Tuesday, February 28, 2006

India v England Series Preview

Cricinfo lists the probably playing XIs for the Nagpur test as follows:

Probable teams
India: 1 Wasim Jaffer, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Anil Kumble, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Piyush Chawla, 11 Sreesanth England: 1 Andrew Strauss, 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Kevin Pietersen, 6 Andrew Flintoff, 7 Geraint Jones, 8 Ian Blackwell, 9 Matthew Hoggard, 10 Shaun Udal, 11 Steve Harmison

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ball or No Ball? Fair or Unfair?..... Logical or Illogical?

I found this video link posted on one of the cricket forums that i visit. It has Michael Holding holding forth, with video evidence and all, on bowling actions. He compares Shoaib Akthar and R. P. Singh.

Holding seems to be suggesting there that theres a kink in the Shoaib action, even accounting for the hyperextension. The problem with throwing, as explained so vividly by Colin Cowdrey in his autobiography, is that while the bowled delivery comes out of an arc, the thrown delivery seems to come out of a muzzle. Hence, the batsman facing the thrown delivery does not have the arc of the arm from which he can follow the initial line of the ball, that he would ordinarily have when facing the normal, legal delivery. This i believe, is where Michael Holding's front on angle is significant.

Harsha Bhogle on the Indian Team selection for the Nagpur Test

Harsha Bhogle who is one of the few cricket writers whos columns i follow regularly, confirms, clarifies and presents his opinion on the selection for the Nagpur Test. His comments on the pace quartet present a firm opinion on the "Away Dilemma". He also offers a perspective on the Ganguly selection and suggests that it is time to stop belittling Ganguly, and instead celebrate his achievements.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Curtly Ambrose

Came across this terrific Curtly Ambrose video on google video. I also found this video of his famous 7/1 spell at Perth.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The beauty of the Away Test series....

The big story of this English touring team is the presence on Monty Panesar, a 23 year old sikh left arm spin bowler, in the English touring party.

Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid

Thanks everyone for your comments. I inadvertantly deleted Om's comment, thankfully i still have it on my email. I need to figure out how i managed to delete in on the blog.

These have been the senior pros in the batting for a long time now. One of them has now been dropped in favour of a younger batsman (Kaif or Raina.. Kaif will probably get his chance first, given his sterling batting at the business end of the Ranji Trophy).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sincere apologies to Nasser Hussein.....

Ganguly dropped for Nagpur Test - Cricinfo.com 
Ganguly not picked for First Test - Rediff.com 
Ganguly shown the door, two new faces in - Indiatimes 
Ganguly out of India squad for First Test against England - Indian Express Cricket 
India signal end of Saurav Ganguly's Test career - Indian Express 
Ganguly dropped from India Test squad - Reuters 
Ganguly left out for First test against England - Hindustan Times 
Goodbye Ganguly as India selectors vote for youth - Reuters

Nasser Hussein suggested to Michael Vaughan that he ought to do everything possible to win in India, on and off the field, and that included being creative in his use of the Sourav Ganguly issue.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Should i include Bangladesh in my rankings?

I have resisted from including Bangladesh in my rankings so far, due to their relative infancy as an ODI team. But with Bangladesh beating India, Australia and Sri Lanka in the space of 24 months now, im seriously wondering whether they ought to be included. I didnt want to have them as a new side, languishing consistently at the bottom of the rankings, but now things are different.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SA v Aus, parallels with the recent India v Pak series

In my book (read my ratings), this is the blue ribbon event of the test match calender. Such has been the Australian dominance however, that the ribbon has now lost its lustre.

This time however, with the absence of Glenn McGrath from the ODI series, and his possible absence from the test series, there is the prospect of an evenly matched Test series. The South Africans seem to agree.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The stillness of expectation...

Theres no cricket for ten days, apart from games in New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, where West Indies and Bangladesh are touring. The English tourists are in India, and had a gentle warm up against a CCI Presidents eleven at the beautiful Brabourne stadium in Bombay.

Brabourne offers the cricket viewer the choice of sitting right behind the bowlers arm and watching the action from the north stand. I remember watching Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne bowl here in 2001, when Australia played their tour opener against Ranji champions Bombay. It was quite mesmerising. McGrath was bowling from the North Stand end, and watching him deliver from close to the wicket, never ever drifting on to the batsmans pad was quite an experience. The great Shane Warne snaffled 7 wickets in the 2nd innings in the game, as the Bombay batsmen, in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar faltered in their quest for quick runs before setting up a declaration. Australia were in trouble on the last afternoon in that game, with McGrath and Steve Waugh left to save the day for them. Typically, they did so in style, with the great Waugh hitting a couple of bowlers out of the attack in the process.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ratings Update - India in Pakistan 2006, VB Series

India went to Pakistan defending their Test and ODI series victories there in 2004. In the Test matches, they lost 1-0 and in the ODI's they won 4-1. In the Test matches. In the ODI's however, India at the beginning of this series had lost 4 of their last 5 games against Pakistan. They have turned that around to a 4-1 result in their favour.

Elsewhere, Australia won the VB series, coming back from a 1-0 deficit to win the last 2 finals against Sri Lanka. South Africa came away from Australia having lost 5 of their 8 games, 2 against the Sri Lankans and 3 against the Australians. New Zealand won their first game against West Indies to start their series of home fixtures against New Zealand.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The best player as opener?

In the ongoing ODI series in Pakistan, the press and the commentators have been quite critical of the Pakistani batting order. The three best Pakistani batsman don't go in to bat until Pakistan are atleast 3 wickets down.

Examples of the opposite strategy - that of having your best players up the order, so that they can face most of the overs has been adopted by most other teams, whos best batsman bat in the top 4. Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasurya, Sourav Ganguly etc. have all had great success as openers. Lara average 47 in 51 matches as opener, 45.8 in 103 matches at number 3, and just 34 in his 72 matches at number 4. Waugh, Gilchrist and Jayasurya have all be celebrated opening batsmen. Inzamam Ul Haq himself average 39 at number 3, 40.4 at number 4 and 42.5 at number 5 in ODI cricket.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Nasser Hussein School of Cricket Strategy

Nasser Hussein the former England captain presented yet another example of his peculiarly objectivist method of captaincy, where in his book, it is legitimate for a side to attempt anything that is not explicitly outside the rules, in order to gain even the slightest advantage in a Cricket contest. His strategy and methods during the 2001-02 English tour of India, drew tremendous criticism from all quarters, with Sunil Gavaskar lending his significant voice to popular opinion and questioning why India were so keen to invite England.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A beautiful cricket video

During the recent Ashes series, the TV production company came up with what is probably the most beautiful cricket video i have seen yet. The amazing super slo-mo technology is usually used to dissect bowling grips, batting grips, footwork, and disputes of all kinds - catches, LBW's etc.

Here it was used to
celebrate cricket Someone has posted it on google video. My sincere thanks to that individual.

A clear tiering in the ODI Rankings

After Indias terrific series clinching victory in Multan, my ODI Rankings show the following tiering:

Australia 0.640
South Africa 0.580
New Zealand 0.561
India 0.542
Sri Lanka 0.479
England 0.467
Pakistan 0.466
West Indies 0.444
Zimbabwe 0.321

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why India don't win overseas.........

In the recent loss at Karachi, it was rightly pointed out that India didnt take advantage of the conditions and didnt have the bowling to exploit the conditions as well as Pakistan did. When India batted, almost every single top order innings was nipped in the bud by consistently good pace and seam bowling from the Pakistanis.

Monday, February 13, 2006

India v Pakistan and Tendulkar

Conventional wisdom would list the explosive brilliance of Dhoni, the classy Yuvraj Singh and the generally brilliant Indian strategy as the main reasons for the stirring run chase in the Lahore ODI. On a wicket which raised several questions about the Test Match pitch, India chased 288, inspite of the helpful bowling conditions and the skillfull Pakistan opening bowling pair.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lahore Preview

With the series tied 1-1, the scene shifts to Lahore, which offered the flattest wicket in living memory for the Test Match. India have beaten Pakistan on the last two occasions that they have played here, and in this crucial third game, face an interesting conundrum. Chasing has been Indias strength this season and India hasnt lost a game batting second this season. The last 10 ODI's at Lahore have been D/N games and the team batting first has won on 6 occasions. Pakistan last played here against England and won by 6 wickets with six overs to spare, chasing 231.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Updated ODI Ratings

Just updated my ODI Ratings. Both the Test and ODI Ratings are now updated upto the 12th of February.

The Test Match Ratings are as follows:

Australia 0.632
South Africa 0.535
Pakistan 0.534
England 0.521
India 0.491
New Zealand 0.452
Sri Lanka 0.449
West Indies 0.373

The Shoaib Malik video

I found this on one of the cricket discussion forums. Shoaib takes an eternity to turn around. Given how brilliant Shoaib Malik is in the field, the tedious turn must invite questions from the cynics.

Dravid puts the "Spirit of the Game" in perspective

After the Shoaib Malik incident, Rahul Dravids post match comment about the event should put all the pontification about the "Spirit of the game" by former players and current commentators to rest. Dravid said

"To be honest I haven't seen the replays," Dravid said after the game. "From my fielding position, it didn't appear as if he had deliberately kicked the ball or obstructed the fielder. So I didn't think there was any need to appeal."

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Murali Phenomenon worked!

The batsmen delivered, and with 250+ to defend, brilliant fielding, backed by Muralitharan, ensured that Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead in the VB Series final. This game is a classic case study of the Sri Lankan formula for ODI cricket. Murali is held back by the captain, usually until the 20th over, after which he comes in and rarely concedes more than 4 runs per over.

The Sri Lankan captain marshalling the defense is almost always gauranteed, that with 150+ required in the last 30 overs of the run chase, 10 of those will yield just 40, and get him wickets.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Spirit of the Game...

This is in response to the comment posted by someone on my earlier post about this whole issue.

Theres been plenty of pontification on this elusive "spirit" of the game. I am not for a moment suggesting that it is a myth. It is however not applicable in the Inzamam Ul Haq context. I believe that the idea of the spirit of the game is misplaced because as per the law, the Umpires did have the option of turning down the appeal, if they felt that Inzamam's obstruction was accidental.

Test Match Ratings Update

Test Match Ratings updated to include the recently concluded Indian Test tour of Pakistan. Ive explained the methodology on the this page as well. Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, England occupy the top 4 places.

The story of a Sunday journey

I was thinking back to the beginning of last year, when i was still working on a Railway station project, and remembered something i wrote back then about my daily journey to work. Journeys to work in Bombay are an education in themselves, but as with most lessons which are overdone, tend to be ignored. Just thought id post the narrative.

Do tell me what you guys think!a

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The "Chappell" effect

A correction in the Inzamam post

Tendulkar was OUT as per the prevailing in the 1999 Kolkata Test. I found a link for the 1980 code on cricinfo. The law was changed in 2000, and so, if a similar incident happened now, the umpires would have to rule in favour of the batsman.

Inzamam Obstructing the Field 16

Law 37 of the Laws of Cricket, relates to "Obstructing the Field". Law 38 is the Run Out Law.

Inzamam Ul Haq has twice been given out under Law 37, while Tendulkar was once given out under Law 38 against Pakistan at Kolkata in 1999 (i know it was a long time ago, but this is the sort of thing that one doesnt forget).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Murali Phenonenon

In statistical terms, Mutthiah Muralitharan has outperformed almost every bowler in history with the possible exception of Barnes in international cricket in the 2000's. In ODI cricket, defending a total, in this decade, Murali averages an amazing 17.46 (for a fast bowler that would be awesome, for a spinner its mindboggling).

Tendulkar hundreds...

The strange thing about Sachin Tendulkar's ODI hundreds against Pakistan, is that out of his 5 hundreds, 4 have come in Indian defeats! Tendulkar has made 100, 141, 123 and 100 in Indian losses to Pakistan. Inzamam Ul Haq had made 4 hundreds against India, and his last 2 hundreds have come in Pakistan defeats against India.

I hate to say i told you so..

I did suggest that Sachin Tendulkar had improved since the beginning of the season. The Indian bowling however left a lot to be desired. Every potentially good over was spoilt by a bad last delivery, which was duly dispatched for four to keep Pakistan in the game. A 350 score was nipped in the bud by Asad Rauf penalising Tendulkar for his audacious reverse sweep, and the rest of the batting not coming good.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Death of a Salesman - An article in the Indian Express

The author of this article was an advisor to the previous Indian Prime Minister (which in itself is ironic, what with "India Shining").

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Hanif Mohammad on Sachin Tendulkar

Hanif Mohammad makes the case for Sachin Tendulkar. I remember reading about a similar incident which lead to uncannily similar comments about Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar defended a snorter from Malcolm Marshall (i think), on the 1983-84 West Indies tour of India, and the impact of the ball made the bat fall to the ground. Everyone suggested that Gavaskar was over the hill.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Tendulkar Crisis

In the 2005-06 Test Match season, Sachin Tendulkar has had scores of 22, 109, 16, 23, 19, 14, 23, 26, for an average of 31.50 over 6 Test matches. A lean trot by any stretch of the imagination. Given Tendulkars recent problems with injuries, such a trot might have been expected. Pundits have already begun forecasting the end of the Sachin Tendulkar as we have come to know him.

The table below shows 10 Test split averages of Tendulkar, Lara, Inzamam, Ponting and Dravid. A 10 test split as calculated here is the batting average over any ten consecutive test matches. Tendulkar therefore has 118 such splits over his 128 Tests.

The analysis shows that Tendulkars tends to have fewer crests and troughs than the other four. Ponting especially shows that in his career, there have been definite periods when hes been scoring huge runs, and there have been other periods when he has not been quite so prolific. Tendulkar averages over 40 in 93% of his 10 Test splits.

Criticism of Tendulkar's consistency has to be viewed in the light of the above statistics. In this case however, statistics are besides the point.

Is Tendulkar over the hill? He most certainly is. Is Tendulkar ageing? He most certainly is. The question to be asked is - At what point does Tendulkar stop being good enough to be counted amongst the top 4 middle order batsmen in the country? If anything, i would suggest that Tendulkar played better in Pakistan than he did during his century against Sri Lanka.

So in the short term, Tendulkar is in fact on the mend. Watch out England!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The value of a top quality bowler

The India - Pakistan test series has brought to light the value of a top quality all wicket bowling attack, and more than anything else, emphasizes the great value of the top class fast bowler and the top class spinner (in 21st century cricket, read McGrath and Warne).