Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Ian Bell LBW

Every truth, wrote Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, has its historical moment. He could well have been talking about LBWs. Umpire Bowden made a call in a marginal LBW situation. Marginal in the present historical moment in the life of the LBW law - the post-Warne, post-Kumble, post-Hawkeye moment if you will. At other times, in other places, the batsman might have been banished for attempting something that cheeky - the marginal call might have gone against him. At still other times, it would have been considered plumb, because some other mode of judgment showed other decisions of its kind to be so. For example, there used to be, for a long time, very little sympathy for batsmen sweeping from the stumps, or playing across the line from the stumps generally. At still others, it would have been clearly not out - on account of the long stride.

World Cup 2011: At Least Six Teams Tied

I wrote in a preview to this weekend's games that England beating India would be an upset, while Pakistan v Sri Lanka be the more intriguing contest. Pakistan v Sri Lanka went almost exactly as the two captains predicted at the start of the game. The England v India Tie would be Exhibit A in the case which sets out to prove that this is the most open World Cup of all. Tragically, given the format of this tournament, the consequences of epic results like this one are marginal to the outcome of the tournament. In this post I discuss this in light of the epic tie at Bangalore with the help of a chart I've made about this World Cup.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the Pakistan v Sri Lanka game

A fine game. What was remarkable about it in my view was how well both teams knew what was achievable and how the game would pan out. At the toss, Shahid Afridi said 270 would be a good total, while Kumar Sangakkara said 270-80 would be chaseable. After Pakistan made 277, and Sri Lanka responded with 266, how right were these captains given the fact that Pakistan could have gotten many more, and Sri Lanka could have gotten many less? These two sides are masters of these conditions. I dare say that with Lasith Malinga in their ranks, Sri Lanka might well have won. Muralitharan was brilliant in the batting powerplay (and the batting powerplay is different from a T20 game, because wickets matter in it), but Pakistan played him out intelligently and when they did give him a wicket, it was already too late.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The First "Big" Weekend

Pakistan face Sri Lanka at the Ranasinghe Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on February 26, while India face England at the Mangalam Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday February 27. Two top league face-offs have already occured, and in both cases, the lower rated sides have lost easily. Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets in a day game the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground in Nagpur, while South Africa beat West Indies in a day-night game at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lara's Sehwag

About a decade ago, India were 68/4 in their first innings at Bloemfontein, when Virender Sehwag emerged from the pavilion to take guard in his debut Test. His hero was batting like a bomb at the other end, but very soon it became difficult to distinguish the two. This was the first of three double century stands that Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have had in Test Cricket, and the only one in which Sehwag was outscored by Tendulkar. Since that debut century, Sehwag has carved out his own identity, and the distinction between Tendulkar's batting modernity and Sehwag's post-modernity has become clearer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ponting reprimanded

This is getting ridiculous. This invites the attention of the ICC, but far more serious things, like Ponting breaking a pact about low catches with Anil Kumble that he himself initially suggested was a good idea, did not!

Besides, the Gujarat Cricket Association needs to haul up its contractor if TVs get damaged because of groin protectors that bounce off kit bags...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

India v Bangladesh: Non-Game One

In the opening game of the 2011 World Cup, India beat Bangladesh by 87 runs, and in so doing, more or less guaranteed themselves 4th place in their group. It was a strange game in many ways, mainly because it was played on a wicket which was quite poor - poor not in the sense that it helped the bowlers, but poor in the sense that it helped nobody. Had Bangladesh batted first and made 250, this might have created the illusion of putting India under pressure, and India might have proceeded to lose early wickets and make heavy weather of the run chase, even though Bangladesh's spin focused attack would have found it tougher under lights than India's pace focused attack.

A World Cup Paradox

Every four years, a World Cup is played in ODI Cricket. It is a massive production, but the winning team isn't necessarily the best team in the tournament. The presence of sudden death finals makes it a lottery, especially in periods when there isn't a team that is clearly superior to others (like the West Indies, who won in 1975, 1979 and should have won in 1983) and Australia who won in 1999, 2003 and 2007). In 1987, 1992, 1996 and I suggest in 2011, winning the World Cup will not indicate mastery in Limited Overs cricket.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Two days ago, the man who began his Test career with a century at Lord's and ended it with a first ball duck at Nagpur retired from all forms of organized cricket. In between he changed how India saw its cricket and its cricketers. Many will say that he was a polarizing figure - that he inspired ferocious loyalty and scathing contempt in equal measure. For some, he could do no wrong, for others, he was an empty upstart operating well above his station. No other cricketer in the modern era has transcended the facts more easily than Sourav Ganguly.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Cricinfo continues UDRS cheerleading

Rob Steen has produced the latest infomercial about UDRS at Cricinfo. It's a bizarre article especially coming from a university lecturer in Journalism, because at the outset it assumes the crux of the matter to be a settled question. Worse, it then proceeds to undermine this assumption with long list of examples about UDRS related troubles. Even worse than this (if this is possible), is the fact that it emphasizes the ICC's original rationale for UDRS, which was to eliminate "howlers". Steen's reference at the beginning to Sherry Turkle's latest book is ironic given the fact that Turkle's work over the last 30 years involves critical engagement in the area of human-technology interaction. As a scholar who is trained in the psychoanalytic tradition and is interested in how technologies shape the people who use them, she would be horrified to see this critical relationship in contemporary life being reduced to a cost-benefit analysis (and one whose outcome is settled at the very beginning!).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Spot Fixing Tribunal and a Crisis in Cricket

The tribunal's verdict, handing each player a 5 year ban (effectively) is not the most interesting aspect of this probe in my opinion. Far more interesting is the tribunal's recommendation "to the ICC [that] certain changes to the Code [be made] with a view to providing flexibility in relation to minimum sentences in exceptional circumstances."

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Hotspot not available at the World Cup

Hotspot, the heat signature technology used in reviews will be unavailable for the 2011 World Cup. The technologies available will be a ball-tracker (Hawkeye, by Hawkeye Innovations Inc., a company that is owned by Wisden since 2006), a super slo-mo replay and a "clear" stump microphone (it is not clear to me what a "clear" stump microphone is).