Monthly Archives: April 2010

Brother McCullum comes through

19.5

Malinga to NL McCullum, SIX, Six, Six, Six! What a blow, Nathan McCullum’s handed New Zealand a thrilling win, lands on a length outside off, just perfect for McCullum who strikes it powerfully and cleanly over the long-off boundary to seal victory for New Zealand.

(From Cricinfo)

An Awesome Gift

I used to read at least one book every week when I was in college in India. That deteriorated to about 1-2 per month when I entered graduate school and as I immersed myself in to full-fledged TV watching (Hey, I gotta keep up with baseball, football, tennis, golf, ESPN, Comedy central, Cartoon network, cricket online), the habit of reading had come to a grinding halt.

I have been, for a long time, wanting to write about cricket. Best thing would be that you get paid to do it, but that is not my goal. Not yet anyway. I was talking to my better half the other day about how I need to get back in to the habit of reading books, especially, cricket related ones, so that I can get better at writing about the beautiful game of cricket.

Today at work, I received a package, that said Amazon.com on it and I was intrigued. As I opened the package and saw the content, to my pleasant surprise, it was this:

Beyond a Boundary - CLR James

Thank you love. I have also been told to curb my urge to order cricket books online as there might be some more of these on the way already. FANTASTIC! Even when I used to read regularly, I preferred to read fiction/thrillers as they moved fast. Since these books are about cricket, its should be a breeze to get through them. I’ll try to post my take on the book when I get done. Till then, you could read this.

Antigua 2007 – Part 1

I along with my friends Nishant, Saurabh (Golu), Rohan and Aditi went to Antigua in 2007 to watch the cricket world cup. You can read about the (mis)adventures here, here and here.
Some pictures from the trip. Day 1- Day 2.5. More pictures to come soon!

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An attempt at live discussion

I have seen on ESPN that golf, basketball, baseball, football experts cover live games online where the fans can participate in the live coverage by sending in questions and comments. It is done using Cover It Live and I always thought CIL is a paid service till I found out recently it is not. So, i thought I’ll give it a shot. I plan on covering the T20 Group A match between India and South Africa on Sunday, May 5th. Below is the discussion you will need to join to discuss cricket with like minded people as the action unfolds. Join in people.

Click Here to join the discussion at 9 AM ET on Sunday!

The curious case of Yuvraj Singh

The current Indian squad for the T20 world cup has a lot of players that pick themselves, starting with the Captain MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh. Yuvraj Singh has been an automatic selection in limited overs cricket for India for a very long time. He is one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball the game has seen and the six 6’s he hit off one Stuart Broad over on that brilliant night in Durban during the 2007 T20 world cup is indelible in the memory of all Indian cricket fans and Stuart Broad. But lately, he has looked a little out of sorts. He has had a wrist injury and had a forgettable IPL tournament, where he scored a grand total of 225 runs in 14 matches at an average of 21.25 runs with a highest of 43. For someone as gifted as he is, that’s just abysmal.

That brings me to the point: Did Yuvraj Singh deserve a spot in the squad for the world cup at all? Was his spot a product, more of his reputation than his current form? It is common knowledge that Yuvraj is very comfortable against medium pacers and struggles against spinners. Considering the fact this world cup is in West Indies, where the pitches seem to be aiding spin, makes you wonder about his selection to the squad. Even his fielding quality has gone down. For his IPL team Kings XI Punjab, he doesn’t even field in the hot corner – the backward point area. MS Dhoni has shown that he trusts the off-spin of YK Pathan and the part-time spin of Suresh Raina, so Yuvraj does not bring as much value with his bowling either, any more.

I follow Yuvraj Singh on twitter and some of his tweets indicate that he is really excited to be going to the Caribbean and is looking forward to being with the boys, training and playing. At least that is a change from the sulking Yuvi that was seen for most of the IPL 2010 tournament (Yuvi strongly denied that wasn’t the case, and he wasn’t pissed off with the Punjab team management for stripping him of the captaincy). However, the value he brought to the Indian team as an electric, exciting fielder, and a breathtaking batter and a useful part-time spinner have gone down a lot in the last 6-12 months.

Even with his obvious discomfort against short-pitched bowling, Suresh Raina has gone past Yuvraj Singh in the pecking order and is showing himself to be a better fielder than Yuvi was in his peak and a more-than-useful spinner. If Yuvraj keeps (not) performing the way he is doing currently, soon, Virat Kohli will also be ahead of him in the ODI squad. Rohit Sharma has shown he has got all the talent in the world and is at least as good a fielder and bowler as Yuvraj. There is more than a crowd in Yuvraj’s limited overs cricket rear view mirror, and they are closer than they appear. He’d better get his act together and remind us all that the Yuvi we knew in the 2004-07 stretch hasn’t gone anywhere.

Why Zimbabwe, Why?

The Twenty20 world cup is fast upon us. Some of the prime contenders for the cup include the current world champion Pakistan, South Africa, India and the team constantly vying for any metallic hardware related to cricket, Australia. Australia were unceremoniously bumped off the tournament in the first round itself in the last edition of the T20 World Cup. Although, they have been saying all the right things for a while about the T20 competition has their attention and they really care about winning it etc, Australia have never seemed to care so much about the shortest format of the game.

I was hoping that this trend will continue this year as well, which means, one less contender for the cup. However, Zimbabwe, (oh that pesky Zimbabwe), a nation that has had many of its leading cricketers walking away from it due to the political situation in that country, still somehow has strung together a very capable group of young men – decided to give Australia a wake up call. Yesterday, in a practice match, Zimbabwe beat Australia by the slightest of margins (1 run). Even though it was only a practice match, considering the World Cup starts in a few days, you would expect the teams to take these games seriously, and from the looks of it, Australia did. I am very sure that Zimbabwe were looking to score any positives from this game, as on paper, they are far inferior to the quality and talent of Australia. The fact that they actually beat a near-full strength Australian team would’ve given them a shot in the arm and bodes well for their future. It also points to the crazy nature of the T20 format. Any team can beat any other team!

More importantly. Australia have been reminded of their futility in the last T20 World cup. They will not be taking any opposition lightly any more. This does not augur well for other teams. Australians are a pretty aggressive and competitive bunch, as it is. Now, with the shame of losing to a remodeled Zimbabwe team that can’t even hold a candle to all the talent and experience in the Australia team, they would be on their guard. Damn it Zimbabwe. You blew it for the rest us.

Dear Bob Willis – Shut your trap

I had written briefly about the general apathy in England for the IPL. I read recently in Cricinfo in their quotes section, the following:

Some of the four overseas players aren’t the best, you may have two top-class Indian players, the rest are rubbish.”

The quote was attributed to the ever forthcoming, Mr. Bob Willis, the former England player and now, a commentator. I had seen quite a bit of lip from a lot of columnists and talking heads from England about how the IPL is aggrandized and is ruining Cricket. This is the first I heard someone go after the quality of players in IPL.

By Bob’s estimation, a team has about 3-4 good players and the rest are just there to make the requisite 11. I completely disagree with it. Let’s look at the team that finished at the bottom of the table, Kings XI Punjab. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Ravi Bopara, Yuvraj Singh, Piyush Chawla easily come to mind as some of their better players. Let’s look at the Kolkata Knight Riders. Ganguly, Bond, Gayle, Pujara, McCullum will definitely come under the banner of really good players and Manoj Tiwary and Murali Kartik are not that far behind. These are just the names from teams that did not qualify for the semifinals.

By that yardstick  Mr. Willis, wouldn’t pretty much ALL the English county teams be termed rubbish? Let alone the county teams, how about the England Cricket team? I am sure he considers Ian Bell the best player to ever pick a bat and Jimmy Anderson the greatest exponent of swing bowling. Hey Bob, we have an inconsistent swing bowler in India too and his name is Sreesanth!

Willis’ attitude is typical of English cricket observers who have the blinders on and have a self-righteous attitude towards what they define as “proper” cricketer. It makes me absolutely sick – this attitude. Instead of taking potshots at the IPL and its players at every given opportunity, why don’t people like Bob Willis just loosen up a little bit and get off their high horses, and enjoy the spectacle that’s the IPL?