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.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The wicket is green ... no Ganguly requested for the grass to be shaved off and so it is now brown ... but still Ganguly is not happy with what has been done. Whatever is being done is because of board politics coz it would be a punch on the nose for the Dalmiya faction if India lose this test. So on and so forth. It makes me sick.

Concentrate on the cricket guys. It may be very easy to say that the wicket matters but then u have to play on the wicket provided. Cribbing about whether Australia and England would give us a turner leads us nowhere. Under Ganguly, we have slowly started the march upto the top .... I am not saying we have reached there because there is a far way to go but we are going there ... so forget meaningless issues and concentrate on making runs / taking wickets et all. We have Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, VVS and Sehwag who can play on all pitches (I am talking of capability here) and we crib about the wicket. Sheesh. Yeah, I agree that Australia won't ever give us a turner but we do get a match everytime in Sydney which is the nearest thing to a turner u would get over there. U don't see the Aussies cribbing about growing grass at Sydney.

Anyway, looks like the wicket won't be dead in Nagpur even if it doesn't really fly around ... and that is good for cricket. I believe India is good enough to eke out a victory irrespective of the grass or the lack of it on the pitch. I have to believe that else what is the fun in following cricket?

My last post gave my prediction of the Indian team for the Nagpur test and it had Patel opening. For memory sakes, this is what it was (remember - just a prediction I made in my last post) -

Sehwag
Patel
Dravid
SRT
Ganguly
Laxman
Kaif
Agarkar
Bhajji
Kumble
Zaheer

Whatever media reports I am reading leads me to believe that the only change that might happen from my predicted eleven is Chopra coming in for Kaif. My personal belief is that it will happen if the pitch looks to be lively on the day of the match else we will still go in with the eleven I wrote. There are sections of the media quoting that Yuveraj might still be persisted with as opener but that possibility is so terrible that let me not dwell on it. [Knowing the succes rate of my predictions, watch out for Yuvi opening ... heh heh]

Brett Lee has been included in the eleven for the Aussies and probably that is the strongest indication that the pitch will be helpful to the faster bowlers. For India it doesn't matter where bowling is concerned because whatever the case might be we will go into the match with 2 fast and 2 spin bowlers. For the Aussies who play with 3 + 1, it lends significance. Personally I am not too worried about Lee coz the faster they come, the faster they go as Lee has discovered in the past against India ... in fact, Lee has been the bowler who has bothered us the least. So lets hope that Lee plays.

I read Gavaskar's statement that Ganguly was concentrating too much on building on team and that is affecting his batting. I don't know what the reason is but something is definitely affecting his batting ... he never was a great test batsman but he was always a good test batsman ... but in the recent past (couple of years or so) he has really become a lottery ... yes, he hit a gritty 140 odd in the first test in Australia to help India out of the doldrums and set the tone for the rest of the series but with Ganguly this sort of thing has become more of an odd flash in the pan. Yes, he gets them now and then but not as regularly as a batsman should get at the international level. However, there also doesn't seem to be a solution coz when u talk about replacing Ganguly in the team, u are not just talking of replacing a batsman but a captain also. Getting a batsman in might be easier than getting a captain in. It is easy to talk of Dravid becoming captain or Laxman or even SRT but then we are tampering with something special that we have. With Ganguly, in my opinion, the safety factor is present that we are not really dealing with some essential component of the batting ... if he fires, that is ok ... if he doesn't fire, it is still ok coz the others are here. Might be a bit harsh but that is what I think sometimes.

Boy, the hype over SRT's return is amazing ... the media was always a bit insane where SRT was concerned but now they have gone completely cuckoo ... SRT will bat with a heavy bat ... SRT will bat with a lighter bat ... SRT will be rusty ... SRT has the class to ignore his rustiness and turn in a sterling performance ... blah blah blah. Every expert within shouting distance of a camera or microphone is telling us what SRT should do and shouldn't do. I myself don't know how SRT will do after such a long hiatus from cricket but one thing I know - if he fails, all the experts will be covering their asses by praising SRT even more - "U cannot expect a man to come back from such a serious injury and start scoring centuries .... he is a class act and will come back stronger ... blah blah blah". A part in me wants SRT to make runs and show that he is back successfully ... but the devil in me wants to hear Gavaskar, Kapil, Manjrejar et all make those excuses they are certain to make if he doesn't score. Cricket must have been so boring before when there was no media circus around the game, no? Heh heh!!!

India's problems are not really because SRT is not playing or that Patel is keeping worse than my grandmother etc etc etc ... they stem from the simple fact that our batsman are not scoring. Forget Ganguly ... I expect a decent score from him once in 10 games. However I expect a big score from Dravid about once in two games (if not more) and from Laxman about once in three games. Sehwag is back in form with a cracking century (yep, he did cream Warne just as I said he would ... I was disappointed actually that it wasn't more devastating than it was ... it is amazing how he cross bats Warne with impunity) and if Dravid and Laxman get amongst the runs, we are back in business coz our spinners are really on the spot with their bowling. Bhajji in the first and Kumble in the second and I have no worries about the bowling. My personal recommendation against the Aussies, Agarkar, will be there to take out Langer with a delivery pitching on off and coming in ... ;-) ... and it is Zaheer Khan's home town. So bowling is not really the worry here. Batting is.

Ganguly will probably spend the entire night wondering whether to play Patel as opener (though he seems to have emphatically said "no" to a media query) or kick out Kaif and play Chopra. Though I can't think about anyone else (coach / consultant) planning this, Ganguly also will be meddling with the idea of getting Yuveraj to open again. Chopra should win out (yes, even with Kaif's 60) in the end simply coz the pitch seems to require a decent opener even if he makes 40 in three hours ... and who knows he might just go on to make a big one. But I wouldn't like to be in Ganguly's shoes. Self inflicted pain in terms of not trying out other keepers before the series began and sidelining guys like Ramesh who could open with Sehwag. As they say, "u reap what u sow". Instead of having two possible openers for the second opener's slot in Ramesh and Chopra, we have one opener (Chopra) and one pretender (Yuveraj).

I was amused by two statements in the media - McGrath's statements about considering it a big compliment that SRT usually prefers to see him off than attack him AND SRT saying he would be playing his shots "as usual". In the ODI game, I would definitely put SRT as the winner in the personal battle (he has come down the pitch and smashed McGrath like a club bowler too many times) but where tests are concerned, McGrath is the undisputed winner in my book. My amusement arose from the fact that SRT coming back after serious injury might be coming back with a different mindset to the one he has had recently ... really, if he feels his fitness is not 100% etc, he might not favour the extra-defensive mode that has irritated many of his fans ... coz simply put, SRT likes to make big runs and his extra-defensive style takes a lot of time to make big runs. So he actually might come out with a mindset of keeping it short and sweet and making the maximum runs in the minimum amount of time so as to not stress himself further ... and short and sweet for SRT is not beyond a century in 130-140 balls with plenty of fours. I would love to see the media reports if this happens coz most of them will make this as the story of "How McGrath provoked Tendulkar to retaliate" and "Tendulkar answers McGrath with stroke filled century" and such like. Might be fun, actually ... I for one won't complain.

Finally a thanx to those who wishes me for my marriage (a couple of u also mailed ... very decent of u chaps) ... actually the bigger plan behind this marriage is to convert a complete non-cricket enthusiast to a shouting / screaming / swearing beer swilling cricket maniac by the next world cup. That will be my contribution to cricket.

Cheers guys .... and may the best team ... no, make that "May India win".

The Chuckster

9 Comments:

  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 6:39:00 AM, Blogger Rohith Rajagopal said…

    Good article. And interesting prediction for the team. BTW, there is some news that Bhajji is not fully fit and maynot play - I really, really hope this is not true. And Kaif/Chopra should open.
    Best of luck India!! (And to you to for your marriage and the ulterior motive behind the marriage!)

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 8:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As for McGrath Vs SRT , I remember McGrath always coming on top when the stakes are really high. In fact I don't remember SRT coming down the pitch and smashing McGrath ever.
    Maybe I am wearing blinkers but all I remember is McGrath getitng SRT and others cheaply in 99 WC thereby ending Indian campaign .
    And who can forget the WC 2003 finals and how SRT's attempt to smash McGrath ended in one of the ugliest strokes that I remember.

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 9:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Best of luck for your wedding and the fierce "cricket" that follows thereafter. It has everything except, thankfully media/corporate frenzy.

    and best of luck in your desire to transform her into a cricket buff, might as well work out, like in cricket you never know.

    Regards
    Deepak

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 9:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just another thing,

    Don't be too harsh on Yuvraaj, the reason is quite a few people have been tried as openers ---Das, Dasgupta, Banger, Chopra, and they were all of the same mould. Stay on hold fort -- and then get out in 30s-40s. Was true for all of them, and while people following benefit from and older ball including greats like SRT and Dravid and hence they vouch for someone who can do that,. you also need runs from the top guy. All great teams had couple of openers who could destroy ---Greenidge-Hense, Hayden -Langer.

    Yuvi has played a lot of cricket is one of our biggest matchwinners, and has the temperament.Yes he has weaknesses, but frankly there are not many great seamers around. Also people do improve as they open. If you look at Langer he plays , misses gets couple of lives (Umpires) etc and still maikes 50 odd on bad days, same days hangs on to make hundreds, very rarely plays a chanceless innings, but keeps hitting boundaries in between all the lives.

    If Yuvi can get past first 20 minbutes ( which has pretty much even chance with any opener) he would make a great opener. It's very important of what you do and can do after that [period. and Ganguly has obviously thought that in the right direction.

    Only trouble is that with that stupid rain at chennai, so much is at stake for this game, Ganguly may just flinch and go back to Chopra, which I hope he doesnot. For two reasons if you believe in something try it and obviously this experiment is just one test old and two by sidelining Chopra, he has already discouraged him. IF Chopra fails now--- it would be as much a mental thing as a test of his abilities, and critics could say Ganguly caused it.

    Just the game before this series started in India Seniors vs India A Yuvi and Sehwag opened and India Srs chased down some 400 runs , because the two made about 300 while opening and even though that wasn't the type of attack Aus have still those are the type of openings (albiet once in a while) we should be looking at. The problem is with Chopra, Das, DasGupta, Banger, that whole thought is out of the window.

    Only rider here is that Ramesh can do all the good things and more with Sehwag but he is not in the contention for now.Again for the same reason -- he can make decent hundreds without looking Ramesh was actually batting very well in the A games in Aus last year but he never got a test as others clicked in time. Even before, during the NZ series he made a 100 vs NZ in one of the A games but missedd out to Chopra and Chopra hung on.

    Ramesha nd Badani are two people who should be in/around the team -- Badani ahead of Rohan in one day side and at par with Kaif and Yuvraj -- whichever two are in better form and Ramesh ahead of Chopra/Kaif in test side.

    Regards
    Deepak

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Gana said…

    Some of your views are interesting to say the least.! I regularly read your blog and normally I enjoy the comments, but today your comments on SRT are almost sadistic in nature. I feel you are as guilty of forming opinion based on media reports as any other guy out there. It is the same media that claimed Sehwag is aiming for double century and destroyed his one day form. I really don't think Sehwag has lost his form one dayers because of that though. It is the game media plays, hyping up a player and then brining them down the next time.

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 9:52:00 PM, Blogger Satty said…

    Dude i think your prediction of the final 11 has turned out to be wrong again...lol.....neways finally some sense prevailed and yuvi is dropped and chopra picked.....wicket to looks like a good one with some true bounce,which might be too the liking of Glen....but with sachin back...we might see a good contest.......on the whole enjoy and till know Agarkar has not done anything great with Langer...and this guy is starting to dominate the bowling and for a change Hayden is having a sedate start to his innings....pretty interesting to see how these guys pace the innings.....

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 11:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good to see Zaheer bowling like the Zaheer of old. Hopefully, he won't break down before the end of the match. As for Agarkar, let's hope and pray he is playing his last test.

    Go India Go

     
  • At Monday, October 25, 2004 11:26:00 PM, Blogger Ari said…

    Its 11:55 AM, am working in office and my office had banned / blocked out all cricket scorecards, but to my surprise we used bbc's scorecard asp file and created our own flash exe which would simply read the scores and keep u updated asap.

    Now back to the pitch with a stubble. This is where you'll find Indian Pace attack come into being, I would encourage this sort of pitch cause being a pace bowler you would feel more confident to get the ball play to your tunes. I noticed there were more than 5 edges which almost carried to the fielder. Now isn't that a sign to see if you're a pace bowler. Zaheer, looks good on confidence and this pitch should support him, while Ajit will find the line. On the controrary, if Aussie batsmen could edge so much, need to see how the Indian batsmen get beaten..

    I think the Aussie batsmen could stay until the 2nd day afternoon if they decide to stick for sometime, unlike what happened today. (103/3 in 25 overs rite now)

    My predictions for the Indian batting:--> The opening would stick for sometime (20-60 runs), would like Dravid to come little later and allow SRT to get into the very much flow he needed. If i was Gilly i would introduce Kasprovich and Gillispe to attack tendi and then get switch to warne's & McGrath. Laxman would do well cause the ball bounces higher than his knee roll.

    If Aussie could post a total of 300+ today or by tomorrow afternoon we might as well as shift to aggresive mode.

    Interesting pitch, match !!

    Oh btw.. my one big dream is to visit WI for WORLD CUP 2007, it would be just beer no chip and cricket but loving it already (well the rum and the women too..)

     
  • At Tuesday, October 26, 2004 1:48:00 AM, Blogger Ari said…

    Painful.. i managed to sneak home out of sheer desperation to watch the game.. and hey SRT can swing the ball and does a good job of it. saw him drop a catch too (simple one) and just the next over i saw murali karthik get this wicket weell deserved one...

    well after the score i would hope india could hold them to 350- for the day....

     

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