s exactly the same as me turning for a second run, putting my arm out and stopping the ball.

The ball wasn’t going to hit him, he was out of his crease, he put his arm out and got in the way of the ball. The ball was going very close to hitting the stumps.

If you read the rule book, we’re well within our rights to appeal and the umpires have given it out.

Not at all. I’ve got no dramas with that (his decision to appeal).

I thought it was the right decision at the time and I still think it’s the right decision.”

The English were united in deriding Smith’s characterisation of his act.

English skipper, Eoin Morgan, said:

“A guy throws the ball in your direction and all you can do is flinch.

You don’t have time to think. It was a natural reaction to avoid the ball. Mitchell Starc was about five yards away from Ben Stokes.

The decision was made. It would have been a lot different if we were fielding.”

English: Eoin Morgan in the field during the 2...

English: Eoin Morgan in the field during the 2nd ODI against Bangladesh at the County Ground Bristol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Would it, Morgan, would it, really? Easier said than done, Eoin, easier said than done.)

Michael Vaughan said :

“Anyone who has played the game knows that when the ball is thrown at you from close range like that you put your hand up to protect yourself. When you see it in real time he fears the ball is going to hit him. It was obvious. It was a poor decision.”

Alec Stewart added:

“He was taking evasive action; he’s looking the other way. Show me someone who can catch the ball looking the other way?

You would have thought between the three umpires that common sense would have prevailed.”

Shane Warne was not quite rooting for Smith and his side.

Law 37 (Obstructing the field) states quite categorically:

“1. Out Obstructing the field

Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.  In particular, but not solely, it shall be regarded as obstruction and either batsman will be out Obstructing the field if while the ball is in play and after the striker has completed the act of playing the ball, as defined in Law 33.1, he wilfully strikes the ball with

(i) a hand not holding the bat, unless this is in order to avoid injury.  See also Law 33.2 (Not out Handled the ball).

(ii) any other part of his person or with his bat.  See also Law 34 (Hit the ball twice).

2. Accidental obstruction

It is for either umpire to decide whether any obstruction or distraction is wilful or not.  He shall consult the other umpire if he has any doubt.”

Stokes himself is not chuffed about the manner of his exit.

Team-mate, Steve Finn, was quite vocal with his antipathy.

He said:

“I think everyone in the dressing room, when we saw it in real time, we all thought he was taking evasive action. When you watch it in slo-mo, the fielding team were entitled to appeal if you’re going by the letter of the game. The fact that it was in slow-motion didn’t help Ben’s cause.

How often does the bowler feign to throw the ball but doesn’t actually do it? But this time he did let the ball go and, by the time you realise the bowler has actually let the ball go, then first and foremost you’re worried for your safety rather than worrying about where your stumps are.

Everyone in the dressing room was disappointed but I don’t think the game was won or lost at that moment. In the dressing room, we weren’t overly happy.”

If there was any doubt in Smith’s mind about the mode of dismissal, he should have retracted his appeal and let the game continue. This would have been within the ambit of the Spirit of the Game. He need not have looked further than former India Test skipper MS Dhoni and his recent magnanimity in rescinding his appeal against Ian Bell’s dismissal for walking out for tea before the bails were whipped off by the on-field umpires. But I guess, no one, least of all Steven Smith, wishes to be termed a sucker in this ultra-competitive day and age.

Waugh, Ponting and Holding toss away the coin


If Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Holding have their way, there will be no more commemorative coins to toss while celebrating special Test occasions.

Ricky Ponting at a training session at the Ade...

Ricky Ponting at a training session at the Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Aussie skipper Ponting suggested—during the recent Ashes series—that the toss be done away with and have the visiting side choose which side should bat first. This would even out any advantage from pitches prepared to suit the home side.

Stephen Rodger Waugh, former professional cric...

Stephen Rodger Waugh, former professional cricketer and captain of the Australian national team, photographed at the Sydney Cricket Ground at the start of the Test match against South Africa in January 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking to Melbourne Radio Station, Waugh said:

“I don’t mind that, I think that’s not such a bad thing. At the end of the day I think there’s probably too much emphasis placed on the toss and the conditions away from home. I don’t mind the authorities looking at some other options.”

Michael Holding, in his column for Wisden India, wrote:

“…the concerned authorities must look at what Ricky Ponting suggested – no more tosses. The minor setback there in my opinion, is that tosses are big for television. It makes for good tension, everyone is focussed on that coin when it’s in the air and the winning captain’s decision and so on. But that isn’t relevant now, times have changed and interest is waning in Test match cricket. What you need to do now is to make sure you have even contests between bat and ball. For that, there should be no toss and the visiting captain should be allowed to decide what he wants to do after inspecting the pitch. It’ll ensure better pitches throughout the world, because no one will look to build a pitch whose features are obvious, and which will give an immediate advantage to the visiting captain. They will try and prepare good quality surfaces that give no obvious advantage to anyone, which is what you want in Test matches. Some may say that policy will produce flat lifeless pitches with boring games. I disagree. You will still see a bit of ‘hometown’ pitches which suit the qualities of the home team more than the opposition, but the slant won’t be as dramatic as we tend to see in some countries now.”

In his previous post, the West Indian fast bowler elaborated on what makes a side great.

“Great teams can win home and away, and good teams will win at home. It’s as simple as that. I don’t personally see much wrong with that, to be honest. It comes down to how people classify them. Teams should only be qualified as ‘great’ only if they can perform all over the world, and can excel everywhere. If they don’t, they’re not a great team, and that’s fine.

I don’t think the boards should actively try and do something about making it even, you don’t need to say: ‘okay, we have to find a way of making sure teams can do well overseas’. On the contrary, talk to the individuals, the players who are actually playing and performing, and see what necessary adjustments should be done for them to be successful when they leave their homes. There is nothing wrong with people failing away from home as far as world cricket is concerned. I don’t think they should try and make an adjustment. If you can, you can. If you’re not good enough, you’re just not good enough.

Having said that, when you go to some countries, the pitches are prepared in such a way that they are highly in favour of the home team. And I’m talking about even going to some parts of the subcontinent, in India, for instance, where you find – not necessarily now, but quite a few years ago – pitches that turn from day one. It didn’t matter who was touring India, because they knew they had great spinners, and they would be brought into the game from day one.

In England, they changed the nature of the pitches altogether, because they recognised that without seaming pitches, they had no chance of beating Australia. As I said before, I don’t see it as a major factor when you say teams are better at home than overseas, but if you want to have consistent pitches in countries, then you have got to adapt the principle that Ricky Ponting suggested – get rid of the toss.

All you need is for the visiting team to look at the pitch and decide what they will do. Then you will always get consistent pitches, because if it’s too heavily favoured in one way or the other, then the visiting team can take advantage with their decision. That way you’ll get consistent pitches, but that doesn’t mean all of sudden touring sides will start winning away from home. They’ll get a better chance of winning, but at the same time, they’ll have to play well to win away from home, because you can’t change overhead conditions. The ball will still swing in England, and you’ll still need good technique to play there. But the pitches won’t be that heavily favoured to the home bowlers.”

Will the ICC look into the matter?

We don’t wish to see series everywhere decided by the toss and pitches suited to the home side.

We’d like to watch real contests and adaptable players, not bully boys who score by the tons and take wickets by the dozen in their backyards and come up a cropper elsewhere.

We need classy players and their class should be evident on all surfaces and in all conditions.

Take away the toss if that’s what’s needed.

Prepare sporting wickets if that’s what’s needed.

Make curators more independent if that’s what’s needed.

Do whatever that’s needed.

Just don’t let Test cricket die.

Advertisements

Number of readers subscribed

Read it on Apple News

Read it on Apple News

Read it on Apple News

Blog Stats

  • 86,939 hits

Stat Counter

RSS Sports, Health and Exercise

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: