Beer, Chips and Cricket

This is a site about drinking beer, eating chips and thinking cricket. I am not a former player, a television commentaror or a journalist; my qualification to being worthy of hearing is that I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of chips and think a lot about cricket. The thoughts need not be politically correct and often include colourful language but there will be no deliberate bias towards any player, community or state. I don't care about popular opinion or perceptions and I speak it as I see it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Not exactly cricket - cricket broadcasters

This thing between the BCCI and Zee/ESPN-STAR is getting on my nerves. Anyway, this post is not about that. Just reminded me of when SONY MAX started showing cricket for the first time with Ruby Bhatia and then later with the current rage Mandira Bedi .... I had made my observations on both at that time on a discussion board I visit .... just went searching for it and fortunately found it ... adding it to the blog for posterity. Enjoy.

Set Max Killing Cricket

On Mandira Bedi


The Chuckster

Monday, September 27, 2004

Opening slot and keeping - Before 1st test against Australia

There has been a lot of talk about who will open because of Ganguly's comments some months back regarding Yuveraj opening with Sehwag. Personally, I think the idea stinks, but Ganguly has been spot on many times in his analysis and this could be one of the blinders he pulls off.

However, one thing puzzles me. Mumbai play against Australia and India (Seniors) play against India-A just before the first test on October 6. Ok, so when are we planning to check out Yuveraj's opening skills - straightaway in the first test?

First of all the Mumbai team ... there was a talk that the first practice match for the Australians would be the Board President's XI which was later changed to Ranji champions mumbai. So tell me, is the match simply meant as a practice match for the Australians or also for checking out the options we have? In the Mumbai squad, except for Powar (to a big extent) and Salvi (to a lesser extent), is there any possibility of any of the others walking out as part of the Indian XI on October 6? What is the point of this match?

Then to the India - India 'A' practice match ... According to reports, Sehwag and Chopra will open for the seniors and that means Yuveraj will play in the middle order. So does that mean there is no plan to make Yuveraj open at least for the first test? If Chopra - Sehwag combination fails in the first test, will Yuveraj be brought in then? Without a trial?

Seriously, if we had a Board President's XI against Australia match, we could have checked out S. Ramesh's form (though I doubt if they take him even if he scores a double century ... there is something rotten in Denmark where Ramesh and selection to the national team is concerned) and maybe made Yuveraj open alongside him. We don't really want to find out whether Chopra can open or not; we know he can; same with Sehwag. But we DO want to know if Yuveraj can open.

One good (or is it bad) thing in the practice matches also is the presence of three keepers ... Patel has done well in tests when u consider his keeping + batting (though keeping is still dicey) and with MS Dhoni and Karthik also in the match, we should get to see some serious competition out there, coz one of them will play the first test on October 6. On this note, wouldn't a Australia vs. Board President's XI match allowed us to play all three keepers - one in that match and two in the India - India 'A' match? What r Karthick and Patel gonna do - each keep for 15 overs each? A better idea might be - we know Patel's capabilities; check out Karthick and Dhoni and let Patel play simply as a batsman. Hell, why all this nonsense when they could have played all three keepers and let them keep for the full duration.

Anyway, Cheers

The Chuckster

Wanted - The Old Tendulkar ... Post Script

Hi all

I had promised a piece on Tendulkar some days back ... and Rediff did carry it. So in case u missed it, here is the link -

I was really amazed by the response to this piece. Ok, since I wrote it, I expect the best from it but still ... 230 emails in my box plus about 2700 hits to my blog in two days. Whew! I bet I wouldn't have gotten 10% of the responses had this been an article about Dravid. Love him or hate him, SRT evokes feelings in all Indians like no one else does.

Just a couple of comments -

  • About 95% of the responses told me that they echoed the feelings of the article. About 5% of the responses told me to get my head examined and wondered if I was connected to the ISI network of Pakistan. To all of u, thanx for the responses.
  • No, comparing his current play with a "defective" Rahul Dravid from four years ago is not meant as an insult to Dravid. Today Dravid is amazing; four years back, he was just plain good. And a "defective" version of that ... well, it just doesn't reflect on Dravid. So guys, relax.
  • Again, many of you have talked about Tendulkar's services to the game of cricket over 16 years and stuff like that. Well, I have no response to that simply coz I never questioned his services. His batting style of today has nothing to do with his services of the past 16 years. I am the general public ... we want "paisa vasooli" ... we r not getting that.
  • A lot of you mentioned SRT's play in the World Cup of 2003 to prove that I was talking nonsense. The way I look at it, the reason why I am still hopeful (and the reason why I wasted time writing an article like this) is because the World Cup of 2003 proved that the shackles are self imposed and he can break those shackles when he wants. Seriously, if I doubted his ability today (age / injury etc ... many reasons you guys have given ... and which I agree to partially) I wouldn't have written this article. I am not a journalist ... I get no money for these articles ... so there is no reason to write something for heck sakes of it.
  • Today when Tendulkar comes into bat, rival skippers don't immediately feel the pressure ... instead they go on the attack ... just pass ur minds back to the series of the last couple of years and u will realize what I am saying. This is Tendulkar ... and they actually try to attack him. Would they have tried that some years back? Would they have dared?

There was a comment in the article about "McGrath 3 overs 3 maidens ... and then 6 overs 33 runs" ... When I watched this match, I was with a couple of friends, and after the 6th over, when McGrath was walking away with a bemused look on his face, shaking his head repeatedly, one friend literally rolled on the ground, with tears streaming from his eyes and screaming - "Abe Ramu ... look at his (McGrath's) face ... look at it ... HA HA HA HA" .... that actually captures the essence of what I want to say. That is the Tendulkar I want to see, not the Sydney 241 one.

Anyway, enjoyed the responses to the article. Had to mass reply to handle all the mails and if u haven't got ur reply yet, u will soon.


The Chuckster

Friday, September 24, 2004

Test opening - Chopra has to be sensible

With all the talk about Chopra opening or Yuveraj, I sometimes get confused. Ok, so Chopra proved in the times he played for the national side that he can hold his own in international cricket. Ok, so he didn't hit the centuries but he blunted the new ball and IMO, did better than expected. The point against this would be - but what was the expectation? Can't deny it but Chopra surprised everyone simply coz he lasted and people didn't expect him to.

Now that he has crept into the team, expectations will definitely be higher. He can no longer get by with those 30s and 40s he has done so far. He has to aim higher or the hunt for an opener to partner Sehwag will go on. Now the onus is on Chopra to get those big ones ... he and the team management can talk endlessly about "Chopra's job is to stick around there and blunt the new ball attack" but he would also do well to remember Sanjay Bangar who also stuck around, supposedly at the team management's orders, scored minimum of runs and was replaced by Chopra himself. If "sticking around" was the parameter, Bangar didn't do a bad job; in fact the test victory England an year or so ago can be attributed in part to Bangar's holding the fort act as opener. Still he is out today ... and let that be a lesson for Chopra.

What are the team management's orders are relevant as long as the same team management exists and even if it exists, whether the same plans exist for the next series and the one after that. If tomorrow, either the captain changes or the selectors change, the new chaps will look more closely into the player's record rather than evaluate the player's team spirit. So, obey the team management, definitely ... but keep a defense by scoring big once in a while. In the end, for all the attacks one might blunt, a batsman with an average of 35 - 40 will always edge out a batsman with an average of 20.

Ganguly's wish to open with Yuveraj in test matches itself shows that Chopra hasn't totally impressed the team management. Hey, if he had, then why does team management (and Ganguly is the most important part of that) talk of replacing him? Whether Yuveraj will succeed or not is another matter but it shows that for the team management, the search hasn't ended.

Grow a brain, Chopra.


The Chuckster

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Ponting's injury and missing the first test

Australian captain Ricky Ponting will miss the first test against India due to a fractured thumb. He has been replaced in the squad by Hodge who might make way for Ponting if he recovers by the second test.

I am not sure this is a very good happening for India. Last time Australia visited India, Ponting struggled mightily against the spin of Harbhajan ... in fact, his lunging, prodding, missing and edging was one of the morale-boosters for the Indian team. Ponting did play Bhajji pretty well after that test series, but that was in ODI cricket, more notably the world cup final where he hammered the Indian bowling out of sight. But test cricket is still a different ball game and with Bhajji looking to be back in form (again forget the hammering against Pakistan ... it was again a ODI game) and Kumble re-discovering his line and length in the past couple of test series, we need people like Ponting in the Australian team, if not for anything else, then just for the psycholigical edge of having struggled the last time around ... after all, it was not that long back ... just three years ago.

Anyway, Ponting is gone and nothing can be done about it. Indian better think of ways of containing the better spin players in the Australian team like Hayden and Lehmann. We still have spin-"gaddas" like Gilchrist in the squad to exploit.

Last note - watch out for Michael Clarke ... he is so good he scares the dickens out of me sometimes ... more worrying is his proficiency against spin. India better make plans for this guy else we may create a superstar out of a potential performer.


The Chuckster

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Email subscription from bloglet tested and working

Email subscription has been tested and is working. Emails from the blog will be sent once a day and will contain overviews (100 characters) of any new posts in the blog. You will have to visit the blog to read any items of interest.

Happy reading.


The Chuckster

The seventh batsman - ODI cricket

You hear these arguments a lot nowadays ... when six batsmen can't do the job, the seventh won't either. Rather than play Gavaskar or Kaif etc as the seventh batsman, it would be better to play a specialist keeper and relieve Dravid of the keeping responsibilities.

Firstly, the "six can't do, ergo seven can't do" argument. The seventh batsman is not in the team to hit centuries or have an average similar to Sachin Tendulkar. His main purpose is to finish off matches which the first six may have brought within range .... and in case of batting first, ensure that slam bang in the final few overs can be handled by one extra bat rather than bowlers who hold the bat like Anil Kumble does. In my opinion, it is a very rare occassion (usually means the first six screwed up) when the seventh batsman gets to play more than 5 overs. Thus the seventh batsman usually has some additional forte to him ... coz he is not really in the team solely for his batting ... hence, he might keep, he might field very well, he might be an occassional bowler (different from all rounder) etc.

That is why in my opinion, Laxman and not Kaif is the seventh batsman. Ok, so I know Laxman bats at 3 and Kaif normally at 7, but the seventh batsman concept is not really about the batting position ... it is about the number of batsmen in the team. Let us not talk about Gavaskar coz when the regulars come back, he won't figure anyway. However Kaif and Laxman will be fighting to take two slots in the team and if a keeper has to come in, one of these two has to go out.

Laxman bats at 3 .... we have many who can bat at 3 ... Laxman plays brilliantly against Australia but against all opposition as a whole, he really has to show much more than he has as a specialist batsman in ODIs. He is a great slip catcher but in the ODI game, rather than all day long as would be in a test, the slip is going to be active only for about 15 overs. He doesn't bowl.

Kaif on the other hand bats at 7 .... he can swing a few towards the end and make many more simply coz of his running .... oh man, I am sure he was a horse in his previous birth. If we do indeed go with a 7 batsman formula, there aren't many who can play in that position ... Kaif hasn't excelled in this position but he has done enough to hold on to his position. In addition comes his fielding abilities which are really a bit out of the ordinary. With Yuveraj, Kaif really gives the inside-circle fielding an edge it never had (not in the Jadeja / Robin era who are our claims to fame in terms of fielding) and India can't afford to let that edge go.

So does a specialist keeper come in? According to me - forget Australia here ... against Australia, I would always play Laxman - if D. Karthick can make the same or a better contribution than Laxman in terms of runs scored (it is not about ability or style or anything ... quite simply count the number of runs) and keeps better than Dravid (and for a specialist keeper, that shouldn't be a big ask), then he comes in. We don't need Karthick to keep to relive Dravid ... Dravid has kept very well and though not a regular keeper, he is more than holding his own ... yes, it puts a big load on him but he is very well capable of carrying the load ... so just to lighten his load, we can't weaken the team by bringing in a keeper who bats like crap.


The Chuskster

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tendulkar – Still a run machine but…

I sent this to Rediff ... don't know if they carry it ... if they don't carry it by September 28, I will put the article here on my blog.


The Chuckster


Tendulkar – Still a run machine but…

Imagine the scene where Viv Richards pads up two consecutive balls, leaves the next one outside off stump and then presents a straight bat to the remaining three and explains to all the bewildered fans around that he was being responsible since tea break was only 20 minutes away. Really, I would ask for my money back.

When Richards batted, one could see he was the best and that everyone, including him, knew it. Tendulkar once batted that way. Richards kept the image till the time he left the scene. Tendulkar is fast losing the dynamic image gained over 16 hard and backbreaking years and I just can’t understand why it seems such a clever idea to him.

(To be cont...)

Monday, September 20, 2004

India - Pak match ... non-cricketing stuff

Gavaskar senior was watching the match and since he isn't commentating for ESPN-STAR (I guess not since they don't have the rights) I guess he is here to cheer on sonny boy. Or maybe ESPN-STAR is giving pre-match and post-match analysis as they did during the world cup ... here in India, in most places ESPN-STAR is blocked by the cable operators so no idea if that may be the case.

Filmstar Hrithik Roshan was around .... two day stubble, white shirt unbuttoned at top, cellphone in hand ... there was a lady with him who was Suzanne Khan (I guess). Sunil Gavaskar and Hrithik Roshan spent quite some time chatting together. Sonny boy in for a filmi career somewhere in the future?

Rohan Gavaskar oughta really listen to his dad commentating sometimes .... when batsmen get run out or just survive, Gavaskar points out from replays that the batsman did not run the bat into the crease "as is taught even at school level, Geoffery" but just plonked it down inside the crease. Well, Gavaskar Jr. did that once ... matter went to the third umpire and he survived. Didn't he learn that in school .... and doesn't he watch TV?

The Pepsi people have this new ad whereby the secret of the great Indian huddle is given ... the players are huddled together and the commentator (radio one) in the background is waxing about "ye huddle poori duniya mein ek joint family ka prateek ban gaya hai" [lmao ... great one chaps] and the truth of the matter is - there opens up a hole in the ground right in the center of the huddle, away from prying eyes, and a kid pops out half way with plenty of pepsi bottles on a tray and all the players use these extra-long straws to finish their pepsi. The pepsis finish, the kid goes back and the huddle breaks up. Good one.

SET MAX had this one decent guy on their team (and there aren't many, Mandira "The Body" included) who does some mean imitations of the players. He talked like Tony Grieg till Grieg himself (also on the SET MAX team) came and chased him away, then mimed Tendulkar talking about the "hope the team plays well" and finally Inzy hamming away about "ladkon ne bahut mehnat ki hai ... umeed yahi hai ki hum acchi batting karenge, acchi bowling karenge aur acchi fielding karenge ... inshallah".

Thankfully they seem to have left Maria Ghoretti out of the program ... but Srikkanth and Kapil, exciting as they were in their heydeys, are boring as hell when they give their "expert" comments.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Match Report (India - Pak) September 19, 2004 - Pak innings

The only way India were gonna win this match was if they got Pakistan all out. At least on paper, the Pakistani batting has great depth, with Moin coming in at 8 ... but we all know how they can fold up. So I knew that the Indian hopes rested on the first 10 overs ... take out 3 in the first ten overs and there was a chance.

Pakistan did us a favour and didn't make Afridi open. He is the joker in the pack, really ... a slogger at best, he could have gotten out for zero or taken the match away in the first five overs. Ok, so whenever he came in, he would still be a danger but at least doesn't demoralize us at the very start.

Irafan Pathan opened the Indian attack and made the ball talk in the air and off the pitch ... the very first over had one swinging away from the left hander and continuing the away movement after pitching and Imran Farhat did a Ganguly through to the keeper.

His very next over had one pitch outside off and take off with high bounce, the natural left arm bowler's angle deceiving Shoaib Malik into nibbling at it ... Dravid taking another simple chance. Look out for Malik though ... he and Michael Clarke of Australia are currently the hottest among the new bunch.

The other end saw Nehra opening and later being replaced with Agarkar ... both bowlers looking pedestrian at best. Balaji has been bowling well of late and rather than missing Zaheer, I think India would have been missing Balaji more simply coz he was a bowler in form. Instead of Nehra and Agarkar at the other end, had it been Balaji in his form of late, India might have inflicted un-recoverable punishment on Pakistan.

However, Pathan still wasn't done ... he used the bouncer a lot, usually one per over if not more (being aided by the fact that many of his bouncers didn't go above permissible limits), and Yasir Hameed hooked it straight to Nehra at deep fine leg, who juggled it before clasping it to his chest. Three down and India was back in the match.

Inzy and Youhanna repaired the Pakistan innings ... both of them played calmly and without too much of a hurry ... the asking rate wasn't much anyway ... and the runs started coming steadily. Youhanna looked the more dangerous of the two as he was scoring faster than his partner but we know how dangerous Inzy can be ... if we had to win, we had to get both.

The breakthrough came from totally un-expected quarters ... Bhajji had looked pedestrian, having gone defensive after some runs were scored against him ... Aggu and Nehra had looked worse ... Ganguly had tried his arm at bowling and didn't look like achieving anything useful ... and then Agarkar came back for his second spell ... and an innocuous looking delivery outside off had Inzy dabbing him through to the keeper. Who cares ... Inzy out ... Inzy out. Bring out the bottles!!!

Razzak came in, and without too much of a fuss, went back ... a Sehwag delivery, looking totally harmless, spun in and the batsman chopped it onto his stumps ... really, top order batsmen would be embarassed to get out that way. Moin was taken out by Yuveraj (though the wicket went to Nehra) .... Moin smacked Nehra hard and the ball went flying through point region ... and Yuveraj went flying to his right and got both hands to the ball ... he was completely in the air, though not completely horizontal, when he caught that one ... SET MAX showed us a counter that showed that the ball reached Yuveraj's hands on 0.7 seconds .... seeing that he dived way out of his normal position, that shows great reflexes. There was a time when Jadeja and Robin used to be considered India's answer to the Rhodes and Pontings of the world ... that is nonsense ... Jadeja and Robin were quick and that is all that could be said for them ... they were never great fielders inside the circle .... Kaif and Yuveraj can stake a challenge, though ... they will never match a Rhodes but they r way way better than the Jadeja and Robin combination.

Anyway, the next few overs finished off the match ... uptil that time, Pakistan had an asking rate that wouldn't have scared them but still would have given hope to the Indians ... Afridi came in and Ganguly brought back Pathan. One thing about Pathan ... in his first spell, during his first two overs, he pitched the ball up more often than not and got plenty of movement in the air and off the pitch .... but towards the middle of his spell, he decided for some reason to change tactics and kept the ball shorter than usual .... he didn't go for much in his first spell but his overs 4-7 were not really dangerous ... overs 1-3 were dangerous.

Anyway, whatever Irfan's limitations, courage is not one of them ... he bounced Afridi first ball ... and Afridi loves a scrap as much as the next guy around ... the ball went screaming over square leg for a huge six. The next ball was pitched way too much forward and on the middle stump and Afridi crashed it for another six over long on. Tell me one thing - Afridi is a lottery, we all know that. We all also know how strongly he is built and how powerfully he can hit the ball .... why the heck was Pathan bowling without men on the boundary? The second six ... ok, so maybe Afridi wouldn't have tried it if a man had been present, but had a man been present and Afridi tried that shot, the Afridi innings would have been over. Speculations apart, when u know the man is a slogger, why not put men on the boundary? I think India expected Afridi to show some sense coz of being the new man in and Afridi fooled them by not showing any sense whatsoever. Anyway, Afridi continued slogging his guts out ... one huge shot on the off looking like it would go for six and finally landing inside the boundary and not even rolling over ... the batsmen had stopped running thinking it to be a four and finally they ran two.

India had the match when Moin got out .... u don't require too much of brains to get Afridi out, for god's sake .... but Pathan showed his immaturity and gave away the match he had almost snatched from the Pakistani grip. Guys like Afridi have no idea of the finer points of cricket ... movement, swing and seam would leave them clueless ... but bounce them hard and they know how to knock u out of the park ... our bad luck, Pathan tried the wrong tactic. One could see his confidence shattered after that attack .... finally, our best bowler didn't bowl his full quota of overs ... and that says it all.

Anyway, Yuveraj came into bowl and took out Afridi ... it was clear Afridi was gonna try to hit everything for six and it was a matter of time ... he holed out to Sehwag at long on.

There was some drama when Rana came out ... and Youhanna got cramp ... there was still the possibility of India squeezing through ... but finally, "mar-mar ke" Pakistan crossed the target with a few balls of the last over to spare.

Neither team played great cricket ... but they scrapped like hell ... Pakistan scrapped better ... they won.


The Chuckster

Match Report (India - Pak) September 19, 2004 - India innings

After a long time I watched a complete match and it had to be one where India lost. Humphhhh!

Pakistan won the toss and asked India to bat. Before the match began, there was the customary hulla boo by the Sony Set Max people, with Mandira Body doing her stuff and Charu Sharma cracking those increasingly un-funny jokes. Then there was "Maa Ritambhara", the tarot card reader, who predicted an initial blitzkrieg by Pakistan and also gave the Pakistanis a better chance of a win. During the world cup, when this "Maa R" first came into the picture, they used to dress her up a bit like a fortune teller to sell that angle but here she was dressed in a trendy dress ... really couldn't associate the name "Maa" with her. Anyway, damn, she was accurate ... they didn't give her contact number on the program.

Ganguly and Sehwag came out to bat. The first over by Sami showed that Ganguly wouldn't last long ... he chased everything from wide balls to balls just outside off, and after missing a few, touched one to the keeper ... possibly if he had left it, it might even have been called wide. Fate willed otherwise.

Laxman came in and went pretty soon .... got a short ball from Rana and pulled it to the only guy present for that shot (Shoaib Malik) .... he could have gone either side of him or over him and got a boundary but finally, the guy didn't even have to move ... just bent down a little and got it in his midriff. Laxman looked around unhappily before walking off ... maybe he was thinking baseball was a better game ... u got three strikes before u r out.

Kaif came in and played a good innings. It wasn't a brilliant innings by any stretch of imagination but he looked comfortable and while slow, accumulated his runs steadily. He will be awaiting Tendulkar's return with no great relish ... if Laxman stays at 3, Kaif will surely move back to 7 ... and after tasting so much of success (Ok, so its not brilliant but even 50s are good enough for a guy of Kaif's experience and opportunities), it is not going to be nice coming in with the usual 6 overs remaining.

Sehwag on the other hand looked scratchy like hell ... even though he got a 50 in the practice game, obviously that hasn't done too much to his form coz he batted lousily, finally chipping an overpitched Rana delivery on his legs straight to Shoaib Malik at square leg ... again the only guy present there and had the ball gone either side of him or over him, would have been a boundary.

Sehwag is a good player ... we have seen him bat ... but something different is required to bring him out of his slump ... a stint at number 6 with the freedom of slogging his way out of form in the final 10 overs might just be the tonic he needs. Anyway, when Tendulkar comes back, one of Ganguly and Sehwag has to go down and on current form, it might well be Sehwag (ok, so Ganguly hasn't set the Thames on fire either, but he is not out of form, just technically deficient).

Dravid came in and along with Kaif steadied the ship ... both ran well and Dravid was quick to punish anything loose ... some of his shots were so classy ... one might be tempted to move him to 3 seeing the form of the others and his own form but do that at ur peril. Dravid has played the majority of his ODI career at 3 and in my opinion, killed the momentum more times than he has not. At 5, he has so much of freedom because of the spread out field and his own increasingly innovative batting. He has found his niche in ODI cricket; don't dare touch him.

Kaif got dropped by Afridi when on 9 ... a blistering shot on the off going straight to Afridi and popping out ... apart from this blemish, the only other fault in Kaif's innings resulted in his dismissal. Akhtar, bowling 2nd change, bowled a fiery spell and got one to pitch outside off and take off .... both speed and bounce ... and Kaif, always looking for those small nudges and trickles which get him most of his runs, touched it through to Moin.

There are some who want to make Yuveraj Singh an opener. Today's dismissal was an example of why that experiment is bound to fail ... Yuveraj has a great game when the ball doesn't move around a lot ... today, in the same over as Kaif, Akhtar got ont to slant away from Yuveraj and he touched it through to Moin. Let me put it this way ... If u think Ganguly would make a good test opener, then by all means Yuveraj would.

Gavaskar is an honest trier but he doesn't seem cut out for this level of cricket ... ok, if u use his bowling more (a lot more) and he were a brilliant slip fielder or something, he would survive. But when the injured stalwarts return, it is hard to imagine how this chap will survive the axe. However, I don't like the way they diss him in public ... SET MAX commentators informed us that in a survey they took from many ex-players, they couldn't find even one who thought Gavaskar should be in the squad. The chap is young (ok, so no spring chicken but not OLD), is trying his best ... maybe he isn't good enough ... but hey, let him live ... don't kill him without a trial. It isn't as if we have 10 guys waiting in the wings whom Gavaskar is blocking ... Dinesh Mongia is the name on everyone's lips today and this is the same chap who was being cursed right and left during and after the world cup. Basically, there is no one who stands out today ... Gavaskar, Mongia, etc and his brother are all names we can throw around and none of it has any basis. So whoever is chosen, let him play in peace and either succeed and fail without everyone taking such obvious pleasure in dissing him.

Anyway, Gavaskar hung around for a little bit, didn't do anything to prove his critics wrong and then touched Razzak through to the keeper, Moin taking a good tumbling catch to his left.

Agarkar came ... and frankly, surprised me with his batting. When he came in, my friends and I were joking about Aggu to the rescue and how he wouldn't go back without scoring a fifty and rescuing India ... and damn me if he didn't almost do that. He still had that high backlift that will keep him from being a good batsman ... but as for the rest of it, he batted beautifully. Yes, he has scored runs before, a fast and furious fifty in ODIs and a test hundred .... but to me he still didn't look like he knew how to bat. Yesterday, he looked like a batsman.

Usually he uses his bat like a sword (gives that impression coz of his backlift) ... today he used his bat like a bat ... he played at a run a ball through his innings and played some good looking shots ... he had this on drive against a fast bowler (I forget who) which would have made Dravid proud ... a straight lofted four (the only shot where he looked unconvincing to me, though it was a solidly struck blow) ... and then he got stuck into Afridi, pulling him for a huge six over mid-wicket in the process.

Dravid holed out trying to pull Rana out of the ground and not managing to clear the inner ring ... Agarkar got out three short of his fifty, and if his batting goes on the upswing, I for one will count September 19 as the start of it all.

There were a couple of run-ins between batsman and bowler during the innings, I think both of them involved Dravid ... one of them was with Shoaib and Dravid ... they collided and Akhtar had some words to say to Dravid ... and in constrast with his usual style, Dravid strode down the wicket to confront Akhtar ... Inzy and Youhanna (I think) broke up the pair and an over later, Akhtar and Dravid exchanged a grin in passing, so everyone lived happily ever after. However, this reminded me of a Dravid many years back in South Africa who went running to cry to the umpire when Donald sledged him ... this time the same chap strides down the wicket to confront another strong, fast bowler with an attitude of "Whassat ... lemme hear what u just said, u piece of rubbish". There was even a run in between Kaif and Rana (I think) when Kaif dropped one near his feet and took off ... Rana tried to get to the ball and instead got Kaif ... waved his hand around and Tony Grieg was like "What does he expect ... he is playing with men out there ... no one is going to move out of the way politely so he can run them out".

Dravid and Agarkar took India to respectability, but nothing else. However now the bowlers had something to bowl at; at least they could try for a miracle.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

My earlier writings (published on Rediff and other sites)

Hi guys
Yes, blogs aren't supposed to be for marathon posts but this is special, at least for me. Here I am giving a record of all my cricket writings that were ever carried on the internet.

I write a lot of articles but not all of them are good; not all of them are carried on some site; sometimes they get carried on loser sites that close two months after I join them ( was one such site).

I am diving my articles into two categories -

1. My personal favorites - These were carried on and people gave me feedback by email; geez, and I thought my vocabulary was colourful. I am providing here the actual links to the articles as originally carried.

  • For want of a shoe - The first ever article written by me that was every carried on the internet. It was written when India toured Australia in the year 2000 and laments the Indian performance that lacked pride, commitment and anything called self-respect.
  • Hail the Prince of Calcutta - Written a couple of days after Ganguly was selected as captain of the Indian cricket team. I was glad to see the change and I wrote why I thought it was a good move.

  • The men behind the microphone - People who read this told me I oughta try my hand at writing comedy. Anyway, people liked it and I am happy. A spoof of the commentators of today, their particular styles and idiosyncracies ... an imaginary match in South Africa being commentated on by the likes of Gavaskar, Boycott, Sidhu, Shastri, Bhogle, Kapil and Maninder.

  • Open with Sehwag in tests - Not joking here. The first article on the net (that I saw, at least) that suggested that Sehwag would make a great opener in test cricket. This was written just before the England tour when Sehwag did actually open ... and the rest is history. Rediff editor, Prem Panicker, wrote an article on the same topic a week after my article was carried. U know ... great minds and all that.

  • Give the dog... Hang him - During the Australian tour of India in 2001 (yep, the Bhajji and Laxman one), the media (international and Indian) was totally anti-Ganguly, just waiting to rend him and scratch him at every chance they got. Of course, Ganguly didn't help much by having an absolutely lousy run with the bat. In this article, I defend Ganguly and give my opinion on why Ganguly actually was so valuable to the Indian team even when he wasn't scoring too much.

  • Wanted - Sachin of Old - This article was written on September 24, 2004 when Tendulkar was just diagonosed with his tennis elbow injury. Here I talk about the change in Tendulkar as he moved from being an attacking, dominating batsman to one who prods, pokes and nudges and somehow doesn't look the great batsman we know he is.

  • Sachin disappoints - After the CBI report on match fixing came out, I expressed my disappointment at the actions (rather, "failure to act" would be a better phrase) of the demi-god of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar. This article got me about a 100 mails from people all over the country / world, around 95 of whom thought I should go to prison.

  • A socking for sledging - So what do you do when someone sledges you on the cricket field? Break his legs, I say.

2. The rest of the Rediff stuff - It is not that these articles are bad. Fact that Rediff carried them shows that they must be pretty decent ... lets put it this way; I wouldn't count them among my best but I like them; Hey, I wrote them after all. I am providing here the actual links to the articles as originally carried.

  • No playing Pakistan - This was carried in November of 2000 when the Indian government refused permission for India to tour Pakistan. I supported the move.
  • Why Sodhi or Robin? Why not Sodhi and Robin? - This was carried in November of 2000 and discusses the choice of the Indian selectors to remove Robin Singh from the one day squad, replacing him with Sodhi. I ask why replace? Why not play them together?
  • Sauce for the Goose - This was carried in December of 2000 and discusses the one match suspension against Indian skipper Ganguly and the general tendency of the brown cricketers to get the rough end of the stick in decisions by authority.
  • Play hard with the Aussies - This was carried in January of 2001 and discusses the strategy the Indian team needs to beat the Aussies in the upcoming series at home. Yep, this was the Laxman and Bhajji series.
  • Louts, jerks and a gentleman's game - This was carried in February 2001 and discusses the meaning of sledging and the choice present before the player being abused.
  • Experience counts; or does it? - This was carried in September 2001 and discusses the tendency of the Indian team Management/Selectors to go for name and fame rather than current form. Written just before the team to South Africa was announced.
  • It'll take Tendulkar to triumph - This was carried in October 2001, just before the tour to South Africa, and discusses why Tendulkar of all Indian batsman on this tour of South Africa will turn out to be the key.
  • An Open letter to Malcolm Speed on Rediff - This was carried in December 2001 and is on open letter to Malcolm Speed, ICC Chief Executive, after the settlement of the Denness controversy.
  • Mediocrity at its best - This was carried in the December of 2001 during the English tour of India and talks about the mediocre play of the Indians who are not showing any spirit or pride in their performance. This is particularly in reference to the fifth day's play of the final test against England in India.
  • Horses for courses - This was carried in July 2002 and talks about the new trend on the part of the Indian team management to bench unsuitable players irrespective of seniority and play the people who are more suited. Talks about the players giving more to the team.
  • Australia's magic potion runs out - More of a frustration let out than an article of merit. This was carried in December 2003 during India's tour of Australia when India exceeded all expectations in going into the third test 1-0 up in the series. Doesn't happens often, so lets gloat ... ;-)
  • Open with Tendulkar and Ganguly in ODIs - This was carried in June of 2004 and advocates a "back to square one" policy for the opening slot in ODIs for India, giving the slot back to Ganguly and Tendulkar and moving Sehwag down the order.

There was a third category that I planned for my articles; those not carried on Rediff but on other sites like Madhurbharat ( and The Wicket ( Sadly both sites went bus and I was planning to print the articles as is on the blog itself. But that wouldn't be too much fun, I think. So .... that is it.

Anyway, Cheers

The Chuckster

First Post ... an introduction to my blog

Hullo friends,
I love cricket and I want to share my thoughts with many other fans like me. However, getting published in any accredited sites / publications isn't easy ... so here I am, in a freely available blog where the only thing stopping me is my own imagination and my damned manager who wants me to do more productive work!!! I ask you ... more productive? No wonder managers are despised the world over!

My posts will be about cricket ... 95% of them ... and they will not be regular. I have a different profession and that gets me my bread and butter, so obviously that takes first preference. However, I do promise to be decently regular if not very regular.

Cheers and hopefully, I can keep u folks out there entertained.

The Chuckster