Monday, January 30, 2012

Australia vs India - The Tour Diary

Never, in the last three decades has there been an Indian tour to Australia any worse than this. In the past there was usually at least one redeeming innings or spell that made the tour at least partially worthwhile. Having won the World Cup, the Indian team simply devolved into its state in the late nineties before they learnt how to play. Fat, unfit, lazy and above all, absolutely delusional. What was going through the minds of these players?

Sehwag: Forget England, we've got this.

1st Test: Australia v India at Melbourne - Dec 26-29, 2011
Australia won by 122 runs

Dhoni: Never mind, we are poor starters anyway.

Sachin: I can just feel that century coming...


2nd Test: Australia v India at Sydney - Jan 3-6, 2012
Australia won by an innings and 68 runs

Zak: Right there's my three wickets, over to you boys!
*crickets chirping*

622 runs and one wicket later

Dhoni: Hey I just realised I can sleep while standing up.
Kohli: How dare the !@#$% Australian crowds sledge me! *Inappropriate hand gesture*.
Graeme Smith: You think you've seen Aussie sledging...

Dhoni: Whoa innings defeat...
Dhoni: Lets go karting! That means you too Rahul, put that bat down.
Dravid: But there's a hole in it.

Sachin: Yep that century is coming...


 3rd Test: Australia v India at Perth - Jan 13-15, 2012
Australia won by an innings and 37 runs

Warner: Oh yeah! All hail the next Matthew Hayden.
Sehwag: Thats funny, I thought Twenty 20 cricket was supposed to help us.
Warner: What's your batting average Virat, haha lol.
Ishant: Dude you've played like two matches.
Kohli: Come to India Warner, lets compare our !@#$% batting averages there you !@#$%.
Warner: Three words, Chennai Super Kings.
Dhoni: Ah yes good times.

Gambhir: Right thats it, I want to see *rank turners* in India. Beat that.
Indian Curators: What exactly do you think we've been preparing for the last fifty years...
The Cricket Musings: Actual spinners might help too.

Dhoni: Somebody just ban me already.

Sachin: Yep... any minute now...

4th Test: Australia v India at Adelaide - Jan 24-28, 2012
Australia won by 298 runs  

Sehwag: Right as stand-in captain I call for more optimism and positive energy!

One 386 run partnership later

Sehwag: I need a better mentor.
Ishant: I declare myself the next Mohammad Sami.
Dravid: Did I just get bowled again!?

Sehwag: Guys guys relax... we beat them 2-0 in India remember! We've got this.
The Cricket Musings: That was only because Laxman saved you.
Sehwag: ... who?

Gambhir: ...
Dravid: ...
Sachin: ...
Laxman: ...
Kohli: !@#$% (quietly)
Dhoni: ...
Saha: Hey I tried.
Ashwin: ...
Ishant: ...
Zak: ...
Yadav: ...

...  ©Getty

Sehwag: Nothing needs to change!!
The Cricket Musings: And nothing will dear boy. Nothing will.

Relive more agony:
How to Save Indian Cricket
The Horrible India vs West Indies Test Match

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How To Save Indian Cricket In 5 Easy Steps

Here we are again. After being taken to the cleaners by England, India quickly hosted a home ODI series, duly thrashed them, and life went on.

Lessons learned, none.  © AFP

But in the wise words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "you only postponed it, judgement day is inevitable". Now we have a team that is at full strength and performing even worse despite more favourable conditions and a weaker opponent. We have a team that is making Warner & Cowan look like the next Hayden & Langer, and nobodies like Hilfenhaus bowling as if they are Jason Gillespie.

One can ramble on and dissect the new level of horrors that have been transcended, but its time for a change in tone. Its time to look at how Indian cricket can be fixed, and its not all that complicated either.

1. Restrain The IPL Horse
Dear BCCI, if you want your cash cow then so be it, you started a trend that everyone follows, however everyone else knows how to let loose in small doses. A two month annual event is simply not on. The crowds are bored, the purists are cringing and the batting techniques are flopping like a dying fish. You had your fun but now realise that the development of skill is more important than the development of the wallet size, nobody will pay to go and watch street kids swing a stick and that's the way its heading.

2. Retire The Oldies
Dear selectors, when you know that half the team is ready for the old folks home, have a plan. Instead we are being treated to the shame of watching great batsmen lose their natural reflexes, embarrassing themselves against opposition they would have swished away like a fly five years ago. They are not invincible nor immortal, and if you take those three out of the team without a backup blueprint, we have a hole to replace a hole covered with sticks.

3. Develop Real Batsmen
Yes you again selectors, why not grow test match quality talent instead of selecting IPL talent and hoping for the best? The funny thing is, the domestic circuit already has players of the correct calibrations, Cheteshwar Pujara, Dinesh Karthik, Badrinath, Jaffer, Kaif just to name a few. But all of these players fell victim to the show pony bias, the insuppressible urge to hire a cowboy instead of a workhorse. Give these guys guaranteed selection for a while and let their techniques develop naturally, you can't expect players to emerge like magic.

4. Get A Real Captain
Mr Dhoni, quite a history you have developed on this blog. Maybe its time to realise for yourself that you have neither the batting technique, the tactical nous nor the hunger for test cricket captaincy. You barely qualify for selection on batting and keeping grounds. The gentlemen's move would be to step down from Test cricket now instead of 2013, rather than boldly assuming he wouldn't be dropped before then. Nasser Hussain knew when to quit with dignity.

5. Leave The Go-Karts At Home
Dear team building co-ordinator (you again Dhoni?), if a team is struggling to hit a ball, for goodness sake don't take them go-karting! Taking their minds off cricket you say? Their minds couldn't have been more off cricket to begin with. Yes we know that your home based matches are a barrel of laughs but an overseas tour to a country where you never win is pretty serious stuff. Here's an idea, maybe a few hours of hard net practice? Fielding practice? Even meditation would do.

Just working on my 'drive' .  © Flagstaffotos

All of this is easier said than done. It requires vision, maturity and sacrifice, three qualities that the governing body of Indian cricket distinctly lack. There will be a fall back, and it will take perhaps years to rebuild a team worthy of Test cricket, but it is a necessary move given that things could not get any worse right now. Without a change, its like the great Arnie says.

"You are terminated".

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Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 - The End of the World (For Indian Cricket)

The recent years could be described as the zenith of Indian cricket. A world cup, the number one test ranking, an assortment of batsman averaging above fifty. For a while all was rosy for Indian cricket as they had all the money and the silverware. The problem is though, the higher you climb the tree the more gravity laughs at you, and awaiting this Indian team in the coming year is a crash course face down in the mud.

As we speak Australia are mauling India in a manner reserved not even for Zimbabwe. The so-called best batting line-up hasn't delivered, and we all know India has nothing else up its sleeve apart from the odd Zaheer Khan spell. The fielding is a joke, the bowling a gun loaded with blanks, Gambhir and Kohli (the 'future') are nowhere as good as they think they are, and special mention to the unimaginative and dire captaincy of the most worshipped man in Indian cricket. He may be a lot of things, but as a test captain Dhoni is a disgrace.

Unfortunately for India, the problems do not end here and it won't be long before we are back in the dark days of the 90's. Yes the days when Devang Gandhi was in the team and Agarkar was the king of ducks.

Quack.  © AFP

The powers are about to shift away, and the coming year will be a telling one for Indian cricket. Here are the events The Cricket Musings predicts for 2012:

The IPL Will Start Dying
This won't be the last we see of it, but it will be on its way down. The corruption is already exposing itself with teams having to drop out and players reportedly not being paid. The already poor quality of cricket will only get worse, especially when key players will retire and or opt out altogether. Audiences will wake up worldwide, and realise that Test cricket is the only true form, and that India are hopeless at it.

The previous IPL had a lot to thank Chris Gayle for.

Tendulkar Will Get His 100th 100
But by the time it comes nobody will care any more. Except maybe cricinfo who probably have tribute articles saved up and gathering cob-webs.

Dravid and Laxman Will Retire
A sad ending, because its tragic to watch Dravid miss straight deliveries and Laxman scoring less runs than Chris Martin. What the BCCI will do is rig a home series against a Zimbabwe and give them easy centuries to bow out with. I hope so because they deserve a farewell more pleasant than James Pattinson screams.

The DRS Will Live
Eventually the ICC will wake up when the credibility of the BCCI and Dhoni will decline. Common sense will prevail in the end, even though it was years too late.

More 200's
Sehwag and Sachin only completed the inevitable. For years many got mighty close, and others would have sailed to a double had the chasing target been larger (see Shane Watson). With flat pitches still not easing up, there will be more of these on the way.

A Return Australian Series
To restore dented batting averages and the pride of Virat Kohli. They did it against England, and with India having planned next to nothing in terms of forthcoming tours, they are (as usual) free to do what they like.

A plea to the cricket gods, please save us all.

Related Reading:
Australian Cricket In Trouble
Why Dhoni Is A Fluke
Why The IPL Is Ruining Cricket