Posts Tagged ‘Anil Kumble’


Prasad Moyarath

“Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties” is a mantra repeated umpteen times by cricket commentators. These uncertainties of the game have grown manifold and have invaded the minds of the followers of the game and a cricket connoisseur’s tussle to solve these intricacies has dragged the game into excel spreadsheets and statistical calculations. The statistics involving cricket has grown into such a huge volume which can now be glorified to be among the biggest statistical data pertaining to a sport in the world. These statistics can not only be used to glorify some average cricketers but also be used to cast doubts on the credentials of some established ones. This article raises question marks on the two established stars of Indian cricket not only based on statistics but also on the commonly applied yardsticks in international cricket.

India's success in England in 2006 was built on the opening partnership of Jaffer and Karthik. Both are out of favour with the selectors today. ©The Hindu

International cricket is all about matches in various parts of the world and the stalwarts of the game are those who prove their worth irrespective of the playing conditions in various parts of the world. Test cricket is always considered as the ultimate test of character and ability for any cricketer and a match winning performance away from home conditions always draws the biggest accolades from cricket aficionados. Rating the real worth of a cricketer’s performance has become a task nowadays and adulated coverage by the media complicates it further.

Inconsistent selection policies plagued by nepotism and incompetence have made the career of Indian cricketers vulnerable to public opinion which are most often devoid of sound statistics and influenced mainly by the first impression created. Indian selection has plummeted to such a level that for a player to bloom, he should be selected at the right time and this right time is always his luck factor.

What is this luck factor in Indian cricket? It is undoubtedly a series of matches in the subcontinent for a batsman or a spinner and a series of matches outside the subcontinent for a fast bowler. A new player is always under scanner, more in Test matches than in ODIs and a few good performances in ODIs seem to protect this player from the scanner and there lies the folly. Vijay and Abhinav Mukund lost their places in Test team due to them not playing ODIs and Suresh Raina and Yuvraj got an extended run in Tests due to their ODI performances. This luck factor is something which is prevalent in any career and it has been globally accepted that the luck always favors the brave. But this luck factor is proving to be a bane in Indian cricket and the careers of two stars of the current team will reveal how this luck factor enabled them escape the initial expert scrutiny.

A Test opener’s technique is an important point of debate and scrutiny for former openers turned commentators like Gavaskar, Boycott and Arun lal during any overseas tour. S. S. Das, Vikram Rathore, S. Ramesh, Aakash Chopra and W. Jaffer were some of the players who failed to live up to the standards set for a test opener by these gentlemen. Despite all these standards, the search for a Test opening pair for India ended in two unconventional batsmen viz. Sehwag and Gambhir. How did Gambhir cement his place as an opener when some conventional openers like Chopra and Jaffer failed? Here is where statistics come handy. The answer is simple, the timing of their entry into international cricket.

Jaffer played 31 Test matches between 2000 and 2008 and 18 of them were outside the subcontinent and 5 of his first 10 tests were in West Indies and England. Don’t forget that West Indies had a better attack in 2002. Aakash Chopra played only 10 Test matches but 4 out of them were in Australia and 2 in Pakistan. He did well in Australia but went out of favor due to his slow batting. Gambhir has played 44 Test matches so far but has played only 10 matches outside the subcontinent. Out of his first 10 Test matches only 2 were outside the subcontinent and that too in Zimbabwe. And to add to these statistics, he was the only player who played ODIs continuously for India. His attacking batting combined with better understanding with his Delhi team mate Sehwag was an added advantage. Though Gambhir has played a lot of Test matches, he is yet to prove his credentials in trying conditions outside the subcontinent. He still continues to be in the team despite not scoring a century in 29 innings in 16 Tests since January 2010. Abhinav Mukund who was tried in West Indies and England has now been discarded despite his decent show and now with Ajinkya Rahane in the team, he is set to become another opener who made his entry at the wrong time. Why different yardsticks for different players?

After Nayan Mongia became a dubious character in Indian cricket, the selectors search for a wicket keeper batsman ended with M. S. Dhoni. Vijay Dahiya, Sameer Dighe, M. S. K. Prasad, Deep Das Gupta, Ajay Ratra, Parthiv Patel and D. Karthik were dropped either due to their poor keeping or poor batting or some unknown reasons. It was Kumble’s bowling more than their poor keeping that led to the downfall of Parthiv and Karthik as keeping to Kumble in Indian conditions was a tough task for a new comer. Dhoni did better and was persisted more because of the frustration of the selectors in not finding a better solution than Dhoni’s ability. Dhoni’s attacking batting in ODIs helped him escape the scrutiny of the so called experts behind the microphone. Dhoni too has fumbled with gloves like the others and his batting outside the subcontinent in Test matches is still unproved. The partisan attitude towards Dhoni is evident even in commentary when the BCCI sponsored commentators say “He almost fumbled” when Parthiv clutches on to a catch by his fingers, but keep quiet when Dhoni does the same. None of the above keepers got a continued run in ODIs like Dhoni. Dhoni has played 23 of his 64 Tests outside the subcontinent and is yet to score a Test century. All his 5 Test centuries have come in the subcontinent. If the same yardsticks applied to the other keepers were applied to Dhoni, I doubt whether he would have continued in the Test team.

Statistics clearly prove that Indian selectors apply different yardsticks while persisting with players for key positions in the Test team. Test cricket needs specialist players and ODIs should not become the gateway for the players to Test cricket.


Prasad Moyarath

Indian juggernaut rolls on. India’s dream run at home continues. Sports journalists showered words of praise on the Indian cricket team for their recent one day international series victories over England and West Indies in India. They have forgotten the Indian team’s pathetic show in England recently. With a tri-nation series in Australia approaching, what purpose these home matches have served for Indian cricket is a matter to ponder for cricket aficionados.

Injuries combined with the overdose of cricket compelled the BCCI to rest many senior stars for these home ODIs. But this also dished out a golden opportunity to the Indian selectors to groom new replacements for the current stars. But to everyone’s dismay, the BCCI and its selectors have proved once again that they are least interested in the future. What have they done wrong? The answer to this question, though lengthy, will be easier than finding an answer for what they have done right.

BCCI could have used the home season as an opportunity to build on a younger opening pair in Rahane and Patel

Circumstances forced the Indian team management to find a new opening pair of Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane in England. They did considerably well in the trying circumstances in England. It is more difficult to groom a new opening pair than a new player. Knowing this well, the Indian selectors could have continued with them for the ten ODIs in India. Even though both these players were part of the team, the selectors never seemed to imagine about such a possibility. This pair was never given a continued run and both these players were on trial thereby spoiling their confidence. Were the selectors expecting 38 year old Tendulkar and 33 year old Sehwag to continue as openers for a long time? With Gambhir being injury prone and a one dimensional player, it is time the selectors start looking for a new opening pair. The selectors and the team management should have guided Parthiv and Ajinkya and molded them as a reliable opening pair.

Number three or one down is a very crucial batting slot in any form of the game and India is yet to find a good replacement for Dravid for this position. Virat Kohli has relished this position and has done well in the recent past. The Indian selectors and the team management could have instilled confidence in him to take over this responsible role.

Lack of a fast bowling all-rounder has been haunting the Indian side ever since the retirement of Kapil Dev. Apart from Irfan Pathan, the Indian selectors have not unearthed any other options so far. But India seems to have discovered a spin bowling all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja. He is a compact batsman and should be sent ahead of Raina in the batting order. Ashwin and Vinay Kumar also seem to have batting abilities and the ODI series at home could have been used to unearth their batting talents. Rahul Sharma was given a chance only at the end of the West Indian series and so was Manoj Tiwari. If they were not needed for these matches, instead of sitting in the dressing room, the BCCI could have released them to play Ranji Trophy matches for their state.

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aoron demonstrated the importance of pace in international cricket and the selectors still seem unwilling to shed their old habits. They have gone back to Mithun and Vinay kumar who lack pace. T P Sudhindra of Madhya Pradesh, Shami Ahamed and Ashok Dinda of Bengal should have got a look-in in these inconsequential ODIs. Going by the current form, Abhishek Nayar also should have got a recall as a seam bowling all-rounder.

The stand in captain Sehwag was not good enough and openly criticized the top order for their failure thereby putting pressure on the top order. But he still continued to play some irresponsible shots. India need to look beyond Dhoni as captain and the selectors wasted a golden opportunity to groom Virat Kohli for the future.

The BCCI should stop treating ODIs at home as sources of revenue. Each series should be planned with future in mind. For example, a series in Australia should not be preceded by a series at home. The selectors should have confidence in their abilities and should not drop a player based on public opinion. The case of Ravindra Jadeja clearly proves how the public opinion can go wrong.

Can we expect any planning for the future from the BCCI who is unwilling to listen to Anil Kumble’s plan for NCA? If Kumble is giving up, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.


 Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

 30 August 2011


Indian cricket players have failed to make an impression on any of the three key areas of cricket during this series (batting, bowling and fielding). Each of these attributes fell short of their standards day after day and each one of them is interconnected to the other. The series has shown not only lack of preparation from our players but also their responsibility towards alerting their board on their fitness. They really forget about the billions of people who will be cheering them up on their matches.

The time has come for Indian cricket board to form a team for the next generation. The series against England gives the opportunity to the selectors to pick the right talent for the coming years. The trio (Sachin, Laxman and Dravid) have been serving Indian cricket marvelously over the past two decades, but are now more closer to the end than ever before. Therefore it is imperative for them to groom the younger generation to build a stronger Indian team before they make their way out.

Time is running out on India's big three. It's imperative they groom the next generation before they leave,

In the recent times some of the top emerging teams have got a higher proportion of young blood with an eye to form stronger teams for the future. The Indian team needs to work out a plan to reduce the one man dependency either on both bowling and batting. Retired cricketers like Kumble and Srinath need to come up with a plan to design young talent into spirited and well organized bowlers. May be, putting Kumble’s blueprint for Indian cricket into practice could be a good place to start for the board.

Out of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag, only 2 or 3 of them should be picked up in the playing XI. These players have already proved to the world how wonderful players they are and immensely contributed to the Indian cricket over the years. The next 2 years their focus should be towards building a stronger Indian team for the future. Many players can score centuries or win tournaments for the country, but only few players can sacrifice and help to build a strong team.

Each of these experienced players should be ready to play at different batting positions in the test cricket to give the opportunity for the young generation to play along with them in the Test cricket. This will really help to groom 3 to 4 young players into the team. Players like Kohli, Raina, Mukund, Rohit should be given more opportunities to transform their talent into performances in the longer format of cricket. As these young players are very good on the field, they will also improve the fielding standards drastically.

On the bowling front Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Ashwin have shown enormous talent and proved their selections match after match. Apart from these 3 players Ohja and Amit Mishra have improved a lot. These players should be given additional guidance and enough chances to be in playing XI.

Wishing the Indian cricket all the very best and expecting the Kumble, Srinath, Ganguly and Gavaskar to train and utilize the right talent to form a next generation cricket team so that the fans around the globe will enjoy the immense talent the Indian youth have on offer.