Posts Tagged ‘Ian Chappell’


Goutham Chakravarthi

It was the most fascinating twenty minutes of the day. Sourav Ganguly and Ian Chappell had spent twenty minutes on air both talking two separate things. Ganguly spoke of Tendulkar’s solid defence. Chappell responded saying Chopra and Sehwag ran well between the wickers and that Gambhir and Jaffer, previously, were walking wickets at the top of the order. “Coming back to the point,” said Ganguly “Tendulkar’s defence is solid. See how he takes his foot out to reach for the ball.”

An all too familiar Indian collapse put Australia on top Photo: Reuters

It was bizarre. May be that is how any conversation between any Chappell and any Ganguly transpires. I didn’t know which was weird: the commentary or India’s batting out in the middle. It had been an hour and half of poor cricket: Gambhir came and went, Sehwag lived on the edge before nicking one to Ponting who promptly dropped it only for Pattinson to send back Sehwag shortly thereafter. Dravid and Laxman look more like the Dravid and Laxman of 1999-00 than of 2003-04. They struggled. Tendulkar and Kohli took India to the brink of lunch when Clarke summoned Hussey to deliver the final over. After 20 minutes of rambling, finally Ganguly and Chappell struck a conversation.

Ganguly: This is a smart move by Clarke. Everyone expected him to bring in Lyon for the last over, but he springs a surprise. Tendulkar has a history against these dibbly-dobbly bowlers. He hated facing Hansie Cronje.

Chappell: Then he must have nightmares facing Kiwis!

I pictured Greg Chappell chuckling at this back home and perhaps throwing a couple of air punches in delight at his brother’s clever retort.

Ganguly: Not sure about that Ian, but am sure you guys have problems. You just lost to them in Hobart last month!

The cameras panned to the Indian dressing room and they were clapping. You’d think for Tendulkar. Surely, they were clapping for Sourav. If you can take out two Chappells in one sentence, it is worth more than the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

I punched the air in delight. At least waking up at 4 in the morning didn’t go waste. We were one up going in to lunch even if the score card said something else!

And that was that! Nothing went India’s way. Even a determined Tendulkar who looked in tremendous form dragged one on to his stumps. It was another day of good fast bowling by the home team. Their lengths to the Indian top-order would have done their bowling coach, McDermott, proud.

Pattinson set up Sehwag and Laxman with the guile of a veteran while Siddle bowled a hostile over to knock over Kohli who had looked very comfortable till then. Between the three quick men, they had India in knots for the third successive innings. Given India’s repeated weak response to good quick bowling, the three quick men will fancy a rich harvest this summer.

Jokes of Indian batsmen’s lack of patience and feet movement fill the entertainment sections of Australian newspapers. “If you want to see fancy Indian footwork, bypass the SCG and take in a Bollywood musical,” read one of the newspapers. And the taunts of No Country For Old Men seemingly now a dig at the Indian middle-order than their own ageing greats.

It has been a miserable time for Indian batsmen over the last one year playing outside of India. No longer can the batting unit continue to surrender meekly. Yes, the Australian bowling has been hostile and good, but the application and hunger they were famous for seems lacking. It is highly unlikely that they will all survive should this series pan out like their last English summer.

All is not lost. There are another four days left in this Test to redeem themselves. Meanwhile, Ponting, Clarke and Hussey will know that two sessions of batting tomorrow could well seal the Test in their favour.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

December 26, 2011

When Ed Cowan confessed that he’d purchased a ticket quite some time ago to attend the Boxing Day test as a spectator along with a friend, it was hard to conceive how things could dramatically change within a short span of time as he led the Australian batting to top score with 68 on a day where the Indians came out on top for most periods. The hallmark of his innings revolved around his ability to leave as many balls as he could, and put away the bad ones in style. As much as Ian Chappell wishes that Cowan was 21 and not 29, he certainly isn’t old enough to be taken away from the reckoning.

That said, Cowan faced something of a thankless task up on assuming duties in the middle. His solidity at one end predated the Warner assault, although the real challenge of resisting to drive in an Autobahn as against negotiating Mumbai peak-hour traffic required immense mental strength and application. Cowan displayed the maturity of a traditional opening batsman willing to occupy the crease for long periods.

Cowan’s patience at the top of the order is what Australia need © Resources3 News

With Warner falling prey to a bouncer from Umesh Yadav, a similar delivery that he’d dispatched for six over mid wicket during Yadav’s previous over, Marsh came in and left without troubling the scorers after spooning a catch to Virat Kohli at backward point. Yadav possessed the pace and aggression to have a go at the batsmen without fear, although he ended up being expensive by conceding a few runs too many with short deliveries.

Ponting entered the MCG amidst clouded doubts amongst many who felt that he’d possibly be playing his final Boxing Day test. Any reservations over his form were quickly put to rest as he seized the initiative after being hit on the helmet early by a steeping delivery from Yadav – just the kind of incident that would trigger his competitive juices.

The scales seemed to be tilting towards Australia’s favor with both Cowan and Ponting looking strong out in the middle. Ponting’s trademark pulls were on display as he dismissed short deliveries from Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. But it was the young bowler from Vidarbha who had the last laugh when he had Ponting caught at second slip by VVS Laxman. However, signs of Ponting getting back to form will not be a welcome thought in the Indian dressing room.

Yadav’s three wickets came at an expensive economy rate, but in hindsight, his aggressive approach had more positives than negatives at store. It took him a while to understand that the policies of bowling short on a rather spongy wicket was lopsided against him – and the possible returns for that approach being rather modest – that it wasn’t worth sticking to it.

The experience of Zaheer Khan came in handy as he quickly removed Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in successive deliveries. It was the breakthrough India needed when Australia seemed to be coasting along with Cowan firm at one end. The momentum suddenly seemed to assure that India would quickly wipe out the lower order.

The significance of Zaheer’s crucial breakthroughs won’t decide who wins or loses. Rather, the test would focus around his durability in contradicting the legitimate barometer of popular belief that he may not last through the series, given how stiff he occasionally appeared at times. Ishant, at the other end, looked confident and intermittently dangerous although he was unlucky on a few occasions.

India might have well scoffed at DRS as a legalistic nuisance but certainly the stance didn’t help when Brad Haddin was caught plumb in front to Zaheer, only for Marias Erasmus to decide otherwise. Given that both Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey would have survived had the DRS been in place, the decision’s impact wouldn’t have been frowned at too seriously. Hussey finds himself in a similar position as he did back during the 2009 Ashes in England when he was battling to save his place in the test side and nothing short of a repeat of his innings at The Oval back then would cushion his place for the rest of the series.

Despite their batting misgivings, Australia shrugged off the second new ball late evening as they looked favorably gearing towards a total in excess of three hundred. Siddle’s temperament was commendable, as was his intention to get to the non-striker’s end by nudging quick singles. Startling signs of discontent arose through the Indian fielding unit as the seventh wicket partnership crossed fifty runs.

Despite claiming safeguard towards the end of the day, the Australians would feel that they certainly missed out on capitalizing the start provided by Cowan, Ponting and Warner. With the wicket more likely to offer pace and bounce during the subsequent days, they’ll look to gather as much as they can given that the Indians will be chasing a fourth innings target.


Goutham Chakravarthi

Australia honours Sehwag with the title of Swami

“The best way to play bowlers is go after them. Intimidate them, shake them up, beat them up. All with a smile. Tell the bowler that you are after his dog, money, future and see him wilt and cry,” said Sehwag to a secretly arranged gathering by his ardent supporter Ian Chappell outside Manuka Oval in Canberra late on Thursday. Ian’s brother Greg, famously known to have pushed Sehwag into moving to Japan to try his luck in becoming a sumo wrestler, was seen scribbling down furiously on his notepad ahead of the next week’s batting clinic for the Australian Test batsmen.

A host of former Australian players and current Test stars had made themselves available on the occasion to pick on the genial Indian’s brains. Sehwag, known to be honest with his talk, was giving a lecture on batting following his disciple David Warner’s request that he address the rest of the domestic bashers in Australia before the BBL and see if Sehwag could inspire them into becoming Test batsmen.

“Footwork is an Australian obsession. Quick, decisive feet movement are associated with greatness in your country. In my country, we associate quick feet movement with dancers. So is fitness and preparation,” said Sehwag and in an impromptu jig sat in a wheelchair and faced the bowling of the young quickie Josh Hazelwood and hit him out of the ground much to the astonishment of the gathering. Sehwag continued to biff the deliveries bowled from a bowling machine for a good 15 minutes and finished with a square driven six that went out of the practicing facility and into the ground where Indians were playing the warm-up match and hit Ishant Sharma on his boot injuring him and forcing him to limp off the field putting him in doubt for the Boxing Day Test.

Unconvinced by Sehwag’s methods, Greg Chappell immediately challenged Sehwag to face the greats of the past in a wheel chair and produced the latest version of ProBatter – ProBatter 2.0 – that not only simulates the bowling action and deliveries and speeds of modern bowlers, but of all those who have played the game – including the French maid Adèle who is claimed to have first invented bowling in 1149 A.D. “Fat boy, smacking Josh Hazelwood is an easy task as is flogging this machine. See if you can flog Ponsford, Old, Larwood, Barnes among others,” challenged Greg Chappell.

“Are they your nannies? Never heard of them,” said Sehwag even as the history-steeped gathering let out a collective gasp. In true Indian style, Sehwag called up his mom to seek her blessings (karlo duniya muththi mein) and set out on a rampage against the wild bearded 19th century Englishmen first.

Adjusting to the various chuckers of the time, Sehwag tore into them. One of them, a certain Lord H.R.E Muleman had his shin battered and ProBatter 2.0 had to be retired hurt for a while before Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O’Rielly were scared away by Sehwag who smote them from wide off the stumps to way over square-leg and from leg-stump to square over the point boundaries. In three minutes, Sehwag reduced the superstars from early 20th century to bowling negative lines for the first time in their real and virtual lives combined. Soon enough Larwood was sent back to the mines, as were Old and Trueman. Sehwag even had to battle the 19th century English round armers and the 1910s Aussie quickies bowling with the then slightly bigger sized cricket ball. The challenge ended when Lilliee was badly hurt on his follow through as a Sehwag straight drive caught him on his mouth even as Bill Lawry called him “you beauty” from among the cheering audience.

By the time Sehwag was done he had not only battered ProBatter 2.0, he had won over the entire Australian gathering who were reported to have been chanting “maar veeru maar…. aur maar” (hit them Viru, beat them up!) as if in a trance. With tears in his eyes, Richie Benaud said he had seen many batsmen in his lifetime, but never anyone who decoded batting like Sehwag. Deeply moved by the sagacious Sehwag’s knowledge of batting, he said, “His simplicity is astounding as his is knowledge of the game. I always thought the patch on his head was just a bald spot. I have now realized that it was the halo of an all knowing superior being. He is god to me. I have just received confirmation from the prime minister’s office that the Australian government will honour Sehwag with the title of a Swami.”

Among raucous applause Sehwag was honoured with the title of a swami by the Australian prime minister Julia Gillard in Canberra on Friday. The title was unanimously chosen by the ProBatter 2.0 bowlers who suffered his wrath the previous day. The gave him the tile of Engala Vittrungasaami (please leave us alone, swami!).


Goutham Chakravarthi

Steve Waugh found greatness when fighting with his back to the wall. He relished a fight and often got the best out of himself when he reduced a battle to that: individual fight with the opposition bowler. He thrived on it and often came out on top. He saved his career with that hundred against England. It gave him another year in the top flight cricket (he averaged 80 plus) and went out with a two month send off against the Indians the following Australian summer.

Now even Chappell and Benaud are calling for his head.

Now Ponting finds himself in a similar corner. Like Waugh, his greatness is not in question. His greatness is in front running and doing it like few others before him. Perhaps only Lara surpassed him among his contemporaries in doing it better.

A man of dazzling feet movement befitting the best of dancers, his gift was also in great shot selection. His ability to reduce the game to a fight and his immense desire to win made him a stand out. Few can claim to have dominated the best attacks of their time like Ponting has. Over the years, invariably, he has fallen, learnt, succeeded and failed like the rest of us. Very few can achieve the maximum of their abilities. Ponting did, and touched greatness. Of that, there is little doubt.

Not many would fault Ponting’s qualities as a batsman, but as a person he divides public opinion: considered short tempered, arrogant, loud mouthed by some, and as responsible, sharp man who understood his shortcomings and overcame them. Captaining Australia isn’t given to just any larrikin. It is a profile that is constantly scrutinized: by the public, media and even the prime minister. Shane Warne would count it among his top regrets not to captain Australia. Ponting did. His public acceptance to drinking problems as a young man and his switch to light beer showed him as man willing to learn and understand his position as an ambassador of his country. Soon, he was to become Australia’s finest batsman since Bradman and also its most successful captain.

Not that he has always been right. For that matter, no one is. He would lose temper on occasions and his ugly side would show up, not least in the Sydney test of 2008 against India. In a fiasco that defied belief, he would end up ruffling a full media contingent that questioned his team’s behavior and integrity. Not that the Indians were innocent in that Test either. That the incident propelled a huge fallout of the Australian team with the rest of the world did shake him up and his teammates to take a deep look at themselves.

Ponting’s attempts over the years of wanting to leave the game in a better shape than when he started playing is genuine. While gamesmanship may not be one of those, he feels strongly about over rates and substitutes. It has landed him in a quandary on a few occasions, especially in India where he has chosen the moral high ground over the push for a Test victory on more than one occasion . It didn’t go down well with many of his countrymen and former cricketers. That his lows as captain and as Test batsman should have come in India might be a personal regret. His successes far outweigh the inevitable failures.

Like with all great players, ability doesn’t last forever. What’s accumulated in the mind of a master batsman like him cannot be discounted for the waning of the physique. But the acceptance of falling from greatness has to come from within. Often, that is the hardest to accept. After all, Viv Richards didn’t wear a helmet just because his reflexes slowed down as he was reaching his end. He dusted it off as a dip in form and not of eroding ability. Some live in denial. Viv’s last three years had no Test hundreds. Kapil Dev’s last few years were a folly and so were Jayasuriya’s last many.

Now, Ponting is in danger of falling in that category. He has been found wanting playing the short ball over the last few seasons, yet he continues to play it. A signature shot, one that will always be associated with him, is suddenly a weakness. Falling over to straight deliveries and ending up in a walk to length deliveries are old problems now back to haunt him. Even stout Ponting supporters like Chappell and Benaud are calling for his head.

Ponting is still a mighty fine batsman. Perhaps he is hoping that there is a second wind for him like there was for Tendulkar and Dravid. Perhaps, being a good batsman is not enough for him. Once dipped and draped in greatness, it must be difficult to accept routine and the ordinary. Perhaps Wanderers will be his secret attempt at redemption; at greatness. A big innings would be most welcome for this struggling batsman and his tattered team. The end seems nearer than ever before, but may be, he can do a Waugh.


Goutham Chakravarthi

13 February 2011

Bangalore

It is almost incredible that the world of cricket media fails to see beyond what’s with the experts. Numerous debates on the future of television coverage have raged the TV and internet space newly only to see predictable conclusions in the form of pay-per-view and HD television as its future. But I cannot fathom why there isn’t enough importance given to a whole lot of discussion, analyses and literature the non-experts’ section of the cricket world has to offer.

Largely it is a pile of waste that comes out post-game on TV or in the press. Cricinfo is among the most sought after sources of information for fans who want more than what they get on TV: pods, humour, debates being most prominent among them. But even then, Cricinfo still throws a large amount of the same rubbish all other forms of media do – pre-match predictions (templated and boringly predicatble), sound bites, injury rumours and of course a whole host of ex-cricketers not worth an ounce as experts.

It is beyond doubt that some of the best cricket analyses come from bloggers. Perhaps because these are people who enjoy watching the game and in no hurry to meet a deadline. Often these articles and opinions are far more interesting as they tend to have different flavours of perspective. Largely intelligent and even successful people on various counts of life are able to relate to various events on the game that sometimes escape even seasoned experts and journalists.

It is hardly surprising that pods like Test Match Sofa or Test Match Special are a lot more enjoyable today than a group of great ex-cricketers who give you the score every second ball or call an ingenious Laxman flick with a sponsor prefix to it. May be a day is not far off when technological advancements make inroads into television coverage where a bunch of people from across the globe connect to call the action and those who prefer their version over the official version can choose to listen to it. I would any day take Andy Zaltzman cussing over a piece of action than an ex-cricket go “he’s only gonna get better with age” everytime he sees a promising youngster.

Recently, there have been stories of journalists not being too happy with cricketers’ tweeting. Some seem to think cricketers have now taken over their jobs. Some recently have found cricketers taking a dig at their writing offensive. Ryder and Swan are a lot more fun with their tweets than many of the journalists taking offense to their comments. May be, for lesser spontaneous cricketers, they can try becoming their ghost tweeters. Much of today’s cricket journalism is bland.

Today’s writing largely remains ancient as it was decades ago when newspapers recounted the day’s events when live action didn’t reach the majority and as a result the writer unfolding the sequence of events allowed the writer to paint the game to the readers. It is a largely different world today where instant tweets even as the events unfold have become the norm (not to mention cricket coverage on phones and over broadband).

May be, that is why slightly unorthodox but mighty fine observers like Andy Zaltzman are entertaining and sought after. Great captains of yore who read the game well and inform of the likelihood of events to unfold still hold fort. Still, Opinion columns are predictable and so are post-game analyses. May be, they are going the way of player interviews that are repeats of the same thing time and again. Our experts ask the same questions, the players give the same answers and the writers write the same things. No reason why the consumer to this feels cheated.

Not sure if am being callous here. But I do believe that the best coverage out there is by the fans – amateurs who do it for fun and hobby but with as much dedication and application as the pros. Talented bloggers like Arnab Ray (Great Bong), Adam Wakefield (Bleacher Report and often in the Inbox section of Cricinfo), Subash Jayaraman (Cricket Couch), John vd Westhuizen (Cricket Guru), Brendon Layton (The Straight Bat) will provide interesting views to rival the best that goes around everywhere else. Of course, cricketwithballs, boredcricketcrazyindians, thealternativecricketalmanack keep us all entertained with their brand of cricket literature. And I hope that the best our of tweeter cricketers continue to keep us all entertained with that information their boards and press don’t want them to give us.

As much as a world cup it is going to be of Bhogle, Chappell, Boycott, Roebuck, Baum, Booth and Houwing, I will keep my eyes open for the best blogs, pods and tweets.

And may be, some of you will check out this space for more.