Thursday, May 31, 2007

Telecast merry-go-round

When Nimbus pulled out of the telecast for the meaningless Afro-Asia cup, I thought that sensible demand supply economics of quality cricket vs. public interest had caught up with telecast of tournaments. Nimbus' disinterest in the telecast due to lack of the big players reflected just how much people would be interested in such tournaments as well. However just as Nimbus backed out, ESPN-Star swooped in with a lower bid (possibly with an eye on future contracts with the BCCI) to keep the tournament alive. That was a big disappointment, more so since ESPN-Star who have probably the only respectable team (read Harsha Bhogle) covering cricket, are reduced to covering irrelevant matches. And just when you thought Nimbus did the right thing in backing out, they in turn swooped in to cover the only marginally more meaningful India-SA series in Ireland, after Zee backed out of that one! Will the BCCI finally stop this telecast merry-go-round, contracts issues and other peripheral problems and please focus on the real cricketing ones facing the system?

When Steve Harmison Fires ...

... it can be one of the most destructive days in cricket. It can be one of those joyous things to watch - those rare things in the World that are destructive yet beautiful.

Time and again, England's depleted pace attack has been praying that this does happen. Because sometimes with geniuses it is beyond their control when they want to fire. For all of Harmison's known homesickness and motivation problems, his retirement from ODI cricket and his supposed mental fragility - while all of the Ashes heroes have succumbed to injuries around him he is the one man standing - he is the one man who has featured in nearly every test England has played - and so often hoped that he will stand up and take charge - will inspire the younger lesser bowlers and carry the attack.

It has happened on very few occasions - last year's Old Trafford Test against Pakistan is a case in point.

Harmison will continue to command a place in this not-so-rich England attack by delivering even 50% of his potential which is still good enough - but everyone is just wondering when that next bolt of lightning is going to strike. Because when it does it is going to have monumental significance. Geniuses are like that.

With Flintoff, Jones and Hoggard out the onus is on Harmy yet again - at Old Trafford. Will he deliver ???

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Looking Forward To The New Season ...

Well, things go so fast in World Cricket that before I could stop and reflect on the World Cup final, already a new season is upon us. Too bad, WC final, you won't get my review.

So India will be touring Bangladesh later this week. What can India hope to achieve from this mini-series ? Revenge ? Well, we'll leave that to the idiotic Indian mainstream media. What I'm looking for India to achieve is 2 things:

1) Win the series 3-0
2) Identify some players for the long-term in specific roles.

Often these objectives can be contradictory and conflicting. Luckily, this time, the selectors having picked a revamped young team these two can be made to collaborate.

So what I'm thinking is this:
1. Do not persist with tried and tested failures like Gambhir. Instead give Utthappa the full backing for the opener's slot.
2. Give Sehwag the role of a Hayden. He should be told that what the team now expects from him is big hundreds, not quickfire 30s or 40s. Those days are over. It is for the Utthappas to do that now.
3. Promote Yuvraj to a permanent #3. That is the spot he deserves and I'm sure he'll do well there.
4. Give a go to young Tiwari.
5. Have big hitters like Dhoni and possibly an all-rounder who can hit like Mongia/Chawla down the order with Dravid controlling the rear-end. I would say Mongia is preferrable given Chawla's potential with the ball he should be possibly groomed in for that specialist role.
6. Give a consistent run to Sreesanth and Powar.