Posts Tagged ‘AB de Villiers’


 

In this episode, The CouchExpert discusses the last decade of IPL cricket – specifically with regards to Royal Challengers Bangalore & Chennai Super Kings. The panel discuss key memories, what went right, what went wrong and the road ahead for both these franchises. Specific questions around Kohli’s captaincy invoke raw emotions from the RCB camp, while the CSK camp ponder over who the right man will be to replace MS Dhoni when he calls it time on his career.

 

 

Introduction Music: Composer and singer – Rakesh Salian

Panelists: Goutham Chakravarthi, Akshay Balachandra, Suhas Srinidhi, Srikaanth Niranjan Anand

Moderator: Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

 


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

I guess in hindsight, to get 14 overs of cricket yesterday at Hambantotta was a bonus in itself. We’d arrived in the Southernmost District of Sri Lanka the previous day only to witness a night almost entirely full of rain showers.

There wasn’t enough evidence of sunshine to support the thought of the ground drying up, but we probably didn’t end up giving this a thought. So we found ourselves on a taxi to the stadium, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium – the newest of its kind in the nation. The misnomer here is that the stadium is not located in Hambantotta – but a good 45 km away from the town.

Dark Clouds and Rain delayed the start by over two-and-a-half hours © Badrinarayana Vengavasi

The ground seemed a very modern arena, although the rain gods didn’t show any mercy the moment we crossed the security check. We were surprised to find that the entire playing area had been covered; therefore removing any lingering doubts over the time it might take to get the ground dried up. The rain, merely, had to stop for play to commence.

Ranjan Paranavitana’s views

We’d managed to get an appointment with Ranjan Paranavitana, a popular Premier Division coach and journalist in Sri Lanka, who’d coached the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Dilshan Munaweera – current Sri Lankan internationals. We took a detour to the Press Box, rather to the building where it was, and met him outside the Media Box Complex.

Ranjan, in a chat with Goutham Chakravarthi, mentions his delight on how the tournament has been panning out so far. He seems pleased with the level of interest generated amongst the younger locals – a factor that he highlights as one of the key motives behind the tournament. His dream, clearly, is to groom more youngsters who can step in to the international arena and perform for Sri Lanka.

In particular, he singles out Dilshan Munaweera’s rise to fame through a string of outstanding domestic (and SLPL) performances. He is certain in suggesting that the youngster is likely to have a long stint at the international level – unlike other young, promising cricketers who’ve historically played the game of musical chairs.

On the other hand, he feels that it was a mistake to not take Akila Dhananjaya, the young mystery teenage spinner, to Australia for the Under-19 World Cup. Dhananjaya’s story is well documented – a kid who was hand-picked by Mahela Jayawardene while the latter was observing the youngster bowling in the nets. Dhananjaya is yet to play a first class game for his province – a tale that would remind Indian fans of a certain selection of Parthiv Patel almost a decade ago.

With Ranjan Paranavitana, a leading Premier Division Coach

Although Ranjan is extremely excited by the potential Dhananjaya has, the speed of his rise, he feels, may be an inhibitor in times to come – especially during the longer formats. The premature influx of cricketers in to the international setup (via camouflages in IPL, local T20 leagues), for one, is an argument that Indians have probably done more to precipitate than any other nation around. But that doesn’t deter Ranjan from having the confidence in the young spinner to succeed at the highest level, albeit extenuating circumstances.

When asked on his favourite team to lift the trophy this tournament, he picks South Africa, India and Pakistan as the teams to watch out for – other than his home country. Specifically, when requested to pick a favourite, he mentions Pakistan without a hesitation. On their day, as we all know, they can be world beaters.

We signed off around the time we suspected play might begin and Ranjan graciously handed over an autographed copy of his book to Goutham, in appreciation of his efforts to get in touch with him and drive all the way to Hambantotta for a chat. On that note, we headed back to our stand hoping to catch some action.

When Play Resumed

79 was always going to be a challenging target in a 7 over game. Skipper AB De Villiers’ blitzkrieg innings tipped the scales to favour a South African win. Munaweera’s catch of Richard Levi, in the first over of the game seemed to have got the home fans’ spirits up – given what we know of Richard Levi and his devastating hitting. Shorter the format, more valubale are players like Levi.

Play Resumes © Badrinarayana Vengavasi

Nothing much happened when the Sri Lankan innings got under way. Oh, we know there was a lot of music and cheering from the local fans – but unfortunately, in games of reduced formats, there isn’t too much of a room for percentage cricket. The odd boundary was cheered for, but the game slipped away from the home team with every ball bowled.

It was a convincing victory all right, but in a 7 over a side game, you must be mad (or possess voodoo magic) to place bets.

P.S. The video of Goutham chatting with Ranjan will be uploaded shortly.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The best captains often walk a fine line between leadership and performance. And as the South Africans swept the Kiwis 3-0 in the ODI series, the moment seemed quaintly out of time. As much as the World Cup defeat last year to the Kiwis would’ve hurt them, the whitewash seamlessly fits in to the scheme of things falling under skipper AB de Villiers.

The tour to New Zealand has offered a whiff of fresh air. From Richard Levi’s pyrotechnics, to the bounce and brilliance of de Lange, the series has encapsulated many a solid performance (notably Amla’s solidity at the top of the order and AB de Villiers’ raising claims to take over the batsman-ship baton from Jacques Kallis) to throw a glimmer of hope under a new regime.

The convincing manner in which the ODI series down under was wrapped (partly due to New Zealand’s new-look outfit) has more to reveal – opening with Wayne Parnell in the final ODI is a reflection of the scales in which confidence is being measured in their dressing room. Parnell, a player who hails from one of South Africa’s poorest province, had got his break during the days when the quota system had enforced the administrators to invest in his scholarship to a sporting high school in Eastern Cape. He looks likely to be one of South Africa’s all-rounder mainstays for many a year to come, even if a few statistics point elsewhere.

3-0, easy as it comes.

In the fan’s gaze, this phase of South African cricket is in the midst of a now-familiar cycle. The foundation for their ‘success-to-be’ is likely to be built on the captaincy structures laid by de Villiers, often regarded as a paragon for versatility. Like his predecessors, de Villiers will realize that he will have no excuses for failure at all: his country has a brilliant set of athletes to choose from, even though it has traditionally found it difficult to provide the rudiments of success expected out of it in major tournaments.

The distress surrounding their ICC campaigns have historically been deeper than exhaustion. As skipper, de Villiers would do well to make efforts to escape the grilling claustrophobia of ICC tournament post-mortems. The repealing of the quota system after the post-apartheid pendulum cycle has soft-pedaled any attempt to point fingers towards cricketing structures. After all, a thorough analysis on a topic that had received most public notoriety can reveal invisible histories that the quota system, with its focus on abstraction, had hidden.

Of course, Graeme Smith’s peremptory approach during his reign had made things look a bit more secure, but did little to erase the ‘chokers’ tag that has been dubiously associated with this brilliant outfit. Smith was a captain who was pretty optimistic about the public’s perceived ability to accept excuses. But he was smart enough to know that if you’re telling the fans something they don’t want to hear, an apt convincing counter-offer was needed to balance things.

Most fans have respected the past South African skippers for their effort, but have often been left confused and disappointed by the results. It is possible that de Villiers will continue to do what worked for them in the past. Historically, South African cricket’s problems had lied largely with its administrative deficiencies. But now, with a large set of bottlenecks out of the way (at least, if the news coming out of their local media is to be believed), de Villiers has an easier road to rally his troops along.

Of course, as the battle mode shifts to a five-day mode, a more familiar leader in the form of Graeme Smith will lead his team out on the seventh of March. But it is well worth keeping an eye on AB, for he is the right man to take South Africa forward for the best part of this decade.