Cricket team goes to Zimby
There were plenty of debate-worthy stories in the past few days ... the World XI for the super series was annnounced ... and the Indian team left for Zimbabwe with its usual drama and hungama, this time accentuated by one very angry coach who reportedly couldn't understand why none of the players saw anything wrong in coming to the hotel at night when clearly instructed to assemble in the morning itself. Lol @ that one ... seriously ... I can imagine the bewilderment on Chappell's face as he realizes the only people he could have meetings and discussions with were his support team ... the players were nowhere to be seen. Funnier still is the BCCI line on this - we will ask the players the reason for their coming late ... it is ok if they had genuine reasons but not if it was just casual attitude. Lol @ that too. I can just imagine Harbhajan and Nehra telling Nair about the last minute emergencies that came up coz which they were delayed - "Really Mr. Nair ... my dog ate my cricket bat and I had to immediately go buy a new one ... that is why I got late" and Nair saying - "yes, beta ... hota hai ... next time be more careful ... don't let that dog come near when u r packing ur bat". Sheesh!
Chappell is just finding out the way Indian cricket works and my advise to him would be to take no shit ... no one is going to respect him unless he lays down the law ... he has already shown himself ready to be tough with people he feels don't give their all ... and he has to continue that ... if he slacks even a bit or tries to be their elder brother or father figure or something, these guys will walk all over him. By themselves they have nothing called discipline or shame or anything like that ... they r playing for the money ... and if Chappell wants to earn his money, he has to make sure the players "earn" their money.
Tomorrow is the match and Telegraph reports that Agarkar is certain to be in while RP / Murali Karthik would fight among themselves to be the super sub ... and the guy who might be substituted is Y Venugopal ... which indicates Venu would be part of the first eleven.
One of the guys who comes to this blog, my friend "S on Cricket" mentioned that I was being too optimistic about India's performance in SL .... I am not enthusiastic about India's performance ... I am enthusiastic about the coach's performance ... he has started to examine the raw material in front of him and that is the first step, really. Unless he finds out who is RP and who is Kaif and what they can do and not do, no point in making up battle plans. I was enthused by the fact that players played roles that were different from what they always play ... experiments were done ... that is what I wanted from Greg Chappell .... and it will become even more interesting once Tendulkar joins the team. Man, thinking of possibilities is giving me the thrills ... Tendulkar might still play like the crap he has been for the past few years ... but hey, we just might see the Tendulkar of old ... even if not the same shots coz of physical limitations, at least the same mentality as of old ... when he was King.
Anyway, what I want to see is plenty of experiments and the players to really play their guts out. The way Zimbabwe is playing, I am sure there would be a fight in the pavillion among the batsmen yet to come in as to who goes in next ... If Lou Vincent can his 170 odd, anyone can.
The WORLD XI expectely had Tendulkar in its ranks ... lol ... that probably was Gavaskar's big contribution to the selection process. In a previous post discussing coaches and their mindsets, I had said that I don't have a problem with an Indian coach, just with his mentality ... I had said at that time that it would be very tough to find an ex-player who is actually intelligent ... Gavaskar and Shastri being a couple of exceptions ... and tougher (maybe u can say impossible) to find someone who didn't have his or her own bias. Tendulkar could have an arm and leg broken ... he would still be in the WORLD XI as long as Gavaskar was on the panel. I can very well understand Imzamam being pissed off at not making the teams ... when one selects teams, more than anything else one looks at a person's current form ... and Imzamam is very much among the top. I would never pick Tendulkar in my WORLD XI either for the ODI or for the test ... five years back he would have been the first name on both lists ... not today. Again, when it is the Indian XI, I probably would have him in the teams ... not coz he is exceptional ... but coz even as crappy as he is, he is still better than many around.
Sehwag is in the ODI team ... I really wonder when people will understand that while Sehwag is special in tests coz he does things which other people do not do ... he is just plain ordinary in ODIs coz he does what everyone tries to do.
I won't discuss the WORLD XI too much coz analysing team selections is really argumentative ... and pointless. However I am glad Flintoff is in both teams ... today he probably might be one of the first names on most lists. Being in Japan, I am really regretting missing the Ashes ... I never thought I would say this but I am actually looking forward to see the English team ... and with their fast bowlers suddenly resembling the Windies quatret of old (just kidding), it must be exciting as hell to watch. Fast bowlers r always good to watch ... there is this special thrill in a fast bowler's good performance which I never get in a spinner's.
Greame Smith as captain ... well, as long as Ganguly is not the captain of the WORLD test XI, I have no complaints.
Sania Mirza probably has the best chance to win her second title this week .... at Forest Hills, the field is of 16 players and she is the third seed ... by winning the first round, she is already into the quarter finals and the first two seeds have been bounced out. Now that she has reached the top 50, her real test begins .... she will find it much harder to jump ranks from here and her talent would be really tested ... coz she is no longer playing the so-so players .... but the toppers. She has the game to match them too ... just lacks the consistency ... I saw some of her matches with the Serenas and the Kutzensovas ... she hits some brilliant shots but also muffs many simple ones. Anyway good luck to her. As of yesterday, three more Indian girls were in line for a berth in the US Open ... Shikha Oberoi, Neha Oberoi and one other girl (forget her name) moved into the second round of qualifiers. Neha Oberoi got a wild card into the qualifiers which some dumb site (TOI, I think) trumpeted as "Neha gets wild card into US open" ... lol.
Karthikeyan got a decent 14th position at Turkey and next up is the Italian Grand Prix where the new Jordan is expected to make its debut ... really, the new Jordan is very much like Ajit Agarkar's potential ... keeps threatening to show up but never does. News is that this time it is definitely it .... since they only have one car of the new model, Karthikeyan and Montiero would toss a coin to decide who drives it. These two drivers have not been on the best of terms ... if u listen to their post race comments, it is always "I was faster than Karthikeyan" or "I overtook Montiero ... " ... and even while it was being discussed who would drive the new model, both went to the press with their comments of "I was more consistent ... so I should get it" from Montiero and "I have always been faster than him ... so I should get it" from Karthikeyan.
There was news of the Arjuna awards and the Khel Ratna ... Khel Ratna goes to Rajyavardhan Rathore and no one could really dispute that. For the Arjuna awards, it seems the BCCI had nominated Kaif and Yuveraj and u know what ... double LOL @ that. Arjuna was supposed to be a master of his art ... the awards r named thus to celeberate those sportsperson who can be said to have achieved mastery of their own arts. Yuveraj Singh is a master of what ... unless he secretly teaches in some school, he really cannot be called a master of anything .... neither can Kaif. They r holding onto their spots coz no one else is there to challenge them and coz they have talent which might see them become masters some day ... certainly not today. Thankfully the committee rejected their names. I will not comment on other sportsperson who got the awards coz apart from cricket, hockey, tennis etc, I do not follow a lot of sports so closely as to be aware of a sportsperson's talent or achievement ... I do know JJ Shobha won hearts at the Olympics with her performance coz she got injured badly ... but again she did not really do that well to earn an Arjuna ... else one can say "hey, Arjuna can't have been such a hot shot".
When u talk about a SRT or a Dravid in tests and Gangs in ODIs being nominated for or winning Arjuna awards, there is a certain amount of respect in it ... they are (or were in some cases) masters of their art. Not Yuveraj Singh and Mohd. Kaif and all this riff-raff.
Another point is - If I open up a club called "Chuck's Cricket Club" and I have an outstanding batsman in my team, can I nominate him for an Arjuna award? Forget whether he wins it or not ... will the committee accept his nomination ... is this person eligible to be nominated? Didn't the BCCI tell the court that it has nothing to do with being "India"'s representative cricket body but is a private body ... and all that legal jargon. How can they really nominate anyone for an Arjuna??? Or if someone tells me "Chuck's Cricket Club" can nominate too and that person can actually win the Arjuna, then it is ok ... the BCCI can do it too. Anyone have an idea on this one?
Ok guys, it is 10:30 PM in Tokyo and I am outta here. It would be fun to follow the match tomorrow.