Tag Archives: South Africa

Ten Things about Group Captain Sachin Tendulkar

Source: AFP

On September 3, 2010, Indian batting ace, Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the honorary rank of group captain by the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for his contribution to cricket. Instead of an honorary award, what if he really was a group captain in the IAF?

1.  Tendulkar will be the first airman to fly 200 sorties in one day. Everybody knew from the day he entered the Indian air force and started flying them planes, he was gonna be the one to break the 200 barrier. Some thought this day might never happen and have to live with the fact that a Pakistani group captain had the record for the most number of sorties in a day.

2. When Tendulkar enters the peak of his prowess as a true dog fight legend, his wingmen would be extremely terrible. They would be so inept that they can’t even do the one job that is asked of them — hold one end up with some fake firefight and pretend to shoot at the enemy here and there.

3. For the majority of his flying career, he would be saddled with hand me down jets from the previous era which malfunction constantly with failures at the most inopportune times. During an epic battle against an archenemy, he would get 136 kills over the skies of Chennai and leave the rest of the squadron to shoot down just 17 more, as his back engine was fouling up but alas, that wouldn’t happen!

4. In the “Battle of the Hero Cup”, when senior and more experienced fighter pilots like Devil Kap were dithering over whether they could deal the deciding blow, Young Tendulkar would volunteer to take control and launch in to a certain suicide mission, only to emerge victorious.

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A good father

Herman Van Werkhoven. He and I have been friends for about 5 years now since he came to U.S. from South Africa, during which time we played together on the university club team. He moved away for a couple of years to Arizona and now he is back. We just spent the evening talking Cricket over a few beers and my possible plans of visiting South Africa in December when India will be playing South Africa in a test series. Herman was explaining to my wife why South Africa, although a very talented team, has not won anything meaningful in Cricket and whatever the fuck has happened to J. P. Duminy! (Herman even used the “C word” – Choke.)

It looks like the only test match I would be able to watch if I were to be able to go to South Africa would be the 2nd test match of the series at Durban. This led to us talking about Andrew Hudson top scoring for South Africa in the opening test match of the 1996/97 series in Durban and India getting obliterated by Allan Donald. It was also the test match during which I fell out of a bus in Chennai and my head hit the curb and I passed out with a concussion. Some Good Samaritan put me in a taxi and took me to my sister’s house. As I was coming around, I wanted to make sure I had not lost much time and I asked this stranger whether it was still the first day of the Durban test match. He gave me the look as If I was speaking Greek and I came to know much later from my sister that this guy had told her that I had gone completely mental.

Days old Noah with a cricket bat autographed by Fanie De Villiers

Anyway, coming back to Herman — When he was away, he and his wife had a baby boy, Noah, who now is 20 months old. As any sane Cricket fan would do, Herman put an autographed cricket bat in the hands of Noah few days after he was born. Herman always said, “I know the kids growing up in the U.S. have a lot of choices when it comes to sports. I just want to make sure my son makes the right choice”. Good man. Oh by the way, the cricket bat – signed by none other than the great South African bowler, Fanie De Villiers.  (We spent another few minutes raving about that spell of Fanie like some school girls talking about Robert Pattinson!).

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O Bowlers, Where Art Thou?

The fact that India could not defend a reasonably good score of 285 against a weak Zimbabwe team proves one thing that the followers of Indian cricket have long been aware of – the scarcity of match winning bowlers in the Indian set up. The ease with which Zimbabwe chased down the score was very uncomfortable to watch. Agreed, India was playing a second unit team and the three pace bowlers used in this match were all making their international debut, but for crying out loud, its Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe that is shorn of all their major players due to Mugabe’s politics and are on the mend.

Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra who would’ve been the first choice seamers have been rested and so was the first choice spinner, Harbhajan Singh, for this rather meaningless tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka. The recent Twenty20 world cup debacle, rightfully, exposed the shortcomings of the Indian batsmen against the bouncing ball (yet again) but an important aspect that was missed by all and sundry amongst all the finger pointing and brawl gate, was that the Indian bowling could not restrict the opposition in any of the matches (except against newbies Afghanistan). The pace bowlers looked toothless on the same pitch where the Jerome Taylors and Shaun Taits of the world were making the Indian batsman hop around like cat on a hot tin roof. Even the medium pace of Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy was making the Indians feel extremely uncomfortable, which shows how ineffective the Indian pace attack was. [The only bowler that looked reasonable - and he was a spinner - was Harbhajan Singh but even he did not look like taking wickets, although he restricted the batsmen almost always, except in the all crucial do-or-die game against Sri Lanka.]

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What is wrong with South Africa?

South Africa came in to the T20 world cup as one of the contenders, in spite of all the baggage they have been carrying ever since their re-entry to world cricket in 1990-91. Some of their players featured in the recently concluded IPL 3 and seemed to be in form, including the rejuvenated Kallis at the top of the  order, Albie Morkel performing well for his franchise (Chennai) and their bowling ace Dale Steyn, hustling batsmen even on flat Indian pitches with his pace and deadly swing. They have always been one of the best fielding sides and with players like AB DeVilliers, Mark Boucher,  and with their skipper Graeme Smith coming back in to the fold, they surely did look set for a semifinal spot (at the least) and on their way to erasing years of futility in international events. And then, the tournament began.

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Coach calls for change in approach

After his team crashed out of the Twenty20 World cup tournament, a lot sooner than everybody thought, the national team’s coach from South Africa, wants a change in approach from his players:

“We won’t win the World Cup in 2011 if we continue like this. We’ll have to change our approach. We cannot keep repeating the same errors and not make changes.”

The team had players prepared for the Twenty20 world cup by playing in the IPL but even with that, they got knocked out early.  He said that “few hard calls” will have to be made to achieve the results that is expected of the team. He added:

“I don’t want to come down on individuals, but the time is right for change. We have to sit down and think about what is important to change and which players are the right ones to fit in with that change. If we need to make a few hard calls, it will be done.”

He tried to identify the cause of the problems and why his team may have failed to get to the semifinals.

“We again could not cope with the pressure. The question has to be asked why we could not manage it and why it happens repeatedly. Is it our approach to batting, is it our general approach, or are we maybe too tentative? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself. We never reached the kind of form that allowed us to charge. If we performed well in one area, we performed poorly in another. As a team we did not perform well in all three disciplines.”

“We need to find out exactly why they were so under par, and what can be done to improve the situation,”  Andrew Hudson, newly-appointed convenor of selectors,  was quoted as saying by the Sport 24 website.

Wait, Andrew what?? Oh.. All of the above were about South Africa and by their coach Van Zyl?. I thought for a second, since the cricket world revolves around India alone, the above statements were about India’s failures at the world cup. So, there was another top notch team that was expected to do well, didn’t? Who woulda thunk? :)

Courtesy: Cricinfo

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Match Summary: India v South Africa T20 Worldcup

After accomplishing the first step (as easily as they were expected to) in regaining the T20 world cup trophy, India were on to sussing their strengths and weaknesses, against an equally strong South African team, who should be among the top 3 contenders for the cup, on Sunday May 2, 2010. India had a setback before the toss, with Gautam Gambhir declared unavailable due to diarrhea. Also, they rested Zaheer Khan, which meant, India went in with a spin heavy attack and a brand spanking new opening combination (both bowling & batting).

The pitch, similar to other pitches in the Caribbean, was expected to be slow and assist spinners. But due to the early start, there was to be some assistance to the pace bowlers as well. The outfield at the picturesque Beausejour cricket field was lush, which meant its gonna be slow and there is not gonna be much value for the shots and there will be premium put on running between the wickets. South Africa, winning the toss, elected to insert India in, to take advantage of whatever assistance their pace heavy bowling line up could get from the pitch and through the air. Continue reading