Posts Tagged ‘India Cricket’


In this episode, The Couch Expert’s Goutham Chakravarthi catches up with ESPNCricinfo’s Senior Sub Editor Shashank Kishore (@CaptainShanky) to discuss his career from an Electronics Engineer to covering cricket around the world. Specific focus on India’s domestic scene, youngsters to keep an eye on & the challenges with creating a competitive landscape with 37 teams participating following the Lodha Committee Recommendations.


Introduction Music: Composer and singer – Rakesh Salian

Guest: Shashank Kishore, Senior Sub Editor, ESPNCricinfo; Goutham Chakravarthi

Moderator: Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan



Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

In a dramatic twist of events leading up to the Adelaide Test, former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly has done a Shahid Afridi and has announced a sensational return to International Cricket, citing Paul Scholes of Manchester United as an inspiration to make this decision.

“Coming from the state of Bengal, football is followed with an equal intensity as cricket is. I have been playing football with a cricket ball for some time now, combining my two loves, and it has helped me sight a cricket ball now like a foot ball. When a friend of mine called me from Kolkata and said that the streets are flooded with posters calling for my return and citing Scholes as an example, I told myself that if Scholes does it, then Sourav does it too” announced Dada at a press conference outside Perth airport.

Dada returns from the saloon to save Indian cricket

“And it wasn’t just about Scholes. It was more. I averaged 53 this domestic season and even blew out Delhi’s tail in a terrorizing spell of less-than-medium-medium-slow-reverse-swing bowling where I took 3 for 1 off 7 deliveries. Besides, I am in fine nick playing Howzat cricket online. Of course, I wanted to step up for what I represent – Pune Warriors. They haven’t got anyone playing this series. Yuvi is out injured, as is Tim Paine,” he added.

When asked whether he’d be captaining the side at Adelaide, a thoroughly pleased Saurav said “I would have thought that was obvious. Now that Dhoni is suspended, I will be filling in. Coming to think of it, why do you even think Dhoni was suspended in the first place?”

When questioned on how he feels his form is, Dada looked pleasantly surprised. “I scored 135 against Haryana – any of you read that? Haryana is Kapil Dev’s state, and I’ve literally scored 135 runs against one of the greatest all-rounders the game has seen. Do I need to justify my selection anymore?”

Tom Moody, who was present at the vicinity, was pleasantly surprised by the nature of the announcement.

“I had no idea Saurav would do something like this,” said Moody when questioned whether his co-commentator during the series had shown any signs of interest in returning to International Cricket. “All he kept mentioning was Dinda, Dinda and more Dinda – Dinda bowls faster than Umesh, Dinda bowls craftier than Zaheer, Dinda can spin the ball better than Ashwin, Dinda is taller than Ishant, heck, he is even taller than you Tom … and every now and then, he questioned why Dhoni wasn’t bringing Dinda in to the attack.”

ESPN STAR Network, on the other hand, acknowledged that they were informed about the decision made by Saurav by his agent the previous day.

“Dada’s agent called us the previous day to inform on his decision,” said an unknown representative of STAR. “He has a commentary contract to honor – and he said he’ll stand by it. He will commentate while on the field in Adelaide – while batting, bowling and misfielding. He will even stop the cricket when the replays are being shown so that he could dissect them to closure and call the umpire names should he get a decision wrong – in the capacity of an expert. It is understood that it will not be considered as dissent. He will also hold up play till all commercials in the ad breaks are complete and ensure cricket resumes only after that.”

Meanwhile, a delighted Harbhajan Singh was seen running around Jalandhar, bare-chested, twirling his shirt with more vigour and spin than his bowling has seen in a decade. He was heard screaming that his shin had healed miraculously and reckoned he was worth his place in the Indian team as a batsman alone given his overseas batting record is as good as any of the Indian top-order. Also, re reckoned that he will unleash his new mystery delivery – the reverse-spinner – on Ponting & co very soon.

Reactions from the Indian camp are awaited.

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

October 27, 2011

It is now apparent that the year 2011 will be remembered for symmetrical disasters, focusing two nations that destructed the enemy on their own soils. Both these nations were made to portray a political peacock, powerless to manage their own vanities away from home.

The shift in cricketing super powers, of late, is happening at a rate unseen in cricket before. History will depict clearly that when the British Empire started entering its period of decline, the West was waiting, and ready, to take over the role of attaining global supremacy. It is about getting your best resources ready, as my colleague Goutham Chakravarthi pointed out in his recent article, with the best laid plans to counter your enemy and ascend to the top.

The 5-0 whitewash of England, a score line that would flatter any Indian fan when he goes through the scorecards some day in the future, paints a picture of a team that simply wasn’t ready to build its fortresses in stone as it travels across the world. But the bigger question remains: will the tilt in scales assist India in carving a path to supremacy that they had against their names, in the form of ICC Rankings, until a few months ago?

A lot would depend on how these ‘resources’ are handled. Time and again, the renowned cliché of great sides having great bowling units that can take 20 wickets, has come to haunt the Indians and impose a harsh reality check against this aspect of their supremacy. The long renowned criticism was that centric around the Indian bowlers lacking in pace, a theory whose hypothesis was proven recently by Zaheer Khan’s postulates on the inability of Indian players’ bodies not being designed to bowl fast.

Zaheer had raised a few eyebrows with his Theory on Indian Fast Bowlers

As farcical as this might sound to a few, especially when India’s neighbors to the Northwest churn our products that who are quick, Zaheer’s theory has a fundamental flaw. Historically, Indian fans have witnessed young, exciting talent who enter the arena with commendable speeds only to find that with time, their speeds decay exponentially to embarrassing levels. Likewise, genuine swing bowlers who’ve attempted to bowl fast to exclude themselves from this bracket of embarrassing entities have lost their art, almost mysteriously.

But any Indian fan would welcome the sight of a bowler who can put Zaheer’s theory to rest. After all, if neutrinos have suddenly emerged to question the validity of Einstein’s theories – that were based on the fact that particles that travel faster than light practically cannot exist – some bowlers could opt for the neutrino route to travel back in time and make Zaheer eat his words. After all, physics and cricket do mix – remember why the ball swings?

When Ishant Sharma was at his rampant best, during the tour of Australia back in 2008, I recall Harsha Bhogle making a statement along the lines of, “If anyone advises this kid to reduce his speed so that he sustain for longer periods in international cricket without being a victim of injuries, we’ll have to snap their hands off.”  I couldn’t have agreed with him more, and unfortunately, our worst fears came true.

The inherent drawbacks of having men in cricketing bodies across the country, mainly politicians and businessmen unqualified to run cricket, the sport revives itself in the worst possible way – similar to how the current Congress government has inflicted damage to the nation: the poor and the middle class will pay, in eternity, for the numerous sins of the powerful.  

So, can these resources be ready for war if the number of brick walls to climb internally is aplenty? If there are larger interests ahead that deviate the focus away from the core values of the sport, will it be reasonable for a fan to hope for an extended run at the top of the rankings? Yes, I know India has just whitewashed England at home, but I’d still like to think that England’s own flaws had a greater bearing on the result than India’s brilliance, which, I of course do not doubt.

With a challenging tour to Australia fast approaching, India can take a leaf out of England’s Ashes preparation last winter – a factor whose absence qualified (and quantified) India’s miserable display in England earlier this year. It might make a lot of sense to start afresh and build gradually on success, forgetting the fact that India were world beaters, if I may use the term, until not too long ago.

The platform now seems particularly ripe for a plan that can provide sufficient insurance to the impressive young crop of players who’ve done so well during the absence of the seniors. Aberrant errors, such as the simple case of including/calling A Mithun for a test match in the West Indies and not considering him as a replacement for the injured seamers during the tour of England, and ironically flying in RP Singh based on his 2007 series reputation need to be avoided.

Fortunately, the ideas for the platform have already been laid during the tenure of Gary Kirsten. Kirsten’s success as Indian coach is mainly attributed to his understanding of the Indian culture – one in which sensitivities played a very important role. Kirsten also saw the unprecedented need for psychological counseling for players who survived horrific spells of inconsistency/lack of form in the middle – for, the dynamics of the game had changed to such a great extent that the pool of players to choose from became so large, whereas the time a player got to showcase his potential was a matter of a few games.

Virat Kohli, with his rapidly rising run tally and maturity, with an extended run in Test Cricket can become a fulcrum of the Next Gen Middle Order

The case discussed earlier could’ve also dented the confidence of RP Singh, who’d have probably been more surprised than anyone else on his call-up, given the fact that he hadn’t played a first class game since January. Such cases, with a hint of a double-edged swordness about them, have buried the careers of a number of talented cricketers who have been victims of poor decision making.

What Indian cricket needs to build on requires the skill of a movie director – role play. Harsha Bhogle had spoken on this earlier, and if it wasn’t evident back then, it is evident right now. If this approach isn’t taken downstream, the absence of the cusp would mandate an explanation. This is very unlikely to materialize during the build up to the Australian tour, given the fact that all the senior players would play a role in the starting XI – given that this might be their last series down under.

But if the names don’t change, at least the structure can. Back the quickies and give the younger batsmen an extended run. Most crucially, eliminate the bottlenecks. Now that is where the trouble begins.

Sridhar Divakar

August 27 2011

It’s a pretty interesting time for selectors and coaches in India. Our Cricket Team which was considered World Champions in both formats of the game has just been dethroned from their No.1 status in Tests. Next milestone for the opposition will be to win the ODI series. A victory in this series will help them assuage their pain caused by the dramatic draw in the world cup. But getting back to the point that I started this article with, this really is an interesting time to be a coach or selector.

An angry press reacts in the extreme after the whitewash in England

A few months back, this team looked like a fantastic batting unit. It had the perfect blend of Experience and Youth. The bowling department seemed well stocked. The fielding standards too had reached levels never before expected from an Indian outfit.  It seemed that the national coach just couldn’t do any wrong and that the national selectors had finally picked the perfect team. Underneath the national level, was this matrix of myriad players, coaches, selectors, officials etc. who really felt as though they didn’t have much to contribute. They felt their current system had succeeded in creating a world champion team anyway.

Post this recent Test Series against England, or post what must have seemed like an eternity to the entire Indian outfit in England, every damn person(read coach, selector, columnist, player etc.) is talking or writing about the national team’s performance (or the lack of it!). The regional coaches and selectors have suddenly seen a silver lining through the dark English clouds. Overnight they have turned into these experts who always knew what was lacking in the Indian cricket system and what had to be done. It’s just that they were not given the chance.  The Tactic now – point fingers at any one of the millions of flaws that the Indian team displayed during their appalling performance. These critics, who seemed to be taking responsibility for Indian cricket success just a few months ago, seem to have cleverly shifted over to the side that is throwing criticism, now that the national side has given a dismal performance. And there is this resurgent media interest in finding out what exactly was the issue,  which has given them (critics)another shot at getting famous.

When times were good, no one seemed to have noticed flaws that, in any case, were inherent to the team

Funny!! Very funny indeed.  The point I make here is, if these people were so well aware and so concerned, where were they before the start of the series. A Zaheer Khan’s selection to the TEST squad was not debated before the start of the series in spite of him not having enough match practice. A certain Suresh Raina’s preparedness against the short ball was just not paid attention to after India’s World Cup victory. Yes he did play well in the West Indies. But those were different tracks. And he was playing against a shorter, comparatively inaccurate and slower set of bowlers. Where were the critics then? People were dying for Sehwag to return as if he has been blessed with the art of getting runs even after he was out. How else can you justify his selection to the team and the consequent silence of Indian cricket fans? All these men are supremely talented –no doubt. On their day, they can demoralize any attack in the world. But even the great Achilles practiced before a war. There is this certain mindset and this certain physical state that each player gets into before any important game. The Indians probably reached that state on the 3rd day of each test. And by that time, England was in command.

And now that the series is over, these millions of self prophesized experts slowly creep out in the open and bathe in the limelight of a vicious loss. Pretty sad picture for a country that breathes cricket. I am not saying that we should just sit back. No. This is definitely the time to act. But if only we had acted earlier. If only these realizations had dawned upon our selectors, coaches and players earlier. We would have had an outstanding series. And I feel cricket India owed this to fan – the simple aam aadmi whose craze fuels this game’s growth in this country.

It’s time to take advantage of the opportunity that this series drubbing has lent us. As an ardent fan of a game that has time and again shown what a great leveler it is,  I urge all you experts to come forth and draw up a plan, irrespective of which level you operate in in this country. Create a concrete development process, define selection and player fitness policies, improve the standards of pitches in india, pay close attention to sports medicine and nutrition of players. There are hundreds of things to be done. Instead of giving interviews and writing columns, please invest you time in such exciting endeavors. Be part of this exciting process of transformation. You know people are hearing you out. There is just so much you can achieve now.

At times I wonder why I gave up playing so early in life. I could at least have ended up as a coach or selector in some small club in some small town in India. And this would have been the time I would have been waiting for!

What an exciting time for selectors and coaches in India!!!