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cricket

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Irrfan Khan: Heroes


“It pains me when a film actor or a cricketer is a youth icon. I don’t have anything against them. They are great entertainers; they are useful to the society. They contribute to people’s lives. But they are not heroes. We haven’t redefined heroes. Heroes are different people. Heroes are people who sacrifice their own concerns and do something bigger, who change people’s lives. We film stars and cricketers shouldn’t be aspirational in such a big way for the healthy growth of the society. It’s a sign of consumerism at its extreme. That’s why I find it so cool and so hip to see that photograph of the women scientists of ISRO celebrating a launch. That’s heroism. That’s cool, that’s hip! Lekin main agar kahin se udhaar le kar, kuch bana ke, thodi der ke liye aapka time pass kara de raha hoon, just because I am famous, you aspire to become me – that’s not cool, that’s pathetic.”
Irrfan Khan.

English: Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTV Lum...

Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTVLumiere’s The Orphanage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rohit Sharma, Test bride-in-waiting?


Rohit Sharma is scoring hundreds by the dozen in ODI and T20 cricket. That appears to be his metier.

But his form languishes in Test cricket. He is yet to grab his opportunities by the horn.

Will he be yet another Yuvraj Singh lost to Test cricket because the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman meant that he was the perpetual bridesmaid? Or can he become India’s Marvan Atapattu?

Your prognosis is as good as mine.

Rohit Sharma fielding at Adelaide Oval

Rohit Sharma fielding at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Flexibility is the key but players must be willing


Does position matter?

Coaches don’t seem to think so but players certainly do.

I know for certain—when playing my brand of gully cricket—I’d never open. Simply because I never felt comfortable facing the bowling right off, maybe because I wanted to have a dekko at the opposition first, or maybe simply there’d always be someone clamouring, “Hurry up and score some runs and get out; I want to bat too.”

That’s beside the point.

It’s psychological.

There’s a comfort factor associated with a player’s favoured position. That’s his lucky number.

Or that’s what he’s been accustomed to playing at or where for a long, long time. To move him around is a travesty of natural justice—to him.

Team Director, Ravi Shastri, the man who began at No.11 and batted his way up to No.1, does not believe that Indian batsmen can own a spot in the line-up. He feels that there’s a crying need for horses for courses. A player’s position will depend on the quality of the opposition.

He said:

“In this team, no one owns a batting position. It all depends on the situation. We will play horses for courses and see what the situation and the opposition demands. Accordingly, we will see what the best batting position in the side is for each batsman against that particular outfit and seeing the state of the series.”

Flexibility is the demanded norm. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara responded splendidly scoring centuries at No.3 and No.1 respectively.

The ploy worked.

The original strategy, though, of having Rohit Sharma come in at No.3 has fallen flat.

Sharma oozes talent but he needs the extra protection and a long rope for him to succeed. There’s little doubt about his calibre. He needs some time to come into his own. His lazy elegance is his undoing, much like David Gower, but both batters would defiantly deny any such claims vigorously.

(The  most technically adept player—after your openers, of course—should be No.3. In this side, it appears to fall upon either Pujara, Kohli or Rahane to fill this spot. Sharma is probably best at No. 4 or 5. In my opinion, you cannot have Rohit batting at that spot when the wicket’s a belter and then push him back when seamers make the ball talk and he fails. It’s just not fair to the others in the side.)

Former India hockey coach Arjun Halappa is on the players’ side when it comes to switching them around.

Paul Van Ass’ implementation of ‘Total Hockey’ is criticised as being too ‘harsh’.

“It’s very tough. When I started playing under (Jose) Brasa, I was a right winger and I was played as a central midfielder. I got really irritated at first, but gradually when I started to understand what the team wanted, I adjusted. But everyone can’t adjust.

I think it was too harsh on the part of Paul Van Ass to make those position changes straightaway in a big tournament (Hockey World League Semifinals). It could’ve been done gradually. Europeans have their own thinking, and they think they are always doing the right thing. But when they come to India, they have to understand the culture, language and players. You can’t just walk in and get things done the way you like.”

It differs from player to player. Every player needs to feel secure that he will not lose out when he’s moved to unfamiliar territory and where he may not immediately perform as expected. They deserve to be given some time to prepare and adjust. The challenge is mental. Visualization exercises with the team psychologist are not a bad idea.

Results will come when players are happy. Unhappy players are a dampener on performance and results. Process must take precedence.

Wasim Akram’s road rage incident provokes thought


Road rage almost claimed a high profile victim this side of the Arabian Sea. Former Pak bowling superstar and commentator Wasim Akram escaped unscathed  when an unidentified person shot at his car tyres.

The incident occurred on Wednesday in Karachi.

The ex-cricketer was on his way to a training camp for young fast bowlers.

Akram said:

“A car hit mine, I stopped him and then this guy stepped out and fired at my car. When I asked the driver to come out he suddenly opened fire at me. He was definitely an official, I have noted the number of the car and given it to the police.

I am still in shock. There was no threat. I was going to to stadium for the camp. Your (media) job is to find out who that person was. If he can do it with me, then you can imagine what he would do with the common man.”

He added:

“It was just an accident when I was coming to the stadium. There is lot of rush at this time and I was in the middle lane and a car hit my car from behind. I signaled the driver to come to the side but he tried to make a fool and tried to race off which irritated me a lot

I got a bit frustrated and chased that car and blocked it and while I was standing and arguing with the driver a person stepped out from the back seat holding a gun and pointed it at me. But since the traffic had stopped and people recognized me as Wasim Akram the man than lowered his gun and fired at my car which was very scary.”

English: Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan cric...

Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan cricket team captain, after retirement from test cricket in 2002 and ODI 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senior police officer Munir Shaikh said:

“This was just an incident of road rage. We have identified the car from CCTV footage and will have the suspect in custody in a couple of hours.”

What is road rage?

According to Wikipedia,

“Road rage is aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle. Such behavior might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions that result in injuries and even deaths. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving.”

Manifestations of road rage include:

  • Generally aggressive driving, including sudden acceleration, braking, and close tailgating
  • Cutting others off in a lane, or deliberately preventing someone from merging
  • Chasing other motorists
  • Flashing lights and/or sounding the horn excessively
  • Yelling or exhibiting disruptive behavior at roadside establishments
  • Driving at high speeds in the median of a highway to terrify drivers in both lanes
  • Rude gestures (such as “the finger”, or [especially in Greece] giving mountzes)
  • Shouting verbal abuses or threats
  • Intentionally causing a collision between vehicles
  • Hitting other vehicles
  • Assaulting other motorists, their passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians
  • Exiting the car to attempt to start confrontations, including striking other vehicles with an object
  • Threatening to use or using a firearm or other deadly weapon
  • Throwing projectiles from a moving vehicle with the intent of damaging other vehicles

The DMV website advises motorists how to deal with road rage thus:

“You must realize that you can’t control another driver’s behavior, but you can control your own. When another driver cuts you off, how you react will determine what happens next. If you are able to back off, take a deep breath, and remain calm, then you can defuse a potentially violent situation.

True, you might need to vent about the driver tailgating you all the way from town or the overly cautious motorist who consistently drove under the speed limit. Venting your frustration is normal and healthy, so long as you vent appropriately.

Talk to a friend or family member about the driving experience―telling the story can relieve your stress. Some driving clubs or online discussions offer members a chance to vent their frustration.”

Is there a medical basis for road rage?

The DMV page adds:

“In 5% to 7% of the nearly 10,000 drivers studied, road rage behavior was present. A general theory came out of the study, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) was identified as the cause of road rage.

Losing your temper used to be just bad form; now it has a diagnosis and can begin in the early teens. People diagnosed with IED have had multiple outbursts that are way out of proportion to the situation at hand. Generally, someone gets hurt or property is damaged.

Whether or not you believe in a medical basis for road rage, you still need to know how to deal with it. Uncertain situations can escalate unpredictably, and the best advice is to avoid confrontations altogether. If you tend to provoke other drivers or are on the aggressive side of road rage, put some effort into learning new driving habits.

And for those of us who run the middle of the road, maintain those defensive driving skills and keep a watchful eye on developing hazardous situations.”

English: Indian actor Salman Khan

Indian actor Salman Khan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Driving under the influence gets the headlines especially when accidents involving deaths hit the headlines like the Salman Khan case. However, aggressive and drowsy driving can be equally potent and harmful manifestations of carelessness behind the wheel. Perhaps, it’s time that besides breath analysers, yawn-o-meters and BP monitors are pressed into service by our hardworking defenders of the law. Perhaps, autonomous vehicles—as tested by Google—are not such a bad idea after all. Mass public transit systems always remain an option as long as they are not priced out of reach like the Mumbai Metro system threatens to be. As for raging maniacs, it’s simply ‘commuter rage’ now!

A driver is in charge not just of himself; he is also the steerer of 2000+ pounds of heavy metallic machinery that can cause immense damage when misdirected. It can act like a manned, guided missile.

It is in everyone’s interest if drivers recognise their aggressive tendencies and take steps to prevent untoward and possibly fatal incidents.

The message:
Don’t drive drunk.
Don’t drive angry.
Don’t drive sleepy.

As someone once said, “Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”

IPL 2015: A big tamasha that could be better


Have you been following IPL 8?

Be truthful.

I haven’t.

It’s not that cricket doesn’t excite me or that watching Chris Gayle or AB DeVilliers clobber bowlers to all parts of the ground and beyond isn’t a thrilling spectacle.

It’s just that it’s no longer interesting, it’s no longer fun.

It’s a surfeit of instant cricket following closely on the heels of the 2015 World Cup.

Yes, the cheerleaders are pleasing to look at; so are Archana Vijay and Shibani Dandekar.

Surely, you cannot expect me to rave about Sunny Gavaskar or Ravi Shastri.

However, it’s simply the same old package with very little changing.

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test ...

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test series vs Australia at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only positive change is the recruiting of former women cricketers as expert commentators.

I support Mumbai Indians.

But Rohit Sharma’s men simply don’t evoke the same passion that the Indian cricket team does.

What is the IPL then? A great Indian tamasha. Enjoy with bhel and popcorn and you won’t suffer from indigestion.

As for the genius who decided that the studio experts should have cheerleaders lauding their every soundbyte, he should have his head examined.

It’s obvious that advertisers have not deserted the Indian Premier League as yet.

But more of such hare-brained shenanigans and they surely will.

ICC World Cup 2015: Semi-final prognosis


A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at t...

A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at the third day of the SCG Test between Australia and South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Semi-final line-up:

  • Tue Mar 24 (50 ovs)14:00 local (01:00 GMT | 06:30 IST)
    1st Semi-Final – New Zealand v South Africa
    Eden Park, Auckland
  • Thu Mar 26 (50 ovs)14:30 local (03:30 GMT | 09:00 IST)
    2nd Semi-Final – Australia v India
    Sydney Cricket Ground

New Zealand take on South Africa at home in the first semi on Tuesday.

The teams are evenly matched with New Zealand having the edge; they are unbeaten and are playing on home soil.

But have they peaked too soon? A perennial question in a tournament of this length.

South Africa have broken the hoodoo of never going past the knockout stage of a World Cup.

Is history in the making?

My selection: New Zealand.

Australia clash with India on Thursday.

The Kangaroos are favorites but pace may not be their ace at Sydney.

I am skeptical whenever the Aussies say that they can beat India on bouncy wickets.

Previous games and tours have shown that Indian pacers can make better use of the conditions than the locals.

Aussie pacers may be more effective on a traditional turning Sydney wicket than their Indian counterparts.

The home side would like to believe that they have the upper hand; India had not won a single match in the build-up to the World Cup except a friendly against Afghanistan.

The Indians have had a tremendous run and could go all the way. The Aussies loom in the defense of their title. If they beat them, they will be anointed odds-on favorites for the final.

What’s my prognosis?

The head says Australia but the heart says India.

That’s not quite anatomically correct.

The heart is but a muscle albeit the most important one.

So I will rephrase that: Reason dictates that I choose Australia.

My (rational) selection: Australia.

Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Kapil Dev eggs on the Indian cricket team to greater heights.

What he said:

“Well I have never understood this team hug inside the ground at start of the match. What were you guys doing in dressing room. Only eating eggs!”

Former India player and World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev is realistic about Team India’s chances at the World Cup Down Under this year.

The all-time great was addressing a ‘Cricket Conclave‘ organized by News24.

He said:

“If Virat Kohli scores a century and then blows a flying kiss towards his girlfriend, I have no problems. Rather I have problem if a player scores zero and is blowing a flying kiss. We played cricket in a different era and now its a different era. We have to accept that.We can’t just sit back and think that cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game. Times have changed. The generation I played was different. We grew up with Test cricket. But now you have sledging, abuses and T20 is an accepted format.”

English: virat kohli

English: virat kohli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kapil added:

“India I believe will reach semifinals and all four semi finalists will have 25 percent chance. You can’t predict from there on. I believe start is very important. I think the first 15 overs will decide how India will perform. I would take 40/0 in first 15 overs which can give us 270 plus total. It’s a must. But if India lose 2-3 wickets in 15 overs it will be difficult.”

What he really meant:

“The huddle is a muddle. Strategy is planned in the dressing room. The huddle’s merely an excuse for a no show!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Sunday ho ya Monday, roj khana unday!”

Supreme Court: What they said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Supreme justice for N Srinivasan.

What they said:

Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever.”

The Supreme Court bench of Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla read N Srinivasan his rights in a ruling that effectively prevents him contesting for the BCCI top post.

The judges ruled out any person having a commercial interest in BCCI events from being a part of the governing body. Srinivasan has a controlling interest in Chennai Super Kings, an IPL team.

They said:

“The BCCI is a very important institution that discharges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are, therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever.

The expectations of the millions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general have lowered considerably the threshold of tolerance for any mischief, wrong doing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system.” 

What they really meant:

“…birds of passage…..And your time is past, Mr. Srinivasan. You are not the BCCI and the BCCI is not you.”

What they definitely didn’t:

“Could we have a couple of freebies to the CSK games, Mr. Srinivasan, please?”

Michael Kasprowicz: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Michael Kasprowicz does know what pressure is.

What he said:

“What pressure does to you is make you doubt your skills.”

Former Australian fast bowler, Michael Kasprowicz, draws upon his cricketing acumen to chart up success in the business world. Kasprowicz is an MBA from the University of Queensland Business School in Brisbane and now Managing Director of advisory business, Venture India, which promotes business relations for Australian companies in India.

Kasprowicz said:

“I was first picked for Queensland at the age of 17, and had a cricketing career of 19 years. Throughout my career, I never looked for the easy option. I wanted to test myself out in something entirely different; hence I went and did the MBA.”

Kasprowicz adds:

“What I learnt from my career is something I’ll classify in my own 4 Ps—perceptions, dealing with pressure, appreciating that there’s pain and most importantly, possession, the thought that you are in charge of your own journey. In cricket, there are uncontrollables that can always influence decisions—the weather, the pitch, umpiring decisions. It doesn’t matter how well you prepare, quite often, they can dictate or change the result. That lesson in itself is the most important thing, because of the ownership of your journey, you’re not relying on anyone else. You can take control of what you’re doing.”

The pacer believes in adapting his skills to suit the conditions.

He said:

“In 2004, (when Australia won a Test series in India after 32 years), we sat down as a bowling group and decided that we had to change it around a bit. We could not be doing what we did at home and expect to do well as a unit. Businesses come to India and think what they’ve been doing normally would work here in India too. That’s not arrogance as much as it is naivety. You have to be flexible, adjustable and adaptable to the market here and also see what the consumers want.”

So how does Kasprowicz deal with losses?

He says:

“I’ll go back to my Ps, and this time deal with pressure. What pressure does to you is make you doubt your skills. When all of a sudden an organization or cricket association goes through a few losses, it’s almost like a major GFC (global financial crisis) where everyone starts doubting their skills and questions the way they’re doing it. From a sporting background, whenever you have a few losses, we have a performance review. It’s important to go back and draw the straw man again.

I know the Australians get a bad tag for being sledgers, but all that, when you break it down, is to make someone not think about the ball that’s coming down and to doubt their skills, that’s all there is. There are other ways to make them doubt their skills—through field placements or the Three Card Trick (keep a deep-square leg, making the batsman anticipate a short ball, when the bowler delivers a fuller ball). When you’re under pressure, when you’re having a few losses, trust your skills—the ones that got you there, and the ones you’re the best at, but also have the conviction to adjust those skills to suit the conditions.”

What he really meant:

“When you’re under pressure, you tend to doubt yourself and wonder if you should be doing things differently. If the skills are not ingrained, you tend to revert to older, more tried-and-tested methods instead of continuing with the newly learnt skills. That’s what pressure does, that’s what questioning yourself does to you.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Pressure causes some people to shut down. And brings out the best in others. How’s that for a cliché? Or would you rather prefer, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.Over to you, Ravi (Shastri). “

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