Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ranji at Nets

Sometimes the internet can come up with gems. 

The black and white video depicts Kumar Shri Ranjitsinghji (better known as Ranji) practicing in the nets. The video was shot during the 1897-98 Ashes tour in Australia by Henry Walter Barnett. He made three more such films during the tour but those are now lost.

Although the video is not from any game, but it is probably the oldest cricketing action of any kind captured on film. The silent film depicts Ranji practicing an array of shots. We hardly see the bowler or any other player. Except for the gentleman standing behind the nets in a waistcoat and hat, watching the proceedings while barely moving.  

Observations from the film 
  • Players of earlier time wore different kind of clothes. The white shirt, cuffed to the wrists, wouldn't have looked out of place in formal gatherings.
  • There are no bails on the stumps
  • The famous "Leg Glance" - the shot which Ranji is said to have invented.
  • The only protective equipment visible are the pads. (Even gloves are missing or not visible)
  • And finally (as pointed out by a friend), how thin the bat is as compared to the modern bats.
Cricket has evolved a lot since the days of Ranji, but the evolution seems to have been almost entirely in favour of the batsmen with the bowlers being treated as second-grade citizens. Thicker bats, smaller boundaries, bowling and fielding restrictions, pitches being covered, protective equipment (helmet, arm guard, chest guard and what not), Free Hits. All this making batting easier (relatively speaking since Ranji's time). And of course the players are much fitter and stronger. Batting from a Test has evolved into the brute power of T20.

On the other hand bowler's have had to evolve themselves. Newer innovations are being crafted. e.g. Bodyline, Bouncers, Doosra, Carrom Ball, Reverse Swing, Slower Ball, Slow Bouncer etc. But many of these have been treated with suspicion like witchcraft and the dark arts. And been banned or restrictions imposed (at various times) during the course of the cricketing history. e.g. Bodyline and Spin bowling restricted by new fielding regulations, Bouncers limited to one an over, Ball-tampering allegations against Reverse swing, Balls being changed more frequently. 

In all, things are stacked up against the bowlers, yet this lot doesn't seem to give up easily. They innovate but the administrators swing the balance back in the batsmen's favour with new regulations. Cricket certainly has changed quite a bit over the years.

P.S. India's first Test on film (Link)

Arbit Stats #54: Maiden Starts

T20I #560: Zimbabwe vs India, Harare

India beat Zimbabwe in a low-scoring encounter by 3 runs. Special highlight of the game being both innings started with a maiden to the bowler. Tendai Chatara bowled one to start India's innings while Barinder Sran started off with a maiden to commence Zimbabwe's innings. 

Slight anamoly being that Sran did concede a leg-bye, but they don't count towards the bowler's stats (like byes).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Applying for the India Coach Position

The Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has invited applications for the position of the "Head Coach" for the Senior India Men's Cricket Team (Link). In line with its new-found love for openness, BCCI has also posted the eligibility guidelines fot the post. Slipstream Cricket would like to present their case for the advertised post in line with these criterion.

Candidates applying for this position will need fulfil and demonstrate evidence of and knowledge in :
1.Should have successfully coached a cricket team of any of the member countries of the ICC, at the first class or at the International level. 
Not fulfilled. But do have multiple years of experience in managing playing XIs in Fantasy Leagues.

2.It is preferred that the candidate should be qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the full member countries and currently possess such a valid certification. 
Not fulfilled, but this criterion is preferred and not compulsory

3.Should be able to prepare and present a coaching plan elaborating the approach for ‘Team India’ to attain leadership position in all formats of the game. 
I am ready with my Vision & Mission for Team India (but this is a public forum so not sharing details here)

4.Demonstrate methods/tools to effectively measure individual player performance and present metrics to the Board, which will in turn measure the performance of the team, on a consistent and timely basis. 
Moneyball type evaluation will KPIs on defined OKRs will be used and 360° feedback shared with relevant stake-holders for performance improvement. 

5.Demonstrate an understanding and ability of employing a multi disciplinary approach that will include sports psychology and sports medicine, and effectively manage the work load of the players, thereby enhancing their contribution to the cause of the team. 
"employ a multi-disciplinary approach"; "effectively manage work-load", "enhance contribution". I like this heavy use of MBA jargons. I shall have a result-oriented holistic approach towards achieving our one-year vision to reach the number one ranking across formats while ensuring all-round development of stakeholders.

6.Communication skills befitting the coach of an International team are mandatory along with the ability to effectively convey the right messages and must demonstrate proficiency in English. It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages.
English, Hindi, and snatches of Marathi, Assamese and Bangla - this one I sail through [Fluent in Minionese also, although that may not be relevent here]

7.Should be well versed with the latest technologies/trends in sports software and ability to utilise the same, which will assist in analysing/ improving the performance of the player and the team. 
Can play around Cricinfo's Statsguru & have proficiency in MS Office products (oops, that was for Pakistan's coach position)

8.Mandatory that the candidate should have an impeccable personal record, devoid of any past or current disputes, with any of the member boards of the ICC or its affiliates. 
All clear on this front!!!

9.Demonstrate plans and ability to contribute to the NCA Cricket Development Programmes and forecasting/planning to develop the next generation cricketer and agree to make themselves available for the NCA, as and when they are not with the team. 
Proper Supply Chain Management tools will be used so that resource wastage is minimized  and the supply pipeline to the national team doesn't run dry (Also Refer 4 & 5 above).

Out of nine, six criterion fully met, 1 partially met, and one is optional. I rest my case! 
Now awaiting a call from Mr. Ajay Shirke, Hony Secretary BCCI.