Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ricky Ponting Retires From Test Cricket

On this blog, I have had an ambivalent relationship with the great Australian batsman and captain. The most successful cricketer in the history of Test Cricket has featured on this blog as the guy who initiated and made a catching agreement with Anil Kumble and then broke it, as the guy who threw an elbow at 18 year old Mohammad Amir and got away with it, and in general, as a guy who stuck up for his team no matter how egregious the circumstances. I have also defended him in a couple of battles with Umpires and Referees. Ponting retires as one of the great players of the game, but also as one of its most combative, partisan characters.

Monday, November 26, 2012

England Win At The Wankhede Stadium: A Review

Again.

And once again, like in 2006, and nearly every Test Match India has lost since then, we will all probably focus on our chosen culprits, and ignore the real reasons for the defeat in a cricketing sense. They say that sportsmen learn more from defeat than victory. I think it is also true to say that observers of sport learn more about sport when their team loses than when it wins. The observer of sport has an able ally in the Indian captain, who's post match commentary is at least as incisive (if not more) than that of the professional paid commentators.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Watching Cricket with Test Match Sofa

I rarely listen to commentary when I watch cricket these days. I watch the game on mute, irrespective of who's playing (and hence, who's commentating). Occasionally, I listen if some new commentator is featured. I have found myself turning the volume up whenever I see Rahul Dravid's name on the box. When England play, I also find myself being strangely attracted to Test Match Sofa - the upstart commentary team based in London which streams audio commentary as they watch the game on TV. I listen to them for a few days of a game. I eventually get bored of them, and go back to watching on mute. But I haven't reached a stage with Test Match Sofa yet where I'm not inclined to listen in, at least for a while whenever England are playing. Sometimes, I also participate on twitter with the TMSofa commentary.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dhoni's Dismissal At Wankhede And Some Hope For Reviews

It was a beautiful delivery from Panesar. Dhoni was drawn into the forward prod, the ball took the edge, and  was taken at second slip. The extra bounce meant that the ball looped up to slip. Dhoni saw it all the way into the fielder's hands. The fielder claimed the catch, Dhoni walked off immediately. What we saw suggests that Dhoni was immediately satisfied that the catch was properly completed and correctly claimed.

A Test Match Special From Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara walked into bat in the first over of the match at the Wankhede Stadium. On a day when all of Bombay (possibly all of India) was interested in watching only one man bat on his home pitch, Pujara gave us a clinic of disciplined, old fashioned Test Match batsmanship which the great man could not emulate, but would have been very proud of. The Wankhede wicket kept the fast bowlers interested with the new ball, and the spinners interested throughout the day. Every now and then, a ball would bounce a little more than normal off a length. Occasionally a ball would turn a little more than normal too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Test Bowlers Measured by Quality Of Batting Faced

The relative strength of each batting line up can be calculated at the start of each Test Match. One way of giving this figure is to calculate a cumulative batting average for a given XI, by combining each players aggregate runs at the start of the Test, and dividing by the total number of dismissals for all XI players at the start of the Test.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Comparison of India's Spinners

Here's a comparison of the pitch map for R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in England's first innings at Ahmedabad. Ashwin took 3/80 (27 overs) while Ojha took 5/45 (22.2 overs)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ahmedabad Test Day 2: Home Advantage

English batsmen, especially early in their innings, have the same problem that a lot of sub-continental batsmen have in seaming conditions - they go hard at the ball, often well past the pad, and wildly off balance. Early in a batsman's innings, when he isn't seeing the ball as well - isn't reading the line and length as well, this vulnerability is often exposed cruelly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ahmedabad Test: Day 1

On a slow, dry wicket, the wisdom of India's decade old ruse of using Virender Sehwag as opener was amply demonstrated yet again. At Ahmedabad Sehwag and India opened their much anticipated encounter with England with a day on which they were the sole masters of their destiny. The visitors, partly due to their own selection decisions, were bystanders for most of the day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The State Of DRS: November 2012

I have covered the use of the Decision Review System in some depth on this blog over the past 4 years. At the start of the new cricket season, with two major Test series upon us - one featuring DRS, the other not - I have synthesized my current view of DRS in this post. This post is long (5074 words), but I hope it will give you a sense of the state of play. I have also tried to write this as an essay, as opposed to a blog post in an effort to tame some of the immediacy of the blog form. Please read, share, comment as always.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Peculiar Player Review At Brisbane

Note: I have updated this post

I do not like the idea of the player review in the decision review system. Given that it is there, it is worth understanding it in full. Those of you who follow the development of DRS closely like me will already know this. The player review

Friday, November 09, 2012

Test Cricket Returns: Brisbane, Day One

The best batsman in the world walked to the wicket in the 11th over of South Africa's first innings. Graeme Smith had already made several perplexing choices (which would be vindicated by the end of the day) before getting out LBW to the impressive James Pattinson thanks to the Decision Review System. He picked 4 fast men in the XI on an admittedly lively looking pitch, and then chose to bat first after winning the toss.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Test Ratings - An Interactive Chart

In this chart you can see the rating for each Test team at the start of each Test Match. The method used to develop these ratings is described here. To use this chart, select a date that you want to see the ratings for and then use the up or down arrow to visit the previous or next date to see how the ratings change. Each rating records 20 previous Tests. Each date corresponds to the start of a test match.

Monday, November 05, 2012

India Team For First Two England Tests

The new national selection committee chaired by the former India middle order batsman Sandeep Patil has selected the followed squad for the first two Tests of the Pataudi Trophy series against England:
MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Zaheer Khan
Sandeep Patil is the 8th consecutive selection committee chairman who played for India. Four of these Eight chairmen are former India captains, dating back to 1998 - Ajit Wadekar, Chandu Borde,  Dilip Vengsarkar and Kris Srikanth. The other four - Brijesh Patel, Kiran More, Syed Kirmani and now Sandeep Patil, were all exceptional cricketers. More and Kirmani were first choice India wicketkeepers in their respective eras. Brijesh Patel was a stalwart Karnataka and India batsman in the 1970s, while Sandeep Patil was arguably the most talented Bombay batsman of his era, a sort of proto-Sehwag (with all the limitations of the proto bit!). Occasional cricket fans will remember Patil for his 174 against Dennis Lillee at Adelaide in 1981, and his 6 boundaries in an over from Bob Willis during his century at Old Trafford in 1982. Patil was also coach of Kenya in the 2003 World Cup (Kenya reached the semi finals). I hope he has a good tenure, and I hope he is spared the abuse that even supposedly thinking people feel goes with the job.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Test Batting Performance By Calendar Year

This is a modestly interactive data set which shows each Test batsman's Performance score in a given calendar year. The only condition is that the player should have played 10 innings in the given year. The ratings for 2012 are for the year so far and are likely to change substantially after the upcoming Tests in Australia, Sri Lanka and India are completed. I also give a Ranking for each player. This is based on the player's Performance score.