Archive for July, 2008
M&M’s is a popular chocolate candy but the “M&M effect” known to world cricket is the devastation that is seen when Murali and Mendis are bowling in a match. The pair of M&M brought the world’s most competent batting line up to its knees at Colombo. Nothing went right for the Indian batsmen in that match. They looked confused and completely out of touch against the greatness of Murali and they were equally afraid of Mendis who is the next big thing.
The second match in the series starts tomorrow and is being played at Galle, which is said to have a similar pitch to Colombo. Galle is an interesting ground because although the general conditions are similar to Colombo, it can serve fast bowlers well if they bowl according to line and length and exploit the early conditions. The famous Pakistani victory against Sri Lanka at Galle comes to mind when Sri Lanka fell to the brilliance of Wasim, Waqar and Razzaq and lost by an innings and some runs. Zaheer Khan and Chaminda Vaas, the two most experienced pacers that will be playing, will need to bowl out of their skins if they are to give match winning performances.
On the spin front, Galle has something for spinners too. On the 3rd, 4th and 5th days of the match, the track will become very productive for spinners. Hence it is important for the toss winning side to bat first, see off the early swing and seam and then post a huge total putting the opposition under pressure against spin. It is especially important for India to bat first because if Sri Lanka manage to score 400+ batting first, India will not be able to win this match and will be under tremendous pressure to perform in the final test; this pressure will be so intense that India might well wilt. Kumble said in an interview today that he does not care so much about the toss or conditions- he placed emphasis on the side showing unity and batsmen showing application when playing the spinners.
Yesterday an Indian TV channel showed video clips of net practice where Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly were discussing how to play Mendis and Murali. The TV presenter was very critical of these senior players because there was a lot of talking involved, but not so much batting practice. Tendulkar was shown trying to bowl in Murali’s action and letting youngsters practice his bolwing; the TV presenter was also critical of this saying that Tendulkar needs to do some batting practice himself, rather than emulate Murali and coach the youngsters. For most Indian fans though, they will not care so much what the Indian team does in order to prepare as long as they are well geared up to face the M&M effect at Galle.
For the Indian fans, failure is not an option because the effects will be so overwhelming. The greatness of India’s batting, especially when countering spin, will be undermined. Kumble’s captaincy will be questioned and people will demand for Dhoni to be made captain in Tests too (this will have repercussions as well, but it is a completely different topic so it will not be discussed any further in this article). If Kumble does not motivate his players well enough and does not bowl effectively, his career may also be on the line. However, one of the most significant consequences following a defeat will be the effect on Dravid’s career. For a year now Dravid has not looked at his best and age is not on his side either. This may well be his last straw. Even if he performs adequately in this series, he will not be able to carry on playing much longer. Tendulkar always surprises and for various reasons he is indispensable, so he will not be dropped anyhow. Ganguly has had a good run recently so even for him it will not be a career defining series. For Dravid though, the end appears very near unless he can consistently score a few 50’s or 100’s in the forthcoming matches.
On the optimistic side however, India has a record of bouncing back whenever it has been humiliated early on in a series. This is something the Sri Lankan team is very wary of. A statement was made yesterday by the Sri Lankan coach that they will not take India lightly because in the recent past India has been a top team and has always bounced back and startled the opposition. Mendis and Murali will have some tricks up their sleeve, but it remains to be seen how the legendary Indian batsmen Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman will combat the M&M effect this time round when they have been pushed to the brink. Kumble said today that the series is not over yet, and perhaps narrating Shahrukh Khan’s famous dialogue from the movie “Om Shanti Om” is apt way to end this article…………”Picture abhi baaqi hai, meray dost!”
The current debate in Pakistan and the big hoopla created by the ex-cricketers of Pakistan that, the bureaucrats should be replaced by technocrats at the PCB hierarchy because, according to them the technocrats are more competent and capable in understanding the game better than the bureaucrats! The way they are hammering it over the head of the Chairman and the Selectors of the PCB is exactly like the proverbial expression, ‘strike when the iron is hot’ because at the moment the team is not performing well and going through so many crisis. So this is the best time to unleash everything against the PCB Chairman and the selectors and take advantage of the situation and grab the bull by its horns.
There are two aspects to it, all that glistens is not gold and, all is not that bad when it ends bad. Generally there is this notion that, ‘all is well that ends well.’ But, I am using it in the negative sense to prove that if something bad happens that is not the end of the world. At the moment, the PCB Chairman and the selectors are appearing to be in a dire straight but, its not a total disaster or the end of the world. Besides, they are not the only culprits to be blamed for these disasters, the players themselves, the coach and the captain are equally and in a way more responsible for these disasters.
Most ex-cricketers of Pakistan are claiming that the CEO of the PCB should be an ex-cricketer. In their own view they consider themselves as “The Technocrats” and they call them ” The Bureaucrats.” And, they believe that those have played cricket at international level are best suited for these jobs. To understand as to who would be better for the future of Pakistan cricket, one needs do some research and spend sometime in facts finding and then let people think, evaluate and decide as to who is right and who is wrong? And who would be better suited for this post?
A lot has already been, said, talked and written about the PCB Chairman that he is incompetent and blah, blah. Whereas, his credentials proves him to be a very competent person for the job and also the fact that people have not viewed his achievements in a realistic manner, instead they have tried to ridicule him by citing or relating to non-cricketing affairs and tragic issues that have happened during his tenure and which are gripping at the moment.
A week or so ago it was highlighted on this blog by khansahab that non-cricketing issues such as the death of Bob Woolmer or, Shoaib and Asif’s drug issues or, Asif Dubai arrest or, his current drugs ordeal and his addiction to drugs or, prior to DNA’s taking up the office Younus Khan’s refusal to accept the role of captaincy or, Daryl Hair’s conspiracy at the Oval or, a few other instances has no relevance to cricket and got anything to do with the competence of DNA. These things may also have happened whether a technocrat or a bureaucrat heading the organization. And khansahab’s point is very valid and needs to be viewed pragmatically and judiciously but, not emotionally and narrow mindedly before coming to the conclusion that everything that went wrong is because of the Chairman and he is to be blamed for it. No, that is wrong. Why should a single person be blamed for every single fiasco? Especially since it is not related to game, but due to the player’s own personal problems.
Therefore, for some people to quote or to say that all this embarrassing incidents happened during the tenure of DNA and he has brought a lot of shame and disgrace to the country is very easy. What has he done? And what can he do? Like it has been said on this blog before “you cannot put a leash 24/7 on your players to control them.” These players are not only responsible adults but, they are also the ambassadors of the country and they should know how to behave especially in public. It is not the PCB or the Selectors are at total fault but, the players themselves who are involved in this are wrong. They know that they have the backing from very senior government Ministers and Senators and they think that they are “above the law” and they have the license to do anything and they can get away after doing anything. And it has been proved that the Ministers and the Senators have supported them openly through the media. Lets not get into that detail again, as it has already been covered to a great extent in the previous thread.
The focal point of this thread is to see whether our so-called ex-great cricketers are that competent and capable of running a multi-million dollar organization? Do they have the credentials to justify with their academic qualifications as well as professional background to substantiate their claim that they are good? One also needs to see how many ex-cricketers around the world are heading their cricket boards and selection committees. Also, one needs to compare their personal profiles with that of Pakistani ex-cricketer’s profiles purely on professional basis and not for name sake like, Sunil Gavaskar of India for example. One needs to compare apples with apples. Gavaskar cannot be compared with Aamer Sohail, it will be an insult to Gavaskar. Besides, Gavaskar is not the CEO of the BCCI. But, Aamer wants to be. Wasim Akram was a great bowler, but does he qualify for that job? Certainly not, and neither Waqar Younus who is another great bowler.
Once you start comparing the profiles of the Pakistani players with any of the players from other countries who are involved in some sort of process or in the selection committee or in the board of cricket of their country, you will find their academic qualifications, their professionalism and their credentials are much better than any of the Pakistani ex-players barring Imran Khan. This repeated requests from different segments in different blogs that Imran Khan should be made the Chairman of the PCB is only a dream. Because, Imran in his career is way above this position. He can only be the patron in chief of cricket once he becomes the Prime Minister of Pakistan and thats a big IF and a separate issue altogether and must be left for discussion for some other time.
Back to the opportunists who are trying to ‘strike when the iron is hot’ only to take advantage of the public sentiments and gain public support and grab an opportunity to mint some more money by claiming that the bureaucrats are ruining the game in the country hence they should be replaced by ex-players because, they are the ones who are most suitable for this job. I think it is time for us to make these players realize that we have already seen a few ex-cricketers who have ruined the PCB before and are again aiming high by riding on public sentiments. They should be shaken up and made to realize that their role is not in the PCB, they are needed in the academies at the grass root level, to train the youngsters and not the national side. Nor to come near the coffers of the PCB to smell the dollars and put the future of Pakistan cricket at stake or at the anvil of risk and gambling with their sinister motives, evil desires and bad intentions.
Why do they have to come and train an adult who cannot shorten up his run up. Or, who cannot change his bowling action now. Or, who cannot improve his footwork now. Or, the one who cannot correct his stance behind the wickets and drop catches frequently and misses stumping chances. They must go and teach the young ones at the National Cricket Academy where the under 14 to 19 are desperately in need of them. They should teach them and correct them at that impressionable age where they are willing to change. Those kids would love to see their heroes coaching them in real, whom they idolize but, never get to see them in real life. This is the best thing that could happen if they really want to be respected and do something good for the country rather than trying to get into the helm of the world of money and fame.
Why is that only Aaqib Javed after his retirement from international cricket has taken the trouble of training young kids at his academy in Sheikhupura? Why are people laughing and making fun of Shahid Afridi when he talked on Nadia Khan show that when he retires, he wants to open a similar academy in Karachi, what is wrong with that? He is not aiming for a bureaucratic post under the disguise or pseudonym of the word technocrat. I think this is exactly what they all need to do – coach the under 14 -17- 19 whatever and that is where a technocrat is needed not in managing one of the richest organization of the country.
Without a university degree in finance or business administration and, with poor and pathetic communication skills, with such dud looks and dimwit expressions combined with arrogance they think they are the most suited people for that job? They don’t even deserve the job of a clerk. Therefore, people like Salim Altaf should consider themselves as extremely lucky to be one of the directors of the PCB.
First, they grabbed this opportunity to become a TV commentator and the way they talk is pathetic and disgraceful. Initially all these ex-players were invited as guests and expert commentators to express their views, somehow we were able to bear and digest their crap, but now they have become the main commentators and their chronic persistent verbal diarrhea combined with their bad English and senseless blabbering is unbearable.
If you look at the past, most of the good commentators were not ex-greats. From Pakistan people like, Omer Kureshi, Jamshed Marker, Iftikhar Ahmad, Chisti Mujahid etc., and from England Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Brian Johnston are a few examples. After Richie Benaud, the trend has changed, the ex-cricketers started to takeover this job from the non-cricketers. As long as the standard of commentary is good it is acceptable. But, the Pakistani commentators are pathetic. In Pakistan, who is the culprit who encouraged sub-standard TV / radio commentary? It was Majid Khan when he was heading the PCB and when he was The Controller of Sports of Pakistan Television (PTV) he was known to be rude, arrogant and even threatening to almost everyone.
Here is a quote from Daily Dawn which appeared after the ugly incident of Mohammad Ilyas another rude ex-cricketer, father-in-law of Imran Farhat, shouting and yelling and throwing tantrums in public at Shahida Shoaib a senior PTV producer over a petty matter whereas she was trying to be extremely polite but, Ilayas was at his best in demonstrating his cheapness in public. Like a few months ago he did the same when Farhat was not selected. Here, is the quote which confirms Majid’s stubbornness, his biases and his narrow minded approach: “During his time as The Controller of Sports, despite severe criticism on the standard of commentary and expert comments made by some of these players on the PTV team, Majid has stubbornly refused to change his policy even if it means that viewers are being deprived of a chance to listen to seasoned cricket commentators like; Omer Kureshi, Chishty Mujahid, Hasan Jalil etc.”
Majid couldn’t survive long enough to represent the PCB or as the Controller of Sports of Pakistan Television PTV. Neither Aamer Sohail the once chief selector and both of them are now eying for the post once again, seemingly they are more arrogant now and their ultimate motive is to make more money and promote regionalism, jingoism, nepotism, favouritism as Majid’s vested interest is in getting a berth for his failure son Bazid Khan into the national side as a permanent fixture in the team, whether he scores or not is another matter.
The conclusion is: “None of the ex-cricket players are capable of handling the job of a CEO or the Chairman of the PCB, their role is in the cricket academies at the grass root level, they should go and train them at the various regional level and the PCB should allocate a certain amount of fund and not just a fast bowlers club fund but, for the over all improvement of cricketing facilities and in providing the basic infrastructure with adequate cricket grounds and proper training staff and if these players are paid, they should be accountable to the PCB and they must report the progress rather than pushing their candidate for selection. The selection committee should be independent and whatever 15-16 players are chosen, then the captain and the coach should decide about the playing XI.”
It is up to you to agree or disagree with these views but your views will be published uncensored provided they are presented in a civilized and appropriate way.
Who hasn’t heard of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll? In Asaf’s case however, it has been a case of drugs, drugs and “balle balle!” Mohammad Asif came onto the international scene from nowhere and in a matter of weeks, became an international star. Such was his accuracy and his control of late swing that he was immediately compared with Glenn McGrath. He had a clean action, good height and had all the ingredients to make him another Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis.
But alas, it was not to be. Asif has disheartened fans from around the world because of his failure to put his country before his addiction.
In such a dire situation for Pakistan cricket, Pakistani cricket fans needed a “superstar” who would rescue the team’s precarious standing in world cricket. Asif seemed to be the genuine match winner they were looking for. Consider his strategy on how to get rid of Sangakkara for example, or that ball to Tendulkar that went through the latter’s defences and resulted in the legendary batsman falling on his knees, or the countless times Asif has foxed top order batsmen around the world and laid traps for them. However, Asif is now entangled in a trap himself which might result in him being banned for life.
What will be the future of Asif and more importantly what will be the future of Pakistan cricket? How do we get rid of this curse Pakistani cricket is under at the moment? How can the PCB be blamed for the conduct of players like Asif and Akhtar? Aren’t these players mature enough and old enough themselves to know there is a limit to everything? I have maintained repeatedly that the Board should not be blamed for the faults that lie within the players themselves. If it is really the Board’s fault, why aren’t other players involved in drugs? There is a problem with the character and attitude with Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, because they are the ones always in the news for all the wrong reasons.
To conclude, Asif has been a major disappointment. He should now definitely be banned for life. There is more honour in banning a vile miscreant than to keep encouraging him and giving him more confidence to abuse and shatter the feelings of a nation. The intolerable sadness though, is that knowing Asaf’s character, he will not learn and he will not realise the pain he has caused to cricket fans. He will continue to do “balle, balle” and he will continue to blame everyone else on this planet without realising that the fault is within himself.