Thursday, September 8, 2011

Former T20 greats slam India

Former Indian Twenty20 greats have blamed excessive importance given to Tests and ODIs for India's decline in the format, criticising veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman for ignoring T20 commitments in order to prolong their Test careers.

"The loss to England in the recent T20 international is a sign of our decline from being world champions to also-rans," said Joginder Sharma, delighted to be asked his opinion on anything at all. "Veterans are concentrating on meaningless Tests and one-dayers, and are not giving due importance to T20, the format most beloved to our players. It's disgusting.

"There's simply too much Test cricket being played, and it's affecting our T20 performance. Look at the recent series - Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir all picked up injuries playing Tests, and our T20 team suffered as a result," said Sharma. "Now these players may not be fit for the upcoming Champions League.

"What's more, there are many more Test and ODI commitments coming up - which may not leave enough time for the players to recover fully to give their best in the next IPL. Clearly the BCCI is showing preference for these meaningless international fixtures over the domestic T20 calendar," he complained.

Another T20 legend, Ravindra Jadeja, agreed with Sharma. "Players like Tendulkar, Dravid, Zaheer and Laxman always ignore their T20 duties to focus on Test and ODI cricket - doesn't this lead to an erosion of T20 skills? They should follow the example of younger players and play more T20, building up basic skills such as mindlessly swiping at every ball, bowling with a defensive mindset for four overs, and ignoring the smoking hot cheerleaders [sigh] when fielding in the deep. The way things are going, such crucial skills will be lost forever, and we will never regain our past T20 glory," Jadeja said, before shouting "Inquilaab Zindaabaaaaad!" - making it the second-most inappropriate usage of the phrase in recent weeks.

"It's time these veterans learned the value of delighting sponsors and TV audiences instead of spending all their energies chasing chimeras such as enduring Test records, classical batsmanship, all-time greatness and other such old-fangled nonsense," Jadeja added, speaking from painful personal experience.

Sharma and Jadeja have suggested several remedial measures the BCCI can take to arrest this alarming trend - such as reducing the number of Tests and ODIs played, instilling the proper values in schoolboy cricketers by paying them obscene amounts of money, and making renowned T20 lover N Srinivasan the president of the BCCI.

"We are taking the suggestions seriously. We have already implemented one of them. Heh heh," said N Srinivasan, president-elect of the BCCI.

Meanwhile MS Dhoni has said India are confident of defending their hard-earned No. 3 ranking in Test cricket, and praised his team for working together to achieve the goal.

"It's not easy to be ranked No. 3 in the world at anything. Even the casual observer would have noticed the whole team contributed during the recently concluded series against England to ensure that we were ranked No. 3 - so we can be proud of what we've achieved.

"It's easier to get to the No. 3 ranking than to stay there. You need to maintain the high levels of poor preparation, dodgy fitness and general mediocrity. So the hard work begins now," he said.

When someone pointed out that his team had actually slipped to No. 3 from the top spot, Dhoni winked and said, "Well, I guess you can now refer to us as the Roger Federer of cricket teams. Now, that ain't so bad, eh?"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ICC issues please explain over Galle pitch

The International Cricket Council announced an inquiry overnight after considering the report from match referee Chris Broad of England who described the pitch as poor. ICC cricket manager David Richardson and chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle will now consider all the evidence, including video footage of the match and submissions from the hosts.

ICC issues please explain over Galle pitch

The match ended a day and rival captains Michael Clarke and Tillakaratne Dilshan slammed the dry wicket after play finished. Clarke, celebrating his first win as Australia captain, said he had never played on a tougher pitch.

“Day one felt like day five out there,” Clarke said. “I hate to see a Test match being determined by the toss. It was obviously prepared for their spin bowlers and that backfired. I guess I was just fortunate I won the toss.”Dilshan said he had not expected to play on such a dry surface.

“Usually, the wicket in Galle is good for both the seamers and the spinners, but I think it was too dry and made batting difficult,” he said. The second Test starts at the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy on Thursday.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nasser Husain's 'donkey' remark upsets Big B

Nasser Husain's 'donkey' remark upsets Big BFormer England cricket captain Nasser Hussain's "donkey" remark about Indian fielders has upset Amitabh Bachchan.

"Did not like Nasir Hussain, ex-cricket Captain of UK (Britain), refer to Indian fielders as 'donkeys', as he commentated on tour of our team, ? Big B posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Hussain had equated some of the Indian fielders to "donkeys" during the Twenty20 match played between India and England in Manchester.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Only Miandad can streamline cricket

Pakistan cricket and controversy are the two sides of same coin. Every sports lover not only in Pakistan but internationally accepts that Pakistan cricket team is blessed with so many natural stars who can turn around the game in a short span of time.

But on the other hand it is also true that Pakistan team is known for its blunders and throwing away matches against the much weaker oppositions. At a crucial stage when Pakistan team is set to depart on Zimbabwe tour, suddenly the resignation of head coach Waqar Younis have left many questions needed to be answered both by Waqar and the Pakistan Cricket Board officials. Nobody is going to believe Waqar has resigned just because of his ill-health.

If he wanted to discontinue his coaching assignments he could have done this much earlier, so what was the reason behind Waqar's decision to quit the team soon after the Zimbabwe series? The timing and announcement of this news is not right at all as this will affect the already under pressure Pakistan team who is going on this tour with several new faces. Only captain Misbah, Younus and last-minute entrant Shoaib Malik will defiantly provide Pakistan a much-needed balance in the middle order, otherwise the rest of the squad will heavily rely on the experience of Saeed Ajmal.

Pakistan bowling was always their secret and main weapon on which team depended heavily. But this current squad lack depth in bowling while the batting is also very weak. These things in fact were enough for the selectors to focus. Now, the Waqar saga will further add to the problems of the PCB. Pakistan team needs a batting coach rather than a bowling coach, instead of hiring Waqar and Aaqib as both of them were fast bowlers and both of them can hardly bat with some exception to Waqar as he had played one or two good innings.

Pakistan is blessed with so many past batting greats such as Hanif Muhammad, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and many more who can help the youngsters by imparting them the batting tips and told them what shot to play and which ball to leave. Now when Waqar has decided to quit after Zimbabwe tour, it is the ideal time for the Board to make amends to their past mistakes and hire either Hanif Muhammad, Miandad or Zaheer Abbas as head coach as these gentlemen have what it takes at the top level and they have proven themselves as the masters of the game during their playing days.

Ijaz Butt must set aside his personal differences with Miandad for the sake of cricket and hand over the coaching assignment to Miandad.

One thing is sure that Javed has always played for the pride of the country and he will not let down Ijaz and will accept the offer as challenge. In present circumstances nobody other than Miandad can revive the fast declining fortunes of the national team.

Pakistan is all set to embark upon Zimbabwe tour and Zimbabwe is on a high after winning both Test and One Day series against Bangladesh and they have find a lethal combination in form of Vitori and Jarvis who are bowling with exceptional pace and venom and taking lots of wickets between them. On the other hand Pakistan team is out of practice as they have not played competitive cricket for a while and the players will take some time to adapt to the conditions which will certainly favour the home side.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

English cricket set to rule after India 'embarrassed': Press

England is set to dominate Test cricket after climbing to the top of the world rankings with a 4-0 whitewash of India, who face a long road back from the "embarrassing" loss, British newspapers said on Tuesday.

"India simply weren't up for the fight," Steve James wrote in The Daily Telegraph. "England have embarrassed them. There are insufficient superlatives to describe their performance in this series."

Former England bowler Derek Pringle predicted a hot reception for India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni after England completed the series demolition with victory by an innings and eight runs at The Oval on Monday.

"Dhoni and India will face awkward questions back home following the scale of this defeat," he wrote in the Telegraph.

"Although they turned up in part here at the Oval, mostly through Rahul Dravid who all series has stood like the Taj Mahal amid the wreckage of their cricket, they have been beaten so comprehensively that holy cows may have to be sacrificed."

Indian hopes of escaping with a draw were dashed when Australian umpire Rod Tucker adjudged Sachin Tendulkar leg before wicket when on 91. The great batsman remains stranded on 99 international centuries.

"Tendulkar unable to save India from truth", ran The Times' headline. Simon Barnes, the paper's chief sports reporter, suggested that Tendulkar's dismissal by England bowler Tim Bresnan may have been a blessing in disguise.

"People would have forgotten, or at least treated as a matter of infinitely less significance, that India have lost four Test matches by humiliating margins," he argued.

His colleague -- and former England captain -- Michael Atherton backed Tucker's decision, but warned the umpire "would be advised to avoid Mumbai (Tendulkar's home city) for a while".

The series win cemented England's reputation in the long form of the game, and hints at an exciting future for the maturing team, Barnes added.

"This is not yet a great England team, but they are flushed with ambition to become one and have made some formidable strides towards it," he said.

"They are doing so at present without a single obviously and unquestionably great player. With this England team, greatness is a matter of spirit.""England top of the world -- but aiming higher", ran The Independent on its back page.

"Given the way England have played over the past 18 months, what could possibly go wrong?" the paper asked, before warning against a drop in the work rate which has pushed the team to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.

"However you look at it, England's cricket team last night could claim the greatest of distinctions. They were indeed the best in the world," it added. "For a little while at least that is something that can speak -- and sing -- for itself."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cricket: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's got to make the blazer fit again

Cricket Mahendra Singh Dhoni's got to make the blazer fit againStand-in captain, stand-in blazer," he said with a smile when asked if he'd had one cut to fit his own shoulders yet. This was in 2008: India were still chasing Australia for the number one spot in the ICC's Test rankings and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in Anil Kumble's absence, was leading the side for only the second time in the longer format. And while he had walked out for the toss wearing a clearly oversized jacket, it was abundantly clear that captaincy fit him just right.

On the field, he was calm and composed with a brash tendency for risk-taking that mirrored the bike-freak in him. Off the field, he was charming and earthy, ready with a smile if not with a quote. He always insisted that there was more to life than cricket and, as if amused by his indifference, the cricketing gods gave him more than anyone expected. The man, really, could do no wrong.

Three years on, with a blazer cut for him and a list of achievements too long to fit in its pockets, Dhoni finds himself in a strangely unfamiliar place: on the wrong end of a drubbing. For the past four weeks, India have been pummelled in England, stumbling from one catastrophe to the next with all the elegance of a car crash.

There seems to be more white in Dhoni's stubble each day and the smile, at one time carefree and irreverent, suddenly appears strained, bordering on the helpless; the look of a man who knows that, unpleasant as the cricket has been, the post-mortem will be worse still.

The reasons for this debacle, experts agree, are two-fold: too little planning and preparation and way too much cricket, leaving the players undercooked and exhausted at the same time. Just the numbers are enough to make one wince.

Heavy Workload: Since January 2008, Dhoni has played 38 Tests, 90 onedayers and 95 Twenty20 games - both for India and in the Indian Premier League. Basically, for three-and-ahalf years now he's played a game every three-and-a-half days. No international cricketer has played as much and a look at the ICC's Future Tours' Programme shows that the workload is not going to get any lighter, with India scheduled to play around 125 days of international cricket in the 12 months starting May 2011. England, in contrast, will play 88 in the same time period. This generation of players are superstars, no doubt; that does not mean they're superheroes.

On the first day of this Oval Test, as he received medical attention after a misjudged collection, television cameras zoomed in on Dhoni's heavily bandaged fingers. Each time the physio tugged at one, the Indian captain winced, muttering unprintables under his breath. There's a fairly accurate theory that suggests teams take on the characteristics of their captain. When Ganguly led India, the side seemed all heart, but the same players seemed to turn studious and efficient under Dravid fs stewardship. By that logic, this Indian squad, like Dhoni fs fingers, have been going from day to day, match to match, series to series patching themselves up as best as they can, hoping and praying things don ft fall apart as they fve done on this tour.

From a purely cricketing point of view, this tour is unlikely to affect Dhoni fs legacy, for he will always be the man who inspired small-town India to chase their cricketing dreams, the man who led India to the World Twenty20 and World Cup titles. However, this is also a chance for Dhoni to shake up the present in order to shape the future.

Friday, August 19, 2011

India blind team to tour Pakistan

India will arrive in Pakistan and play three back-to-back Twenty20s from November 18 to 20 in Lahore. These matches will be followed by the two teams contesting the three 50-over games from November 22 to 26 in Islamabad.

The Pakistan Blind Cricket Council President Syed Sultan Shah was delighted at hosting the series.

“Although we aren’t as rich as the Pakistan Cricket Board, our dedication is very much alive,” Shah told The Express Tribune. “The same commitment has led to the resumption of the bilateral series. There are many sports suffering from isolation but I think our series will help the country give a strong message to the world.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dhoni yet again harps on the cramped schedule

Indian skipper MS Dhoni is not a man for tokenisms. He is not a man for excuses either. He cited exhaustion as the reason when the Indian team got knocked out in the Super Eights of the 2009 and 2010 World T20 tourneys in England and South Africa and even earned reprimands from the high and mighty in the BCCI. This time though, even if the BCCI bigwigs pretend to be deaf, Dhoni's words might just ring a bell as the myopic scheduling is being criticised all round the cricketing globe as it has devalued a potentially cracking series.

Faced with the prospect of losing the No.1 ranking after conceding a 0-2 lead to England in the ongoing Test series, Dhoni has once blamed a cramped schedule and tiredness for his team's poor performances. He, however, hoped that with considerable rest before the next Test of the four-match series, India will stage a turnaround. "Somebody said time is of essence here. We came straight from the Caribbean and didn't have time to play more than one (practice) game. So we are playing seven and not four matches backto-back," Dhoni said after India were mauled inside four days by 319 runs at Trent Bridge on Monday.

"This series is a continuation of the West Indies tour and we haven't really had a gap. You need to prepare differently for an England tour. In this respect the next 10 days are very important," he added.

With Virender Sehwag set to join the squad, and Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan likely to be fit for the third Test at Edgbaston on August 10, Dhoni expressed hope of a comeback. The series has been hard on India and Dhoni admitted that his famed batting line up needs to fire. "It is important to score and put runs on the board. We have been lacking in this respect."

Cricket, and more cricket: MS Dhoni has blamed a 'cramped schedule' as one of the reasons India are doing so badly in England. TOI takes a look at the international cricket the team has played in the last one year and the workload of the top players in the same period. Playing international cricket is sapping, and not just because of on-field demands on the cricketers. Constant travelling, daily practice sessions, team meetings, fitness training, media engagements and fans' expectations also take a heavy toll on the players' body and mind. And don't forget, our stars also performed in the IPL in April-May 2011. Thus, most Indian players were not exactly fresh and bubbly when they reached English shores.

Indian team's calendar during the last 12 months - since August 1, 2010: In Sri Lanka v Sri Lanka & New Zealand in August, 2010: 1 Test & 5 ODIs In India v Australia in October, 2010: 2 Tests & 3 ODIs In India v New Zealand in November & December, 2010: 3 Tests & 5 ODIs In South Africa v South Africa in December, 2010 & January, 2011: 3 Tests, 1 T20I & 5 ODIs In Bangladesh v Bangladesh in February, 2011: 1 ODI In India during World Cup in February, March, April, 2011: 8 ODIs In West Indies v WI in June & July, 2011: 1 T20I, 5 ODIs, 3 Tests In England v England in July & August, 2011: 2 Tests Note: In addition to the above, Indian players also appeared in the IPL from April 8 to May 28, 2011.

On the ball: International match days* Indian players logged in the last 12 months - since August, 2010: Sachin Tendulkar: 60 days, Rahul Dravid: 67 days, VVS Laxman: 63 days, Virender Sehwag: 57 days, Gautam Gambhir: 48 days, Yuvraj Singh: 29 days, Suresh Raina: 82 days, MS Dhoni: 88 days, Harbhajan Singh: 81 days, Zaheer Khan: 48 days, Ishant Sharma: 59 days, *Match days: ODI-1 day; T20 -1 day; each day of a Test: 1 day.


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