Wednesday, February 20, 2008

IPL - Retired players dont command a premium

The IPL has easily surpassed all the predictions and it has made the ICL look like a small event. Never has India seen such a frenzy and display of power and money. It is fitting that Cricket is the medium for this frenzy in a country that treats its international cricketers like demi-gods.

One has to thank Zee for starting ICL, otherwise BCCI would not have moved its rear and utilised the abundance of creative energy that it has in its ranks. And thanks to that initiative, India is just become a Super Duper Cricketing power in the cricketing world.

With the biddings having taken place today, and Dhoni bagging the title of the most expensive cricketer at 6 crore rupees for the Chennai team, and with Symonds following closely at 5.4 crore (5.3 / 5.4 crore according to some news channels), it is clear that the team management is looking for players who have current form and who are on active duty for their respective boards.

No wonder then, that a great player like Warne has not been sold for a premium and someone like McGrath hasn't even found a taker. It is nothing less than a dent in their iconic reputation in their home country. But thats how the cookie crumbles. The management is into ICL purely for the money. They are not willing to compromise on the ability of the selected players to help the respective team owners in terms of marketing while serving as an asset to their onfield competition.

Some greats of the game, I suspect, will have to bear the shock of being omitted and others will have to be satisfied with the money which could be a lot lesser than what they would have fancied themselves worth.

The formula is clear, in my opinion, they are looking at
IPL Team =
Current Performance + Potential Performance + Marketeability - Length of Break from Cricket

If observed closely, everyone has bid for cricketers who are currently playing or have retired only in the last 30 - 60 days.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The CB series is just about to get hotter.

This series has thrown up some really interesting facts. Australia have by far been the best side and they have 3 bonus points from 3 matches to show for their efforts. India and Sri Lanka have a lot of catching up to do. The only difference between the 3 sides has been the inability of Sri Lanka and India to chase town pretty meagre totals that Australia had set against them.

By saying that Australia has been the best, I, in no way imply that they were unbeatable, in fact their batting standards have been pretty ordinary when compared to the same line up less than a year ago. With scores of 51/3 (v IND in the rain affected match), 253/6 (v SL), 159 all out (v IND), 236 all out (v SL) and 203/9 (v IND), there are clear signs that the Aussie batters are a pale shadow of their usual self. Only Gilly and Pup have been able to get some decent scores in the series. Infact they have been up against some good bowling by both the teams that has made it hard for them. What has helped them immensly is the outstanding contribution that their Bowlers have provided and some poor batting by both the visiting teams.

Having said that, I foresee an even more closely contested second half of this round robin phase. For India, Gambhir & Dhoni are doing well, Rohit Sharma has been fluent in patches and Sachin is due for a big one. And by the look of it, I think Yuvraj seems to be emerging from his stretched form slump (although the 26 v Aus was not highly convincing). Its time for Veeru to join the party and I then reckon that India will be a serious contender for a spot in the 3 match finals.

All the best.

Friday, February 8, 2008

India's biggest threat

The biggest threat that the Indian team faces is in the form of 2 Aussie pacers. One is Brett Lee, who seems to be bowling in an area with walls on both the sides of the length of the pitch. Such has been his accuracy in terms of the line and length.

The other one, without doubt is Nathan Bracken. I fear Bracken more than Lee purely because of his guile and undetectable change of pace. While Uthappa handled him well in the T20 World Cup,that is the past, our Indian batters will have to watch out very carefully in the current series.

With Lee and Bracken, both getting a fiffer in the first 2 matches for Australia in this tourny, I a sure both Lanka and India have to develop a strategy to counter them successfully.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Improvement : Slow but steady

First 74 all out, then 194 all out and now 267/4. The performance has been steadily improving and that augurs well with the competition going into the 2nd round of the triangle. Its a pity that India has had 2 consecutive games washed out and that might just hurt them in the final tally if the points go down to the wire. Lets hope that India wins enough ( preferably all ) to make it through to the CB finals.

Coming to the 2nd ODI, India started well with Sachin and Sehwag seemingly having little trouble negotiating the Lankan pacers. It all started with Sachin dragging one on to his stumps and Sehwag perishing in a pretty lame fashion. This was probably the best period for Mahela to apply pressure and he did so by bringing in Murali. Sharma, Yuvraj and Gambhir were bound to have trouble negotiating the off-spinner. Especially with Sharma facing him for the first time, Yuvraj coming back amidst a form slump and Gambhir also being relatively new to the Lankan attack although he had scored a century against them before.

And the move paid out, with Murali getting Yuvraj and Sharma in his first over, although Sharma was unlucky to have been given out caught behind to a delivery he did not edge. Gambhir also had a lot of trouble against him initially.

But what shone through in the second half of the Indian batting was their utter dominance over the Lankan attack, including Murali. Vaas was unusaully expensive and off the boil. Dhoni found his way to some big runs and Gambhir just carried on from where he left off against Australia. They both milked the bowling till the 40th over and then launched a controlled attack by scoring 105 runs in tha last 10 overs.

All in all, a very satisfactory fight back and hope to see Yuvraj and Sharma getting a few good scores in the coming matches.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Egg ...... but on whose face??

"Meri jaan meri jaan murgi ke ande"...... That seems to be the song that fits best to a selected few Aussie youths. For the uninitiated lot.... its an old song from an Indian (Hindi) movie that had crept into the slang culture of the country. It means " My beloved, My beloved, These are eggs from a hen". Although this may sound very ordinary in English, it was quite a song in Hindi when it came on to the scene.

Anyway, coming back to Cricket, Murali seems to be quite immune to this kind of a behavior from the Aussie crowd and I must really take a bow for this humble guy from the island nation to have not created such a fuss about it. He did what he had to do, and that was to report the incident. After that, he has just gone about doing his business.

But this has once again reinforced the belief that the Aussie crowd (a few unwanted people in them) is one of the most hostile among the cricket playing nations. I will not talk about the booing of players as that is a common occurence all over the world, but things like throwing banana skins and eggs is simply unpardonable.

At this point, I remember a few instances when some of my fellow country men decided to do something similar when they attacked a player ( who was feilding close to the boundary) with rotten tomatoes and plastic bottles. There have been instances of such degree that prompted the respective authorities to install nets over the seating enclosures in a few Indian stadiums. That has more or less taken care of the on field "Attack"on players.

But what does one do when something like that happens off the field and when you least expect it. The aggression of the Australian is well known to the world, but for it to take such forms is a scary thought. Before one knows it, an over jealous cricket fanatic might just attack a player with an intention to cause physical harm.

This is certainly not turning out to be a pleasant Australian sporting summer. With controversies galore, it has been a challenge for the authorities to keep track of the on field developments. Cricket has been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since the Sydney fiasco came to light.

I hope to see some absorbing cricket and wish that all the controversy takes a back seat at least for the time being.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ishant = Srinath

Venkatesh Prasad had compared Ishant Sharma to Javagal Srinath when the latter had started off at the International arena. While I might disagree in terms of the bowling action, I do see more than one similarity in their style.

1) Both started with their stock delivery being the Inswinger.
2) Both have been deceptively quick.
3) Both have similar build.

But the one that I find the most startling and I wish that it does not continue with Ishant is the luck factor. In my view, I see Srinath as one of unluckiest bowlers in International cricket. Atleast from the time I have been following the sport. The number of catches dropped and LBW decisions not given must have easily robbed Srinath a good 50 wickets each in Test and ODI cricket. He suffered from poor support in the outfield as India really did not possess great fielders except for Jadeja and Azhar during the major part of Srinath's career. And the umpiring standards were below average in those times aswell.

I raise this point after seeing Ishant start out in an extremely promising fashion. He deserved a good 3 or 4 wickets in the 2nd Innings at Perth and the 1st innings at Adelaide but was denied the same by some consistent umpiring which favoured the batsmen of both the teams. And with Clarke being dropped off his bowling in his first T-20 over due to a mis-understanding between Bhajji and Irfan denied Ishant another wicket.

I do hope he gets luckier with time and hopefully goes on to take more wickets on a regular basis.

Lucky number 74

74 all out.

I hope this number stays in the memory of the new look Indian cricket team atleast for the duration of the remainder of the tour 'Down Under'.

To be honest, although I did not expect the Indian batsmen to perform exceedingly well in this match, a score of 74 has given me a shock. I expected the 'Men in Blue' to score around 120 and I certainly expected them to be bowled out.

Now, with 6 players stepping onto the Melbourne pitch for the first time in their life, I expected the Indian's to falter. And in that context,Dhoni did the right thing by calling this a practice match, but in the same breath, I would like to add that the least Dhoni could have done was to bat like Irfan did. I expected him to use his brains to get the runs and not his brawn. His form is now looking a bit of a concern although he seems to be unperturbed by the pressure.

Anyways, past is past. Now with Gambhir, Uthappa, Sharma, Kaarthik, Pravin Kumar and Sreesanth getting to know the real deal, I would expect them to adjust a little more carefully and quickly in the 50-50 version of the game.

But a fresh challenge has cropped up with Australia playing the likes of Hopes and Bracken. These bowlers have, in the past, used the slower delivery extremely well. And as was witnessed in today's match, it can cause a lot of trouble the Indian batters if they fail to read it out of the bowlers hand. Ian Harvey and Steve Waugh used it successfully in the past and now these bowlers are using is very well. And Bracken goes a step further, he is an extremely capable slog over bowler with amazing accuracy with the yorkers.

India better adjust quickly.