Data is the reflection of the truth and the truth is team India has been outplayed, out thought and outwitted. Analysts and fans have been trying to figure out a single common denominator for the failure or lack of consistency but there’s isn’t just one. The team has been on the receiving end of the media and fans after their world cup triump.
Yes it’s true that players as individuals have been failing but the team has also been failing tactically both on the field and off the field in front of the media.
There’s one big difference between the world cup squad and the current world bashed squad and that is the absence of Gary Kirsten. The calm, media shy and only South African world cup winner. At this level I have a feeling that Gary or any other coach cannot teach a lot a technical issues to these seasoned playerss but can certainly create an environment where team work, strategic thinking and individual responsibility is fostered. During Gary’s tenure team India had a clear vision or path and that wasto be the no.1 test team in the world and win the world cup and gladly both of them were achieved. Vision + execution are key ingredients of success and sadly team India lacks both of these.
So why did this happen? did Gary Kirsten bring that to the table and does Duncan Fletcher lack that? Interesting as said in life you don’t know the importance of something unless it’s gone. I hope Duncan Fletcher who unfortunately has been a part of this mess can be a part of the turn around.
Today I have come up with the greatest odi team. If this group of individuals play ever played together then it could run havoc in the opposition and would a treat to watch.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - One-day cricket is incomplete without him.
Sanath Teran Jayasuriya- For his explosive batting at the top and left arm spin bowling if needed.
Jacques Henry Kallis - For his solid technique and temperament a no 3. His seam bowling is always an asset.
Brain Charles Lara - For his impeccable flair and genius left handed batting. I have put him behind Kallis as it maintains a left-right hand combination.
Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards(Sir Viv Richards) - Murderer from Antigua. One of the most destructive batsman of his era. He and Lara would compliment each other well in the middle order.
Michael Gwyl Bevan - Ice cool head and one of the greatest finisher of all times. My personal hero whose attitude and temperament never stops to inspire me.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni(wicket-keeper) - Another ice cool head and a great finisher. Imagine him and Bevan batting together in a tough run-chase. Wow what a treat for fans and what a curse for the opposition.
Wasim Akram- Best swing bowler of all times and a very useful lower order batsman. He will start with the new ball and then come back later in the innings when the bowls starts to reverse. Wow what a treat for the fans and poor opposition.
Shane Keith Warne(Captain) - For his awesome leg spin bowling and maybe some lower order batting. I have chosen him as a captain over MS Dhoni just by the way he led Rajasthan Royals in 2008. What a fairytale for a bunch of unknown players. He not only taught them how to believe in themselves but also how to come from behind and win any match from any situation.
Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose- Another beast from Antigua. He would be an ideal first change bowler. His height, accuracy and looks are terrifying for any batsman and a treat for fans. Imagine a bowler who is 6’7 feet tall, looks like a beast and balls fast.
Glenn Donald McGrath - Ideal candidate to share the new ball with Akram and for no 11 batting. His accuracy and ability to fox batsmen made him one of the world’s premier bowler.
Now close your eyes and imagine these players walking together on a field. I know it feels great if you are cricket fan. Forget victory, the thought of victory would be so difficult for any opposition.
I thought deeply about this and unfortunately some great players like Sourav Ganguly, Imran Khan, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Kapil Dev, Muttaih Muralidharan, Steve Waugh, Yuvraj Singh, Jonty Rohdes, Richard Hadlee, Saeed Anwar did not make it.
John Inverarity is my new favorite cricket personality. Most of you would have never heard of him and must be wondering who’s he. He’s an Australian selector who’s has got his vision and priorities right. His vision is for Australia to win 2015 world cup and he had taken first steps towards by phasing out under-performing Ricky Ponting and mercurial Brad Haddin.
There’s no question that Ricky Ponting is a great player and a great captain who has led himself and Australia to glory but the reality is he’s performance has been very weak in recent times and Brad Haddin has showed flashes of genius but has been mercurial. He has done this with grace and made sure players areclear about expectations and consequences. He had the advantage of Australian culture where team comes first, players are not gods and failure is not looked as social shame.
The million dollar question is when will Indian selectors move in the right direction which is to build a team which could defend world cup in 2015 in Australia.
Gaps are already showing in Indian team with opening combination not settled. Both Virender Sehwag and God have not been consistent, which has not helped a fragile middle order.
Kris Srikanth and his selecting team has the opportunity to make tough decisions. I am sure both Viru and God want to perform with their heart but somehow it’s not working. Past performances and fan reverence can buy a player some time but cannot give them assurance of their place. Only performance and only performance should give a player the opportunity to play in a team.
So should they drop Viru and God? To answer this question let’s ask will Team India travel to oz in 2015 with Viru and God? They should be taken only if they bat and field exceptionally well. It’s hard reality that Australian grounds are large and pitches are fast where openers with good reflexes are required. Sadly, but yes they are aging and their reflexes are not getting any better.
With Sehwag it’s easy as media has already termed as flat-pitch bully but with God it’s tricky. God being god has a huge fan base and has been wonderful for so many years also Srikanth’s term is going to end soon, so why should he take media and public wrath to let God go? From his point of view it makes sense but it’s not good in long term.
It’s like a CEO only focussing on short term results on wall street and neglecting long term growth. World cup is still 3 years away and if strong decisions are made now it will give sufficient time to find fail-succeed-fail-succeed. It can be too late if this decision is taken in 2014 or late 2013. Will the fans hate Srikanth for this? Yes. Will his effigies be burned? Maybe. Will his house be pelted with stones? Maybe.
Unlike John Inverarity, Kris Srikanth does not live in a cricket culture where victory is above everything and players are human but this is a time to make a transition to that culture.
It should not matter who goes to Australia in 2015 as long as India can put up a good show and win. World cup victory is all that matters.
Today, I have switched gears and compiled a list of 6 amazing run outs.Some of them are brilliant , some are lucky and some are greedy. Take a look .
Mother of All Run Outs
With this run-out Jonty Rhodes set a new standard of fielding in modern cricketing era. His partner in crime is another run out specialist Inzamam-ul-Haq. Inzy through out his career was known as one of the worst runner between the wickets.
Gibbs does Rhodes
South Africa has the knack of producing great fielders. After Rhodes comes Gibbs, who I am sure watched and practiced Rhodes exploit. On the receiving end is Chamra Silva, who looked stunned after his dismissal.
Chain Reaction continues. Good fielding genes are passed from Rhodes->Gibbs->AB.This run out was either pure genius or complete luck. Look at the time of release and accuracy. Genius or Lucky?
Yuvraj Got a lesson from Jonty
Yuvraj Singh one of the better fielder in the Indian side. Take a look at the dive and time to react. One of the bets fielders to have at backward point.
Accuracy at it’s best.
This run-out by Mohd. Kaif reminds me of how a good a fielder he was in the Indian team. Watch the way he approaches the ball and throws it straight it MS. Did he aim at the stumps or Dhoni’s gloves.
Greedy Run Out.
Inzamam’s was the culprit but Youhana was the victim. Look at the way Inzy runs back to his crease when he sees Youhana approaching. This was greed or self-defence?
These run outs again emphasize the importance of good fielding and good running between the wickets.
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Cricket is a religion and cricketers are gods. This looks true when you walk on any road of a Indian metro city or talk to cricket fans.Fans are emotional and victories are like festivals. In this enthusiasm or madness other sports have lost traction. Field hockey is still the national sport but it’s much behind cricket and soccer is no where in the picture. So let’s true to understand reasons behind this.
1)No big victories-After 1947 India was more of a hockey society. The team was winning Olympic medals and world cups and cricket was still in test mode. As time passed hockey team slowly started loosing their edge in the sport. 1980 was the last time they won an Olympic gold medal.By that one-day cricket was born and people started to enjoy the shorter format. Then suddenly in 1983 a team without an outside chance won the world cup. The victory gave people a reason to feel proud about something on a world stage and gave indelible memories. 1985 victory in Australia was another great victory for the morale of the people was something that was not expected. So on one hand hockey team was loosing but on the other hand cricket team started winning. This gave cricket initial market share over hockey and other sports.
2)Birth of heroes .- With the rise in number of games, new heroes were born. In 80’s it was Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Amarnath. Then in 90’s it was Sachin, Azhar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble. Fans had started to build a emotional relationship with their icons and this made the bond even stronger. Other sports either did not have any big heroes or had very few heroes. In 1987 cricket world cup came to India which made cricket a hot topic to talk about, this was the first time when people could watch all the world heroes on the same stage.
3)Economy is opened- In 1991 license Raj ended and economy opened this increased average income of people and more and more people to started to switch from radio to tv. Cricket was already on the rise and with a established fan base and mass distribution cricket saw a hockey stick growth.
3)Media attention- With victories in 1983 and 1985 fans started moving their eyeballs and money into cricket and this gave media a great way to focus their time and energy on cricket. None of the other sports had this advantage and they lagged behind.
4)Advertising and sponsorship money- With so much eyeballs and media attention, businesses men started to put their money behind cricket. With eyeballs, media attention and money cricket reached new height. No other sport was even close.
5)Sports structure- With the rise of the game, sports structure improved and this led to more people aspiring to become cricketers. Structure needs to improve a lot but I am not sure other sports even have a similar structure.
With all these reasons India turned into a mono sport society with cricket the market leader in sports. For now cricket is way ahead than other sports and only time will tell if any other sport gets the same amount of traction.
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Team India has been tinkering with its fast bowling attack in this series. Initially it was Praveen-Vinay-Zaheer and how it is Zaheer-Vinay-Umesh. Out of all of them only Zaheer Khan has his place assured in the side with Praveen being the second favorite. This leaves a place for the third seamer and there are several contenders for this slot.
One of them is Vinay Kumar, a lanky and soft-spoken bowler from Karnataka. However whenever he plays a lot of fingers are raised, specially from fans. His inclusion in the 11 ahead of Irfan Pathan is also not appreciated among majority of fans. So let’s try to understand what are the reasons behind this and can it be changed?
1)Lack of pace = Lack of ability - Vinay is not an express bowler. His maximum speed is around 145kmps and that is not too often. Generally Indian cricket is not associated with producing express bowlers so when people see another bowler in mid 130’s it does not go well and lack of pace is associated with lack of ability.
2)Quite performances- If one looks at stats carefully then most of Vinay’s good performances are like 2/40 in 10 overs or 3/50 in 10. These performances don’t get a lot of media attention and man of match awards. These quite performances even though effective don’t bring a lot of glamour.
3)Calm and Serene attitude- Fast bowlers are generally associated with a lot of anger, temper and attitude. But Vinay is usually the opposite and sometimes this doesn’t suit his image as a fast bowler.
Can this be changed and can Vinay Kumar be a regular face in colored clothes? If the answer is yes then how? By performing consistently and with match winning performances in adverse situations.
This will establish his reputation and media will hype him. But should he play for fans or his teams or for his team? The answer is play for the team and give his best and fans will start liking him.
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Today’s match against Australia was great display of clever strategy and great execution from MS Dhoni. At a stage I was worried by the way MS was batting. Maybe it was the wicket, maybe it was score, maybe it was lack of faith in the lower order batsman, maybe it was captain’s responsibility to see his team through, maybe he did not want to repeat the same mistake from the last match or maybe a combination of all of these.
I am sure he would have loved to win the match earlier but the ends result satisfies all. So let’s look into how he became a great finisher by looking at how Lance Kluesener and Michael Bevan become one.
1)Calm and cool head.-MS is either blessed with a cool personality or has learned it very quickly. This cool demeanor helps at the time of adversity when the situation requires him to think strategically without going into a shell. Lance and Michael had this ability.
2)Ability to rotate strike.- Lance was more of a power hitters however Michael Bevan was a master manipulator of singles and this is what MS Dhoni has learned. MS rotates strikes more often than not without letting the opposition get to him and creeps into their den by quick and unassuming singles.
3)Ability to hit sixes.- MS is a strong guy with the ability to clear ground at any time. This is a very important quality for a batsman at no 6. This gives him the ability to change complexion of the match from humble singles to glamorous sixes.Lance had this qualiy which made him a lethal weapon.
4)Ability to asses situations.- MS has developed the great ability to read opponents, read situations , read his team mates and read the wicket. This is a great quality for a no 6 batsman who eyes to be a finisher.
5)Let others make the mistakes.- Smart cricketers know that sometimes you don’t win the match but others loose it and pressure is a double edged sword. More often than not he has remained to be outside the pressure cooker. Both Lance and Bevan had this amazing ability.
6)Practice makes and perfect- MS has been in these situations for so long that he does learned to adapt to the situation than his opponents. So if a new bowler and MS gets in a similar situation then more often than not MS comes on top. Both Lance and Bevan had this amazing ability.
But,only time will tell how he can improve himself and if Team India wins another CB series title.
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