Posts Tagged ‘Cook’

The Myth About Captaincy

Posted: September 9, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

Kapil Dev, Allan Border and Clive Lloyd led their respective teams to their first world cup titles

The hottest topic that is discussed during any series in the sport of cricket is about captaincy and captains. Captains from both winning and losing team will be called up after the completion of every match to talk about the positive and negative of that day’s match. The Indian media is very famous for the creating hype about the series and also the way they convert small information into an atom bomb which sometimes results in good players being dropped. (One example is the former Indian captain Ganguly). In case the Indian team ends up losing the series, they invite former players from India and other countries to discuss their failures and especially about the captaincy.

Recently the Bangladesh captain and vice captain were sacked from their responsibilities for losing in Zimbabwe. Every country is king on their home soil irrespective of the opposition. Even though Zimbabwe had not played much cricket over the years at international level, they will have played a lot in those conditions domestically. It is really difficult for any team to play against a team which has not appeared in international arena for few years.

Even the first test match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was very closely contested wherein Zimbabwe players missed several opportunities of catching Pakistani batsmen. Generally it is Pakistan who are renowned for missing opportunities while fielding. It was a nail biting finish to the first ODI as well. Even though Pakistan is better side than Bangladesh with the amount of experienced cricketers in their side, they still found it difficult to win a match against them convincingly so far.

In the recent years, there has been improvement in the Bangladesh cricket team. They should be given some more years of time to stabilize at the top level. At present they don’t have any players who have got good experience in International level to lead the team.

Fans, reporters, former players, editors across the cricket world often talk about the captaincy. There were astute people who were good captains between 1970 and 1990 – like Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Mike Gatting.

Clive Lloyd led the West Indies to 2 consecutive World cup wins in 1975 and 1979 and to the final of 1983. The WI team during 1975 through 1983 had got real talent comprising of great fast bowling and excellent batsmen.

Kapil Dev became  the first Indian captain to win the World cup in 1983. He led a team which had a good mix of quality batsmen and bowlers.

Allan Border became first Australian captain to win the World cup in 1987. The team had real class batsmen and good quality bowling.

Starting 1990 there has been only a marginal improvement in terms of captaincy. There are still a lot of talk towards some of these captains being great captains – Mark Taylor, Arjuna Ranatunga, Wasim Akram, Nasser Hussain, Shaun Pollock, Steve Waugh, Richie Richardson, Ricky Ponting, Stephen Fleming, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Grame Smith, Kumara Sangakkara, MS Dhoni, Andrew Strauss as they have won more no. of matches and tournaments for their respective countries.  Are they really so?

These captains lead a team which had got at least 2 out of 3 bases covered with some of the best cricketers. Qualities like very good batsmen, best all-rounders and great bowlers. There is nothing really great when you leads a team which has such brilliant talents. Even 50% of the players perform, the team ends with a win. None of these leaders really took over the team when it was at the bottom 3 or 4 in the ranking table and finished their career as captain in the top 2 position.

It seems almost mandatory rule a team should have a captain and a vice captain. To project that for every team players have been picked and given the position to lead. None of these captains really led their team to a tournament victory with less skilled players in the team.

Some of these captains holds the skill of utilizing talents existing in their team at the right time of a match / tournament and succeeded with good results. It is part of a job of a captain. There are only few eligible players who can be considered as emerging captains like Shakib Al Hasan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Bredon Taylor. Their teams are currently in the bottom 5 of the ranking tables. Let’s see their performance after 2 years as how they transformed their lead role talent to form their teams to next level.


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket – The CouchExpert

September, 2011

India’s battle with England this summer, thus far, has hardly possessed any dramatic interest. In the past, when Indian cricket had been through plenty of such phases, there would always be an instance of one player whose image would bring to mind a personal battle of absolute resolve. The truth, however in this series, is more prosaic; while there were a few performances that had glimpses of excellence, the overall picture, though, was seemingly fogged.

With absolutely nothing to lose henceforth, it would make sense for India to adopt Admiral Farragut’s ‘damn the torpedoes’ approach during the Battle of Mobile Bay. The influx of youth has helped the unit remove scarred egos, with Rahane’s good run of form being a huge positive. He has looked comfortable for someone who’s just arrived in to International Cricket. Coupled with Parthiv’s blitzkriegs at the top of the order, there have been plenty of positives to derive from the approach.

While some of the players handled the English attack with grace, the overall result has been the same – odd emotional moments in a failing quest that few people are taking seriously. The seriousness debate could have half a point – there were always going to be questions about the crowd that otherwise would have been generated had injuries not affected the celebrity stars.

The success of Rahane would surely give young Aaron a boost in confidence. He must be handed his debut soon.

Despite various signs that indicate a depleted level of interest, thanks more to the weather than the lack of stars, the battle might not be joined until the reverse fixtures commence in India later this year. But what can currently generate interest is to expose some of the young stars and offer a glimpse of what the future has in store for Indian cricket. The failure, to say hand a debut to young Varun Aaron would end up demonstrating the chronic weakness of Indian selection.

It is easy to forget that change in fortunes can still fetch silverware for the Indians this series. The Indian cricket fan’s substantive liability is to forget the opportunities that still lie ahead when times are bad – he becomes besotted with pessimism. The response so far from the team has been forceful, but grossly inadequate.

England, on the other hand has lost its One Day talisman with Irish roots to injury. Morgan’s injury could prove a blessing in disguise for ex outcast Ravi Bopara, who is trying is hardest to cement a place in a side which once struggled to pick a squad on credit alone. It is strange to observe how a chunk of past memories are formatted when times change for the good.

England must ride on this wave while it still lasts, and their current opponents are prime examples of what dark times can do. With a bunch of youngsters being given a fair run this series, Dernbach and Stokes have opportunities to pose additional headaches to the English selectors.

Bopara will slot in to fill the injured Morgan's place in the England XI

Alastair Cook’s doubted limited over skills were put to rest with the innings at Southampton, additionally backed by a few good performances in the same format against the Sri Lankans prior to the Indian series. His success has set a predicate that Cook, as a batsman, can now be relied on in the shorter formats of the game and practically, on incommodious leadership issues, if they may exist, along the way to definitive deal.

The trouble is, success will not always walk into the hands of the Englishmen. If England’s new found aggression is about ruthlessly wiping out enemies, as they’ve demonstrated in the recent past, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for even Captain Cook to take a leaf out of Admiral Farragut’s book: Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead! Weather permitting, of course.

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 3 September 2011

It is a slightly bizarre moment in the tour for both India and England. England have looked utterly dominant thus far and there is little that Indian have done to get the spirits up of any of their fans for the ODIs. But a lot is at stake – that England finally want to showcase that they give One Day cricket its due and India are serious enough to impose themselves in a format they really thrive in. India even went to the extent of trying out their ODI combination in the Old Trafford T20 game.

It will be interesting to see how India approach their batting poweplay

Both sides have issues to address. England’s batting order is always a concern with Cook and Trott in the top 3 and Bell at 5. While Trott has been the backbone of this side with consistent performances in the ODIs in Australia, world cup and earlier in the summer in England, Bell’s position is suspect at 5. In an ideal world, Bell would bat in the top 3 in the ODIs. At 5, he bats too low down the order to have the same impact that he can have at the top of the order. It also puts immense pressure on Morgan to anchor the middle order and also act as the finisher. Bopara at 6 is trying to become the finisher for England. While he has the power game to be more effective than Bell, England is still trying to fit 5 batsmen in the top 6 who all are best fit to bat in the top 3! A long batting order might help, but better management of personnel will help them evolve into a better batting unit that they can become.

India’s issues have been with bating collapses. They are clearly terrified of the batting powerplay and have no convincing method of countering it of late. They messed it up many a time in the world cup and in the recently concluded series in West Indies. While they largely won the world cup on the back of Zaheer Khan and their top 7, their batting collapses left a lot to be desired. The wickets might suit the Englishmen, and like Sri Lanka found out earlier in the summer, it might be hard work for their batsmen too outside of Lord’s and The Oval.

The series might hinge on the bowling form of the English seamers. Dernbach’s match winning performance at Old Trafford on Wednesday might mean one of Samit Patel or Graeme Swann will miss out. Patel’s batting might weigh in his favour, in which case Raina and Jadeja will be relieved.

Cook, Bell and Trott batting at numbers 1, 5 and 3 respectively might not work for England

On the other hand, Indiawill in all likelihood open with Tendulkar and Dravid and approach it the traditional way – keep the wickets in tact during the first 15 overs and capitalize in the last 15. The form of Dravid and Tendulkar will be crucial for India as their young batsmen have not shown the needed technique to survive the new ball. They will be at their dangerous best when the start is solid and there are not many catching men around when the stroke makers come in to bat. Knowing the limitations of this batting side, it will be a surprise if England opt to go with anything less than 4 seamers.

Indian bowling will be tested in the death overs. Both Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel rely on change of pace and cutters in the end overs. Wickets early will be the key for the Indian bowlers as well as the depth in bowling is negligent. Jadeja is largely a restrictive bowler and Ashwinor Mishra are not consistent yet at the top level. It will be interesting to see if they throw in Varun Aaron and give him the new ball. England can’t have seen much of him, and if it comes off, it will be gamble worth it.

There is enough to look forward to. Hopefully, it will be well contested.

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.

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

17 August 2011


Let us be honest with ourselves here: any attempt to get the competitive mood a little testier than it was prior to the Edgbaston-induced euphoria might be challenging. The margin of dominance might seem to have alleviated the competitive juices that would have existed before statistics played devil’s advocate – but far from all that, England will target a whitewash. With their openers back in form, the solitary glitch of the series up and until Birmingham was resolved in style.

As painful as Cook’s drab innings was, it is hard to argue that he might have ended up playing the role that was expected of him. For the spectator though, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility seemed to govern his innings that day when, at one point of time, the value of every additional run scored decreased, at least virtually, as his individual score piled on.

Nevertheless, England’s neoclassical revival couldn’t have hoped for anything more concrete. The nation’s persistent expectations were finally in congruence with their team’s performances in the middle. And the icing on the cake was to add to the former World Number One’s bundle of misery by ostensibly portraying the visitors’ woes as voluminous and grave as unpaid taxes in India.

Tremlett will definitely miss out due to injury, while Anderson's situation isn't entirely clear yet

The combination of a prospective whitewash and a battered Indian morale could well tempt Flower & co. from fielding their best XI at the Oval. Graham Onions is likely to return if the suspected injury of Anderson stops him from taking any part on Thursday. Tremlett isn’t fit yet, therefore Bresnan, riding on that wonderful form of his, will look to stay in phase with the momentum.

Bopara’s return placed him in the footnote of a scorecard with monumental numbers, an image that would only appear more blurred when he reads newspapers that highlight James Taylor’s great run of late. The Leicestershire wonder kid scored yet another hundred against the visiting Sri Lankan – A team, and is piling runs at the rate at which Cook was doing over the winter.

Bopara, in all likelihood, will be given another run at the Oval to cash in on runs against an attack that seems far from convincing. Some might argue that it would appear a bit premature for Taylor to be given a go now, but keeping a young in-form batsman waiting in the wings for too long has its own set of unpleasant consequences – one which even Ravi Bopara experienced at an earlier stage of his career.

And to imagine the prospect of throwing young Taylor in to a steaming cauldron somewhere within the subcontinent in conditions unfamiliar to him may not be the ideal start to envision. Flower is probably already thinking of this – the thought being hidden somewhere in his mind amidst a collage of numbers that read 4 and 0.

While it is easy to overstate this need, substantive as it might appear, the bigger picture of the Oval being a battlefield that will house the war between a bruised ego and new-found arrogance must not be forgotten. England cannot, and will not, look to hand India the advantage with a lackluster approach knowing that a 4-0 drubbing would lead the Indian media to frantically dig the graves of culprits before the start of the ODI series. This would, consequently, hand England another advantage going ahead.

Having climbed to the top with promising signs of a new era and a mentally tougher unit, the ghosts of England’s past have vanished for good. Hyperbolic as this statement might allegedly sound, only a strong performance – redolent of the visitors’ era under Gary Kirsten – might tilt the scales otherwise.