Monday, July 21, 2014

300

300th entry on this blog. Coinciding with an amazing win at Lords with India bowlers bouncing out the opposition. So pardon my self-indulgence for feeling like this



A time for some self congratulations. The scoring rate has certainly slowed down but the posts will keep on coming.

But this post is about this little cricket blog. 
  • Named after Ian Bell's tendency to score centuries only if another batsman had scored one in the innings. An anomaly which Bell (also named the patron saint of this blog) has since corrected. 
  • Also the only dedicated blog covering Jharkhand cricket and its cricketers. 
  • Arbit Stats which appear with their own random frequency. 
  • However what this blog is not? A newspaper trying to cover every occurrence in the cricketing world.

300 posts in almost 5 years of dedicated cricket blogging. Some of the posts have managed to make an appearance on other forums as well. Special thanks to forum moderators.
  • Die Hard Cricket Fans (Link)
  • Sportskeeda (Link)

Thanks to all the readers across the forums for keeping the blogs going. 

Next target Lara's 400 mark :P

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Arbit Stats 31: Sting in the Tail

The Arbit Statistics return after a long hiatus. There were many reasons for this. Lack of motivation & laziness to write a post being the prime cause of this gap. Lack of cricket and arbit stats were certainly not one of them. But with India touring England for the fullest of the full tours, some arbitrary statistics were bound to appear, alongwith the enthusiasm to note them down.

Test Match No. 2128: England vs India at Trent Bridge, presented something never seen or heard before in the long history of the game. On a lifeless pitch more akin to Nagpur than Nottingham (a metaphor I have borrowed from a forgotten source), both sets of bowlers managed to prise out 9 wickets for a reasonable score. And then lightning struck. TWICE. First India's Numbers 9 & 11 Bhuvaneshwar & Shami helped themselves to their maiden Test half centuries, reached off consecutive balls of James Anderson.In the process they also picked up a century partnership for themselves. Guess this must have really hurt Anderson's pride. So when the England number 11 came out to bat with England in a lot of trouble, he proceeded to get his own maiden first class half century and alongwith Joe Root also managed to compile the biggest 10th wicket Test partnership of all time.

So Bhuvi, Shami, Root & Jimmy combined together and against each other to make this the first Test match ever to feature two 100+ 10th wicket partnerships. Well, everything does happen for the first time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mankading & "Spirit of Cricket"

Mankading - the act of a bowler running out the non-striker batsman before bowling the ball has always been a source of needless controversy. 

In fact for some weird reason it has become a test of the "sportsman spirit" of a bowler who does not do the "Mankad". Cortney Walsh has received a medal for not running out Salim Yousuf. But if the bowler does Mankad, like Sachitra Senanayake did to Jos Buttler, all hell breaks lose. The bowler and the fielding captain are accused of having destroyed "the spirit of cricket" - the greatest crime imaginable in the gentlemans's game.

Well here are my two bits on Mankading.
It is within the laws of the game. In fact there is a specific law for the situation, hence no ambiguity is possible. Law 42(15) states - "The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is succesful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible". 

So if there exists a specific law which states what are the consequences of a bowler breaking the stumps with the non-striker outside his crease, then why the hue and cry? The "spirit of cricket" has already been murdered many a time (Fixing, Corruption, Walking/Not walking etc.) by different sets of players, officials and administrators. Guess that is why it exists in "spirit" form.

Here the batsman was wandering outside the crease and with run-out decisions sometimes become a matter of TV frames, then it does become an advantage for the non-striker to back up as far ahead as possible. In this case, Buttler had been warned twice by Senanayake in his previous over. (Which is where the matter of cricket's spirit should rest, which seemingly is not the case). And when Buttler was found wandering out again he was run-out. A result very rightly deserved. 

So the right decision was taken on action justified and well within the laws and more importantly the previous over Senanayake having shown the proper "spirit" also, guess Buttler should have nothing to complain about. Don't see any justifications for the hue and cry it has raised.  Nor do I see why the batsman is being portrayed as a victim, when its his own actions which are to be blamed for his fate.

To me its clear, Senanayake and the rest were well within their rights to run-out Buttler. And no harm was caused to the so called "spirit of the game".

Closing Notes - a couple of interesting exhibits on Mankading
Exhibit A - The original report on Mankading

Exhibit B - Chris Gayle showing "spirit" of game. Again the dancing might not be agreeable to the believers in the Gentlemen's game.


Now its up to ICC to either (a) tinker with the laws, which they love to do a lot; OR (b) tell the players that Mankading does no harm done to the "spirit of cricket" 

Monday, June 2, 2014

IPL7: The AfterThoughts

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has come to an end. And Congratulations to Kolkata Knight Riders for their second IPL title. After an embarrassing defeat to Rajasthan in which they lost 6 wickets for 2 runs they have really lifted their game and were deserving winners in the end.

Now the time to note down some after-thoughts (not a review) from this year's IPL.
  • The Impossible Chases - The tougher the ask, the higher the stakes, the more seemingly easy it becomes to chase it down. The team batting second knows the target and also the fact that they can only win if they go slam-bang from the first ball. And apparently this belief is actually carrying them to victory. Examples - KKR chased down 160 in under 15 overs to finish 2nd in the League; Mumbai Indians chased 191 in 14.3 to enter the qualifiers; CSK blitzed 100 in 6 overs in a chase of 227; Rajasthan smashed 65 in 3 overs to win with an over to spare. And it all culminated in the final with KKR chasing down 200.
  • The previous edition of the IPL was under the spot-fixing cloud. This year, thankfully, no such corruption allegations have emerged, as yet (fingers crossed). Though given the Lou Vincent & Player X stories coming out, sceptics want to see everything through tinted glasses. And that is the damage which has been done by the fixers.
  • The IPL unfolds like a story. Its a little long drawn but this year's script had the perfect climax. The events from the last set of league matches down to the final must have been the perfect dream run for the marketing teams.
  • The final stretch also highlighted the importance of the "Indian" part of the IPL. Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Manish Pandey, Akshar Patel, Yusuf Pathan & Piyush Chawla in the final; Sehwag & Raina in the eliminator. It was mostly an Indian show towards the end.
  • Congratulations to Yusuf Pathan, for becoming the first player to be part of 3 IPL winning squads - once with Rajasthan and twice with KKR.
  • Special congratulations to Vinay Kumar, Roni Uthappa & Manish Pandey for winning their 4th domestic title of the year - Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy & the IPL.
  • Special Mention - Suresh Raina. He is the IPL GOAT (Greatest of All Time). The highest scores across seasons is the most reliable batsman and fielder in IPL with the happy habit of taking key wickets as well. And most importantly performing in crunch matches. The blitzkrieg against Kings XI was one to be remembered, though in a losing cause.
  • The umpiring standards in India are pretty poor. But the umpires are under far greater scrutiny than ever before. Its a tough ask made tougher by the technological hindsight provided to everyone except the people responsible for making decisions.
  • The Club vs Country Conundrum - This is not going to end ever. And the only one who has a right to make a decision is the player concerned. Though the club and the country do both need to have a slightly flexible approach in the matters. Sunil Narine chose to play in the IPL final over joining a West Indies Test camp. He did produce his worst performance of the season. Maybe this off-field drama was to be blamed or maybe he just had a bad day in office. But no player should have to make such choices.
  • And finally a word on the winners - Kolkata Knight Riders was a team made up mostly of India discards. But one by one all the pieces fell in place - Uthappa, Gambhir, Umesh, Chawla, Shakib, Narine, Surya Yadav and Manish Pandey - they became the strongest team in the whole lineup. A couple of them even made their India comebacks.
  • And a word about the final - Sony Max couldn't resist playing Veer Zaara right before the finals :P

So the IPL fest concludes and now back to serious cricket. Tours of Bangladesh and England beckon for the team. Its a good idea to test the bench strength in the Bangladesh ODI series (only good use this hastily arranged series can have).  And then off to a 5-Test series against England. Hopefully results will be drastically different from the 2011 tour. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

IPL7: Notes#3

The League part of the Indian Premier League is over. Congratulations to Kings XI Punjab for winning the League. Oh wait.... the IPL is still not over. The top 4 have to now go through a seemingly complicated (albeit more fair) elimination process to decide the champions of IPL7. 

Some thoughts on the India phase of the league (For UAE phase, click here)
  • Chennai Super Kings are the consistency personified. 7th consecutive knock-out phase entry doesn't surprise anyone.
  • Defending champions Mumbai Indians recovered marvelously from pathetic start to just about enter the knock-outs by the skin of the teeth with net run rate calculations being as much in focus as the actual match result. (Detailed post tomorrow or maybe not)
  • Rajasthan Royals have always been a fan favorite team, in spite of the spot-fixing scandal. They have been unorthodox in their selections also but this time over-experimentation caused an early unexpected end to their campaign.
  • T20 cricket has emboldened batsmen. The bigger the target, the likelihood of it getting chased down somehow becomes higher. With batsmen under no pressure, even 15 an over does not seem too big an ask. KKR, Kings XI, Mumbai Indians all produced one astonishing chase after the other.
  • If CSK as a team are consistency personified, Robin Uthappa was the epitome of a consistent batsman. Nine 40+ innings in a row in a format which is designed to be unpredictable will take some beating.
  • Amit Mishra had a horror tournament after a good return to the national side. But it was as a batsman that he provided the "highlight" of the tournament with this extreme run-out against Rajasthan Royals. (Video)This one was straight from the Inzamam school of run-outs. [Aside - 23 run-out collection here]
  • Apurva Wankhade was fielding in a stadium carrying his name. Would like to know how many similar stadium-player combinations are there.
  • When the batsmen are in a rampaging mood, even the likes of Dale Steyn become lambs to slaughter. Steyn getting hammered twice (by AB de Villiers & Yusuf Pathan) wasn't a pleasant sight to behold. But what was pleasing was the way a smiling Steyn applauded his opponents. The kind of moments which make sports special.
  • Indian seamers stated well, but by the end of the league stage Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was the last man standing. Mohit Sharma was the other one to have enhanced his reputation.
  • As always, the future of Indian batting seems in good hands with Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Manan Vohra all playing key parts.
Till next time

Friday, May 2, 2014

IPL7: Notes #2

The UAE leg of the IPL is over. Every team has now played 5 games each and some paaterns are beginning to emerge. Yet its still a long way to go and as it is said in sports - "It ain't over till its over". Here are a few random thoughts & memories form the games so far.

  • Catches Win Matches - The old adage still holds true. If you need proof, just check Chris Lynn's effort which changed the course of the KKR-RCB game. Also a high number of catches have been dropped which have enabled some batsmen to simply blaze away.
  • Steve Smith's cool-headedness in calmly tapping away Sunil Narine for two, instead of going for glory in the Super Over [Aside - if you have a system of counting 6s & 4s, why have the Super Over business at all?]
  • Indian fast bowling is suddenly looking in good health with the likes of Zaheer, Bhuvneshwar and Aaron leading the charge. Then we have Sandeep Sharma, Vinay Kumar & Balaji also putting in good performances. Either the pitches have all seamed around or the bowling has been exceptionally good.
  • India's batsmen somehow have not fired with the exception of Rahane and Manish Pandey.
  • The Mumbai Indians advisory board has a better chance of success than their playing XI. Just why have they managed to let so many of their existing players go off to other franchisees is confusing to say the least. The likes of Maxwell, Dwayne Smith, Chahal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Suryakumar Yadav are some of the names who should have been in the Mumbai team
  • Chennai Super Kings seem to have shrugged off their off-field distractions and are back into their sail-into-the-knockouts-form
  • The RCB squad looked a batting powerhouse but is looking more like a powermouse (to quote the interim BCCI head Sunil Gavaskar). 70 all out against Rajasthan Royals being a a case in point.
  • Keeping the uncapped players into the auction has actually limited the number of potential backup players.
  • The schedule is a little lopsided. Now some of the franchisees have 5 "home" games while others have 4 remaining. For all practical purposes the UAE leg was neutral to all all concerned. Although the defintion of "home: and "away" is getting quite blurred in some cases..e.g. With Dhoni captaining CSK, who will dare to term KKR as the home team in tonight's encounter in Ranchi?
Till next time...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

IPL Expendables XI: 2014 Edition

During the last edition of IPL, I had prepared a team of grizzled, battle-hardened veterans. And inspired by the movie franchisee had named it as the IPL Expendables XI. And having started it have decided to compile a similar list this year.

The list had to undergo a major revamp as lots of the Expendables cast have finally hung up their boots. Though some of them are have taken non-combat roles in different teams (like the Mickey Rourke character in the first Expendables movie). With fresh auctions held this year, only 3 of last year's XI have survived. Sachin, Ponting, Dravid, Gilchrist & Agarkar have all retired. Hogg & Badrinath have not been picked while Sourav Ganguly is now showing signs of permanent retirement. Only Tambe, Murali and Shukla have survived into this edition.

This year's list was tougher to make and so I had to make a few concessions defining a veteran (but then Jason Statham is a key cast member of the Expendables and he is still in his prime). Sticking to the IPLpolicy of maximum 4 foreign players in the Eleven made it just that bit more difficult. 

  1. Michael Hussey - Mr. Cricket is the perfect person to open the batting for this veteran's lineup. This year has been picked by Mumbai Indians who do like having seniors playing and opening for them.
  2. Virender Sehwag - The man who destroyed many a bowling attack but now is a pale shadow of his former self. Coming off a very poor Ranji season but got a century for MCC. Lets see if any of the fire is still left.
  3. Jacques Kallis - Statistically the greatest all-rounder of all time. Recently retired from test cricket but is available for selection in the limited overs setup where South Africa do not pick him. Has been the goto man for his all round skills  for all Fantasy Leaguers.
  4. Brad Hodge - After years of being ignored he has made a comeback into the Australian national T20 squad. Also has scored the most runs ever in the T20 format.
  5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) - With Gilchrist having retired and Sangakkara not being picked, the choice of a veteran wicket keeper for the Expendables was very difficult. But given how much Dhoni has greyed over the years, he looks perfect for this team.
  6. Laxmi Ratan Shukla - Retains his spot from last year. Still plays Ranji and still plays the occasional IPL game though hasn't played for India this millenium.
  7. Muttiah Muralitharan - he retired from international cricket around the time IPL started. And in the seventh edition, he is still around. Though this might turn out to be one season to many for the highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
  8. Murali Kartik - One of the mysteries of Indian team selection has been the way they have handled left-arm spinners. Last time he played for India picked up a 6-wicket haul against Australia but never got picked again. English counties though love him and he is the only Indian to have played for a non-IPL team in the Champions League.
  9. Ashish Nehra - Last act in international cricket was getting a finger broken while attempting a diving catch in the World Cup semi-finals against Pakistan. Still hanging around the domestic circuit. Outscored Sehwag during the last Ranji season.
  10. Laxmipathy Balaji - The smiling assassin. Destroyed and bowler over Pakistan but injuries ruined a potentially great Indian career. However IPL has helped him make a couple of comebacks into the national team.
  11. Pravin Tambe - Made his first appearance in senior cricket in last year's IPL at the young age of 42. A decent IPL followed by a great Champions League and Tambe was made his first clss debut for Mumbai as well. A story of never giving up on the dreams.
There were a few other contenders (likes of Ryan ten Doeschate, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan etc.) but they may have to wait a season or two to make an appearance in the Expendables starcast. Not as populated with big names as last year but this team certainly won't be pushovers.

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.