Sunday, April 20, 2014

India's 1st Test on film

Found a video claiming to be from India's first Test Match on video, dating 1951. Footage has shots of players walking into the ground, players meeting President Dr. Rajendra Prasad with photo sessions, crowds sitting right at the edge of the boundary, negligible security, hawkers selling their products, Newspapers transformed as hats, players in all whites, and no commentary
India XI vs MCC XI played at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi (Scorecard)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

IPL7: Notes #1

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has commenced outside India, in an area which is
  • known for being the hub of many fixing activities
  • and the global headquarters of ICC
  • and the current "home-ground" for a country whose players are not picked for playing in the tournament.
1st round of games have taken place. Nothing much to read on the cricketing front given the very narrow sample size currently available. Hence not making any comments on any of the team performances, yet. However special mentions for 
  • Glenn Maxwell, living upto the million dollar hype
  • Yuvraj Singh, for shrugging off those cricket fans idiots who threw stones at his house after the World T20 final, and
  • little Parthiv Patel, for dispatching the ball into orbit
Now for the main agenda items. Something very weird is going on with the coverage here. The rights are with Sony who earlier used to telecast it on Max. Then they launched a dedicated sports channel Sony Six. Also someone realized that having Hindi commentary would reach out to a far bigger audience. So till last year Max had English commentary and newly launched Six had Hindi. This time they have inter-changed it. Any particular reason? Can't be just to increase viewership for Six because that would definitely happen come June-July with the Football World Cup. 

Also Star Sports has well and truly ambushed the telecast. Paid live telecast and free "5 minute delayed" telecast are available online on starsports.com . Also includes lots of marketing for the Star group. This has to be the heights of ambush marketing. Sony having to telecast Star Sports logo.

However the weirdest coverage is by cricinfo. They have stopped calling it the IPL all together. All coverage is of the Indian T20 league with the teams beings referred not by their name but as Jaipur T20 or Bangalore T20 etc. Now BCCI and online text commentary sites have been at loggerheads for quite sometime but this is weird. Also does it have anything to do with the Star Sports  and ESPN split? After all cricinfo is owned by ESPN.

Random Notes
  • Where did these cheerleaders arrive from? Weren't they supposed to be banned or is the ban applicable only in matches held in India?
  • There is now a camera on the cap of the umpire? How much more scrutiny are we going to subject the poor umpires to?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IPL 7

16th April, 2014 Marks the start of another edition of the IPL. An edition where the actual on-field cricketing action has gotten more and more overshadowed.

Firstly, like in 2009, the IPL dates are clashing with the General elections. So the "Indian" Premier League will hold some of its opening games outside India. Unlike 2009, however most of the matches will be held in India  this time. But it does raise questions about the so called "strength" and "aspiring superpower" status of a country which cannot hold a cricket tournament during election time. 

Secondly, the continuing shadow of last year's fixing scandals. Agree, some players have been punished (quite heavily also). But what about the rest? Many other names have been dragged into the controversy. Couple of team owners are accused of betting. Some are suspected of match fixing. Current players may or may not have been named as those involved in the Mudgal Committee report. So many clouds of fixing hanging around and of all places IPL moves to UAE, the so called hub of all such activities. But then ICC itself is headquartered in Dubai. So no further comments.

Thirdly, the entire matter is subjudice. The Board president has been asked to step off by none other than the Supreme Court (a decision which is beyond my understanding - Can Courts interfere in running of private bodies without having come to any conclusion?). And to add to the irony quotient, the Court hearing and IPL launch happen on the same day.

Amidst all this, the actual cricket finally commences. Lots of legends have finally retired. In fact, I will have to create an almost all new Expendables XI this time around. Many team changes have happened. Its back to an 8 team format. And I am still looking for a team to support.

Will I follow the tournament? Of course, I am an Indian and even our Honorable Supreme Court thinks the IPL should go on. After all as they say cricket is a religion in India and matters of faith are even higher than the court of law. 

So all set to follow the cricketing part of the IPL. Hoping that no new controversies (off-field come about). And the guilty from the past don't go unpunished.

Let the Games (both on and off the field) begin.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Omerta & Indian Cricket

Omerta - Or the Code of Silence
As per wikipedia, Omertà implies "the categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime".

There is a Godfather like figure heading the organisation. He has appointed his key consigliori all around himself. Key henchmen are given important positions in his own organisations. His immediate family are also brought in. They bring with them their own addictions (gambling issues). But the Godfather manages to run the business. He has also built relations with other Mafia families around the world mostly based on being the head of the richest mafia family. Politicians across the spectrum have been given minor stakes in the mafiadom as well as various businesses. There is also enough glamour quotient brought in by the movie stars He also has enough influence to ensure that anyone not showing him respect are isolated. The organisation also presents some nice, honest people as their public faces. 

All was going on fine till the authorities managed to catch some foot soldiers doing petty crimes with towels as tell-tale evidence. The authorities tried and tried hard but the Omerta prevails. Law makes headway but dislodging the Godfather is not an easy task. A bunch of lawyers from the Godfather side goes on the overdrive. Investigating officers get suspended, some of the media gets gagged. But the efforts of the Judges do bear some fruit. Law yet prevails but only manages to ensure that the Godfather is not in direct command. The chief business will be run as usual because that is what the public wants.

Sounds like a plot from a Mario Puzo novel. Or it could also be the tale of the Indian cricket administration. It is not too hard to extend this corollary from the Italian Mafia Clans to Indian Cricket. Given all the goings on, specially off the field, one will not be surprised if one fine day, somebody does break the all encompassing "Omerta" and we find that the board was being run more like a mafia style organisation than a body for managing the administration of cricket in India.

The latest Supreme Court decisions hopefully should be the beginning of a massive clean up of Indian cricket. Another opportunity has presented itself to all the stakeholders to come out with the truth. Hopefully truth prevails. There should be only one winner in this increasingly murky state of affairs - the Indian cricket fan - the only genuine stakeholder in this game.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rahul Dravid - The Dark Knight?

The marvelous world of internet memes can throw up some real gems
Take this, for example, combining two of my favorites. No further words need to be said.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Arbit Stats - 30

June 16, 2013 - Corey Anderson makes his ODI debut
January 1, 2014 - Corey Anderson hits his 1st ODI century (in his 7th ODI) in the process also smashing the record for the fastest  ODI century of all time.
January 25, 2014 - Corey Anderson takes his 1st 5-wicket haul on ODIs against India (in his 12th ODI).

Thus he breaks the record for the least number of games (12) for a player to record  a century & take a 5-wicket haul in ODI cricket. Previous record holder being Greg Chappell who achieved this distinction in 16 games.

Amongst other tings he has done his IPL credentials a world of good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ranji Trophy 13-14: Jharkhand Season Review

Match Summary: Punjab (516) defeated Jharkhand (216 & 127) by an innings and 173 runs
Points: Jharkhand 0, Punjab 7

An absolute thrashing, Disaster in Dhanbad - I would call it. And with this defeat and Haryana securing 3 points against Odisha, Jharkhand head back to Group C. Only highlight from this game would be Rameez Nemat's opening knocks in both innings.

Season Review
Nothing much to write about Jharkhand's performance this season. It has been a disappointing season on most counts. No wins at all and 3 losses including those to Odisha and Haryana. last year's quarter-finalists finish bottom of Group A and are now relegated to group C (alongwith their fellow promotee Services who also head back to after one season in Group B). Somehow I feel given the group compositions, qualifying would be easier from Group C despite only 2 teams getting selected from that group. Maybe BCCI could look at evening out the groups and having different qualification knockout format.

The season's highlight would be the performance against Mumbai. Even in that there was a chance to go for a win which Jharkhand did not go for. This did prove quite crucial in the end.

Saurabh Tiwary was consistent throughout the season with 238 (out of a total of 351) against Mumbai being the highlight. This incidentally is the highest first class score by any Jharkhand batsman. Unfortunately most of the time Tiwary was fighting a lone battle while the rest of the batting collapsed around him.

Varun Aaron came back from injury and had a decent enough season which earned him a recall to the Indian national team. But more would have been expected of him. 

The skipper Shahbaz Nadeem had a decent all round year but did not match last year's levels.

Overall the team seemed out of depth against the Group A teams. Also the imports Thaker & Thakkar were not really upto mark and by the end of the season both had been dropped from the playing XI. I think getting average first class players from other states certainly will not help the team's cause. The likes of Aakash Chopra, Kanitkar, S Sriram, Amol Mazumdar are the ones the team should target (not necessarily the same ones). 

Season Stats
Leading Scorers
Saurabh Tiwary - 854 runs @65.69
Rameez Nemat - 472 runs @42.91
Ishank Jaggi - 373 runs @28.69

Top Innings - Saurabh Tiwary - 238 vs Mumbai

Most Wickets
Shahbaz Nadeem - 21 @34.05
Varun Aaron - 20 @21.95
Samar Quadri - 17 @24.53

Top Performance - Samar Quadri - 6/65 vs Vidarbha

Hoping for a much better Ranji season next year. 

Coming up Next - Vijay Hazare Trophy in the first week of March.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Arbit Stats 29

England are getting whipped in the ongoing Ashes. They are heading, no hurtling towards a 5-0 series whitewash. Many factors can be attributed to this thrashing. Lots of post-mortem reports will be prepared. But one stat will stand out to give the extent of the chasm between the two teams.

969 - The aggregate score of the English batsmen in the 1st innings of the 5 Tests.
1071 - The aggregate score of the Australian tail (wickets 6-10) in the 1st innings of the 5 Tests.

Australia have outplayed England totally. And nothing sums the dominance more than the above stat.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Line-up from Twenty13

Like most other things, the cricketing year 2013 is also coming to an end. So here is an year-end list. Just giving it some cricketing context by making an eleven to remember for (or not) from Twenty13.

1. The final one
Sachin Tendulkar c Darren Sammy b Narsingh Deonarine 74
Thats how a 200 test career ended on the scorebooks. There was a little more to come when he gave a touching farewell speech calling it his "life between 22 yards for 24 years" Millions of fans also promptly announced their retirement from watching the game. (How many kept this promise during the Johannesburg Test is a matter of conjecture). (Click here and here for Slipstream Cricket's coverage of the last match)

2. Fairy tale beginnings
Australia are in major trouble. 9 down facing up to a huge deficit in the opening game of the Ashes. A 19 year old, who wasn't even originally picked in the squad, comes into bat on debut. And then proceeds to score 98, the highest ever by a number 11. Its the stuff fairytales are made of. However Ashton Agar's career did not really take off. There is still plenty of time for it though.

3. The Power of the Moustache

Shikhar Dhawan had played for India before,but he only exploded on the scene, twirling his moustache, this year. Ravindra Jadeja transformed from the being the most abused one to to now being a  revered one. David Warner returns from Zimbabawe and starts scoring Test centuries. Mitchell Johnson from a Barmy Army punching bag becomes the sledgehammer  who destroys England. The only thing in common between all these characters is the Moustache. 

4. To Walk or Not to Walk - That is the Question
Stuart Broad edges Ashton Agar (he of the fairy-tale start from 2 above) into the waiting first slip. Umpire Dar does not raise his finger. Australia have used up all their reviews, Broad does not walk. The social media erupts declaring that this is as big an incident as Bodyline. The Spirit of Cricket (whatever that is) is called into question. Everyone jumps into the debate. Meanwhile the most common sense solution (empowering the TV umpire to initiate decision making) is not even breathed about. 

5. The Irony
We are living in an era where the health of the game is being questioned. Test cricket is supposed to be dying due the arrival of ODI cricket, which in turn is dying to the arrival of T20 cricket and the non-death of Test cricket. Then we had the Champions Trophy's last edition (as of now) this year. The tournament was keenly contested raising ratings. But being held in England rain also joined the party redcuing the final (of all games) to a 20 over contest. The Irony...

6. The Fixing Saga
Sreesanth, Chandila, Chavan arrested during IPL, Ashraful banned, 3 former Kiwi internationals facing Anti-corruption inquiries, Umpire Rauf getting dropped from the international panel, Team owners facing illegal betting charges, bookies attempting to buy franchisee in Sri Lankan Premier League (which failed to take-off). The fixing saga continues but the corrupt are being weeded out. Can it be completely eradicated? Well human greed has no limitations but "constant vigilance" is what is needed to keep the game as clean as possible.

7. Homework Gate
4 Australian cricketers are dropped from the squad ... for not completing a presentation on how to improve the team. No wonder they were absolute rubbish at that time. Not too much after the coach was the one who got dropped and slowly the team also rediscovered its mojo.

8. Karma bites back
England were all gung ho after winning the 3rd consecutive Ashes. They celebrations ended with some of the team members taking a leak on the Oval pitch displaying no sense of respect for the hallowed turf. Well karma came back  to bite them and since then England have been humiliated by the same opponents in the next 4 matches.

9. Pakistani Enigma
The Pakistan team performs like a sine curve. Hitting rock bottom and then immediately scaling new heights. The same set of players can lose a Test to Zimbabwe (who are struggling to arrange a match) and then a couple of weeks later beat up the top ranked South Africa. And to ensure that the sine curve is complete they lost to South Africa in the very next Test.

10. The Associates battle on
The likes of Ireland and Afghanistan continue to keep the Associate flag fluttering. Although they face severe resistance from the big 10. England keep stealing Irish players and using them (Morgan & Rankin) to beat them. A 16 nation qualifying tournament is held to find 6 Associates who get to play in the qualifying rounds for the next T20 World Cup. Yet the likes of Irealnd, Afghanistan, Nepal et al keep on playing. Guess they are the truly passionate cricketing countries.Hats off to the Associates.

11. Comeback of the Year
From who else but the ever-youth comeback kid, the one and only Shahid Afridi. After having retired for the 20th time in the past 20 years, he comes back to the national squad and destroys West Indies with bat and ball. 76 runs (coming in at 47/5) and following it up with a 7 wicket haul . If not the greatest all-round ODI performance, this surely has to be the greatest all-round comeback performance of all time. May he keep retiring and coming back.

12. The 12th Man (a purely cricketing concept)
For the 12th man presenting some off-field action. Here is a video of Brett Lee trying to kill bowling an over at Piers Morgan. 

Well that was the line-up from the year as we bid farewell to the legend Jacques Kallis who retires in the ongoing Durban Test. Wishing for good cricket in the next year.

Wishing all readers a very happy and prosperous new year ahead.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ranji Trophy 13-14: Jharkhand vs Vidarbha

Match Summary: Jharkhand (332 & 161/9d) drew with Vidarbha (218 & 164/3)
Points: Jahrkhand 3, Vidarbha 1

Not a great performance overall but Jharkhand take away 3 crucial points from their encounter against Vidarbha. For a change Saurabh Tiwary failed, albeit only in the 1st innings but also for a change the likes of Nemat, Jaggi and Kumar Deobrat helped to prop the innings. Samar Quadri then recorded the best season fugures by any Jharkhand bowler to give a chance for an outright victory. But a familiar second innings collapse put paid to such hopes. They did set a target of 276 runs but Vidarbha ran out of time and the game petered out into a draw.

Season Stats:
Leading Scorer: Saurabh Tiwary - 815 runs @74.09
Top Wicket-taker: Varun Aarom - 18 wickets @20.28

Standings: 9 points from 7 games. Moved upto 8th place. Relegation fight with bottom placed Haryana (7 points) is on. 

Coming Up Next - Last game of the season. Against Punjab who have the likes of  Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Manpreet Gony and Jiwanjot Singh in their ranks. The match could be quite critical to avoid being relegated back to Group C. 

P.S. If you are a Jharkhand fan, you might like to keep an eye on Haryana's last game against Odisha.