CRICKET

UNCALLED FOR

Posted on June 30, 2016. Filed under: CRICKET, SACHIN TENDULKAR | Tags: , , , , |

This is too much.

Kumar Sangakkara played cricket for Sri Lanka with a lot of distinction. Even after retiring from international and first class cricket, Sangakkara has been playing T20 cricket in different parts of the cricketing world.

During his playing days, Sangakkara was known as someone who was not afraid to speak out in public. He was also not averse in giving back to his opponents verbals when required.

Sangakkara has suddenly become the person to hate for a large section of the followers of Sachin Tendulkar. Why? Sangakkara picked a team of eleven players that did not include Sachin.The list includes only one player from India-Rahul Dravid. I think this made the followers very angry, to say the least. How dare Sangakkara ‘drop’ the legend when Indian selectors never even dared to think about leaving Sachin out of the team. Sachin did not want to continue, otherwise he would still be playing even now.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova was taken to the cleaners on the social networks when she pleaded ignorance of Sachin and achievements. The attacks were extremely vitriolic and uncalled for since not many of the so-called fans of Sachin know much about the tennis player.

It will not  surprise me if somewhere in India people start rioting in the streets and burn up the effigies of Sangakkara for his unpardonable ‘crime’ !

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WHAT GOES UP…..

Posted on July 26, 2013. Filed under: CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , |

It would be an understatement to say that the Ashes 2013 are going towards the home team going by the result of the first two test matches no matter what Michael Clarke has to say about winning the series 3-2.

It was not too long ago that the Australian cricket structure was something that was the thing to emulate as far as cricketing success was concerned. The players, coaches and even the commentators from down under were regarded as special having that extra that were the envy of other cricketing nations. The payments offered in events like IPL to those coming from Australia made for difficult questions in quiz competitions. Coaches have been outsourced from Australia not only by national teams but also by state teams in India. It is not surprising that some commentators even try to sound like the Australians behind the microphone! But not all of them have proved to be a success.

Economists have for long attempted to understand and explain the rise and the decline in the level of economic activity through the use of the concept of business cycles. Words like recession and recovery are interspersed with terms like boom. There are different theories taking into account different factors at the heart of the recurring cyclical phases of economic activity. Possible solutions are also offered to reduce the length of the period where economic activity is at a low. Players like the central banks are often asked to lead the recovery and take the economy back to its glorious days. But there are some who say that the cyclical phases are inevitable given the fundamental causes and no tinkering can prevent or reduce the economic hardships.

It is in my humble opinion that the men in the baggy greens are going through the downward phase of their cricketing cycle after being at the top for a long time since the series win in the Caribbean in 1995. That marked the end of the success story of the Windies and the ascendancy of the Aussies. No one could predict the sorry state of the Windies that once thrashed the living daylights out of every opposition team. As a proud supporter of the Indian team, I was more interested in the performances of the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev with the result of the match already known whenever India and the Windies met on the cricket field .At that time, the English cricket team was subject to ‘brownwashes’ not experienced even during the pomp of Don Bradman. Various theories were floated to explain the downfall in the standards of English cricket just as the case in the aftermath of the decline of the Windies starting from the latter half of the 1990s and the Aussie team now. There is one common reason-the lack of quality in the domestic players and the failings of the domestic cricket structure.

The lack of quality in the domestic players and the structure of domestic cricket and not to mention the BCCI are often blamed whenever the Indian team does not perform up to the expectations. Earlier, one day internationals were the main cause and now it is the IPL that is the cause of the ills that plague the Indian cricket team. To these factors add the lack of ‘sporting pitches’ and the whole equation becomes extremely complex that would test any analyst. The same causes or reasons are thrown around with the failures of the Aussie cricketers in the ongoing Ashes series. The Big Bash League the Aussie equivalent of the IPL takes most of the blame for the lack of skills and techniques in the current team that is in England. The experts are not afraid to point a finger at the quality of the pitches used for domestic cricket in Australia. The same pundits give credit to the T20 format when it comes to the improvement in the fielding skills and some of the shots like the ‘Dilscoop’ that are now part of the cricket lexicon!

There was a time when county cricket and the influx of foreign players was said to be the factor responsible for the decline in English cricket during the 1980s and the 1990s. A similar suggestion is made when anyone expresses surprise over the lack of success for the English football team in international competitions even as the country is home to some of the most successful football clubs.

After the loss of the Ashes at home, Cricket Australia appointed a committee to look into the likely causes and even mandated the committee to suggest possible long-term remedies to improve the stock of Australian cricket. Going by media reports, it now appears that most of the recommendations of the committee have not been implemented.

The English media has been gloating over the success of the cricket team as something that is the result of planning for a long time. The coaching staff led by Andy Flower and the cricket administration is given the credit for the success on the cricket field. There is no one who is going to deny the credit but all the talk about planning is something that does not go down well with me.

I am of the humble view that the decline of the Aussie cricket team has more to do with the overall decline of Australia in the sporting arena. Remember the number of Aussie medal winners in the London Summer Olympics of 2012? England or the United Kingdom is now experiencing a golden period of sporting excellence starting with the London Olympics and the latest being the winner in the Tour de France. There was a time when there were few world class athletes in England and now there are many across different disciplines. It will take time for Australia to rebuild and reclaim the top spot in cricket no matter who gets to coach or captain or who is called into the team.

Remember, what goes up, must come down.

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ON TECHNIQUES

Posted on April 21, 2013. Filed under: CRICKET, IPL, SEHWAG, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

 

Oxforddictionaries.com provides the following meanings for the term technique:

1.skill or ability in a particular field

2.a skilful or efficient way of doing or achieving something

Merrian-Webster.com also has a similar offering to make when technique is defined as a method of accomplishing a desired aim.

What is my aim of talking about technique?

It has to do something with athletes and sportspersons in general and Virendra Sehwag in particular.

Sehwag has been one of my most favourite of cricket players and when he fails to perform as is the case now, it is painful to say the least for me and many of his fans.

A student of mine, who is now a colleague, blamed the lack of technique as the reason for the repeated failures of Sehwag that has led to the omission of the batsman from the Indian team. Even in the world of IPL where Sehwag was expected to score heavily, things have been extremely disappointing.

There are instances when commentators use the phrases like ‘straight out of the copybook’ or ‘right out of the coaching manual’ while describing a shot. I wonder which or whose manual or the copybook is to be used as a reference while explaining a particular shot played by a particular player. This is because each player has his or her own technique that is as individual as the player in question. This is very much a dichotomy since every player is urged to play according to his or her natural talents (meaning individual technique), yet at the same time, we spend too much time thinking and talking about some manual or copybook.

Every player has a particular way of dealing with a specific ball or a pitch and it is very difficult to have a similar solution for all. The physical characteristics of the individual player do matter a lot when playing a shot. There can be only one Brian Lara and no matter how hard one desires to imitate his style, the lefthander will be considered unique.Ravindra Pushpakumara of Sri Lanka had a bowling action very close to that of Waqar Younis of Pakistan but the Sri Lankan could not even once replicate the success of the Pakistan paceman. A certain Vivian Richards had a style and technique of his own and no other batsman till date has shown that kind of an ability that would make bowlers shiver in their pants.

Sunil Gavaskar was extremely successful playing against some of the greatest fast bowlers that have graced the game. He did that without the use of the helmet and that too on wickets that were really fast and bouncy all over the world. At the same time, Gavaskar was equally adept against the spinners as his last innings of 96 versus Pakistan at Bangalore would testify. But there were some question marks about his record against spinners like Derek Underwood. The same is the case with Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to the handling of left-arm spinners. In his last tour down under, Rahul Dravid the technician was repeatedly out bowled. Do these o-called failings cast a question mark over the technique of these masters?

In tennis, the top players have their own style or techniques. Nadal is different from Djokovic who is completely different from Federer when it comes to technique. But all of them are successful. There was a time when the two-handed backhand shot was out of fashion in the men’s game but Djokovic has made it something of his signature shot. Those pundits or the so-called experts who earlier had some theories about why the two-handed backhand would not work are having a quiet time eating the humble pie.

Usain Bolt was deemed too tall for a sprinter and he has the physique of a marathon man from Africa but Bolt is the fastest man in the world for sometime now.

There have many singers who made the initial mark by imitating or covering the songs of the inimitable Kishore Kumar but later they tried to shed this image and started to sing in their own way. One can sing like a Kishore Kumar but one cannot become a Kishore Kumar.

It is not the technique or the lack of it that is responsible for the poor showing of Sehwag. The opposing teams and their bowlers have become smarter and Sehwag has failed to recognize this and reinvent his game. The failure is more due to the lack of confidence in part and in part due to the arrogance. Given the current state, it is very difficult to anticipate a successful comeback by Sehwag into the Indian team but that does not in any way diminish his contribution to the success of the Indian cricket in the not too distant past.

It is not mathematics where there is a unique solution for a specific problem. It is a sport where individual ability and creativity are involved and where a critical decision is to be made when not even a few seconds are available.Does anyone bother about the techniques of masters like Leonardo DaVinci or Michelangelo? Let us not bother about the technical failings of Sehwag. Sit back and recollect those innings where Sehwag conjured some magic with the same technique in the past.

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WHY THE SELECTORS ARE RIGHT?

Posted on December 4, 2012. Filed under: CRICINFO, CRICKET, INDIA, M S DHONI, SACHIN TENDULKAR, SEHWAG, YUVRAJ SINGH | Tags: , , |

After the loss in the Mumbai test, there was a clamour for changes to be made for the rest of the series versus England.But the selectors decided to stick with the players who donned the national colours in Mumbai. On expected lines, the selectors were criticised. But I have my reasons why the selectors could not take any harsh decisions.

1.GAUTAM GAMBHIR

He is someone who played well in the past and who captained his team the Kolkata Knight Riders to the IPL glory.Gambhir is someone who is potentially a captaincy material.If Shahrukh Khan were the chief selector, then Gambhir would have been the captain of India.Moreover, he plays alongside the other opener Sehwag for the Delhi team and they make a good combination of the left and the right.

2.VIRENDRA SEHWAG

Viru scored a century in the first test at Ahmedabad although this fact was completely ignored after the feats of Pujara and Ojha.After all, he is the only Indian batsman to score over 300 runs in a test innings and that too twice.

 

3.CHETESWAR PUJARA

Whether he is the genuine replacement for Rahul Dravid, Pujara has shown great temperament and skill by making two three figure scores in the ongoing series.He had only one failure and that too in the second innings of the Mumbai test.

4.SACHIN TENDULKAR

It is very difficult for the selectors to even think about leaving Sachin out of the team especially given his past record.As many of his supporters felt, the selectors also realised that the great man is just one good innings away from glory.Besides, we ordinary mortals cannot decide on the future of Sachin.You cannot drop someone who is also a Member of Parliament. We don’t want the Parliament to shut down protesting against this kind of injustice.

5.YUVRAJ SING

Yuvraj failed in both the innings of the Mumbai test, so what? He just beat cancer and he was a prominent contributor to the win in the World Cup.Public memory is short and if he is dropped, his mother would become very angry.

6.VIRAT KOHLI

In the past 12 months, Virat has been true to his name-big scoring runs against different bowlers in different formats of the game.Moreover, he has made a hundred in Australia where the rest of the Indian batsmen found the opposition bowlers very hot to handle.As some would say, he is also in line to be the captain of the team in the not too distant future considering his experience of leading the Indian under 19 team to victory in the World Cup.

7.M S DHONI

This is about the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket.He won the World Cup for India after a long wait for the entire nation. People forget the disastrous campaign in England and Australia both as a captain and as a batsman.Dhoni has never been a good batsman on good pitches and against good bowlers.The critics have been extremely harsh about the wicketkeeping misses of Dhoni too.The supporters of Dhoni argue that the captain is only as good as his team.

8.ZAHEER KHAN

Ever since Zaheer burst on to the scene bowling fast yorkers, most Indian cricket fans felt genuine pride.But as time passed by, the pace got reduced.Nevertheless, Zaheer got wickets by gaining control over swing.But he is the best non-spinner for India in the present times.

9.HARBHAJAN SINGH

He did not look like a bowler who has 400 test wickets to his name in the Mumbai test.On a pitch where Swann and Panesar got the better of Indian batsmen, Harbhajan merely looked like a bowler who was meant to complete his quota of overs.Public memory is short for he has a hat trick to his name and that too against the mighty Aussies.

10.PRAGYAN OJHA

Ojha bowled well in the first test and also took wickets in the test in Mumbai.But he too was not spared by the critics.He should have bowled from both the ends!.

11.RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN

How can one even think about leaving Ashwin out of the team when he is regarded by some as the next great all-rounder after Kapil Dev.Ashwin should be in the team as a batsman who if required, can bowl a few overs.

Now going by the past contributions, the records and the sacrifices made by these players, how on earth can the selectors be expected to bite the bullet and take strong decisions? My vote is with the selectors.Moreover, as one expert put, where are the replacements?

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THEY TOO ARE CHAMPIONS

Posted on July 5, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, TENNIS | Tags: , , , , , , |

In every sport and game, there have been some players who did not get the recognition they deserved just because their careers coincided with some of the greatest in the history of the respective fields.

Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to step on to the tennis court but then the achievements of Rafael Nadal are not to be understated. There was a time when Federer with his sublime touch and great skills dominated the game and everyone was in awe.There were debates about the titles and the records that the Swiss maestro would gather in the coming years.But then came the Spaniard called Nadal and the tennis world was not a one man show any longer.Nadal and Federer were as different as chalk from cheese.While Federer relied more on touch, Nadal was all power.

Federer won all the three majors with the exception of the one on the red clay of Paris at Roland Garros.Nadal on the other hand coming from the land of such baseline hitters as Bruguera,Ferrer and Ferroro and Moya seemed to be a natural on the slow surfaces.His game took him all the way to top in Paris where Nadal successfully overcame the challenge posed by everyone including Federer.The French Open was the one trophy missing from the impressive collection and Federer was not ashamed to express his desire in public a number of times.It was only when Robin Soderling upset Nadal, that Roger Federer could finally nail the French.

Meanwhile, Nadal confounded everyone to put it past Federer even on the grass turf at SW 19.Suddenly, Nadal was no longer a clay court expert but a genuine all-rounder.

But the stupendous achievements of Nadal could not detract some commentators calling him ‘a freak’.Even during the just completed 125th edition of the Wimbledon, there was a talk of Nadal pulling out of the tournament due to an injury.Suddenly, the commentators felt an opportunity for Federer.But unfortunately, Federer could not go past the quarter-finals thanks to the sterling display put up by Tsonga.

rafael-nadal

Why does Nadal not get the recognition that he surely deserves? Does it have something to do with his apparel on court or his style of play or his looks?

Coming to the Indian cricket team, one man has by virtue of his sheer genius managed to overshadow not only his famed opponents but also the stupendous achievements of his own teammates.

Sourav Ganguly for a great part of his career could get the respect of everyone more so in case of the one-dayers where he formed a great partnership with Sachin at the top of the batting order.The century on his first outing at Lords’ is the stuff of legends.What Sourav lost out as a player vis-a-vis Sachin was more than made up by his exploits as a captain.

Anil Kumble is recognised as one of the greatest spinners in the history of cricket sharing the podium with the likes of Shane Warne.His career coincided again with the career of Sachin.In another era, Kumble would have been as great a superstar as Sachin.

Next is the case of the player who manages to justify the tag ‘Very Very Special’ time and again when most of his teammates falter.I am talking about V V S Laxman who has not looked back since the epic innings of 281 at Kolkata versus the Australians. The recent victories of India in the test matches and the ascent of the team to the top of the test rankings is due to some telling contributions from the bat of Laxman.

DRAVID

But my heart goes out to Rahul Dravid who has not got the recognition that he richly deserves. His style of batting has earned him the nickname “The Wall” which I feel is rather derogatory.It is this style of play that has resulted in many great wins for India and at the same time brought more than 10,000 runs and 34 centuries in test cricket.Dravid is also the record holder as far as catches by a non-wicketkeeper is concerned. Let us also not forget that Dravid made a significant contribution to the one-day team in the run-up to the finals of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.

One headline during the ongoing test series in the West Indies made me sit up.Dravid made a hundred in the first test which contributed to a great win.The next morning one news channel screamed ‘oldest man in test cricket currently scores a century’.The headlines would surely have been different if a Sachin or a Dhoni scored a hundred.Why this discrimination against Dravid?

I am once again forced to ask-is it because Dravid plays differently or is there any other reason that I do not know about? There were some commentators in the past who even blamed the physiological characteristics of Dravid as the cause of his style of play. They pointed out that Dravid tended to lose his stamina quickly on account of his profuse sweating.

It is true that sometimes Rahul Dravid seems to fall into a rut while batting which makes viewing cricket extremely painful.It appears that Dravid has to bear the burden of the entire world on his frail shoulders much like the mythical figure of Atlas. But to his credit, Dravid has time and again come up with something that helped his team immensely.

Dravid was removed from the one-day team many times and his removal as the captain of the India team needs a lot of explaining.But these incidents have only seemed to strengthen the will and the resolve of Dravid to do more for his team as was the case in the first test at Jamaica.

Make no mistake, I am as big fan as anyone when it comes to Sachin or Federer but Nadal and Dravid are also champions in their own right.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:STEVE WAUGH-1999

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, CRICKET WORLD CUP 1999, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , , , |

Aus_S Waugh10

 

He came into the Australian squad as an all-rounder during the test series down-under versus India. He was a member of the team that won the World Cup in 1987. Within a few years, he lost his place in the test team to his twin brother who scored a century on debut in the Ashes of 1991. The player is Stephen Rodger Waugh who went to become one of the best batsmen of his generation and also one of the best captains in the game.

Following his exit from the team, Steve had a change in his approach to batting. The comeback into the team witnessed a different batsman who started to score runs in torrents. The opponents seemed to bring the best out of him and no one can forget the double hundred in the West Indies in 1995 that gave Australia the Frank Worrell trophy after a long interval.

Some of the most famous innings of Steve Waugh have come in the longer version of the game.For someone who batted down the order, big scores in the one-dayers were not always possible.

In the Reliance World Cup of 1987, Steve Waugh could not make a big contribution with his bat but on more than one occasion, took crucial wickets. Waugh was a very clever bowler who varied the pace much to the surprise of the batsmen. In the semi-finals versus Pakistan at Lahore, Waugh scored 18 runs off Salim Jaffer in the 50th over of the Australian innings.Those runs proved to be the winning margin for the Aussies. Later when Pakistan batted, he took a couple of wickets.

In the Wills World Cup of 1996, Steve Waugh had a few memorable outings like the half-century versus New Zealand at Chennai. In the semi-finals at Mohali, he produced a great delivery to stop Brian Lara who was well set to take the Windies to the finals.

But it was the ICC World Cup of 1999 that saw Steve Waugh’s emergence as a great captain.The Aussies had to really sweat it out after the initial stages.It was in the super-six match versus South Africa at Leeds that the famous Waugh magic came to the fore.It was a now-or-never match with Australia needing to win in order to have any further say in the tournament.

South Africa made 271 with Gibbs making a century. In reply, the Aussies had a poor start but Waugh went for the shots making a 50 off only 47 balls.When on 56, Waugh had a reprieve, thanks to Herschelle Gibbs.Legend has it that Waugh made a comment to Gibbs about the drop. Waugh went on to make 120 and took his team to the semi-finals. After a couple of days, the same two teams contested the semi-finals which ended in a tie and the Aussies went to the final on a better run-rate.

Waugh was not picked for the World Cup of 2003.He had to make way for new and younger players.But no one can question the part played by Waugh in the making of a strong Australian team.

I was fascinated once to learn that Steve Waugh played with a bat that was shorter in length in relation to the bats used by other players.The famous red hankie in the trouser pocket and the worn out baggy green are still fresh in my memory.

More than the style it was substance that was more important.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:ANDREW SYMONDS-2003

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003, IPL | Tags: , , , |

symonds1

He first came into the picture when the Indian team was at the receiving end on a tour game in England facing a county side. He had the great ability to hit the ball to great distances. The same person also toyed with the Indian bowling on a tour to down under. He had the opportunity to play for England but declined in order to play for Australia.

For most of the Indian followers, he became a hate figure following the on-field events involving Harbhajan Singh.

It was only when Andrew Symonds got into the Australian one-day side that the world started to take note of the prowess of the man. Not only could he bat but also he was a tremendous fielder and a more than useful bowler. Symonds was powerfully built and when song could take on any bowler in the limited overs contests.The dread locks gave way to the clean shaven head and yet there was no change in his style as far as cricket was concerned.

He had a disastrous start to his test career facing the likes of Muthiah Muralitharan on the turning wickets of Sri Lanka. Symonds was dropped from the test team while he was a regular for the one-day team. He got a lucky break to play test cricket once again and he scored a fine century versus the visiting English team. However, things began to become difficult for him as the cricket administrators were forced to take disciplinary action following many ‘incidents’. All these culminated in Symonds not being picked up for the Australian sides and he announced his retirement from the international game. These days, he is a freelancer for the different teams in the T20 competitions.

The ICC World Cup of 2003 provided the platform for Symonds to display his talent in a big way. The defending champions Australia faced Pakistan at Johannesburg and Wasim Akram sent back Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden back to the pavilion early in the game. Damien Martyn also could not trouble the scorer as he was bowled by a Akram special. Jimmy Maher was out to Waqar Younis and only Ricky Ponting was holding fort tackling the Pakistan bowlers when Symonds came to crease.

Within no time the shots began to flow from the bat of Symonds and the pressure was on Pakistan. The ball kept racing to the boundary with the fielders joining the ranks of the spectators. Even the dismissal of Ponting could not deter Symonds from attacking the bowlers. Symonds made 143 runs from only 125 balls. The Pakistan bowlers had no answers to this onslaught and the frustration was reflected when Waqar Younis was stopped from bowling following two beamers bowled at Symonds. Thanks to Symonds, the Aussies scored 310 runs and Pakistan fell short by 92 runs.

In the semi-finals at Port Elizabeth, the Australians took on Sri Lanka. Chaminda Vaas had the Aussies in all kinds of trouble with excellent support from Aravinda DeSilva and Sanath Jayasuriya. None of the famous batsmen could stay long at the wicket and there was a real possibility of Sri Lanka upsetting the top ranked team. But Symonds had other ideas and in a display of controlled aggression scored 91 from 118 balls. This was a slow effort and Australia laboured to 212 from 50 overs. Following a rain disruption, the Sri Lankans had to score 172 runs in 38 overs. They could only score 123 and the Aussies went to the finals for the third time. In the finals versus India, Ponting and Martyn trashed the Indian bowlers leaving very little for the likes of Symonds.

Symonds was a part of the Australian team that won the World Cup again in 2007.By this time, he was an established member of the squad who had many years of top class cricket left in him. But things did not go according to the script and now when Australia is desperate to re-establish its superiority, Symonds is on the sidelines.

Symonds would have been a wonderful addition to the Australian side for the World Cup of 2011.His ability to clear the boundaries would have been a great asset on the smaller grounds of the subcontinent.

It is a pity that a man with so much ability would be restricted to the IPL and other such T20 events.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:CHETAN SHARMA-1987

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, INDIA, RELIANCE WORLD CUP 1987 | Tags: , , , , , , |

 

CHETAN

 

He is best remembered by my generation for that full toss that was whacked out of the ground at Sharjah by Miandad for an improbable win for Pakistan. That one ball overshadowed all the other important contributions mostly with the ball and on occasions with the bat from this player. Weeks after the incident at Sharjah, this man had a great part in the famous series win by India in England in the test matches. In the very first test, this player took India to the doorstep of a win with splendid bowling.

I am talking about Chetan Sharma, who was small in stature but had a big heart. He was a member of the Indian team that won the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985.Sharma played the finals in place of the ill Roger Binny.

Chetan Sharma also a few times was capable of making runs with the bat in the one-dayers even once when promoted up in the batting order during the Nehru Cup. But my abiding memory was the hat-trick achieved by him during the Reliance World Cup in 1987.

India played New Zealand at Nagpur and the visitors batted first. None of the Kiwi batsmen could play a long innings and a modest target awaited India. Rutherford, Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield were dismissed by Chetan Sharma in successive deliveries for a hat trick. All the three were clean bowled.

But the efforts of Chetan Sharma were completely overshadowed by the batting of Sunil Gavaskar and Srikkanth with the former getting his only century in limited overs. Even earlier, the superlative batting of Dilip Vengsarkar on the tour to England relegated the efforts of Chetan Sharma into the background.

Luckily, things like match-fixing and spot-fixing were not around during the last ball full toss incident at Sharjah, otherwise, Chetan Sharma would have been hounded for all the wrong reasons. Even the government of the day would not have hesitated to constitute an enquiry committee to find the truth!

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:STEPHEN FLEMING-2003

Posted on February 14, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , |

Stephen_Fleming

He came on to the international scene as an unknown and surprisingly, was made the captain of the team. He was tall and lanky and unlike many left handers, did not show much grace at the crease. But with the passage of time, he showed tremendous application as a batsman. If I remember correctly, Fleming decided to open the innings in the test matches on a tour to Sri Lanka and went on to make a double hundred.However, it is as a captain that he showed great skill and at times plotted the downfall of much more accomplished teams and opposing players.I remember a series played in Australia where he employed a specific field for Damien Martyn and the batsman got out playing the same shot on more than one occasion.

I am talking about Stephen Fleming. It was not an easy task to lead the New Zealand who did not possess any great players after the retirements of the likes of Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe. It is to the credit of Fleming that at times the Kiwis made a mockery of their standing in the international arena. The battles with the traditional rivals the Aussies were always something to look forward to even when the Kiwis were beaten.

The 1992 World Cup with Martin Crowe at the helm saw New Zealand make the best use of the home conditions with the team going all the way to the semi-finals. But in the later editions, the team could not make much of a progress despite the sterling performances of a few individual players.

Few gave a chance to the team led by Fleming in the 2003 edition of the ICC World Cup. But one innings from Fleming showed his intelligence much to the chagrin of the home team, South Africa at Johannesburg.

The Proteas were under great pressure after the narrow loss to the West Indies. They had to win in order to have any chance of going forward in the tournament. The team led by Shaun Pollock scored 306 with Gibbs scoring 143. All the bowlers suffered including the likes of Shane Bond and the normally reliable Daniel Vettori.

The target of 307 was always going to be something of a mountain for the Kiwis to climb. But then there was always a possibility of rain intervening and the DL method deciding the outcome of the match. This was kept in my mind by Fleming and he went on to play shots. Always the Kiwis were ahead of the required runs and when the rains came and put a halt to the proceedings, the Kiwis got home comfortably. The home team was caught unawares about the score they had to defend and let Fleming to call the shots.

Stephen Fleming made 134 in only 132 balls and controlled the chase beautifully. Testing my memory I recall one incident where the ball ricocheted off the bat of Fleming following a throw from a South African fielder. Normally, the batsmen don’t run but Fleming calmly took the runs on offer.It might have been unsportsmanlike, though not illegal but it just shows the determination of Fleming to win.This innings was called the ‘innings of a lifetime’.

I have read somewhere that Fleming was a student of Economics and that is how probably he mastered the technique of getting the best out of his team with limited resources. It is all the more satisfying since yours truly also is a student of Economics

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:HERSCHELLE GIBBS-1999 & 2003

Posted on February 11, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP 1999, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , , , |

herschelle-gibbs-t20

He was considered one of the finest fielders at the position once graced by Jonty Rhodes. On his day, he could take apart any attack out of the ground.

Recently, he came out with a tell-all autobiography that did not show his teammates and the coaching staff in a good light. He also was not ashamed to reveal his weakness for the good things in life.

He was infamously part of the few players who confessed to taking orders from Hansie Cronje to throw away matches. After the ban, he came out with the jersey having two 0s on it to signify his intentions of starting afresh.

As far as the World Cup is concerned, Herschelle Gibbs is best remembered for the dropped catch that gave Steve Waugh and his team the opportunity to go all the way to winning the Cup. The innings of Steve Waugh and the dropped catch overshadowed the fine effort of Gibbs with the bat earlier in the day at Leeds. Gibbs made 101 and this helped his team to post a score of 271. The match was inching towards South Africa until Gibbs in an attempt to hurl the ball into the air dropped it. Steve Waugh took full advantage of the reprieve and made the South Africans pay dearly. It is said that Waugh had a jibe at Gibbs for not just the catch but the World Cup being dropped. The Aussies beat the Proteas and went to the semi-finals where the same two teams came face-to-face.

With Shaun Pollock putting up a great display, the Aussies could only muster up a score of 213.This was not a target beyond the reach of South Africa even when the Australians had bowlers of the caliber of McGrath and Warne. Gibbs was playing well until he was bowled by a Warne special and South Africa found it difficult to score. Even Klusener’s late heroics could not help the team and match ended in a tie. The Australians went to the finals on the back of their earlier victory over South Africa.

In the World Cup of 2003, South Africa faced New Zealand at Johannesburg. South Africa needed to win the match to progress further in the tournament since they were defeated by the West Indies. The home team was off to steady start and Gibbs was in his elements taking the Kiwi bowlers to the cleaners. He made 143 off only 131 balls with 3 sixers. South Africa scored 306.

The target of 307 was always going to be a difficult one for the Kiwis. However, the New Zealand skipper, Stephen played the innings of a lifetime. Rain caused a reduction in the number of overs and the Kiwis were always ahead of the required runs as stipulated by the DL method. South Africa lost again.

Gibbs finished on the losing side twice in the World Cup even when he made great contributions with the bat. Of course, Gibbs made amends during the famous chase of 434 versus Australia.

Gibbs would be the first person to admit that the World Cup was a much greater stage than any other.

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