Monday, November 22, 2004

Notes from out there

The Hadlee-Chappell Trophy

* First, how wonderful that trophies are being instituted to commemorate great cricketers in the past, and even families like in this case. All combinations of Test series now being looked at for possible name combinations with Eng-SA having adopted Basil D'Oliviera. As long as some of them don't also become the Manikchand Cup.

* Equally sad is the fact that schedules are so tight that Aus & NZ can only play the minimum two tests, as do Ind v SA. We definitely deserved one more in the former.

* I'm afraid, as I was before, that despite what his teammates say, it is becoming some sort of a religious war for Gilchrist. If it was just gamesmanship, he wouldn't have lingered about to rebut with so much zeal after the Test was over.

* Two questions for Steven Lynch: (a) Is Glenn McGrath the record holder for the most innings before a test fifty? (b) Who apart from Michael Clarke has scored a test ton on debut both home & away (that too debut innings)?

* What made the McGrath 50 more memorable to watch were the astonished reactions of his teammates. The eyes of Gilchrist, Ponting and the rest fairly flew out when "Pigeon" hit that six.

* Folks, next time Matthew Hayden says the Australians never play for personal landmarks, just point him to McGrath saying he wanted to be there for Gillespie's fifty, will you? Especially since Ponting didn't declare until both made it. Of course, you could argue they won it on the 4th day (eat your heart out Stephen Fleming), they could afford it. But then so could have Rahul Dravid in l'affaire 194*, but he didn't bother.

* Yet another Gilchrist century at #7. Yawn... How predictable.

* The Aussies may be evil | whiners | bullies | devils incarnate | brats | poor losers - whatever you choose. But they undeniably play with a passion that few other sporting teams can rival.

The Ind-SA Trophy

* Continuing with the theme above, who would you pick to name this trophy after? Azhar-Cronje, sadly, cannot be accepted.

* I lost quite a bit of interest when I saw that India had picked three spinners, leaving out Pathan. It immediately indicated two things: one, it was going to be a docile | friendly pitch. Mostly docile after the shenanigans of Wankhede. Two, the other strike bowler was being left out. Zaheer isn't yet back to strike-bowler-in-NZ form. This meant that India ceded the initiative on the 1st morning by letting off the hook someone who has never opened before in a Test & the young captain of the oppn. with no experience in those conditions. Hall was shuffling quite a bit, so Pathan's incoming ball which has troubled many a talented RH Batsman in the past may have been useful.

* The most consistent (and lucky) batsman of late i.e. Kaif has to sit out. Soon the question will be asked: is Ganguly affecting the balance of the side?

* I would want to be critical of the SA approach in being safety-first just from a spectator's pov, not as an Indian fan. But India have to learn how to grapple with the defensive & slowing-down tactics of any opposn - they cannot demand fast-paced rhythms in matches all the time.

* If they score fast enough, I hope the Indians declare even if 100 runs behind. Show some initiative and make something happen.


* Everyone is jumping on the poor Bangladesh cricket team. Why they expect them to do better so soon is beyond me. The history of the game shows that gains are extremely rare to come by in the early part of a team's Test career. Look at the most of the Test nations. Give them a decade atleast. Dav Whatmore doesn't pull out rabbits out of hats for a living.

* Amit Varma in his blog reacts to the comments of Ian Chappell (no less!) criticising his take on the chucking issue calling for more scientific aid. Amit rightly points out in Misunderstanding #1 what headline writers have helped confuse, viz. that the recent study hardly claims that all past bowlers willingly chucked, just that the current definition is clearly invalid. You can read the erudite tark-vitarks on the links in Amit's post.

The larger question for me is: how do we find a middle ground where players & umpires don't feel threatened by the advent of technology while the administrators can come up with rigid definitions that can handle all cases thrown at it? Chappell wants a simpler & subjective solution while people like Amit advocate a more complex (complex as to the implementation & perception) & objective solution. This is not restricted to the "chucking" question, but also to other pricklish issues ranging from recalculation of scores in truncated matches to LBW automation.

I don't agree with Chappell saying "for god sake's it's a GAME" - yes it's a game, but a professional one with a turnover in millions and one that affects lives of its players. OTOH, I find that in games, it is preferable to keep things simple. This means that you will have the odd blowup with someone like Murali breaking the definition - players, umpires, boards will have to agree to the existence of grey areas. That is a subjective definition acceptable to all which says something like if 5 of these eminent people think that delivery or that action is bad, it's bad - even if it just looks bad but doesn't satisfy the theoretical definition. Hard luck over hard facts.

The point here is tell everyone involved that either you accept a loose, mostly-works interpretation that we will occasionally slip up with, or otherwise, we default to a airtight, resolved-by-technology approach that you won't understand but have to abide by. There's a lot of finger-pointing these days in cricket - time all the main parties were constructive about issues. Do the players associations have any opinions on such matters?

(The above was not pretending to be a solution, so don't blame me for the naivete :-) )


Blogger Swapnil Shah said...

*Gandhi-Mandela for Ind-SAf ??

*Another Stats question:

India v South Africa: Kolkata Test.
Due to the worrying recent lean patch in Sachin Tendulkar's career, it gave me immense pleasure to see him hit the winning runs.

My question is: Has Sachin Tendulkar ever hit the winning runs in a Test Match before? In fact, has he ever been not out at the end of an innings especially in the 4th innings (or last innings) - in matches that India have won, lost, and drawn? What are the corresponding stats for ODIs?

This is particularly relevant because it is a common belief that throughout his career, Sachin Tendulkar is always beleived to have faltered in key matches/situations. And, also, the match is never over until Sachin Tendulkar gets out !!

10:28 PM  

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