Back after a long time to the Cricket Blog. I guess time for cricket is best spent watching the Ashes! What a series it has been. It’s certainly edged out the India-Aus series of 2001 as one of the best fought series of this era. Wonder what things would have been if that Ind-Aus series was a five-matcher too!
Coming back to India’s performance in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, it’s been rather funny, the media reaction. An important point is that India played abysmally in Sri Lanka and almost decently in Zimbabwe. The team should have received much more flak for the final showing in SL than in ZIM. And to top things, rediff releases a sucked up report card emotionionally rating everybody as they please, without an objective viewpoint. Idiots! I thought Times of India is the only stupid newspaper and forum in the world, but fools seem to get a lot of good company these days!
A crucial thing which people keep overlooking is that we need a good team for the World Cup 2007. People like Venugopal Rao are certainly not more deserving than a Dinesh Mongia (who will soon get to play for England in place of Ian Bell (!) if he continues with his performances for Lancashire) or a Hemang Badani. Suresh Raina did not get a great deal to play but did himself and India a great disservice but dropping that sitter when Ganguly had gone in to change his contacts, only to discover that the match was but over, with 17 runs being plundered off Harbhajan’s over. At the moment, Ganguly has to remain captain by default. Rahul Dravid is a great cricketer, but a great captain is a different thing altogether. In the current era, gentlemen don’t get too far. I would even think of Sehwag as an option at a later stage. Aggression, and agression alone, which Dravid does lack in comparison to the rest can win you matches.
The selectors, (I delete expletives for the sake of decency) don’t do a thing good for the country and now want the head of all the players. I would not be surprised if they decide that Dravid is no good for ODIs and drop him, based on his current form! They are just unbelievably stupid.
Greg Chappell – I think he’s been a thorough disaster. He has not been able to handle the players well. You don’t publicise problems and create a fuss for everything. You do not go ahead and say in public that India deserves its 7th rank in ODIs. It’s not a question of creating hype, appearing disciplinarian and all that. It’s more about doing it. Show results. This is much the same team that Wright had managed till 3-4 months back. How come it’s come to perform much worse than before? I know Tendulkar’s not around and Dravid’s going through a bad patch, but Kaif’s going through a great period, Yuvraj has scored 2 hundreds in the last 7 innings and Irfan has been swinging the ball quite well. Dhoni has been another revelation. What’s the missing link?
Ganguly – the punching bag of Indian cricket. People in India have no greater amusement or happiness than deriding this man. He’s been through an awful patch, but even after a couple of decent knocks, people want to see him buried. Look at all those articles that have appeared in the recent past. For just the statistics, Hayden’s performed much worse than Ganguly in the last 10/13/15 tests (take any window). The call for Hayden’s head has just begun (even though he is just a regular batsman and not the captain), but Ganguly’s head’s been on the block since maybe the last 10 tests. That’s all the tolerance Indians have. Even someone as seasoned as Ravi Shastri had a jibe at Ganguly. This is not the way you treat someone who’s scored 10,000+ ODI runs and was once the best ODI batsman in the world. I don’t wish to go too far supporting Ganguly too. Now that the team’s away, it simplifies things a lot – the media pressure is much less significant and the team can concentrate better on its business.
A win against ZIM is a foregone conclusion, but it is important to have comprehensive wins, with players returning to good form. In any case, we’ve been performing quite well in the Test arena, despite some poor ODI results and we should notch up this overseas series win.
I was spurred to write this article after leading a whole lot of garbage on rediff. But some comments to that article were quite heartening. There are still level-headed people who follow the sport with more brains than the media. When you draw up an objective report, you must be objective. Like it or not, Ganguly was more useful in this series than Dravid, and Agarkar was the best bowler. Sehwag has had two good finals, but the team failed to take advantage of his blitzkreigs on both occassions. I’ll dwell no more on ratings and writing. The Men in Blue will let their bats speak.