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Countdown to 2011 WC

In Cricket on January 14, 2010 at 6:02 am

With 13 months to go for the cricket’s ultimate event (no definitely not the 20-20 WC), we will analyze how the Indian team’s composition looks like and look into the performances on cricketing front. Though there are reports of Wankhede being behind schedule and Delhi pitch under ICC’s scrutiny, I am confident BCCI will out up a great show as billions of dollars are at stake. Coming to the Indian team’s ODI performances, which doesn’t bother many as they feel if India lose this 2011 WC, BCCI can quickly arrange one more tourney and an Indian win will make sure it vanishes quickly from people’s memory.

Will this generation finally get to see an Indian win which so narrowly eluded us in 2003?

Let’s get into the main crux before it tires the readers, who are already bored of watching India play SL. The Indian team of late has looked like Champions in Bilateral series, almost winning every one, and chokers when it comes to series involving multiple nations. The last major ODI win for the Indian team, involving more than two nations, has been the CB series down under. Well the CB series can also be considered a mini version of bilateral as it involves the best of three finals. The point is the team seems to choke when it comes to a knock out match. Be it the high profile Champions trophy or the recently concluded (Forced upon) tri series in Bangladesh. I felt the players were literally dragged to the field as BCCI wanted to make sure its neighbors SL and Bangla never shifted sides. I agree Indians won a tri series in SL before Champions trophy, thanks to Sachin’s classy knock, but consistently Indians are not able to deliver the punch when its needed. This in spite the fact that the series in Bangla was a low profile series and there were hardly any pressure on the team to deliver unlike the normal. Fielding as always been our weak link but one felt with this line up of youth, it will only get better. But it’s been pathetic to say the least. Before we had safe fielders who will catch whatever comes to them, but this lot has serious problem in catching and even collecting the ball cleanly. Suddenly they field so well and the very next day they drop 5-6 catches. This inconsistency can easily affect the team when it comes to knock out matches.

Let’s now get into the likely probable 16 which India might field for the WC. I feel the team has created a pool of 16-17 players with right mix of youth and experience, which augurs well for 2011 WC. Its 13 months away and I feel the inexperienced ones like Jadeja, kohli, raina, tyagi etc will get to play 20 ODIs at least. The top 3 is settled with Sehwag, Sachin and Gambir. The middle order comprises of Yuvi, Dhoni, Raina (secured his place with a fine century at No.6 recently), Jadeja, Kohli. I feel this team has the right mix of right and left handers. The bowling department would ideally be Zaheer, Nehra, Sreesanth, Bhajji, Mishra, Tyagi, Ishant. I feel Ojha is extremely unlucky to miss out but Dhoni seems to be having trust on Jadeja and its difficult to imagine two left arm spinners in a playing 11. Now it comes to the final No.16 spot. I felt the team management made a mistake by not giving Rohit a chance to play in bangle tri series. He was coming into the team after an excellent 300 in a Ranji game and to make him sit was absurd. The toss up is between Rohit and Karthick. Maybe they might go in for an extra keeper which might give Karthick a nod ahead of Rohit, though I am not too satisfied with Karthick’s batting. Well there might be some changes to the team which I had mentioned depending on the form of some players, but I strongly feel at least 80% of the players should retain their places in the team which is a sign of a settled team. Moreover, I hope the team plays more ODI’s on subcontinent pitches before the WC.

Kotla Pitch: A slap on BCCI’s face

In Cricket on December 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Well, its not even a week since I wrote an article, surprisingly enough, showing the positive facets of BCCI (especially on how they increased the pay for the pitches committee), yet again they have shown how unprofessional they were in dealing with the very committee for which I was praising them. Last article gave little tidbits on how they were unprofessional with respect to the grounds committee by showing favoritism towards their board members home associations. But here, in spite of forming a pitches committee and paying them substantially, once again they have let down the fans with their unwillingness to act professionally. By now we all know what had happened to the 5th ODI between India and SL at Ferozshah kotla in New Delhi. Let me not go into too much detail on the last two matches played in past 6 months at this venue. The pitch at kotla was a newly laid wicket and those two matches did not produce the kind of cricket which was expected to satisfy the fans. Added to that, Delhi cricket association (DDCA) was given 45 days time to prepare the wicket for this match and they did not even test the wicket by playing at least a first class game. The problem here is that the pitches committee can only give instructions on what kind of wicket is to be prepared for a particular series. It’s the individual state associations who maintain the pitch when during the off season. Mr Chetan Chauhan, Vice President DDCA, told the media gathering after the match that they made sure the wicket had lot of bounce especially since the last match played on this pitch had low bounce and was very slow. They were surprised to see the balls jumping of the wicket over Keepers heads. Probably Mr.Chauhan and Mr.Jaitley (President) were still in Avatar hangover and instructed the grounds men to prepare the wicket with bounce ideal for ’12 foot Na’vi’. I only hope, in future, the pitches committee will be given more powers in dealing with the pitches directly right from maintaining, testing and preparing for the match.

The man above is neither Mr. Chauhan nor the pitch curator

Well, for long, I have never been a great fan of this ground. I somehow felt, it never had a feel of a proper cricket ground, with unusual stands. Partly due to the weather, a foggy look had always been etched in the memory of cricket fans. Only positive thing I can remember from this ground was when Kumble took 10 wickets against Pakistan. Moreover Delhi crowd has never been a great supporters when its comes to test cricket. The mother of all series, India Vs Australia, happened last year at this venue and there were hardly few hundreds who were present at the venue. This, in spite, of a cracking double hundred from local boy Gambir. BCCI, in future, should decide on certain fixed venues, say 5-6 which have traditionally attracted decent crowds on all five days, for test cricket. Moreover Delhi, for the past few months, has always been in the bad books of the sporting world. First it was the slowness in the preparation for commonwealth games and now this pitch fiasco. Well I only hope the preparation for commonwealth games go on full swing, as it’s important for India to showcase to the world that such an event on large scale can happen in this country. Especially so, after China successfully hosted Olympics after various hurdles, though frankly speaking it’s difficult to match the Chinese manpower. Cricket world cup is just a year away and I sincerely hope BCCI acts quickly to prevent such things and to make sure the event is a grand success unlike the previous edition.

BCCI and its many First’s

In Cricket on December 22, 2009 at 2:40 am

With the advent of 20-20 and the unprecedented success of IPL, BCCI has undoubtedly become the cash cow of world cricket. BCCI has earned the wrath from the media and the Indian public for milking money, by making the team India play too much cricket, that too only against the top nations. In fact, the cricketing fraternity is little concerned about BCCI’s hegemony over ICC. There have been accusations of nepotism towards the local office bearers and their respective state associations. Recent example being the fact that the Lords of Asia (aka Eden gardens) has been denied a test or ODI or 20-20 for the past two years, when centers like Nagpur (Hometown for Mr.Shashank Manohar, BCCI president) keep getting matches almost once in every 6 months. In the midst of all these accusations, people have predictably forgotten the benevolent nature shown by BCCI towards the local officials and past/present Ranji players.

This article is mainly indented in bringing into the limelight some of the good measures taken by the BCCI in the past 4-5 years, which the past office bearers in BCCI failed to do so either due to negligence or lack of money. This article primarily focuses more on the measures taken by the BCCI for the ostracized section of the cricket fraternity. We have always worshipped the national players but little have anyone even thought or cared about the state of the domestic (Ranji) players where many Tendulkar’s, Dravid’s or Kumble’s have lost out due to lack of support from the association and lack of money. After all only 11 can play in a team selected from a billion people. It is on this context that the role played by BCCI should be welcomed. BCCI on its part introduced a pension scheme to the retired first class players who have never played a test. The retired players are pocketing Rs15, 000 per month and Rs25, 000 per month for those who have played atleast one test match. Respective player’s wife will continue to receive the pension after his death.

The BCCI under Mr. Sharad Pawar, increased the match fees for the domestic players. This has helped to narrow down the pay scale between international and domestic players. Now a ranji player can lead a decent living even if he doesn’t or never get selected for the national team. This will also encourage more people to consider cricket as a profession without any hesitation.

In India, cricket like movies, has always been about onscreen players. It’s the players and the commentators who have benefited the most. As with the Indian movies, the backstage players have always been a forgotten entity. Till few years back, the pitch curators and the ground staff were pocketing a mere Rs100-200 on match days and on off season, they had no means of earning. The BCCI, on its part, has increased the fees for curators to 20,000 per month. Though I should agree, this hasn’t in anyway paved way for sporting wickets. Irony is that BCCI is equally responsible for giving pitches which can last for even 15 days due to pressures from the broadcasters.

Few years back, they made it mandatory by making international players play in Ranji trophy. It thereby helps some state associations to get corporate groups to sponsor the team. In the recently concluded tests versus Lankans, the selectors made sure the reserve players were not dusting their benches, rather they were sent back to play ranji trophy to be in right groove if they are required by the team . Recent example being the success of Murli Vijay. The team management knew that Gambir won’t be available for the final test match due to family reasons, so they made sure the reserve opener Vijay get a decent outing by sending him to play the ranji during the 2nd test and retaining Badri as the 12th man. Though these things are common in Australia or SA, they have started to happen in India as well which is a good sign. And with the introduction of two tier system in Ranji, the domestic competitions are bound to get more competitive. Moreover the Ranji matches are being telecast live which is an added incentive for the players to perform as the public or die hard crazy fans like me, would be closely monitoring.

On the whole, BCCI has made sure that the money it’s reaping from telecast rights and sponsors don’t go into particular pockets or down the drain. The inception of NCA will only augur well for the youngsters. With IPL, we have stepped into the world stage and we only hope the Indian cricket and all those who are associated with it at the grass root level benefit immensely.