Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Reviewing ICC's recent changes..

So another era has begun in international cricket. Some new changes have rocked International cricket. Many new changes were made to cricket in the ICC board meeting yesterday. While some changes were actually needed, there were some which might turn out to be blunders.

1. DRS mandatory but without hawkeye- Well even though it seems BCCI has lost the battle on DRS to the rest of the world but still they had the last say and got hawkeye eliminated from DRS. The decision is not bad considering the fact that the use of DRS has been mandatory and that too with hot-spot and snickometer. Yes, hot spot and snickometer are better and are not associated with prediction but with a replay of an actual event but does n't hawkeye provide an alternative(may be a clearer)  picture when used in addition to the other 2 technologies. While hawk-eye can be used if agreed by both the boards but BCCI letting it being used in the series against England looks unlikely.

2. No runner for batsman- This decision seems to be incorrect for the fact that its the allowed runners that make cricket a unique team sport where players can ask for help from their teammates while on the field. Nothing of that sort happens or can even happen in any other sport. This way the uniqueness of this great sport will be taken away. Put it like this. Its a world cup final, a player is set to guide his team to the target when suddenly he collides with another player and now he is injured where he cannot run but can bat. Would n't this rule would cost that team the world cup. This rule might give encouragement to bowlers or fielders to √§ccidently" collide with the players in crunch situations as ina ny case they wont be allowed runners if they are injured.

3. New balls from both ends- This rule is a lifeline to the bowlers at a time when the game was becoming more and more of  a batsman. With this new rule, ball will seam and swing for a longer time and pose threat to batsman for a longer time. Bowlers are set to enjoy this but then they might have to sacrifice reverse swing for this extended persistence of shining ball.

4. Powerplay between 16-40 overs- This rule is good as well as bad. On one hand it will help spice up the boring middle overs in a one-day match but on the other hand the concept of handing the bowling and batting team authority to use the powerplay according to their demand is a little bit lost as they might want to take it after 40 overs accordingly as they might be losing wickets in the 35-40 overs but they will be forced to take the powerplay according to the rule.

5. Only 1 review allowed per innings in ODI's- This surely seems a blunder as many a times there are more than 2 blunders in an innings. If you can only challenge 1 blunder per innings, then whats the need for this DRS. Maybe they could have stayed with the rule or the rule could have been that in case of a successful review the allowed number of reviews stayed.

6. Qualifying tournament for associate nations- This has helped to keep the "world" in the world cup as a world cup of only 10 nations would not help to spread the sport globally. It would be good to see teams earning their place in the world cup which would give any new nation in cricket a chance to feature in the world cup. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Extinction of Practice matches in cricket

There was a time in cricket when playing practice matches before every tour was mandatory. Players arrived the country several days before and played 2-3 practice matches before facing the host nation. But now apart from tours of Australia and England, practice matches are usually ignored. It may be attributed to the very tight schedule the international players have nowadays that there is no time left for these non-evaluative practice matches. But then these are the same players who crib about lack of practice or facilities or fatigue when they go down in the initial part of an overseas tour.

India was bowled out for 246 in their first day of the first test match against the West Indies yesterday. Top scorers for India were Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh while the fresh star arrivals Laxman, Dhoni and Dravid struggled even though Dravid managed 40 runs. This scenario shows the fact that only those players looked comfortable who had played matches in the carribean while the new arrivals who were short of match practice struggled. Laxman and Dravid may well get used to the conditions by the second test but by then they might have lost to a below par West Indies team.

This shows the importance of practice matches. There was hue and cry by the Indians over the sub-standard practice facilities and a dangerous practice strip but if there had been even a single practice game before this test match. the situation might have been different. In this era of slambang cricket, Test cricket still holds fort as the purest form of cricket. But due to lack of practice matches, touring teams are not able to do justice to their abilities and what we see are top class players struggling and low quality cricket being played. Even if the players arrive a week before and practice in the nets for 6 days, that will not help them the way a 4-day practice game helps them. Practice games are necessary and must be revived as soon as possible.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

DRS' Improved Version

DRS debate has been re-ignited and in the past 2 weeks almost everything has been said about the DRS by  players, Cricket Board officials, cricket bloggers and fans alike. The cricket world is divided on the issue and everyone is suggesting reforms of his own. As a cricket lover, I hereby, try to list some of the few changes needed in DRS so that it can be used in Cricket.

1. First one is the obvious, use Hawkeye, hotspot and snickometer together. The use of the 3 technologies simultaneously provide an almost error free review of all the decisions in cricket. Error cannot be made zero, uncertainities will be there but what is important is these are minimized which is possible only if all the 3 technologies are used together.

2. The second one is related to the first one. The review system is handled by the Board and the broadcasters and the cost of technologies like hot spot runs into millions which some boards are reluctant to do while some are not in a position to do it. Thus the reform needed is that the ICC must be in-charge of the review system and it should ensure that all the 3 technologies are there. They should support the "not so rich" boards financially while the ultra rich must be forced to do so.

3. In the ball tracking system, emphasis should also be given to the nature of the pitch and the spot where the ball pitches. Afterall cricket is hugely influenced by the nature of the pitch then why not consider it while reviewing a decision. It woud help predict whether there are chances of ball bouncing high or it staying low or the ball might spin if it is a rough patch.

4. There should be introduction of a margin of error % or probability of uncertainity in whether the ball is hitting the stumps in case of LBW decisions. A particular value should be set  which would determine whether the batsman must be given out or not. It will help determine the accuracy of the review and whether there are more chances of ball hitting the stumps or not.

These are some of the changes that should be brought in DRS to make the review system highly accurate. There might be many more. The system is based on predicting the trajectory of ball so it can never be 100 % accurate but what can be done is that the level of inaccuracy can be minimised. Only then would DRS be truly a "REVIEW SYSTEM".

Thursday, 16 June 2011

BCCI is the don of cricket..

BCCI-the Board of Control for Cricket in India  has almost become the board of control of cricket in the world. That time has long gone back when decisions in the cricket world were a matter of discussion between mainly 2 countries, England and Australia with a little contribution from others. It has changed but for worse as it is now a matter of discussion among people of a single country.

BCCI have truly become the don of cricket. What else can you say when everything in even the so called world cricket body ICC is almost solely influenced by BCCI. India has become the powerhouse of cricket with its all time huge audience and the fact that the BCCI is the richest cricket board. India is the world no. 1 test team. India won the 2011 cricket world cup and look set to dominate world cricket together with the BCCI. There have been a lot of cases where BCCI has used its dominance to turn cricket for their own good.

First would be the recent UDRS controversy where every cricket board seems to have trusted the new law of technical intervention in umpire's decision except BCCI because its star players Tendulkar and Dhoni are opposing it. BCCI is trying hard to keep the UDRS away and irrespective of what the world wants and more imporatantly what the other country wants, India in its bilateral series are not using UDRS just because they had a bad time with it in Sri Lanka in 2008. If there is a rule then its the same for everyone. The benefits and drawbacks would be the same for everyone, then why so much fuss. But why would the BCCI listen, when their stars don't want it why would they let others have it.They are truly a bunch of angry people.

Already a money powerhouse, BCCI brought about one more change in world cricket. On the lines of the Premier league in football , the Indian Premier League was born. Cricket was commercialized without limits as bollywood stars bought teams,players were auctioned like expensive goods and were huge bucks. The league intended to find young local talent became a business with BCCI making large profits. They even put ICC under immense pressure to give IPL a separate window in the FTP calendar. Well they have got an automatic window where indian players are free but other players from other countries have fallen for the bait and are leaving their international commitments despite injuries. Players are announcing retirements from test cricket for IPL(lasith malinga) while some are fighting with their board(chris gayle). The Indian star players have no choice but to play in the IPL inspite of they tired they might be. This can jeopardise test cricket but who cares, BCCI is happy making profits.

In 2009 India climbed to the top of ICC test rankings. Suddenly BCCI's interest in test cricket was revived. The FTP originally stated thet South Africa would play 5 one dayers in India in 2010 but BCCI was aware that due to lack of test cricket in the next seson , India might lose the crown so immediately BCCI used their mafia powers to change the tour into 2 tests and 3 ODI's. While they lost the first game on a lively pitch. they came back in the next game on a turner. BCCi shaped up the cricket calendar to suit them and their team. Also whwnever India tours a country, BCCI ensures the match timings are set according to the timings of Indian audience. While it does help the Indian audience to watch matches but what about the local cricket fans who are left disgusted and what we see are empty stands like the 2007 world cup or the Current India-West Indies series. But who cares, BCCI is happy.

With Sharad powar as the current ICC president, nothing will change win world cricket. India is truly dominating cricket both on and off the field. And BCCI, well, is the "DON" of cricket.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

West Indies-The Reason For Demise

A second string India team without 6 of their top players has defeated the West Indies in the 3 games played till now. The series is well...pretty boring considering the fact there are no big names and the cricket played is not of the finest quality. The West Indies have been on a demise since the 1980's and now seem no more than a Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. West Indies was associated with the cool easy-go attitude of players and fans and the entertainment their team provided to the world of cricket which is completely missing now-a days. There are many reasons as to why the West indies have turned into minnows.

First would be the slow dead pitches of the carribean. Its ironic to see a country known for its fast bowlers who could bounce anyone off now roll out such slow and low pitches. The tracks in Windies turn more than even in India. Couple this with slow outfields and what we get are frequent low scoring games which are enough to shoo away the oldest cricket maniacs. The essence of West Indies has been lost with empty stands during most of the games. The 2007 World Cup was a big flop due to the high pricing of tickets and the fact that that the carribean people were asked to come early in the morning to watch matches to cater the sub-continental audience. That time has long gone back when matches in West Indies were no less than a party for both players and fans as people used to drink beer and dance while the game was on.

Second would be the fact there has been a dearth of young cricketing talent in West Indies. The popularity of cricket seems to be going down pretty fast in the island nation with people more interested in NBA and other sports. Also the experienced players like gayle, sarwan, chanderpaul etc more often than not get involved into controversies with the West Indies cricket board. This has jeopardized the West Indies cricket team an more often than not they are not able to field their best eleven. The WICB has been a bit unprofessional and unfair to its players owing to its financial crisis. Their domestic tournaments are below par and unable to churn out new exciting players.

Another reason is that other top teams have started ignoring the West Indies and usually send second string teams to the West Indies which is disappointing for the players and fans alike. The pitches in West Indies have become slow turners. West Indies is known for producing quality fast bowlers rather than spinners and thus other teams usually take all the advantage of the turning tracks and thus defeat the West Indies quite easily even if it is a second string India or Pakistan team. West Indies are constantly sliding down the rankings, their board is in a mess, pitches are getting worse and its people are not loving cricket more. Its high time that the ICC intervene and help the troubled Carribean nation or else cricket will completely lose their coolest fan base.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sachin Tendulkar - Not satisfied?

According to a report in the Hindustan Times today, Sachin Tendulkar, the "god of cricket" has said that he is still not satisfied and content with his batting skills.Well if Tendulkar's game is not perfect then who's is? That does n't mean that I think Tendulkar's game is perfect. He makes mistakes like every other batsman but his style of play and adaptability to different formats and situations of the game is the best in cricket. Even though the great man has almost all the coveted records a batsman can have in cricket with the most runs and centuries in both test and one-day cricket but his statement clearly proves that he is still not done with his batting. He still has more to give to this game. In his words Cricket is his life and life without cricket is unimaginable.

 Rightly so, as the legendary batsman keeps re-inventing himself to suit the ever-changing nature of the game. He has started improvising much more and has included different shots in his Armour which he would never have played 10 years back. From the raw and ferocious Tendulkar of 1990's to the now settled, responsible and mature Tendulkar of the new decade, he simply seems immortal. Now he has shifted his focus to finish matches for his team. He is happy to play the sheet anchor role and do the hitting at just the right time. He has worked on his fitness and his choice of tours and has kept his body fresh for the important tours and tournaments
. He knows that now the Indian team has many match winners apart from himself unlike the 1990's when India was all about Tendulkar. He has realized his dream of being a part of the no. 1 test side and a world cup winning team. Now his aim must be to  keep India in the dominant position in world cricket and improve his game further and make it more flawless than before. Tendulkar is an amazing student of the game and yearns to learn more all the time. He is just like the old wine getting better and better with age and looks probably in the best form in his 2 decade career. So fans have a good news, their beloved Tendulkar is not hanging his boots just yet. His new career with a world champion team has just started.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Duncan Fletcher- On Indian Tides

Duncan Fletcher , the new coach of the Indian Cricket team is ready for his first assignment i.e. the "ignored" tour of West Indies. Well the title seems inspired by the latest pirates of the Carribean flick, indeed it is but coaching the cricket team of a nation like India can be a strange experience. Fletcher takes over the reins from the man who gave everything India wanted from the world cup to the no. 1 rank in test cricket i.e. Gary Kirsten. There are many challenges which Fletcher has in front of him to garner the respect and belief of Indian players and "more importantly" the Indian audience. First is the fact that Gary Kirsten has left the team in an envious position where India are world champs and no. 1 in tests. Now he is expected to help  sustain India as the world champions and win everything which comes their way. Next would be the fact that even though his first tour is the "less tough"West Indies one but almost all the senior players are either injured or have pulled out of the tour which leaves him with youngsters who can not be trusted for a victory on the tour. And if they do lose in West Indies, their world champions status would be in jeopardy creating further more trouble and pressure for Fletcher Also the Indian players must have developed the habit of training with the extremely fit 40 year old Kirsten who used to run with the players, throw balls to them for hours and devise new training methods with them. It is hard to think that the 62 year old Fletcher would be able to do that kind of physical work. And then he has the pressure of expectations of the billion indian fans who could either treat you like a god or on the same day turn you into a demon. (you can take the extreme cases of Kirsten and Chappell for instance) So it remains to be seen whether Fletcher becomes the next Kirsten for India or the next dreaded Chappell or the average John Wright.