Posts Tagged ‘4th Test’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Grafter or not, Ricky Ponting’s 41st ton did not resemble a large set of the other forty but it was an innings certainly built through with perseverance and grit. It is tempting to wonder if Ponting’s approach is a reflection of knowing the squalor that would arise if he’d gone about batting the way he normally does. But his innings today certainly didn’t lack class.

Clarke’s stories, recent and not-so-recent, are strikingly different ones. His presence at the crease of late barely resembles the Clarke who, until not too long ago, struggled with his feet movement and approach for a period of time that could well be termed lengthy. He’s had his own share of issues in dealing with knife-wielding Brutuses behind his back, but he’s skipper now and is leading from the front in a series that is fast approaching a 4-0 whitewash.

He now appears a lot more frugal than his predecessor Ponting, and his views are minimalist. He spent the best part of the day trying to catch up with Ricky, and overtaking him by the time stumps were called. He had his share of luck while coasting through to 140, something Ishant would’ve sneered at given how his day turned out.

Sydney all over again. Image: Sportlive

A day’s play that would have left a hopeful Indian fan frothing at the mouth has drawn nothing more than a remorsefully apathetic response, almost as though this was expected. As the cliché goes, the mature heads will know that things are not always what they seem. At least, from the perspective of a source from the visitor’s dressing room who seemed to reckon that with the score line already 3-0 against them, things can’t get worse.

One can’t attempt to try and defend the indefensible. Just as the introduction of Ashwin as early as during the fourth over of the game seemed to light things up, more due to Umesh Yadav’s inconsistent start with the new ball, Sehwag’s ideas lacked the durability required to bundle out a supremely confident unit on a placid track. He’d have been fairly satisfied going in to lunch with three wickets fallen, but would have found it hard to sport a smile after that.

Ashwin did well to restrict Warner from cannoning off to a start that he’s so accustomed to, thereby building the pressure needed to get the southpaw in to committing an error. Marsh’s misery continued to haunt him as he looked like a rat lost in a maze, unable to get anything right in what could probably end up being his last Test in some time to come. Never before has an Australian Number Three looked so unconvincing. He’s certainly exhausted the large quantities of trust and patience which he might have found during the build up to Adelaide.

And that is Australia’s fear right now. It was the underlying theme of Sydney – that the veterans performed, and the youngsters didn’t. Although it is too early to conclude so at Adelaide, a few of them, to their credit, did justice elsewhere. A spot in the eleven now appears perennial for a few with great appeal. But with Brad Hogg returning to International Cricket (T20) at forty, Ponting could well set his sights on another nine hundreds by the time he decides to hang his boots.

Dat Two, as history suggests, will offer plenty more runs to trouble the scorebooks. But for this Australian side, this series, with a fragile bowling opposition, no total appears unimaginable.


Goutham Chakravarthi

India came in to the series after a drubbing in England but were still the favourites. The talks of ageing players on their last legs was more an Australian worry than India’s. A month in to the series, it is the story of a 40 year old Brad Hogg making a come back in to the national reckoning that is doing the rounds and not that of the other old guns having to hang up their boots. It is the turn of the India’s older batting superstars to face the heat. And in all probability it should be the last time we see them all together.

It is strange but also true that much of India’s great success in the past decade was largely due to the determination and collective efforts of a group of dedicated and proud cricketers. While the administrators were busy marketing one-day cricket and later T20 cricket, the selectors seemed more interested in looking after themselves than Indian cricket. In the process, though selection has become a paid job, it is but fair to conclude that it is the players who put the Indian cricket on a pedestal. And now, with the last bunch of those from the great generation on creaky legs and wonky backs, neither the administrators nor the selectors seem to have an answer to India’s problems.

While it is true that India perhaps picked its strongest squad for this series, much of India’s success overseas had to do with its batsmen being able to put up strong scores on the board. Taking 20 wickets was never India’s strongest suit and it needed the big scores to give itself a chance. And it is remarkable as to how they put themselves on top of the world with an average bowling unit at best.

India's strength for a decade now is suddenly its weakest link. Image: The Daily Telegraph

The islanders down south have taken their first steps to clean up their mess by sacking their coach and appointing a new captain. They have revamped their selection committee. India seems to be bullish about its slump and fails to acknowledge its shortcomings. It is blatantly obvious that India has failed to groom its youngsters for the future. Neither the administrators seem bothered nor the selectors. That India will not look to the future in Adelaide is a resounding slap on the all faces of those who care for its cricket.

Adelaide is a no win situation for India with neither the selectors nor the stand-in captain showing any inclination for the need to change. The strength of this side has been its seniors for a decade now. It now seems as though even the selectors seem reluctant to do anything to upset them. Or that they are simply not bothered. It is painful and disrespectful for the ones who care about Indian cricket that the ones that run it seem not bothered about its future.

Irrespective of what transpires at Adelaide, India cannot have the same set of players representing it going forward. A transformation needs to take place between now and in two years’ time, when India set foot off their shores for challenges abroad, a new team, settled and well oiled with Test match cricket over two years should represent it. How India chooses to rebuild will determine how serious it is about its cricket image. It might have to be the players again who lead the change. And once again, it might be a senior who makes it easy on the selectors by announcing his retirement at the end of this Test.

There’s more to lose in Adelaide than just the Test.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy finds itself back in Australian shores once again. It has been over a decade since this series was won so convincingly, although fingers will point/will continue to point at India’s incompetency. The indignation in the visitor’s camp hasn’t seen a single day of untroubled repose yet. Which is why the essence of the Adelaide Test will lie more on Australia’s battle with themselves than anything else around.

The 3-0 score line is only a number that highlights the success achieved thus far, not an acknowledgment of the goals set themselves. The Australians have settled for the mere truth:  a few individual performances has overshadowed many meager stats from players who, now, find themselves at cross roads of their career – given that a few of their names don’t automatically find their ways into Arthur’s Playing XI when given a fully fit pool to select from.

Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin, the same names that propped up during the build up to Perth, have done little to boost their credentials to get them away from the relegation shortlist.  They’re going to have to find themselves away from a lean patch that increasingly resembles Greece’s financial muscle. Perceptions that people have about their abilities (lesser empirical in the case of Haddin, given that at 35, ability isn’t what one is judged by) doesn’t seem to match the statistical reality required to warrant a place in the national side.

Combine the perception of a mid-thirties age bracket with a very lean form with both bat and gloves, and it leaves Brad Haddin beatable, something that even he has acknowledged publicly. The scanners over his performance are worth having, and the only way to put an end to his debacle is to address his uncertainty over shot selection.

Haddin looks most likely amongst the Australians to get the axe post-series

With Clarke appearing to be a leader further to the right of Genghis Khan, the Adelaide Test would prove more important to a few individuals in the Australian team than to those in the visiting camp attempting to grab a consolation victory. Australia’s rebuilding phase has created avenues for talent to sneak in to, and only the bowlers seem to have answered the call of duty thus far. Ed Cowan’s performance, from the batting unit, hasn’t done his reputation any harm – although whether he’d be in the reckoning for a place in the Top 3 is subject to further debate.

Reports of a hard, dry surface ‘favoring’ the visitors (not in the literal sense) will matter little to Nathan Lyon who returns to the side on the same ground where he served as a groundsman not too long ago. No better time, and venue, to justify the faith shown in him by the selectors.

4-0 looms.


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

21 August 2011

 

India’s performance this series seems like a hangover from the past with no present meaning. The standards displayed on the field continue to slip the limits of cricketing propriety, and it has become clear that something fundamental is amiss.

It is understandably human tendency to stretch the truth when times are good, and hide behind it when riding through the doldrums. This Indian campaign has left public opinions on Indian cricket with a disdainful taste, none as disparagingly passive as the display on the 3rd day of the Oval test. There exists no strategy that can camouflage the current levels of incompetence on English soil, and as Australian cricket witnessed very recently, certain facets of Indian cricket could well be in for a major overhaul. At the same time, there is every fear that the administrators would respond to all this criticism with diplomatically phrased brush-offs.

Part of the problem lies with the board and the selection. The recall of RP Singh, a topic of heated debate amongst many already, tagged the selection committee with the dubious hint of a “George W Bush” about it. RP Singh, in hindsight, would have preferred to have continued his vacation along the sunny beaches of Miami, than enter the contrastingly cold grounds of England after 8 months of first-class inaction to face the current World Number One.

But that doesn’t pain the entire picture. The Indians, undoubtedly, on their day, can be incomparably strong opponents. Adding to that the monetary background of the players and the board, they may quite not appear to be a benign superpower. What was lost, amidst all this power and glory, was responsibility – a residue of which became the status that demoted us from champions to mortals.

Whereas, on the other side of the river that separates the Champions from the Mortals, England continued their dominance and aggression with Ian Bell’s maiden double hundred. To borrow the words of Norman Maclean “… all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation comes by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy …”: Bell epitomizes the art of batsmanship, with grace and fluidity being apt by products of his wonderful technique.

Bell recorded his maiden double ton in Test Cricket with an innings of the highest quality

Rahul Dravid, the other proprietor of this gift continues to be the only Indian player who can walk with his head above the surface of the water in the Ocean of Misery. He continued to battle at The Oval, the same way that he has done throughout this series. If Dravid’s success can emphasize on the work ethic, technique and commitment that any youngster should possess to reach the top, and sustain at the top, Indian cricket should frame a completely different approach to nurture young talent henceforth.

A follow-on is starkly consequential, with bad weather the only factor that can have an influence on the game’s scales titling towards a draw. With Swann back amongst the wickets, England will look to close the game out before weather can spoil their chances of a whitewash.

The Indian fan should learn to tolerate a unit that isn’t quite as world-class as he’s always imagined it to be. The signs presently look as blank as Sreesanth’s expression on getting Anderson’s wicket yesterday. It will be very interesting to see if the BCCI, an organization that has pretty much gotten its way at every turn, will be able to accept and react accordingly to this.


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

19 August 2011

 

The only sign of aggression from the Indian bowlers on a rain-marred day, which lasted until lunch, was the quick bouncer from Ishant Sharma that took a piece of Strauss’ helmet on its way.

Humbly reluctant as I am to obtrude the lack of venom in the Indian pace attack, as I’ve already done during the most part of this series, signs of amelioration were hardly visible. There was more crowd movement behind the side screen at the start of the day than the movement extracted by the Indian seamers using the new ball.

Trapped in these webs of clueless lines and length was India’s newest addition RP Singh, who hasn’t played a test in a while. Like Praveen, his lack of pace does him no good but unlike the former, he didn’t appear intelligent enough. He had a great series in England back in 2007, and his Harmison-esque start to this test made one wonder whether he’s played any cricket at all during those four years.

India's only sign of aggression was a vicious bouncer from Ishant that damaged Strauss' hemlet

Cook and Strauss continued to grind the runs until the rain gods opened up to play spoilsport on an overcast day, conditions under which the Indian bowlers failed to shine. Barring the bouncer from Ishant, the Englishmen weren’t troubled as they continued to do what they did all series. And James Anderson, who was declared fit prior to the start of the game, will have more time to rest and have a go at the Indians – something that isn’t likely to happen before the 3rd day.

At 75-0, England will continue to pile on the runs, hopefully at a decent rate to annul the lost time on Day One. For India, a colossal change in approach, and performance, is needed.