Sunday, June 19, 2011

The BCCI vs The DRS - The Height of Arrogance

Its not old news that our friends at the BCCI continue to utterly refuse the DRS system, their secretary saying as much once more yesterday. The previous reaction from most of the world including myself would be to shake our heads in annoyance, probably mutter a few profanities under our breath (quietly), and get on with life. Today it is different however, today I am compelled to dig deeper, perhaps get an understanding of the psyche behind all this, is there a motive underneath it all?

If this picture was the DRS run on the BCCI decision,
they would call this one not out despite the evidence, just because they can.

Let us try to formulate reasons as to why this ridiculous situation is with us:

Because Sachin And MS Say So
The two most powerful figures in Indian cricket, possibly all cricket, possibly all of India, claim that the technology is not 100% accurate. Perhaps the BCCI is no more than just a spineless extension of their voices? In that case, who are Tendulkar and Dhoni to make a critique on the DRS technology? Its like a McDonald's cashier having the power to stop them selling coke because he doesn't agree with the level of fizz. There is usually a players association present, a body that is supposed to be representative of the players, I haven't heard a squeak from them, if there even is one.

Because The Secretary Says So
Our friend the BCCI secretary, N. Srinivasan, claims boldly that they are a "structured organization" who "make their own decisions". Lets back track a second, who on earth is N. Srinivasan to be the judge on this? Does he even have a cricketing background? He is an industrialist from Chennai, who is he to be the face of the BCCI? As far as I am concerned he is no more qualified to make these statements than Queen Latifah. If there really was a structured organization, the players association would answer to him, and he would answer to the ICC. In a land where money talks, this is what happens.

Common sense was not in the job description.

Because The ICC Don't Say A Word
Srinivasan is the secretary for the Indian cricket board, not world cricket. He should have absolutely no say in this matter, yet as always there is a deathly silence from the so called governing body of world cricket. There needs to be a China mentality here, the ICC should be in charge, period. The sad reality of it all is that the ICC is merely a curtain, a faded doormat for one nation's selfish cricket board. In a recent survey, 94% of players agree that ICC does not act in the best interests of cricket, and 69% agree that the BCCI has an unfair influence on the ICC. The people are not blind, only the people at the top are.

Because The DRS Is Not Accurate
The big argument is that they cannot guarantee 100% accuracy and therefore the system is invalid. This is an unbelievably idiotic statement. Imagine you were making a return on investment, "yes yes we know that you can give me a nine dollar return on average, but you can't guarantee me ten dollars! Therefore I will settle for fifty cents. And so will the rest of the world because I said so". Physics, mathematics and statistics, the very foundations of our scientific knowledge are based on assumptions. Why do unlike poles attract and like poles repel? They just do, the same way the BCCI repels intelligence.

And So What Happens From Here?
As usual. Nothing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

West Indies vs India - Series Review

An interesting series indeed! Rather than dawdle towards a predicted 5-0 whitewash, given how useless the West Indies are on paper, they showed some serious mettle and turned in a respectable 3-2 loss. India, sending in a B team, will be happy with the series win, but at what cost? Lets review the highlights.

Pace and Bounce!
Lo and behold not every pitch is a dead batting track! What a difference it makes when Roach and Russell are steaming in with a purpose, threatening to bash a few helmets and rip out a few fingers. We saw glimpses of the good old days, and the Indian batsman, barring few, were absolutely clueless.

The likes of Dhawan, Tiwary and Badrinath are big scorers back at home, here they look like school kids, fending away nervously and having neither the technique nor the temperament to survive. We saw this in the World Twenty 20 last year, and we saw it again. Give them a real pitch with real bowlers, and they have no idea.

Some West Indies Batting Spunk
Well its about time we saw a couple of young West Indians throwing the bat around and digging themselves out the rot. Some preferred to keep batting in slow motion (Samuels, Sarwan), but those who took some initiative a la Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell, really pulled the West Indies out of the moat. Russell in particular is a real delight to watch, a young whippersnapper with the right attitude and plenty of that famous West Indian swagger. A big future prospect.

The Michael Jackson of cricket is born. © Associated Press

The New Spin Doctors
Amit Mishra topped the wickets tally for both sides with a great economy rate of 3.98. He made the West Indian top order look extremely silly, and with Bhajji and Ashwin contributing next to nothing with the ball, he could well have cemented himself a spot. A new boy in the West Indies, Anthony Martin also made his mark with eight wickets and some hilarious press conference swagger. "Nobody destroys me on my pitch" he says, and its about time!

The Report Cards
And so The Cricket Musings will now play headmaster and grade the performances.

West Indies
Lendl Simmons - (7). A real trier, as he showed against Pakistan also. This puts him above most of his peers already.
Kirk Edwards - (2). Absolutely woeful, and should never be seen again.
Adrian Barath - (no score)
Ramnaresh Sarwan - (7). Somehow ended up with the most runs with an average of 54. He is nowhere near the old Sarwan but started to find his prime in game five.
Darren Bravo - (6). A frustrating player given that he is supremely talented. One hopes that he only needs time to become one of the moderns greats.
Marlon Samuels - (5). Good to see him back but only showed glimpses of his talented self. Needs to convert his starts.
Kieron Pollard - (6). Has the potential to become the West Indian Flintoff, if he just gets his priorities in order.
Carlton Baugh - (6). Gets more points for trying to at least build an innings and stick around. Formed some crucial partnerships and was handy with the gloves.
Darren Sammy - (3). As a bits and pieces player, he is contributing far too little and is quickly becoming a dead weight.
Andre Russell - (9). The find of the tournament. Not only did he belt more runs than most of the 'batsmen', he chimed in with eight wickets and lively pace. Another star in the making, we hope.
Dwayne Bravo - (2). Turned up for two matches when he needn't have. Go back to the IPL.
Danza Hyatt - (1). Two innings and one run. Goodnight.
Ravi Rampaul - (4). A mixed bag before being strangely rested for the remainder of the series.
Anthony Martin - (7). Eight wickets and a great attitude to boot. Another good find.
Devendra Bishoo - (5). Showed us how useful he is after a good world cup, but needs more game time.
Kemar Roach - (6). Didn't get many wickets, but Roach was key in getting the Indians hopping around.

Parthiv Patel - (5). Showed that he is handy at the top, but starts are not good enough.
Shikhar Dhawan - (3). Was awful with his 'defend-or-slog' mentality. Should not be seen again at this level.
Virat Kohli - (7). Lack of UDRS and the constant hailing as 'the future of Indian cricket' didn't help him. Be quiet and let the man bat.
S. Badrinath - (2). Atrocious technique against the short ball, again a huge reminder of the gap between Ranji Trophy and real cricket.
Manoj Tiwary - (2). Equally bad, will not make runs outside of India.
Rohit Sharma - (8). A huge learning curve and without him, India could have lost this 5-0. He needs more chances.
Suresh Raina - (3). Irresponsibly poor shot selection in crucial stages. Certainly no leader with the bat.
Yusuf Pathan - (1). Shocker. Badly needs a reminder that not every match is the IPL, and maybe some meditation.
Harbhajan Singh - (6). Steady with the ball and hard to get away. But as usual no wickets.
Praveen Kumar - (6). Really gets the ball to talk, and will be a good foil for Zaheer Khan.
Amit Mishra - (8). Great bowling, ensuring that the clueless West Indian top order could not build a solid total.
R. Ashwin - (4). Disappointing show, and completely outclassed by Mishra.
Munaf Patel - (8). Had my doubts about him, but he proved me wrong with accurate, no-nonsense bowling.
R. Vinay Kumar - (no score)
Ishant Sharma - (2). Is this really the same Ishant who had Ponting hopping around? A ghost.

So just for fun, lets average out these scores:
West Indies - 5.01 / 10
India - 4.64 / 10

Conclusion: These are two seriously bad teams.

It is wishful thinking, but by some miracle the poor standard of cricket might inspire the cricket boards and lazy players to actually turn up next time and make this the showpiece event it could have been. But given recent events, anything of the sort is only a distant dream.

A dream where Gayle isn't just a spectator with bad hair. © AFP

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

India vs West Indies 1st ODI - A Match Made of Slop

A cricket match must know it has a problem when even the one hour highlights are a dead bore. Fact, barring very few individuals we are seeing two very average teams playing in very average matches, with the slightly less average team coming out on top. We have to focus on the bad, as singling out moments of good cricket makes a very short blog entry.

The West Indian Lowlights
The shot selection by the West Indian top order was as if it was tequila inspired. Simmons and especially Edwards did not even have half a clue against steady pace bowling and some quality spin, swishing away aimlessly as if chasing a rogue fly. Apart from a great shot from Darren Bravo, it was mostly embarrassing.

The coaching clinic is that way son. © Associated Press

Sarwan and Samuels, the only real batsmen there, gave us glimpses of their skill laced among periods of nothingness. A combined 111 runs from 169 balls at a strike rate of 66, only managed to haul their team to a mediocre total of 214. That total too was helped by umpiring blunders and the BCCI's idiotic refusal to not use the DRS system. More capable opponents would have made the Indians really pay.

The Indian Lowlights
Rather than dismiss this total in the Hayden-Gilchrist-Ponting style of old (looking further and further in the past all the time), India kept the West Indies interested with an equally rudderless display. Shikhar Dhawan seemed intent on the 'six or nothing' method rather than accumulate runs, and threw his wicket away after grinding out a fifty. Rohit Sharma, despite settling down later on looked in full IPL mode, and was lucky to even get as far as he did. Only Suresh Raina looked organized, despite he too throwing his wicket away to a dumb shot.

The Reality Of It All
Just like the Pakistan vs West Indies series recently seen, this was like a B team tour match. Player greed and stupid politics ensure that the quality of international cricket is on a steady and alarming decline. It will only get worse as the IPL will rob us of quality cricket, and players will only save themselves for the 'big tours'. Just imagine if the teams were selected to their true potential:

1. Virender Sehwag
2. Sachin Tendulkar
3. Gautam Gambhir
4. Virat Kohli
5. Yuvraj Singh
6. Suresh Raina
7. MS Dhoni (c) (w)
8. Harbhajan Singh
9. R Ashwin
10. Zaheer Khan
11. Munaf Patel


1. Chris Gayle (c)
2. Adrian Barath
3. Darren Bravo
4. Ramnaresh Sarwan
5. Shiv Chanderpaul
6. Kieron Pollard
7. Dwayne Bravo
8. Carlton Baugh (w)
9. Kemar Roach
10. Jerome Taylor
11. Devendra Bishoo

His presence alone is worth more runs than Kirk Edwards. © Getty

The bolded players were present on the day, that's nine out of twenty two. Only our imaginations can savour this contest, In reality we will only get this garbage.