Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

KKR – lessons learnt

Indian Premier League ended last week with Deccan Chargers being the worthy winner this year. Things turned out well for the Chargers this time but not so for the much hyped Kolkata Knight Riders. They were bogged with controversy right before the tournament started and later had a serious pain in the neck in the form of fake IPL blogger. Having said that there is always hope of bouncing back in cricket and especially in T20. Infact in IPL in both the seasons the winner was an underdog or previous year’s worst performer – which happens to be Kolkata this year. May be an analysis of the previous two editions of IPL may help formulate a better team and an effective strategy for the next year. Here it goes:
  • Get a strong captain and a coach both Australians as was done by Rajasthan Royals (Shane Warne/ Shane Warne) in 2008 and Deccan Chargers (Adam Gilchrist / Darren Lehmann) in 2009. Retaining John Buchanan may prove out to be a wise option and if availability of Ricky Ponting is certain then I guess he can be the best available choice to lead the team.
  • Get a good left arm fast/medium fast bowler who can go out there and take wickets (read purple cap) as was done by Sohail Tanvir and R.P Singh.
  • Change the team kit and introduce heavy purple color in it – it worked for Deccan this year

Citi Moment of Success

“Citi Moment of Success” – no its not something for the Citigroup to cheer about as they have hardly had any success in the past 6 months or so. Instead it is a phrase commonly uttered by cricket commentators during the ongoing IPL matches. Its an addition to Modi’s money making arsenal and interestingly works alongside previous season’s “DLF Maximum.” But what exactly is this moment of success –  any ideas??? I have heard commentators using this phrase for each and every aspect of the game where they believe that the player has achieved something be it a maiden over, a boundary, a six, a good catch and sometimes even for a dot ball. Doesn’t this conflict with the “DLF Maximum” if used for a six or would it be a termed as a “DLF maximum that brought a Citi moment of success”. Seems like the commentators are confused enought to have an idea of when to use it specifically so they are using it for every small bit of play. One more question – is the “moment of success” additive in nature meaning if team A has more “successes” than team B, the team A has to be the winner of the game? I guess NOT. How about having “Moment Of Failure” for the losing team. I guess Citi should be an ideal sponsor for moment of failure than for moment of success. Keep your fingers crossed because soon you may have sponsors for wides, no-balls, free hit, etc.

IPL 2009 vs IPL 2008

Finally the second edition of the Indian Premier League kicked off this week in South Africa. But the second season has so far proved to be some what different from its debut season. Here is what I have observed so far:

  • A domestic tournament in a foreign land with no objection from the participating teams.
  • Rain affected matches (3 out of 7 so far) – Kings XI Punjab has suffered the most due to the weather.
  • Tactical time out – an official ad break during the match.
  • No Pakistani players even after the tournament was shifted to South Africa.
  • Four of the teams (Deccan Chargers, Kolkata Knightriders, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore) being led by non-Indian cricketers as compared to only a single team last year.
  • Lalit Modi is now seen as a marketing guru.
  • Team Kits are now full of advertisments
    • Chennai Super Kings – Coromandel King, Aircel, Coromandel Infotech, Reebok, Peter England, Nivea For Men, 7Up, Sonata, Cloud 9, Big Bazaar
    • Deccan Chargers – Deccan Chronicle, Odyssey, Puma, Kingfisher, McDowell’s, Big 92.7FM, Wrigley’s Orbit
    • Delhi Daredevils – Hero Honda, Kingfisher Airlines, Royal Challenge, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Fever 104FM, Wrigley’s Orbit
    • Kolkata Knight Riders – Nokia, Star Plus, Sprite, Reebok, TagHeuer, Belmonte, Gitanjali, Wrigley’s Orbit, BILT, Planet M
    • Kings XI Punjab – Emirates, Gulf Oil India, 7up, Netlinkblue, Reebok, Spring Box International, Royal Challenge, Dabur Glucose-D, Wrigley’s Orbit, Typhoo
    • Mumbai Indians – MasterCard, Royal Stag, Kingfisher, Pepsi, Adidas
    • Rajasthan Royals – Kingfisher, Boost, Puma
    • Royal Challengers Bangalore – Royal Challenge, Reebok

Feel free to add to this list.

ICL and Pakistan

Finally some good news in Pakistan cricket – Sindh High Court has ordered Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to lift the ban from the 11 players that had signed contracts with the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) and PCB owing to public pressure has finally allowed them to feature in the next round of Quaid-e-Azam trophy matches.

According to an ICC spokesperson:

Banning a player from playing in domestic cricket because he participated in the ICL is not a matter for the ICC. Instead, only a member board can take such action. The ICC executive board therefore resolved in 2008 that member boards should take such action against ICL players as they considered appropriate, in light of and in accordance with the requirements of their own local laws. 

The question now is that can such a regulation be applied on international matches? If according to the local laws a player can feature in domestic matches then why can’t the same be applied to international tournaments and encounters. What if the court orders PCB to lift the ban from the international matches – in such a scenario isn’t PCB bound to obey the laws. If political and security reasons can be used as a tool to decide WHERE, WHEN and HOW cricket is played then a similar case should be valid for legal situations and matters. Given the loss Pakistan cricket team has suffered because of the ban on the ICL contracted players and the lack of support and authority by the ICC and its member boards especially BCCI, PCB should go ahead and lift the ban but obviously following the approciate procedure i.e a legal case and the appropriate decision by the High court or even the Supreme court. And guess what could be their comeback tournament – ICC World Twenty20 2009 – a real smack in the face.

May be some hope for the 11 players – Mohammad Sami, Abdul Razzaq, Hasan Raza, Shabbir Ahmed, Mohammad Yousuf, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Tahir Mughal, Shahid Yousuf, Khalid Mahmood, Naved Latif and Shahid Nazir.

Australian Downfall – worth it

Its often said that reaching the top is not that great as staying there or bouncing back when one is down. Infact the true test of greatness is when one is down and under pressure to regain the top position. When judged on this criteria the current Australian cricket team seems to have completely wiped their greatness ever since they have resorted to unsporting behavior. The current case in point is the first ODI between Australia and New Zealand where Brad Haddin played a controversial role in breaking the crucial fifth wicket patnership between Neil Broom and Ross Taylor.

Akhtar’s new enemy

Shoaib Akhtar is one character in world cricket who has to have at least one active enemy and incidentally it has to be the skipper of the team. After Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik is the new entry in this list. After losing the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Karachi, Malik openly critisized his fitness and commitment and rightly so. In the two ODIs that Akhtar featured in, he failed to complete his quota of 10 overs in either of the matches and gave away 88 runs in the 13 overs that he bowled grabbing only a single wicket. He also appeared sluggish in the field showing signs of the same old  fitness issues.

Malik’s argument centered around the fact that to stay in the team a player’s fitness has to be no less than 100%. Akhtar may be a match winner for Pakistan in the past but if he is not 100% fit and cannot survive two consecutive ODIs how can he manage a test match or a full-blown ODI tournament. Additionally, by giving him opportunity after opportunity, Pakistan is unable to give any chance to the new talent that has shown their capabilities in the domestic circuit. Its time to look beyond and target the future rather than cherish the past and opt for a bleak future.

So far no outcry has been witnessed from Shoaib Akhtar but his axing from the third ODI and Pakistan’s dismal performance in the last two ODIs may prompt one especially against Shoaib Malik. Even if Akhtar doesn’t come out with a statement, he has to do some decision-making. The choice (play or retire) is simple but how to get it is tough – either he has to improve his fitness and perform at his best or again indulge in a war of words with the skipper. May be following Waqas’s advice may help and do some good.

Pakistan Cricket – 2008 highlights

As the year 2008 is ending, I have made an attempt to summarize the major happenings of the year in Pakistan cricket

  • Pakistan suffered a test-less season this year. However they managed to play 21 one-day internationals but mostly against minnows like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
  • Punjab Stallions won the RBS Pentangular One Day Cup. In the final they defeated the Federal Areas Leopards by eight wickets.
  • India refused to tour Pakistan for its scheduled tour of January 2009 citing political reasons.
  • Lahore Badshahs won the ICL 20-20 Indian Championship in November 2008 beating Hyderabad Heroes in the finals. They lost to the same side in the finals earlier this year in April 2008.
  • NWFP won the RBS Pentangular Cup by beating Baluchistan in the final by 28 runs.
  • Pakistan comprehensively defeated West Indies registering a clean sweap in a three match one day series in Abu Dhabi.
  • Muhammad Yousuf signed up for the unauthorised Indian Cricket League (ICL).
  • Geoff Lawson was sacked from his position of the coach of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan took part in a four nation T20 tournament in Canada where they lost to Sri Lanka in the finals. Zimbabwe and Canada were the other two teams featuring in the tournament.
  • Sialkot Stallions, captained by Shoaib Malik, won the RBS Twenty20 Cup by beating Karachi Dolphins by 7 wickets. In the process, they managed to earn a place in the Champions Twenty20 League.
  • Ijaz Butt, the former Test opener, was appointed the new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
  • Champions Trophy scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September 2008 was postponed due to security fears raised by most of the teams.
  • Nasim Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board resigned from his post soon after the resignation of Pervez Musharraf.
  • Mohammad Asif tested positive for a drug test that was taken while he was playing in Indian Premier League (IPL). Earlier this year he was detained in Dubai for almost 19 days as he was found possessing some illegal substance.
  • Pakistan was host to the 9th Asia Cup and first to be held in Pakistan. But they failed to take advantage of the home conditions and couldn’t even qualify for the final.
  • Pakistan participated and won the Kitply Cup 2008 – a short triangular series featuring Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
  • Sohail Tanvir was the IPL’s most successful bowler and helped guide his Royal Rajhistan team to the cup. He took 22 wickets in 11 games at an average of 12.09 and economy rate of 6.46.
  • Shoaib Akhtar and PCB were in a constant strangle for most part of the year with Shoaib being handed over a 5 year ban which was then temporarily suspended for IPL which was then reduced and finally as always the ban was revoked and Shoaib was allowed to play in all forms of cricket.
  • Bangladesh toured Pakistan in April for a series involving 5 one day internationals and a T20. Pakistan was victorious in all the matches.
  • Australia pulled out of their cricket tour of Pakistan due to security fears.
  • Defending champions Pakistan lost in the semifinals of the Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
  • Pakistan started the year with a 5 one-day international home series against Zimbabwe. The series proved to be an easy ride for the host and they clinched the series 5-0.

Sources
Cricinfo
Cricket Bloggers of Pakistan
Cricketfiles

Cricket Roundup

The second test match between England and India ended up in a draw but it was not the kind of finish expected from a team that is challenging the might of Australians. If you really want to be No. 1 then you have to play like them – trying to force a result (and not a draw) out of every match especially if you have an upper hand. But on the last day of the second test match, the Indian cricket team were not at all interested in producing a result out of it since they had already secured the series with a win in the first test match. Instead they opted for their batsmen – Yuvraj and Gambhir – to complete their centuries[1]. Couldn’t the same logic had been applied for their bowlers who possibly could have won the match for them especially considering the fact that Zaheer Khan was judged as the Player of the series.

Double standards in cricket were once again on display when ICC announced that it will conduct an independent security assessment of the country before appointing officials for Sri Lanka’s tour[2]. Why such assessment was not carried out in the recently concluded India-England test series when the terrorists attacks were not even 15 days old.Is it double standards or what???

Cricket returns to India

So its finally there – no no I am not talking about cricket or the England team in India but the double standards that have finally made its way into the cricket fraternity. Even after witnessing the recent terrorists attacks in Mumbai and knowing the fact that these especially targetted foreign nationals, the England cricket team is back in India within 15 days as if nothing had happened. What if it had been Pakistan instead of India – England team and in fact all the others would have drained cricket out from the Pakistani soil for God knows how many years. This was witnessed a few months backs when almost half the cricketing world refused to take part in Champions Trophy 2008.

But why??? India is quite different from Pakistan when it comes to cricket:

  • India has huge commercial and social attractions for the foreign teams and their players.
  • The matches involving India have the highest attendance of live audience meaning heavy sponsorship and lucrative TV rights.
  • Last and most important, there is BCCI which is now de facto ICC. While ICC failed to stop Champions Trophy boycott, BCCI managed to bring back cricket on their soil within 15 days.

Having said all this, I am in no way criticizing the England team for touring India. I am writing just to highlight the double standards. I sincerely wish that the series goes ahead as planned and all the matches prove to be a treat for the audience. This series has at least highlighed a strong message that cricket can continue in the toughest of conditions. The same spirit now needs to be adopted for the resumption of cricket in Pakistan and India could be the first one in this regard by not opting out of the Pak-India series in January 2009.