Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Howard Nomination Fails

Six out of Ten votes were against the former Australian Prime Minister - South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies. It is a relief, for while ICC Presidents have tended to come from all walks of life, it would have been a new low for Cricket for the former warmonger Prime Minister of Australia to have assumed the presidency of the International Cricket Council. I have often marvelled by how matter-of-factly a lot of people accept the British and American claim that waging was nearly half way across the world in Iraq, was a matter of "self-defense". But does this claim not become obviously ridiculous when it is made from Australia?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Problems with Hawkeye

With the issue of technology in sport at the forefront, I present new evidence reported on Hawkeye's own website to point out the tensions between the company's marketing and public relations methods and the actual facts about Hawkeye. Would Hawkeye be as persuasive as it currently is, if it graphically represented a  range within which the trajectory of the ball may exist, rather than representing a single path for each ball?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Technophilia and Sport

Progressive, grown-up people watched Frank Lampard's goal against Germany in the 38th minute not being granted, and calls for technology to be introduced into football have reached fever pitch. Cricket watchers are familiar with this story. One only has to look at disastrous innovations like Hawkeye used in LBW decisions to know how silly this can be. It has changed the meaning of the LBW law itself! What is the relationship between technology and sport? Clearly, it is not as simple as measuring the amount of time it might take use the technology. Technology is far more destabilizing than the delays it causes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Powerplay

If you look at the scores in this Asia Cup, it makes for a refreshing change from the batting battles that have characterized recent ODI cricket in the sub-continent, especially in India. Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Lasith Malinga all took their wickets at less than 25 runs per wicket and opening batsmen who tried to hit their way out of trouble generally failed. Bowlers had to bowl good lines and lengths, and unlike in T20 Cricket, they were usually rewarded for it. The exception would be Shoaib Akthar in the game against India. Shoaib's figures of 10-0-57-0 were a combination of some bad luck (chinese cuts for example), of Akthar trying too hard to blast a wicket, and the situations in which he bowled. The same could be said of Mohammad Aamer in that game. When you consider the apparent disadvantage of chasing under lights in Dambulla, it makes India's run chase against Pakistan even more astonishing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A cautious game

Despite the late heroics from Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, I see yesterdays game between India and Pakistan as a cautious contest between two teams still trying to find out how their best combinations may be constituted. It was not a particularly hot tempered contest, mainly because the Indian and Pakistan players know each other really well by now, not only in terms of each others cricket, but also in terms of each others temperament. It is no surprise that Shoaib Akhtar, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir were involved in words. It is also no surprise that a wicket keeper got under Gautam Gambhir's skin.

Taxes on ODIs and T20s, not on Tests

The Maharashtra Government has decided to levy entertainment duty on all ODI, T20 and IPL matches played in the state. Test Matches are exempt from this duty, which could be as much as 25% of ticket price. This is an important and welcome distinction, and I'm glad that people watching the IPL, T20 and ODIs will be contributing to state's revenue by attending limited overs games.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Competitive Formats in Cricket - A Proposal

Currently, there are three at the international level - 5 Day Tests, 50 Over ODIs and 20 Over OEIs (One Evening Internationals if you will). The sanctity of these formats are not set in stone. Despite my skepticism of the limited overs formats, I'm willing to concede that they could be of some cricketing interest. Before i delve into my proposal for competitive formats in International Cricket, let's go over some of the shifts in these formats.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pakistan, Sri Lanka serious World Cup Contenders

I watched a really good game of cricket after a long time yesterday. If you set aside Test Cricket, most limited overs cricket in the past couple of years or so has been predictable and boring. I don't find T20 cricket entertaining, and ODI cricket has suffered from several problems of its own making. The size of cricket grounds, the speed of outfields, the quality of bowling, the quality of wickets, have all contributed to muzzling the contest between bat and ball.

Yesterday's game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dambulla - a truly great cricket ground in the making, had antidotes to each of these problems. Four quality new ball bowlers - and I will come to what I mean by that in a moment, a large outfield which is not lightning fast, all made for a fine contest. There was some swing with the new ball, and some reverse with the old ball. Tailenders looked like tailenders, and most crucially, the bowlers seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

200 Test wickets for a fast bowling magician

It used to be said that Wasim Akram could make the ball talk. In Dale Steyn, Test Cricket has found a worthy successor to the Pakistani genius. A few months ago, Steyn produced an unebelievable days fast bowling, first with the new ball and then with the old against India at Nagpur. He took 7/51 that day, and 10/108 in the match. A few minutes ago, Steyn destroyed the West Indies first innings at the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad, taking 4 wickets in 8 balls to reduce West Indies to 75/9.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Individuality and the demise of fast bowling

In the year 2000, Marcus Trescothick was selected to open the batting for England against West Indies in the third test at Manchester. England had experimented with the orthodox Mark Ramprakash as partner to Michael Atherton to face Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, but this didn't work. Trescothick was a singularly unconventional pick for opening batsman. His footwork was limited and occasionally he tended to play from the crease. In an era where Gavaskar, Boycott, Greenidge and other members of the batting orthodoxy were still the exemplary opening batsmen, this was an unconventional move. The selection of Trescothick was explained as being part of a move to pick players on temperament as much as technique. It goes without saying that he was being thrown in at the deep end against Walsh and Ambrose.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Ridiculous amount of cricket"?

Harsha Bhogle, IIM alum holds forth on mentorship in his column on Cricinfo. The gist of his argument is that the powers that be have not realized the importance of the selectors, and hence continue to persist with the one-from-each-zone selection procedure. The letters I, P and L do not appear in sequence in his post, even though Mr. Bhogle talks at some length about the Indian cricket calender.