Archive for December, 2011
During the last few weeks we haven’t seen any real quality cricket, even though Pakistan was playing in the UAE against Sri Lanka and now one is playing in Bangladesh and the other in South Africa there is no action, no aggression either they are one sided matches or totally and completely dull and boring. Jayasuriya was saying the Lankans will adjust and Intikhab was saying Pakistani bowlers will trouble England in the UAE. These are all ifs and buts.
So lets shift our focus towards the South Pole ….. I mean Australia and India series which will start from the Boxing Day at the MCG. Laxman was saying Australia’s aggression has always helped him in getting the best out of him. Tendulkar surprised Gavaskar by giving up a century – by retiring from the match and not from cricket – while he was in his mid-nineties. It shows the little man is in some form and does not care any more about his hundredth international hundred. That is a good sign. Dravid looks solid as he has always been. Dhoni, I am not sure about his batting form but, I hope he will raise to the occasion when it comes to deliver. I am sure Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will not make the selectors feel that they have taken a wrong decision in leaving behind Yuvraj, Jadeja and Raina. And, Ashwin has to prove his worth in the team by not only taking wickets but, also by scoring runs. The two new fast bowlers Yadav and Aaron should be of some assistance to the senior fast bowlers like P. Kumar and Zaheer Khan.
The Australian team is not taking easy at all, they know that they have to pack up fast bowlers in the team and it is good to see new faces in their side, almost half of the probables for the Boxing Day match are new or making debut. Here are the names of the probable Australian team: David Warner, Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon. The names highlighted are the senior players whereas the rest of the team is relatively new. There is no Mitchel Johnson, Lee, Nathan Bracken etc.
The team looks pretty balanced to me and the young blood inducted must be roaring to perform especially Daniel Christian who is an all-rounder. There is one thing which is guaranteed here is there will be a lot of action unlike what we have seen in the last couple of months.
India start their mammoth Australia tour with the 1st Test on Boxing Day. This series has received considerable hype owing to a variety of reasons. The Indian squad is as follows:
Bowlers: Yadav, Ishant, Vinay Kumar, Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Mithun, Ojha
Batsmen: Dhoni, Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Kohli, Sharma, Rahane
Zaheer Khan’s fitness has a question mark over it but in the current tour match against CAC XI he bowled 10 overs and conceded 41 runs. According to reports Zaheer was not at his best and it seems he might not be an automatic choice in the playing XI. Whether Zaheer can secure a place due to his recent years’ performance remains to be seen. Zaheer last played in Australia in 2007 and in Australia he has played 3 Tests and taken 10 wickets so arguably he has wicket taking potential on Australian pitches.
As far as Test cricket is concerned this presents an opportunity for the likes of Yadav, Mithun and V Kumar. If they can take regular wickets they might become India’s first choice pacers and Zaheer Khan may have to say goodbye to Test cricket. Zaheer is 33 now and age is not on his side; if bettered by the young pacers it is likely we might not see Zaheer playing for India again. For Zaheer’s sake he will be remembered as ending his career on a very enviable high and his bowling contributed a great deal in India’s WC victory earlier this year.
Another reason why this series is crucial is because of SRT’s form and the sword of the 100thcentury dangling over his head. Tendulkar averages about 60 in Australia and this must be one of the highest averages for any international batsman in Australia. However, this year his average has been 47 and he has looked uncomfortable when batting. The million dollar question is whether SRT will be able to make that elusive century or not? This issue was blown out of proportion by the Indian media, so much so that there are been a noticeable restraint now in discussing this very
elusive century for fear of further pressurising SRT.
Finally this series is also crucial from the Indian perspective because of the current Test rankings and present form of the top 4 teams. This year Australia played 3 Test series- against Sri Lanka they won 1-0, against New Zealand and South Africa they drew 1-1. Australia are definitely not the force they were when McGrath and Warne were playing but they have still had a respectable 2011 compared to 2010. This year India beat West Indies 2-0 and 1-0, drew with South Africa 1-1 and lost to England 4-0. Form wise one might say that Australia has the slight edge, even though they suffered a totally unexpected collapse against New Zealand a few weeks ago. India took a drubbing in England and this will definitely be at the back of their heads when they are preparing for the Boxing Day Test.
Sehwag have Gambhir have not been at their best in Tests in 2011 and Tendulkar and Laxman have also been unable to deliver. This is the reason why India lost badly against England. Indian batsmen perform well on Australian pitches so this gives an opportunity for them to regain form. Australia is currently ranked no 4 in Tests and India, no 2. There is a difference of 15 points between the two teams so the chances of Australia overtaking India are slim and can probably only occasion if Australia whitewash India.
As for Australia, their batting and bowling both have lacked consistency this year and this might work in favour of India. Australia have their own fitness problems to worry about because Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson are not fully fit. Neither are Mitchell Johnson or Doug Bollinger available. Siddle and the impressive newcomer Pattinson will probably lead the bowling attack and they might spring a surprise for Australia. It seems there is a chance Australia might be unable to play their best XI whereas India will most definitely play their best XI. How much of an impact will this cause?
It looks like it is difficult picking a favourite. Australia have to their advantage that they are usually mentally strong at home, notwithstanding the domination of Indian batsmen on their pitches. Their young pacers can also surprise India because they are untested. This will work in India’s favour too when they try Yadav and Mithin against Australia. Both teams have drawn Test series with the South Africans this year, both teams have defeated weaker teams (SL and WI) but, whereas India got slaughtered in England, Australia also collapsed against a considerably weaker Test side, New Zealand.
From Australia’s perspective a good series will promote them to no 3 (a whitewash may propel them to no 2) in the rankings and from India’s perspective, a whitewash will take them to no 1. But more importantly, a good showing from the Indians will bury the demons of the England series earlier this year and may persuade the passionate Indian fans that the England mauling was a once-in-an-era event for a spirited team that may well have a dominating future with hopefuls such as Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yadav and Mithun.
RAHUL DRAVID has talked about Day and Night Test Matches, he is not the first one to talk about it, there are others too like us fans, bloggers, supporters and Dravid has spread the word at the right forum i.e., when he was giving a 40 minute long speech in Canberra Australia and emphasized the need of saving the test matches (not drawing a test match – which is a Mishap) from the disappearing interest of general public because they appear to be dull, boring and end up without any result. He asked the administrators to retain the public interest and respect the fans, and they must try to handle the trickiest of the challenges in balancing the three formats in cricket. And he described test matches as “The Gold Standard.”
He also said, “Everything that has given cricket its power and influence in the world of sports has started from that fan in the stadium.” Dravid also asked the players to “re-think about the fans when they play the game, in terms of conduct, intensity and integrity. “They [the fans] deserve our respect and let us not take them for granted. Disrespecting fans is disrespecting the game. The fans have stood by our game through everything. When we play, we need to think of them. As players, the balance between competitiveness and fairness can be tough but it must be found.”
People have also talked about 4 day test match. There must be flexibility and adaptability in the game, over the years many rules have been changed, technology stepped in and 7~10 days test matches have been reduced to five days test match which is still continuing. ODI’s and T20 has kicked in to keep the interest of the fans and viewers. So, why not make further changes in the test cricket? We have talked about pink colour cricket balls a long time ago on cricinfo PakSpin blog and were ridiculed by a few narrow minded blokes.
We also talked about making cricket grounds a little more different from the typical galleries and pavilions by landscaping the grounds in such a way that at least one one side a big hotel is constructed and the backyard leads to the cricket ground (like a golf-course) where the club house is a part of the golf-course from where you can see the players Teeing off. In this case it should be more like a resort where people retreat and lounge around and also watch live cricket. There should also be swimming pools in hot countries. And, we have seen in the Caribbean they made above ground swimming pools which were temporary, even that would do if it is a part of the entertainment for the shorter version of the game. We have not only heard about the introduction of pink coloured cricket balls for night cricket but, Pakistan is actually going to use it in the domestic tournament (Qaid-e-Azam trophy) within this month.
Dravid has covered a lot of points in his speech and I must say that he has raised his voice at the right time to save the test cricket which is plagued with cancer and it is on the verge of dying. And it will die soon if the intention of the players or teams is only to draw a test match. So far cricket is alive because of the variations and changes that have been made by introducing ODI’s and T20’s and test matches are losing its charm in the eyes of the general public. Where will they go from here? Hong Kong sixes? That is a joke about cricket and a bad one too.
To find out more about what Dravid has said in his speech please follow the link: