1st test - thoughts
However believe me, Gilly must have been peeing in his pants while deciding this one ... with guys like Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly in the team one never knows what will happen. Till the time the 281 happened last series, it was looking like Australia all the way ... and in two days flat the series moved to India.
Anyway, the Indians really lost the match with the loss of Sehwag. Simply put, this guy can take the attack to the opposition under any circumstances; even when chasing 450 odd, a quick start from him would have eaten up overs plus put up a total on the board and this would definitely have pressures the Aussies, even if the target was a huge one. Billy Bowden advocated the use of technology in cricket by giving a shocker ... seriously, giving that one a LBW should automatically make him eligible for a free pair of spectacles ... if Sehwag's foot hadn't been there, the ball might have gone down to fine leg; the edge was so evident. Anyway, once Sehwag went, India's hopes of a quick scoring start went, and once the scoring stalled, they were never gonna last out the remaining time; the Aussies had absolutely no need to think or worry about anything.
On the fine imposed on Sehwag for dissent etc, all I have to say is "thoooo" (sound of spitting). Lousy umpire's fault and the batsman gets dismissed and fined at the same time. Sure, there are rules about dissent etc but did the ICC never think of making rules for saving the game from idiots like Bucknor and (ok so usually he is not bad) Bowden? I think sometimes Bucknor, specially, misses the point that people come to see the 22 chaps in white playing and not to see him; he isn't important; if he just disappears tomorrow, no one will really want to know where he went or why; he is just there coz the ICC is hesitant to use more of technology. Otherwise he has nothing of value to contribute to the game.
See, I know that technology isn't that advanced to judge LBW's with 100% efficiency ... I remember in England that once Hawkeye showed the ball to be missing leg stump by a whisker ... the only problem was that this was during replay and actually, the leg stump had crashed back about 10 feet after the ball hit it. Not very comforting, huh? But just like we use technology to judge catches taken or to see if the boundary crossed the rope etc, surely something like an inner edge can be called by the third umpire ... he is always connected to the umpires on the field and if a batsman is given out off an inner edge, the third umpire tells the on field umpires and they can call back the batsman if they have given them out ... only snag being that the umpires might feel this to be demeaning ... and getting a feedback almost immediately from the TV umpire might not be possible ... things can't work this fast ... and the players can't keep waiting in mid-appeal as the umpire deliberates whether to go for the third umpire or not. Make it the third umpire's prerogative to tell the on field umpires ... mate, u got it wrong.
Even Sehwag could do better; obviously he was disappointed etc but he (and we all ... geez, it is no secret) knows that the ICC rules about dissent etc are present ... we can all label them stupid and dumb but that still doesn't mean they are not there. It doesn't matter if the all the three stumps go for a walk and still the umpire doesn't give it out ... u cannot question him. That is how it is till some person with an iota of brains changes the rules. So why talk to the umpire or gesture or something like that? I still remember Tendulkar getting given out LBW in the first test against Australia (I think Melbourne) last year ... it was a shocker from Bucknor and SRT's face showed that he knew 100% he wouldn't be given out for that one (he had shouldered arms to one coming in ... but still it was no way out ... too high and outside off) ... and there was sudden shock registered on his face as he realized Bucknor had raised the finger ... and the next instant, the face was blank, the bat was tucked under the arm and SRT trudged back to the pavillion without a second glance to the umpire ... seriously, I got goose pimples watching that one ... its like those straight drives he plays ... they make u realize u r seeing something special. And when SRT trudged off silently in Melbourne, I knew that I was watching somethign I would remember for a long time to come. Really, even if not for the effect, do it coz the other option will only get a fine.
Anyway, Fine batting by Pathan, Harbhajan and Zaheer delayed the inevitable but we can take encouragement from them. Zaheer and Harbhajan are jokers and can't be depended on at all to do anything useful with the bat on a regular basis; they either don't care enough or don't have the ability to do this consistently; Pathan is a different story. The man has a very natural batting style and though I can't really see him hitting centuries in test cricket, I can definitely see him scoring very consistely and maintaining an average of 30 ... he seems capable of doing that. I also read in the various papers etc about former players encouraging the Indian captain not to label him an all rounder (Gangs already did that ... heh heh) but let him just be a bowler first. People like Kapil Dev saying things like - "the runs from his side should just be considered a bonus ... he is there for bowling" etc etc etc.
U know, the day Kapil Dev becomes coach of the Indian cricket team again, I think we can all stop following cricket and take up hockey or polo or something. Admittedly he was a great player but he knows crap about cricket. That is my opinion. We have a guy here who bowls well and bats well and instead of getting more out of him, people actually want to get less; that is amazing. This is like those people who wanted Dravid to stop keeping before the world cup coz he is a batsman ... he contributes so much; why should be burdened with this too ... whine whine whine. The fact that India was benefitting coz we were extracting more than he usually gives was lost on these people; I think they would have been just as happy to see Dravid play simply as a batsman and India losing games. Coz their brains are pea sized and can't really used for thinking too much; many of them have played the game at the highest level but hearing them talk (e.g. - Warning - this is hearsay from some noticeboard. Manjrekar, while commentating states this on Sehwag's dismissal in the 2nd innings - "India is lucky that it is Sehwag and not Chopra who is gone thus ... coz India has to save the game ... blah blah blah" .... geez, grab the mike from him ... don't let him get near 10 feet of a commentator's box).
From all reports coming through SRT will not play even the 2nd test. However, the squad of 15 is the same as it was for the first test. So my dream of bringing in Ramesh into the team will not be fulfilled. Regular readers of my columns / posts would know of my idea of Yuveraj's best position in the test team ..... outside. I know I advocated his opening the batting but that is because he is in the squad and I know for sure he will play ... so no point in talking about a team where he is not present.
India has two problems right now; seriously .... the first test might have made it look like India has a huge problem but really, look at it this way. Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Ganguly, Kumble, Harbhajan, Pathan and Patel will play the 2nd test for sure unless some injury occurs ... we could have lost the first test by 200, 400 or 600 runs but we cannot replace these 8 people for the second test. That leaves us with one opener's slot, one no. 6 slot and one bowler.
My no. 6 slot goes to Kaif simply coz he was the batsman in form before the series began. He was in my squad for the first test too but like many of my predictions (maybe it is coz I predicted sensible things and Ganguly's strategy was dumb ... hence nothing matched) this didn't happen. However, I have a feeling that only one of Chopra and Yuveraj will survive to the second test and Kaif will definitely play.
Will make posts once I get to know more details. Sorry for the scratchy posts but busy in office.