My thoughts, musings, opinions and rants on cricket.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Legalise Ball-Tampering

Its been 3 days since the Oval test and still ICC hasn't made it clear how exactly Darrell Hair & Billy Doctrove arrived at the conclusion that Inzamam or any other Pakistan player tampered with the ball. The hearing which was to be held on friday is most likely post-poned. Lawyers are being called upon and media is rife with criticisms and condemnations about the incident.

Now this post is not about who is right and who is wrong. The umpires followed the rule book and Inzy is too proud a man to be labelled a cheat. It is just unfortunate that the common sense was over-looked and the situation descended to become what it has now.

However, if there is one good thing that can come out of this controversy is that the ICC pay heed to Bob Woolmer's call to abolish the law 42.3 which deals with ball-tampering. For quite some time now, I've been of the belief that ball-tampering should be allowed. Simply because the game is too lop-sided against the bowlers. I'm sick of watching second class batsman plunder runs on flat pitches aided with heavy bats and short boundaries. Even a mis-timed edge goes over the ropes leaving bowlers to curse their fate. Add to this the fielding restrictions and bouncer rule and you have batsmen who can virtually plant their front leg and swing with their eyes closed. Darren Berry in The Age also talks about the same thing.

By empowering the bowlers we're only going to benefit the game and make it more competitive. Bowlers have to be careful about how to make best use of the ball and batsmen have to come up with ways to counter the late swing and seam. There is more to it than simply scratching the ball and letting it go and who better than Simon 'The Analyst' Jones to explain how its done .

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Friday, August 11, 2006

The Merely Very Good

Shaun Pollock has always been termed an all-rounder but like his profile says, any team would have him in the side for his bowling alone. I don't think that can be said anymore. His 395 test wickets at an average of just 23.42 are undeniably brilliant but a once great bowler is now merely very good. And let me tell you there is a big difference between being great and being merely very good. The best example I can give is Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
Back to Pollock, its a well known fact that his bowling record over
the past 2 or 3 years has been ordinary and comparisons to McGrath should no longer be made. Yes, McGrath has been out of action and it will be almost a year when he bowls again in the Champions Trophy but I can bet on my non-existant cat that he will never be reduced to such an ineffective and harmless bowler that Pollock has become.
To read that Polly resorted to
bowling off-spinners against SL in that fantastic Colombo test came as a disappointment to me. Bowling after a nice break of 3-4 months one would expected him to come back fresher and faster. He was never express but he could move the ball both ways at a decent clip. Age and injury do take its toll but at 33 he's not too old and hasn't suffered the long list of injuries that Jason Gillespie has endured.
It's interesting to note however that Pollock is the
#1 ranked ODI bowler (LG ICC Cricket Rankings) and his lack of pace and bite hasn't dimished his effectiveness. The same goes for Irfan Pathan who has lost considerable pace in recent times but has developed into a thinking ODI bowler. It will interesting to see how these 2 perform in the forth-coming India-SL-SA tri-series. Pathan will be looking to regain some confidence after his dismal performance in WI and Pollock reclaim some of that old magic.

Update : The Numbers Game chronicles Pollock's recent decline and Sanjay Manjrekar shares my disappointment of watching Polly bowl off-spinners.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

When it rains, it fucking pours

England can't seem to get out of their injury rut - Matthew Hoggard just got his right hand trampled on by Tim Bresnan and has got 6 stitches that most likely will see him sit out of the 1st test against Pakistan. Andrew Flintoff is already out of the 1st test but seems to be recovering well enough to come back for the 2nd test.

So now England are without their 2 best bowlers and the selectors meet tomorrow to pick a squad that will hopefully last 5 days. Pakistan too has some injury concerns with
Naved Rana recovering from Gilmore's Groin while Kamran Akmal & Mohammad Asif have also picked up injuries from the tour match against England A - both are expected to play in the Lord's Test.

Chris Read & Jamie Dalrymple have put their hands up and I think it's time England drop Geraint Jones and give Chris Read another go. He's unquestionably a better keeper and has put up the runs that definitely warrant attention. For all his supposed batting capability Geraint Jones just hasn't delivered and more importantly his wicket-keeping hasn't improved at all in the past 2 years. The Ashes are just 4 tests away and England have to win the series against Pakistan to get some confidence and you're going to make it very difficult if you don't take the catches that come your way.

Anyway, here is my 14 for the Lord's Test (Jon Lewis on stand-by if Hoggy doesn't make it)

  • Marcus Trecothick
  • Andrew Strauss (captain)
  • Alastair Cook
  • Kevin Pietersen
  • Paul Collingwood
  • Jamie Dalrymple
  • Chris Read (wicket-keeper)
  • Matthew Hoggard / Jon Lewis
  • Liam Plunkett
  • Steve Harmison
  • Monty Panesar
  • Sajid Mahmood
  • Ian Bell
  • Stuart Broad

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kumble - The Batsman

We have all heard the clichés associated with Anil Kumble – “not a big turner of the ball”… “tall, lanky”… “relies on uneven bounce”… “honest performer”… “thinking bowler” – but all of these generalizations are mainly related to his bowling.

What about his batting? India’s biggest match-winning bowler over the last 3 seasons has been consistently averaging over 20 with the bat. In the last 10 tests that average goes up to a very healthy 25.72. To put things in perspective, Sachin Tendulkar averages 28 in his last 10 matches. More than runs, it is the partnerships that have been forged that have been key in getting India out of possibly messy situations.

In the Nagpur test against England, Kumble in partnership with Kaif made an invaluable 58 and rescued India from a disastrous 190/7 to a respectable 318. In Mohali and Mumbai, Kumble again chipped in with crucial 32 and 30 and Andrew Flintoff later admitted that he had been an irritating batsman to get rid of throughout the series. Kumble’s last innings in the recently concluded St. Kitts test was another vital knock of 43 where he at times over-shadowed VVS Laxman, smashing Pedro Collins for three 4’s in an over. Laxman rightly acknowledged Kumble’s confident stroke-play, “The thing with Anil is that he is a very gutsy player, with both bat and ball. Since the last one-and-a-half years he has been very aggressive with his batting. There is drastic improvement or change in his batting in the last one-and-a-half years. In such situations, Anil becomes a little positive as he wants to take the challenge to the bowlers. It's good to see him get runs and in this fashion."

When Kumble started out he was known to be a good judge of leaving the ball outside off stump and scored his runs mainly through dabs and edges going past gully. In recent times, he has added the cover drive using the front leg to come a long way forward and following through with the blade, sometimes even going over the top and the late cut where he waits for the ball to come and just chops it through backward point. You know Kumble is in good knick when he is not averse to hooking the short ball no matter how ungainly he looks.
So don’t be surprised if soon Anil Kumble gets another cliché attached to his name and maybe this time it will be associated to Kumble – the batsman.

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