The REAL Test Cricket only in Australia, South Africa and England?

If you check the difference between the ongoing Australia-South Africa test match and the Pakistan-Sri Lanka one (or West Indies-England) you will understand one thing. One is real test cricket where as the other two are comedy cricket choreographed for the respective flat-pitch heroes in those countries.

Quality of pitches

It is really pathetic that countries like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and now West Indies as well are making one sided pitches that suit only the batsmen. Of course, majority of the fans do like big scores but that doesn’t mean that a 5 day match can accomodate only two innings of 600+ runs per innings. The first two tests in West Indies during the past two weeks were pathetic. Even worse was the Karachi encounter of the Sri Lankans last week where Younis Khan became a greater hero. The batting records of the current leading test batsmen are actually farce compared to the greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappel or Garry Sobbers. At the moment mostly people get to play in flatter tracks and hence a realistic comparison based on batting average or records is not really worth that effort.

South Africa – Australia Series

The first test match between the touring kangaroos and proteas is looking really awesome where fortunes changed every day. The commitment of these two countries towards test matches is amazing and the battle between them makes me skip every other stupid match around. Only in England I can see the same level of interest which basically means that only Australia, England and South Africa are really serious about test cricket where as other countries are busy selling Twenty 20 cricket or creating a generation of flat pitch bullies.

I wish they spent 10% of the money saved from IPL etc to create 4 or 5 test quality sporting pitches!

England in Dire Staits, IPL auctions and controversies…

It was not a great week for England where they got trashed by West Indies in the first test match at Sabina Park. The visitors received an innings defeat and more importantly they managed to score a mere 51 in the second innings.

It’s really bad to see that the typical problems of teams like India or Pakistan now has gripped England as well. Basically, the team now has several former captains, no proper coach and with Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores getting axed the on and off the field tension is affecting their game.

IPL affecting teams

Another important thing is the greed that IPL has created. I guess with KP and Flintoff getting offers of the tunes of more than 1.5 millions they must be wondering what’s there in playing for the country. This can happen to any other country and as I maintained in the past Twenty 20 cricket and Indian Premier League will spoil all international teams. To make things worse, Lalit Modi even commented that he wouldn’t mind if Cricket Australia sacks Andrew Symonds from their national side because in that case he gets to play IPL second edition throughout the event.

Pakistan Cricket Board in the meantime has not allowed their key players to participate in IPL. Sri Lankan Cricket Board’s ex-chief Arjuna Ranatunga is trying to amend his stand by telling that he’s not against IPL or BCCI.

Basically, the Indian Premier League has created a lot of headache for the international cricket boards and their national teams. I don’t think, it can continue like this forever.

Other highlights of the week

India won the ODI series in Sri Lanka 4-1. Though, India put together great all round performance, they were lucky to get the toss in their favour four out of five times. New Zealand had a great start to their 5 match ODI series against Australia and are now leading 2-1.

The week was otherwise pretty boring as most of the matches this week were pretty one-sided.

Kevin Pietersen vs Peter Moores vs ECB – Power Play is on!

So the inevitable has happend! Kevin Pietersen has quit his captaincy role the England side. And Peter Moores, the coach/Team Director has been sacked. Nobody knows if KP was sacked as well but at least it sounded more like it was the captain’s decision.

Now, Andrew Strauss, who had a year-long stint earlier pitches in as the captain. It may be recalled that Andrew Strauss, who is in the middle of regaining his form and confidence, had actually lost his batting form after he took over the captaincy.

The power-struggle between the captain and coach was over another former captain Michael Vaughan who wants to come back to English test side. KP wants him which is quite understandable due to the poor batting stability of the England test team. However, Moores doesn’t want him back! With Ashes coming in, I thought somebody like Vaughan would have been a good inclusion.

It seems the dressing room itself is divided over this issue and that’s what motivated KP to quit. Obviously there are people who were not happy with KP’s privileges as a captain. Now, if Vaughan comes back this England team will have 5 former captains like the Indian test team of 2008 beginning! It’s not going to be a very nice situation for team England going forward.

Captain-Coach-Selectors power games are not new to World cricket (and for any sport for that matter). For most teams in this world, the captain and/or coach has some say in team selection. It’s due to the past rows (and regional selection politics) that the BCCI recently decided that the captains and coaches will not have any say in the selection matters going forward. Remember, Dhoni was not all that satisfied over the ODI selection row when England was in India a couple of months ago.

Anyways, let the god (err…Queen) save the English Cricket! After all the game was arguably invented there and they probably know how to deal with the situation.

India – England Series: What a boring test match @ Mohali!

Mohali is supposed to be the best pitch in India and it also boasts a state of the art stadium as well as support facilities. Unfortunately, all that cannot be good enough if a test match conducted there was not played for the full five days

The weather – not rain – was the culprit this time. There was not a single day of the 2nd test between India and England that has gone without a delayed start or an early stop. Essentially the match was played for only about 4 days if you count the number of overs played.

To top it all, some really negative game tactics by Mr. Dhoni led Indian team, put what could have been a decent finish into a terrible draw.

Though England conceded a 150 run lead in the first innings, the Indians wanted to play out the remaining time instead of leaving a good 60-70 overs on the last day for the Englishmen to try their luck. Instead of stepping up the gas and declaring with a set target of 325 or so, the typical Indian mindset played its tricks there. Dhoni seems to be no better than the other Indian captains, who invariably played for personal records – especially that of batsment – during possible draw matches.

Thought of the day: Instead of helping the batsment to achieve their personal milestones, why don’t the captains help their bowlers to achieve some milestones?

Chennai: December 15 2008 – A day to remember in Test Cricket

What a test match it was! I have not seen such a run chase in test matches in my whole life, that too in a Day 5 sub-continental pitch that’s damaged and causing uneven bounce. Yes, we are talking about the first test match between England and India in Chennai

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dhoni and his team at the moment looks unstoppable! Mainly due to the amount of positive energy that the captain himself brings in. And this is a super test combination despite Rahul Dravid’s failure at No.3.

Steps to a historic win!

  • Day 1: KP wins the toss and decides to bat on what looked like a super batting wicket. England puts a hundred run opening partnership in a display of controlled and patient batting. Eventually Strauss hits a century and England close day 1 at a reasonable 229/5
  • Day 2: Mat Prior takes England to 300+ and in reply the Indian top order collapses (37/3) with the debutant spinner Swann striking twice. England does exremely well to restrict India to 155/6
  • Day 3: Another day that belonged to England again! They get India all out for 241 taking a 75 runs lead. England puts another strong display in the second innings by finishing 172/3. Strauss again was the man!
  • Day 4: England progresses till lunch but collapses from 257/4 to 311/9 in a display of extremely defencive batting. KP declares with 29 overs remaining for the day and England failing to cross the psychological score of 400. India needs 387 to win with a day and 29 overs remaining! Indian openers walk in, as cool as ice! And it was calm before the storm. Even before KP realized whatever happened, India close their day 4 at 131/1 from just 29 overs! India’s fortunes changes for good! Sehwag scores 83 from just 68 balls!
  • Day 5: With just 256 runs required from 90 overs and a whole day, Sachin Tendulkar plays an innings of his life and takes India to the shore, very well helped by Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh! Nobody has ever seen Tendulkar playing such a patient and beautifully crafted innnigs in his whole career
  • India wins a historic test match with a sub-continent record run chase and fourth best run chase in the history of test cricket!

It’s unfortunate that despite back to back centuries from Andrew Strauss England ended up loosing. But nobody could have stopped a determined Sehwag who changed the course of the game in a matter of an hour and a half during the fag end of Day 4.

The BCCI Annual Contracts are out!

The BCCI’s annual contracts were announced at the right time soon after the famous test win and fittingly enough Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag etc got promoted to the next respective grades. People like Sreesanth who had attitude problems on top of injury and underperformers such as Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa have been downgraded. By dropping Ramesh Pawar, Akash Chopra and Ajit Agarkar the BCCI has sent out a strong message that they are looking forward to the future. At the moment Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are the only 30 plus players on the side.

The BCCI also showed appreciation towards some of the Under-19 world cup winners by offering them one-year contracts under Grade D.

Weekly Tidbits: England is back, Nathan Bracken to Bowl Spin, Dhoni’s Gesture and more…

England resumes…

The England team is finally back in India to complete the tour. Looks like the ECB’s security advisor gave a go ahead to the tour after his short diplomatic visit to India last week. I am sure the cricketing fraternity and BCCI will be relieved! And the PCB must be wishing that they had enough money to buy any number of cricketers and cricket boards around the world!

Are the English players really happy?

Bracken to bowl spin???

Well, that is quite a strange news! Nathan Bracken, the ODI pacer of Australia, is working on improving his test selection chances and the opportunistic route that he is taking is via spin bowling. Everybody knows that Team Australia is in the lookout of the right composition for their test side and the main problem is lack of good spin bowlers. It seems, Nathan even unleashed his spin against Tasmanians in a domestic match and took 8 wickets!

Could it bring a positive change to Australia and Bracken?

On a lighter note, could Shaun Tait have done it as well 🙂 His injuries and fears are related to express fast bowling alone, so…

Dhoni’s gesture

India’s no-nonsense captain, known for his unorthodox ways of living life and cricket, has donated his income from two matches for the terror victims in Mumbai. Good gesture MS! I wish many others, who are after running high profile restaurants and fitness clubs, did a similar job.

PCB considering neutral venues

The Pakistan Cricket Board is seriously considering the option of a neutral venue, for the planned tour of India to Pakistan, due to the terror situation in both countries and the looming worries of a military action. At the moment this seems to be the only chance for Pakistan to play some test matches in the next four to five months or so.