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Why Anurag Thakur is wrong to criticise Sandeep Patil


BCCI chief Anurag Thakur has an opinion on former India chief selector Sandeep Patil.

Thakur termed the erstwhile swashbuckling batsman and coach “unethical” for revealing the deliberations around Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement and MS Dhoni’s continuance as India skipper.

He said:

“Let me make it very clear. Sandeep being a former chairman should not have made these comments. When he was the chairman, he replied differently to the same questions. But after that (his tenure), it was different. It was totally unethical of him to do that.

One should refrain from making such unethical and unwanted comments in this area (selection matters). It is because he has been trusted to become the chairman, because he has played enough cricket. There were four more selectors with him, they did not say anything. He (Patil) should have avoided that.

…Right people in the BCCI will speak to him soon.

…Any organisation, if they hire him (Patil), will think 10 times that after leaving the organisation, he will speak about the organisation.”

Patil appeared to have been disillusioned with his tenure as the chief selector.

He first stated he had lost friends as a selector.

After picking the Indian side for the New Zealand home series, he confessed:

“The only sad thing about being a selector is that you end up losing some of your friends.”

Later speaking to Marathi news channel ‘ABP Majha’, he revealed:

“On December 12, 2012, we met Sachin and asked him about his future plans. He said he did not have retirement on his mind. But the selection committee had reached a consensus on Sachin… and had informed the board too about it. Perhaps Sachin understood what was coming because at the time of the next meeting, Sachin called and said he was retiring (from ODIs). If he had not announced his decision to quit then, we would have definitely dropped him.”

The bearded ex-cricketer contradicted himself on the same channel’s website, saying:

“As long as I remember, it was December 12, 2012, Nagpur. Sachin got out and the selectors decided to meet him and ask him about his wish. I was the one who staged the meet, being the chairman of selectors, and it was purely to understand what was running in his mind. It was a good thing to do. It did not happen in one day, one month or one year, it took two long years. Sachin retired in 2013. The meeting in Nagpur was just to ask his plans. Sachin wanted to concentrate more on Test cricket. So, it was decided that he would retire from One-day cricket. He called me and Sanjay Jagdale (then BCCI secretary). Then it was collectively decided that he would retire from ODIs.”

It was Patil’s disclosures about current ODI and T20 skipper MS Dhoni that set the cat among the pigeons.

“Things didn’t move in our favour, and in that backdrop one of your senior players decided to hang his gloves. That was shocking, but in the end, it was his decision (to retire from Test cricket).

…We, of course, had a brief discussion about it (sacking Dhoni) on few occasions. We wanted to experiment by shifting the baton but we thought the time was not right as the World Cup was fast approaching. New captain should be given some time to set things right. Keeping in mind the World Cup, we chose to go with Dhoni. I believe Virat got the captaincy at the right time and he can lead the team in shorter formats as well. The decision rests with the new selection committee.”

Patil also asserted that Dhoni had no hand in the dropping of either Gautam Gambhir or Yuvraj Singh.

He added:

“I feel disappointed when I read reports about Dhoni’s relation with Gambhir and Yuvraj. Dhoni never opposed their selection.

It was completely the selectors’ decision to drop them and Dhoni did not have any say in dropping Gambhir and Yuvraj. Both the captains never opposed any player.”

While Thakur may be miffed at Patil’s forthrightness to the media soon after quitting the selection panel, he can hardly comment about taking any action against him or on his employment chances in the future in the absence of a non-disclosure agreement with a stated cooling off period of  a year.

Anything more than a year might be excessive. And why should selectors be hog-tied when cricketers, past and present, publish freewheeling accounts of their run-ins with their teammates, coaches, selectors and sections of the media in their multiple best-selling autobiographies.

Are they to be held less accountable?

The BCCI has (rightly) opposed the opening up of selection of the Indian team to public scrutiny (via the RTI act) stating that appointed selectors are more than qualified to do the job and that choosing of the Indian cricket team cannot be done by a majority vote of the public. Would you let public opinion decide what the justices of state and national courts have been appointed for?

There has to be a balance struck. Where do you draw the line?

Should selectors and administrators be continually vilified in the court of public opinion long after their tenures have ended? Are they not to be allowed to state their version of events past? If not to defend themselves,  then to promote transparency and debate. 

National governments have a cut-off period after which classified documents are to be made public for historians and buffs to discover the inner workings of past decisions.

Aren’t public bodies like the BCCI not to provide the same courtesy to the sports loving public of this nation?

 

 

 

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Why Dipa Karmakar may not win a medal in Tokyo


India’s latest sporting darling and sensation gymnast Dipa Karmakar is targeting Simone Biles and Tokyo to clinch that elusive medal she missed last month at Rio.

She said:

“Simone Biles is the best. My aim is to beat her. I am preparing in such a way that even if I cannot get the better of her, I end up with a silver.”

She added:

“I was happy with my finish until I came to my room. When I got to know the reaction of the entire country, the feeling of disappointment set in. If only I could win a medal, I could have gifted the country and all my fellow Bengalis something.”

Can Karmakar do it and that too in four years time at Tokyo?

It’s difficult to tell.

She has self-belief and confidence.

Historically, women gymnasts have performed best in their teens and by those standards, Dipa will be an old maid at 27.

Is it impossible? No, it isn’t.

But it will be extremely arduous. 

Yogeshwar Dutt, to the nation’s chagrin, found that out the hard way when he lost his way in his opening wrestling bout.

Karmakar has refused to change her coach Bishweshwar Nandi in exchange for a ‘foreign hand’.

Karmakar qualified quite late for this year’s Games. Perhaps, she could have done much better had she more time to prepare.

But that’s past.

She will have to improve substantially in the other vault routines to surpass her superlative rival, Biles.

This can be  achieved with the help of a foreign coach.

Like Andy Murray, she may need  an Ivan Lendl to secure silverware.

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps, foreign coaches are better suited to mould our athletes when they are much younger—say, in their teens.

That said, her progress needs to be monitored over the coming years to ensure that she is on the right track towards achieving her goal.

It would be interesting to see what former top international gymnasts and their respective coaches have to say about her Tokyo  prospects.

One of them could be hired as a consultant to her current coach Nandi to add the desired variety to his ‘onetrick pony‘ .

She deserves all the assistance she can get. She truly does. And she needs to request it when she has all the attention. 

Indian hockey team does nation proud at Champions trophy: Can you name them all?


The Mint editorial on Saturday the 18th of June, 2016 read:

“Recently, ESPN did some number crunching to come up with a list of the most famous athletes in the world.

Virat Kohli came in at No. 8. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was 14th and Sania Mirza made a creditable showing at 41.

What are the odds that an Indian hockey player—despite the team’s stellar performance at the Champions Trophy this week—will gain that sort of name recognition even briefly?

It’s an old story.

Cricket is the colossus dwarfing every other sport in India. Even as a few other sportspersons—Mirza, Leander Paes, Saina Nehwal, for instance—have gained prominence, hockey has remained trapped in a cycle of uneven performances, endless administrative squabbles and a lack of public attention even when it performs well.

Will the Champions Trophy and the Olympics see a sustained run of good performances and the spotlight that should come with it or will it be another false dawn?”

The above was the publication’s response to the Indian men’s hockey team’s performance at the recently concluded Champions trophy in London. India finished a respectable second claiming their first ever silver medal at the elite tourney.

India lost just two games—one each to Belgium and Australia. The final was a goalless affair—their antipodean rivals won on penalties in the final.

Yet, the Mint’s  ‘Quick Edit‘ rings true. Any Indian sports lover can reel off the names of every member of the Indian cricket team—possibly even the names of  players of the IPL teams they support. But very few can recall the names of sportsmen in other team sports.

(P.S. That includes me.)

Is the Indian sports lover solely to blame for this state of affairs?

The traditional media namely newspapers, magazInes and news channels devote very little time and space to other sports besides cricket in India.

(Winners hit the headlines more often than not.

Cheating winners even more so. Ask Sharapova.

Nobody cares for cheating losers except the drug-testing bodies.)

That truly is a sad state of affairs.

Especially when this Indian side looks good to clinch a medal at this year’s Rio Olympics.

In the past, Indian hockey teams have flattered to deceive in the run-up to the Games. Their strategies, tactics and players are studied and ploys to nullify their effectiveness are hatched up and unveiled at the Games by their opposing coaches.

Roelant Oltmans seems up to the challenge.

The team keeps improving under his stewardship and it is noteworthy that the side performed much better in their second game against the Aussies.

The team lacks consistency though. They ought not to have conceded a second goal to Belgium—they are vulnerable on the break. The players lack  the speed to fall back quickly enough to thwart counterattacks. And they  have trouble getting the ball into the ‘D’ in the face of concerted defence tactics employed by their opponents.

Should the team be grouped with Australia, another loss like the one to Belgium could spell the death knell for any podium aspirations.

Hockey India announced an award of Rs. 2 lakhs to every individual player of this Champions trophy side.

This Indian side will surely hit the jackpot should they return with a medal from Rio.

In fact, they must—for this victory to be a true, new dawn.

 

Vijender or Vikas for Rio? A game of musical chairs in boxing too


Vijender Singh had given up his dreams of another Olympic medal when he turned professional last year.

The International Boxing Association did the pugilist a ‘favour‘ by approving the participation of pro boxers at the Olympics early this month. The sport was one of the last bastions of amateurism at the Games.

The ace boxer is scheduled to fight Australian Kerry Hope  for the WBO Asia title in New Delhi on July 16. Pros can qualify for the Olympics by participating in a tournament to held in Venezuela in early July.

Vijender Singh blew cold and then hot when questioned whether he’s like to represent India at the Games.

When AIBA’s decision was first announced, Vijender said:

“It won’t make much difference to me. As of now, I am focused on my fight on July 16. I have been hearing about this proposal from the start of this year. It’s strange that you take a decision with such little time to go before the Olympics.

First of all I wouldn’t even know how to go about pursuing this task. I would probably have to go through a federation and no one really knows what the status of the federation in India really is. It’s really difficult to prepare for a tournament at such short notice. It will probably be the same for other professionals as well. If you are a boxer who is starting his career, or even someone who has fights lined up for the future, then it will be almost impossible to get ready in time for this tournament.

You have to understand that professional and amateur boxing are two different things. It’s not that one is better than the other, but the two are very different.

Everything changes. In the amateur you only box for three rounds while in professional, you have to fight for 10 or twelve rounds. So the kind of endurance you need is much more. In the amateur game you don’t really have to pace yourself. Even your movements are different.

In amateur boxing, you are preparing to fight several bouts over many days. So your recovery between bouts is important because you have to make weight every day. In professional boxing, you are only focusing on one bout at a time with several weeks to prepare. When you make weight it is only for that fight. So it will not be easy to fight several bouts one after the other.

I feel this proposal will have a bigger impact on boxers for the next Olympics. For Rio, I don’t know if a lot of professionals will want to participate without fully knowing the risks. Things would be a lot more clearer for the next games. At that point if professional boxers know when the tournament they will have a better idea how to prepare themselves for it.

I really don’t see myself competing in the Olympics again. In four years, I hope I will be in a position where I can compete at the world level but in the professional circuit.”

The Haryanvi  changed his tune a few days later claiming that he would love to represent the country once more at the Olympics.

He said:

“I will try to go to Rio. The last qualification is in Venezuela (from July 3 to 8) and I would love to be a part of it. It is a matter of pride to represent your country at the Olympics and when I am getting a chance now, why not?”

His promoter Francis Warren, however, would not entertain any such talk.

He said:

“It’s not possible for him. He has got a championship fight on July 16 and, for that, he will be training in Manchester. He will be training to excel in his professional career. If he keeps on thinking about Olympics, then I’ll be bad guy here.

The timing (Venezuela qualifiers and Asia Pacific bout) doesn’t allow him to concentrate on Rio. I won’t be comfortable with the idea. It would be a backward step for Vijender if he wants to box as an amateur boxer.

What will happen if he gets a cut or injures himself during the qualifiers? He won’t be able to fight on July 16. Who’s going to reimburse me for holding this press conference in Delhi? Who will reimburse for seven months and so much amount of money I have invested in Vijender to make him a world-class professional boxer? The effort was for Asian title, not some Rio Olympics.”

Vijender rebutted Warren saying:

“The promoters will take the decision, that’s true. But they are not the only ones to decide as they have to also consider my wish. If we keep the contract and WBO title fight aside, then I’ll have every right to discuss the matter with them. Olympics is a dream and I’ll definitely love to go to Rio.

My promoters are saying that they have spent so much money on me. Tell me, if I am not happy, then what’s the use of that money? They can’t take the decision alone.”

Notwithstanding the war of words, Vijender was well aware when he made the decision to turn pro that he could forego any chance of appearing for the country in the Olympics. He may have second thoughts right now but it’s unlikely that the contract he has signed with Queensberry Promotions will allow him to participate without their explicit permission.

Also, it’s not as though there aren’t any other real contenders waiting in line to take his amateur place.

Vikas Krishnan is vying for a spot in the 75 kg category as well and hopes to qualify via AIBA’s final qualifier to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from June 16 to 25.

Krishnan has also qualified to take part in Venezuela under AIBA’s APB programme.

He thus has two chances to clinch a place in the Rio-bound squad.

Who will it be? Vikas or Vijender?

Will Vijender be able to convince his employers that he can do both—qualify and win his WBO Asia Title bout?

The story has all the makings of melodrama.

But there’s a feeling that the words bandied around are mere bluster—all smoke and no fire— and simply an exercise in nationalistic posturing. The sentiments expressed by Vijender are noble but impractical—given his commitments.

AIBA’s dragging their feet on the decision to allow professional boxers at the Games has not helped matters either.

Should Krishnan fail to qualify, it’ll truly be a damp squib. Shiva Thapa is the only Indian boxer to qualify so far.

We’ve already had a media circus with Sushil Kumar challenging Narsingh Yadav’s selection for Rio. God knows we don’t need another.

 

 

 

Interview with Musab Abid, Managing Editor of Sportskeeda


Who and what is Musab Abid? Define yourself.

If I had to define myself in one line, it would be – ‘A tennis nut and a writer, with a bunch of obsessive compulsive disorders that make me perfectly suited to correcting mistakes wherever I find them.’

Musab, you’re currently Managing Editor with Sportskeeda. What prompted you to quit your job with KPMG as a Tax Executive , throw it all up as it were, and join a start-up like SK? Did you have any apprehensions while making that decision?

I have always loved writing and sports, and I didn’t get to be involved much with either of those things at KPMG. It’s not that I hated my job as a Tax Executive; it’s just that Sportskeeda offered me the chance to do so many things that I love. As for apprehensions regarding the fact that SK is a start-up, let’s just say that I’ve always had immense faith in myself and the people I choose to work with. I was always fully confident that SK would turn into a success story with Porush and me at the helm.

As a managing editor at SK, what does your typical day entail?

As much as I’d love to have a ‘typical day‘, the reality is that the term is alien to me now. Every single day brings new challenges, and sometimes I find it hard to predict what I’ll be doing two hours from the present. Whether it’s motivating the team members, evaluating the site metrics, communicating with clients or even editing articles myself, my work changes with every passing minute.

Four years, four months into SK, what are the highlights of your career there?

We’ve seen a lot of important milestones during the time I’ve been at SK. There have been the traffic milestones, the referencing milestones (where SK has been lauded by external sites for our work) and even personnel milestones. I think I personally have had a lot to do with the gradual quality improvement of the site (although there’s still plenty of room for more improvement there), as well as the strength of our social media.

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part about my job is that very little of what I do feels like ‘work‘. Many of the things that I do are what I’d like to do in my leisure time too, which is probably why I end up working a fair bit on the weekends too.

What’s the worst part about it?

I guess the worst part is that with all the day-to-day management work that I have to do, I get very little time to pursue my creative interests – mainly, writing.

It has been remarked that editors can’t write after having to wade through other people’s work. Has that been your experience too, a writer’s block? How do you get over it?

I personally haven’t found it difficult to write because of my editing work. I actually don’t get much time to write these days, as I said above – that’s the only reason why you won’t find too many articles lately on my writer profile.

Sania Mirza in Citi Open Tennis on July 31, 2011

Sania Mirza in Citi Open Tennis on July 31, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, you published an interview with Sania Mirza at the Australian Open. Can you tell the readers about your experience meeting India’s tennis diva?

The most striking thing about meeting Sania is that she’s hardly a ‘diva‘ in person. All those stories about her being an arrogant, spoiled child are either fabricated or a result of her forthrightness. She is honest to a fault, almost blunt, and that is refreshing to see in such a high-profile public figure.

What sports are you into besides tennis, of course?

I like cricket a great deal, and I also occasionally follow badminton and F1.

Do you have a fitness routine? Can you tell us about it?

About the only fitness activity I religiously undertake is playing tennis over the weekend – 2 hours each day. I do occasionally hit the gym, and on other days I try to do a small workout at home, but I’ve never been able to do either of those things with regularity.

Besides Sportskeeda, what are your favourite sites on the web?

I love tennis.com mainly because of Steve Tignor, and I also follow Jon Wertheim’s columns on Sports Illustrated. For cricket, Cricinfo has been my go-to destination for about a decade now.

What next for Musab Abid?

Perhaps my worst quality is that I never plan for the future; I’m dangerously fickle-minded. I honestly can’t say with certainty where I’ll be 1 year from now, but I do think it’s a strong possibility that I’ll be helping Sportskeeda take the next big step in its evolution. Either way, I hope that wherever I am, I am doing good work.

 

Musab Abid is the Managing Editor of SportsKeeda,”the largest all-sports website in India, reporting on more than 30 different sports with a focus on indigenous sports.”

SportsKeeda

Disclosure: The interview was facilitated via email. Answers are published as-is.

Is winning the toss an advantage and is doing away with it the solution?


Trust Ravi Shastri to look upon the toss-or-not debate from his own unique perspective as a commentator, “I’ll have no job left if the toss is done away with.

That’s the least of his worries considering he’s the front-runner to be the next Team India coach.

It was Ricky Ponting who set the ball rolling with his suggestion that the toss be done away with and the visiting captain chooses to bat or field.

He was seconded by his former skipper Steve Waugh and Michael Holding.

The underlying theme was that home sides would stop preparing pitches that suited them hopefully resulting in more sporting contests.

Would it eliminate ‘hometown’ advantage? Michael Holding felt not.

The English broke with tradition and effected the desired change in their County Championship this year.

The visiting county is given the option of bowling first—should they refuse, the toss is taken as normal and the winning skipper decides what to do, take strike or bowl.

Robert Key, ECB cricket committee member, had this to say:

“My original view was that we should have tougher penalties for poor pitches. But that is so hard to police. It just becomes a minefield. But what I still think is that the stigma over spinning pitches has to end. If we see 15 wickets fall to seam bowling on the first day of a game, nobody bats an eye. But if the ball turns on day one, people start to worry. That has to stop.”

The above is probably manna to the ears of BCCI chieftains and the Indian team’s think-tank given that the Nagpur Test wicket for the match against South Africa was sanctioned by the ICC.

He added:

“The cricket committee had a two-day meeting and 90% of it was spent talking about pitches. We went through all the options. We talked about everything you have seen suggested on social media. And in the end everyone there agreed that this was the way to go. The rules governing the use of the heavy roller are remaining the same.

We want to stop counties producing pitches that just suit their seamers. We want to take that luxury away from them and instead get them to produce pitches that result in a more even battle between bat and ball and require pace and spin bowlers as well as seamers.

I’m not surprised by the negative reactions. They are the same reactions I had when I first heard the suggestion. But it was not a decision taken lightly, and I’d just say to people: let’s try it and see what happens. Our original suggestion to the ECB board was to try this for a year in Division Two. It was their idea to try it in Division One as well.

We’re not suddenly going to see five more spinners. We can’t expect a miracle cure. But we might see a situation where, instead of spinners bowling 20% of overs in the Championship, they might bowl 30%.”

Andrew Gale, Yorkshire skipper, disagreed:

“It’s a decision that has come straight after a Test series defeat in the UAE, which has brought the problems to everyone’s attention. But we don’t want subcontinent-paced wickets in England. That is not what people want to watch. If we had gone to Australia and won this close season, I doubt that this decision would have happened.

Obviously the rule has been brought in to encourage spinners and because of a recognition that the wickets have become too seamer-friendly. The intention is a good one – I know that. But if wickets are that bad, why haven’t points been docked? Fifteen-plus wickets have fallen many times on the first day and it has repeatedly been put down to bad batting. I can see Keysie’s point about something needing to be done, but why haven’t pitch inspectors done their job properly? It comes down to people being strong. “

He added:

“I am a traditionalist. I love Championship cricket. The toss has existed since the beginning of time. Why keep messing with the game? It’s too complicated for some people as it is.”

Nathan Leamon, England’s performance analyst, wrote a piece for the NightWatchman questioning whether doing away with the toss would achieve the desired results.

The reasons listed were:

  • Can we be reliably certain that groundsmen can and will prepare pitches to order? (Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravi Shastri, take note.)
  • Home teams may prepare pitches even more favourable to them.
  • Winning the toss may not be an advantage at all.

Cricket is now played on covered pitches I.e. they are no longer exposed to the ravages of inclement weather. In the era of uncovered pitches, batting first made sense and was definitely advantageous.

Is winning the toss an additional asset—a twelfth man?

Gaurav Sood and Derek Willis answer the above query in an analytical piece on Cricinfo.

They write:

“After analysing data from more than 44,000 cricket matches across formats, however, we find that there is generally just a small – though material – advantage of winning the toss. The benefit varies widely, across formats, conditions, and depending on how closely matched the teams are.

We find that over all those matches, the team that wins the toss has won the match 2.8% more often. That small advantage increases for one-day matches and decreases for T20 contests. For day-night ODI and List A matches, the advantage is greater still, with the side winning the toss winning nearly 6% more games.

Winning the toss convey an advantage of 2.6% in first-class and Test matches, where pitches can deteriorate, giving the team that bats last a tougher challenge. But the largest boost appears to be in one-day matches, where teams that win the toss win the match 3.3% more often. “

What’s even more striking is the following observation:

“Using ICC monthly rankings for international sides, we looked at whether winning the toss made a difference when teams were closely matched or at opposite ends of the rankings. When closely matched teams play, winning the toss has a larger impact on the probability of winning. As expected, the impact of winning the toss was less when a clearly better side played a weaker one. “

They add:

“Whether due to cold weather or grassy pitches that can make batting difficult, teams that won the toss in April matches in England lost nearly 5% more often than they won. In every other month, the toss winner was more likely to win the match. Perhaps that alone will encourage visiting captains to take the field first, at least at the start of the English season.”

Will this be Mahi’s last World T20?


India take on Australia in a virtual quarter-final this evening at Mohali.

The other three semi-final places have already been booked.
West Indies, New Zealand and England are through to the business end of the World T20.

India are favourites having thrashed the Kangaroos 3-0 Down Under but not before losing the ODI series 1-4.

No team has won the World T20 more than once.

Every edition has been unpredictable.

India, Pakistan, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka have all been crowned victors in this topsy-turvy format.
With no time for recovery from any mistakes, the team which turns up wins.
A stellar performance with the bat or ball is more than enough to decide a game.
If past trends hold, we ought to have a new champion.
Should Australia win tonight and the trend continue, it could be either New Zealand or Australia lifting the trophy, with the prospect of a mouth-watering repeat of last year’s ODI World Cup final.
Indian fans will be disappointed though.


This is probably MS Dhoni’s last T20 World Cup.
Dhoni does not see himself participating in the 2019 ODI World Cup.
Don’t be surprised if Mahi pulls out yet another rabbit from his hat and calls it a day—win or lose.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mohammad Amir is the lone hit-man for Pakistan


Team India may have won their Asia Cup T20 encounter—not quite in a canter—but for a while, Indian fans could have believed that there was to be a reprisal of those Sharjah days when their arch-rivals Pakistan beat them more often than not.

It was not to be.

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)

Mohammad Amir had a point to prove and he did leaving India tottering at 8-3.

But he lacked support.

The knocking over of the top order brought back memories of India touring South Africa when Dale Steyn and his cohorts gave Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan a torrid time in the opening overs.

It just goes to show that even the best batsmen struggle against top-class pace bowling.

And it also reminded us why Pakistan were so quick to reinstall Amir as their main hit man.

Virat Kohli showed why he’s the most reliable bat in the side.

Yuvraj Singh struggled abjectly but stuck around till the end to see India through.

The next game in the T20 World Cup is eagerly anticipated.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – IX


Chapter Ten: Constitution & Functioning of Members

The Lodha Commission believes that there should be uniformity in how the BCCI and its member associations are structured.

The BCCI is registered as a society. Members are either societies or companies.

English: Four Indian boys playing cricket in t...

Four Indian boys playing cricket in the street with a new tennis ball provided to them. Photo is taken in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Problems:

Membership & Privileges

Member associations do not have uniform rules for membership. Some associations allow clubs and individuals, others only have clubs while the rest have both individuals and patrons.

There exist very few guidelines for admission. Former Indian cricketers are denied membership to these associations.

Promotion of the game is hardly the priority at some associations. Tickets to games are made available to members first reducing the number available to fans substantially.

Associations are housed on premises at stadia constructed on leased premises.

Posts & Tenures

No specified terms for posts and no limits on the number of terms for an administrator are the main problem areas highlighted in this scection.

Voting

Proxy voting has given rise to unscrupulous practices when it comes to holding elections at member associations.

Compliance

Are member associations registered as not-for-profit entities compliant? It does not appear so.

Furthermore, associations registered as societies are less transparent than bodies registered under the Companies Act.

Expenditure & Infrastructure

The exists no or little accountability for the grants for ‘development of cricket’ provided by BCCI to members.  The facilities at stadiums remain abysmal and very few wickets or grounds outside of existing stadium are developed.

Lack of professionalism

There exist no separate layers for governance and management. Accounting systems are maintained on an ad-hoc basis.

Member associations lack vision and drive to generate revenue streams for themselves. They depend largely on the BCCI’s largesse.

Dual posts

The Lodha Commission prefers that when an administrator is elected to the Board, he/she must not be allowed to continue as an administrator at their respective state associations. This would prevent conflict of interest situations arising. National interest must come first.

Interference in selection

Merit is ignored when it comes to selecting players. Influence appears to be the main criteria. States are not fielding or selecting their best available talent.

Transparency

Transparency is lacking.

Constitution, bye-laws, accounts, expenditure, ethics guidelines and player statistics are rarely available or up to date on association websites.


The Lodha Commission states:

“Each State Association will necessarily have a website that carries the following minimum details:

  1. The Constitution, Memorandum of Association and Rules & Regulations, Bye-Laws and Office Orders and directions that govern the functioning of the Association, its Committees, the Ombudsman and the Ethics Officer.
  2. The list of Members of the Association as well as those who are defaulters.
  3. The annual accounts & audited balance sheets and head-wise income and expenditure details.
  4. Details of male, female and differently abled players representing the State at all age groups with their names, ages and detailed playing statistics.
  5. Advertisements and invitations for tenders when the Association is seeking supply of any goods or services (exceeding a minimum prescribed value), or notices regarding recruitment, as also the detailed process for awarding such contracts or making such recruitments.
  6. Details of all goals and milestones for developing cricket in the State along with timelines and the measures undertaken to achieve each of them.
  7. Details of all office bearers and other managerial staff (including CEO, COO, CFO, etc.)
  8. Details of directives from the BCCI and their compliances.

These websites will have to be maintained and updated at least on a quarterly basis. All the above information will have to be maintained at the registered office of the State Association and when sought, the same shall be shared with the applicant on the payment of a reasonable fee, as may be prescribed by the Association.”

The Lodha panel further dictates that the BCCI should encourage State associations to have as many cricketing grounds and fields instead of multiple stadia. This will enable greater usage and access. Existing grounds and facilities should be renovated and converted to turf wickets thus making international standard facilities available at a young age.

Furthermore, existing stadium should be made multi-sport facilities enabling other games such as hockey and tennis to be hosted if necessary.

‘Chatter-box’ Steve Smith finds Virat Kohli ‘too emotional’ to handle (Updated)


Does using an on-field microphone to interact and engage with the telecasters make you a chatterbox?

Virat Kohli certainly thought so when he gave Steven Smith a fiery send-off in the first T20 against Australia.

The Test skipper—relieved of captaincy duties—was back to being the animated fury on the ground he usually is.

The Delhi cricketer is all aggro as a player and mouths expletives at the drop of a hat.

Kohli saw red when his opposing Test counterpart lost his wicket cheaply while commentating live for Channel 9.

Australian viewers were not amused with the manner of Smith’s dismissal blaming the broadcasters for disturbing his concentration.

They took in hordes to Twitter to deplore the broadcaster’s unwelcome intrusion.

What’s really going on?

Do fans really need insights from batters about what’s happening on the field?

This kind of circus is part and parcel of the Big Bash League and the Indian Premier League.

The purported purpose is to make the the viewers and the expert commentators feel part of the action.

It would be better if mic’ing up players was restricted to fielders and umpires. Bowlers and batters need to be able to focus and concentrate on how they’re to be delivering or playing the next ball. Fielding is a much more instinctive chore consisting of reacting to on-field events as they occur. Similarly, umpiring.

Batters and bowlers, however, need to plan and pace their innings and overs.

But what was the actual reason for Kohli’s acrid mouthing off and signing?

Could it be that the Indian was not pleased that Smith was shielded from the banter fielders engage in when rival batters are at the crease?

Kohli has mentioned that he sees nothing wrong with sledging the opposition.

His young Indian side is not known to hold back unlike previous Indian sides.

He said:

“The opposition has every right to sledge as long as it doesn’t not cross the line and you have every right to reply as long as it is doesn’t cross the line. There have been lot of smart comments of late and mine turned out to be a perfectly timed one.

I did not intend to do that. I just said what came to mind. It was actually not far from the truth. That banter is enjoyable but at the same time, you need to focus on the game.”

Sledgers wouldn’t enjoy their choicest jibes drowned out by commentary from the press box.  Why would they? Additionally , they would have to be careful around the boffin with the microphone lest their tomfoolery be caught by the sensitive microphones.

Not much fun for the fielders. The boot would be on the other foot with them forced to be silent around a jabbering Steve Smith.

Can you see the irony in the situation?

And assuming that what the fielders said did carry to Steve Smith, how would he be able to focus with three or more sets of sounds in his eardrums?

Fielders’ banter, experts’ questions, noise from the crowd and finally the sound of his own voice.

That sounds like a lot to take in—even for a man who has scored a mountain of runs in every format over the past two years.

Kohli was the man who had a hand (and mouth) in Smith’s dismissal. Steven Smith was out for 21 off 14 balls caught by Kohli bowled Ravindra Jadeja.

Smith immediately shut up giving no further feedback to the Wide World of Sports commentary team.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni had earlier criticised Spider Cam and intrusion from TV gimmicks.

Spider Cam obstructed Virat Kohli’s first scoring shot in the final ODI preventing a sure boundary. The ball was declared dead.

The operators of this novelty are known to thrust the lens right under the face of departing batsmen hoping to capture their visible disappointment for television viewers. Aussie players are accustomed to such paparazzi-like behaviour from cameramen but Indian players are disturbed and irate.

Dhoni said:

“I am quite a traditional guy. I have always felt that… anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don’t like it. It all started right from the T20 where people would be like, ‘Why don’t you wear a mic?’, ‘Why don’t you wear a camera?’

I have always felt there is a need for balance. At the end of the day it is a spectator sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can matter, especially when it is a close game. Those four runs can be crucial. Everyone gets penalised, why not have the same system for the spidercam? Say, ‘Okay if you get hit, 2000 dollars per hit.’ Let’s make it interesting.

People [broadcasters] are striving for more. When you have got out and walking off, the cameraman goes right under your face. The same way the spidercam is right next to you. You have seen players, they are like, ‘What is happening?’ It makes a lot of noise. At the end of the day it is also about the spectators. If spectators are not there, cricket won’t be played. It is a mix and match; 2000 dollars per hit is a good option.”

Steve Smith called the Spider Cam “his best fielder.”

Smith was unrepentant about his mode of dismissal in the first T20 denying that his on-field commenting had anything to do with his early exit.

He said:

“It [the commentary] was on at the time, but for me it was just a bad shot.

I tried to chip one over the top for two rather than trying to hit him for four or six.

It was my fault and I got to do better next time.”

Of Kohli’s send-off, he added:

“He gets pretty emotional out there, doesn’t he?

I don’t think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out.

It’s fine to have a little bit of banter when you’re out in the field, but when someone’s out I don’t really think that’s on.”

Virat Kohli finally disclosed the reason for his heated reaction at Steve Smith’s dismissal.

It had nothing to do with Smith’s on-field commentating but his verbal targeting of young Indian pacers after hitting a boundary.

Kohli felt it added  to the pressure on them and was simply not on. He felt that he had to step in and make his displeasure known.

Hence, the expressive ‘farewell‘.

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