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.

Friday, November 25, 2005

quick post - mid innings 4th ODI

Don't have time to write essays today ... ;-) ... weekend starts and wifey awaits at home ... need I say more?

A few links to things I read -

Some player's wives pics - Click here

On Zaheer - Click here

Something random on how the pressure of Ganguly's selection might affect the other players - Click here

Harsha on the Ganguly selection issue - Click here

Telegraph's LPS on Ganguly selection - Click here

And on Khaleej Times -
Click here

A few lines before I sign off -

Shame on Calcutta for creating such a fuss about Ganguly. While we may agree or not on his selection, if people from all states start saying "XYZ or no match in Delhi / Gujrat / Hyderabad etc", then I really feel ashamed. I haven't heard anyone say - He will make plenty of runs in domestic cricket and wipe dung on the faces of those who dropped him ... which is something that is acceptable ... but no one is really equating his selection with any kind of performance. Nonsense public ... people talk about Calcuttans being passionate about their sports etc etc etc ... is it passionate or selfish? As Kapil rightly put it (never thought I would say that of any comment from Kapil) - When no one objected to Kumble or Laxman's ommision, why create such a fuss over Ganguly?

On the topic of the Calcuttans burning effigies of Chappell and performing mock last rites (or "shhradh") with a priest and all, u have to pity the chap ... I really don't think any foreigner could really adjust to these things ... geez, he is only doing what he thinks is good for Indian cricket ... and people want to perform his last rights.

BTW, they have given a wicket with more than a tinge of green for the 4th ODI and India has been all out for 180 odd ... firstly, shame on Calcutta again for keeping state above country ... and secondly, a message to the Indian cricket team and to Chappell - Don't be wimps ... win on all wickets. When we expect so much from Greg C and Dravid's boys, one of the expectations should be good cricket on all wickets ... we want good players, not flat track bullies. When expectations r set for everyone, they r set for Chappell and the rest of the guys too. If they r gonna wet their pants on seeing grass, then I don't think Chappell is any way better than a Mohinder or Madan Lal. But to be fair, it is just the beginning ... hope things do improve on that score.


The Chuckster

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

zaheer misses out coz Ganguly is all rounder

LMAO ... someone please tell me what Zaheer thinks of all this.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just before test team gets selected

If the Chuckster said it once, the Chuckster said it a hundred times. Sehwag down the order, Sehwag down the order ... that has been the Chuckster's call for well over an year now. Sighhh ... when will Greg Chappell start reading the Chuckster's blog?

See, it looks nice coz he scored runs and I fully agree that he needs to make runs "consistently" to make the Chuckster's point of his being more valuable down the order. For that we will just have to wait and see ... personally I think Sehwag won't be going back up soon unless either SRT or Gambhir misfires. SRT has been mis-firing in the past few ODIs and that is surprising coz he was really connecting well in the first two ODIs after his return from injury. Even in the last match against SA (the second ODI which India won), he charged down the wicket and tried to hammer it over mid on, but didn't really time it properly which enabled the fielder to jump and take the catch. While I am happy that the mindset change is still there (from no-stroke-wonder to attacking-srt-of-old), the results still have to come. I just hope these failure don't push him into a re-think of his strategy coz the strategy is very much sound ... the implementation isn't ... and I believe SRT is good enough to correct the implementation.

There was this funny article I saw - - where Nehra lauds Greg C while asking concessions for the "seniors" in the team at the same time. I feel he might have a hard time if he expects Greg C to give him special attention coz he is "senior" compared to the RP and Irfans in the team ... Nehra has always picked up wickets when he has played but in this team formed by Greg C and Dravid, just taking wickets or making runs alone doesn't count ... they r looking for a package where a person really doesn't have weak areas and a person is willing to commit himself to the discipline and effort demanded by the team management. Being senior is not going to be a major criteria in Nehra's selection or not. In that sense, I applaud Zaheer's approach to the problem ... he has been kicked out ... he has been calling attention to himself not through words but through actions on the field ... it will be very difficult for the selectors to ignore Zaheer ... and if Zaheer can lose some 5 KGs off his buttocks, even Greg C might not really want to ignore him.

With the Chennai ODI being washed out, the next ODI at Calcutta assumes a lot of significance coz the team that wins that one can't lose the series ... and that makes a lot of difference to the way they approach the last game. What a game it will be, with the crowd at Calcutta expected to be steamed up about Ganguly's ouster ... as of yesterday Dravid was named Test Captain too ... so irrespective of whether Ganguly makes it to the test team as a player or not, his captaincy days r over. What an irony ... the man who singlehandedly brought seeds of professionalism to the process of player selection, irrespective of region or state, is today getting his case pushed by ministers and cine artists of his state.

Yesterday on some channel, I watch as Rupa Ganguly (Draupadi of Mahabharat fame) spoke vehemently against the unfair treatment meted out to Sourav (with the best captaincy record, she didn't forget to add) and encouraged people to boycott the match. Sources close to Greg Chappell and Dravid reveal that they r now waiting for statements from Gajendra Chauhan(Yudhishtra of Mahabharat fame), Gufi Paintal (Shakuni mama) and Mukesh Khanna (Bheeshma pitamah ... and Shaktimaan) before deciding their strategy for the rest of the ODI series and tests ahead. Pah! Who gives a phuck anyway if Rupa Ganguly sees the match or not ... man, she has cheek even taking a stand on this one.

Anyway, on Dravid becoming captain, I feel it is imperative for India to move away from the Ganguly way of doing things in tests also. Ganguly's way was the best one when he took over ... he has had his successes and he deserves all the plaudits he got. Today that formula is old ... new players r coming up who r much tougher and better equipped in all forms of the game than existing players ... sure the existing players have the benefit of experience behind them but the new guys come with fresh talents which have to be harnessed. Uptil now the focus was on the ODI team coz we were playing so many ODIs ... but for those who say Greg C's charter is to make India win the world cup in 2007, I say this - it is Greg C's charter to make India play the best cricket possible till he is coach ... whether in ODIs or test ... and his tenure is till world cup 2007 ... his job is not to "only" work towards a world cup 2007 victory. In that sense, while the likes of Ganguly may creep into the team this time around (geez ... imagine Ganguly the player on merit in the Indian team ... as captain u couldn't kick him out anyway) it won't be long before he eithers delivers big time on a regular basis or gets kicked out yet again. Again delivering here doesn't really mean a fifty here and a fifty there ... lots of runs ... great fielding ... great commitment to team and fitness ... things which may be beyond Ganguly. Today Ganguly is out of the ODI team ... the day may not be far when we say goodbye to Ganguly the test player too. The sooner it happens, the less painful it might be!

There was this funny article about Kapil quotes - - ... for some reason, Kapil sees fit to comment on everything happening in Indian cricket and for some reason, the media prints it. He usually speaks like an idiot but in this article, comes up with a cracker. Don't beg, he says ... make runs. LOL ... in the same article, conforming to his usual standards, he makes a fool of himself when he asks something like "miss Sourav ... do people miss Sunil Gavaskar or Kapil Dev". LOL again ... I mean there is nothing wrong in that statement but the man is so full of himself ... why did he have to include his own name ... there is something called humility which makes for good sound-bytes [and no, when the Chuckster pats himself on the back in his blog, it ain't the same ... coz the Chuckster is a celebrity only in his own home ... unlike Kapil Dev]. In the same article (I read it in Deccan Chronicle ... but I don't see this part in other sites carrying the same story), he makes a statement which shows why even the greatest of them have to be kicked out unceremoniously ... they just don't have a clue ... he says something to the tune of "I myself could have played for 2 more years .... but the selectors have the final say ...". Seriously, I don't think there is any cricketer in India who doesn't feel he still has 2 more years of cricket left in him when he is finally given the boot ... in Kapil's case, the whole nation groaned with frustration as he crawled his way into the record books with a thought of "when will he finally get the damn record and get off our TV sets" ... and the guy is ready to torture people for another 2 more years. Sigh!!!

Whoooo ... even as I type this, Rediff says Ganguly is included in the test team. Might post later once I get more details.


The Chuckster

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Just before first ODI against SA

Though it is a couple of matches since my last post, the events of the past few days have been startling in their sameness - the Indians demonstrating their superiority over the Lankans in batting, bowling and *gasp* fielding.

Greg Chappell made a comment as to how the Indian fielding has never been better and for those of u who haven't seen it on TV and have to rely on reports etc, let me assure u as one who saw two of the matches live and saw highlights of the others, he ain't kidding. As an example, there was this shot in one of the ODIs where the ball went to the region between deep square leg and square leg (it was a left hand batsman who played the shot ... I forget who) ... the ball was almost into the boundary when the fielder in pursuit, a certain Suresh Raina launched himself in a dive which took him sliding on his stomach for quite a number of meters and just before the ball touched the ropes, he managed to flick it back while still being in motion of sliding on his tummy ... the ball didn't exactly go back but started running parallel to the ropes. Yuveraj who was following right behind then lunged and prevented the ball from rolling back over the ropes (since Raina hadn't completely changed the direction of the ball which had the momentum of moving towards the ropes) and flicked it back again and himself crossed the ropes in the process. He then crossed the ropes back into the ground, picked up the ball and threw it to the keeper. The batsmen who were sauntering the runs comfortable in the knowledge that it would cross the boundary were suddenly made to hurry ... the fourth run (yes, they did manage to run four but that ain't the point here) ended with the batsman running towards the striker's end lunging to get his bat in as the throw from Yuveraj reached Dhoni and he took the bails off ... the decision went to the third umpire and that is how close it was. In the end, it was not out but more importantly a) it made the batsman run four runs, thus making them a teeny bit tired b) it gave them a heck of a scare since the decision went to the third umpire and c) it definitely made them wary of taking the Indian fielders less than seriously.

Raina was in the thick of things again in the same match when fielding at the mid on position, he grabbed the ball going to his left, turned on the run and unleashed a throw at the bowler's end which missed by a whisker and which (replays showed) would have led to a run out had it hit.

Then there was Bhajji who two matches back (or was it the last match) fielding at square leg went diving to his left and saved a certain four. And JP, the old man being targetting currently by Ganguly-supporters, fielding at short third man in one of the matches making a diving stop inside the circle to prevent a certain four and a couple of overs later, scoring a direct hit from the same position to run out a Lankan batsman. There were many other direct hits over all the matches which I can't remember (as in who threw and which batsman was in danger etc) ... some of them led to a run out and many of them didn't ... but man, they were hitting the stumps like mad. One funny comment from one of the commentators (I think, Maninder) in the last match when yuveraj from inside the circle threw to Dhoni who collected really well and executed the run out ... Maninder goes "it was Yuveraj's effort actually ... Dhoni really didn't have too much to do with it" ... firstly, the throw still had to be collected cleanly and it was a pretty sharp throw bouncing just before Dhoni (the Chuckster has been the keeper in many matches where he spectacularly failed to latch onto chances 25 times simpler than that one) ... and secondly, hey ... u don't really need to put down the effort of one to recognize the effort of the other ... u can give credit to both ... it ain't hurting anyone. Anyway ... I just hope Maninder doesn't try out for the coach's position anytime in my lifetime.

Earlier there were Yuvi and Kaif who lent the fielding a sharp look ... seriously, now with Raina added to the list, suddenly the off side patrolled by Yuvi, Kaif and Raina will be pretty hard to penetrate. More importantly, there r no "gaddas" who have to be hidden ... no VVS, Ganguly, Kumble who - for all their other important qualities - move with the agility of Giant Robot (remember the dubbed Japanese serial on Doordarshan many years back ... Johhny Soko and his Giant Robot ... man, I used to love it).

Anyway, lets just say I concur with Greg C when he says he hasn't seen the Indian team field better ... I don't think any of us have. However, there r areas to be worked upon ... areas which haven't hurt us "yet" but which still may ... earlier, we have three great slip catchers in Laxman, Dravid and Sehwag ... today Laxman is not in the ODI picture, Dravid has moved to mid-on to better synch with his bowlers and for some reason (maybe an experiment here too ... to see the possibilities), Gautam Gambhir and Venugopal and the likes have been manning the slips. Gambhir dropped a sitter in one of the matches (to be fair, in the second match, I think, Dravid dropped a sitter in slips too) ... Venu took one good catch bending to his left and took another to his right but the second one, he juggled so many times that the bowler would have cussed him four-five times before he finally pouched the ball. I dunno what Greg C's strategy is towards slip catching but I am sure he will have one ... till now he hasn't slipped up once ... lets hope that continues.

U know what ... in this entire squad, Sehwag probably is the only one who looks unfit physically ... I dunno whether it is his balding top (he seems to have lost a LOT of hair in the recent past) or what ... but he looks short and fatter (rather than fitter) than ever before. He is short ... and that is nothing to worry about coz short people can be good cricketers ... but I am sure Greg C will be counting his paranthas in the coming months in an effort to cut down on his paunch.

Coming to my favorite topic of SRT ... well, from his rousing innings in the first two ODIs, he seems to have suddenly dried up. I am not worried coz the only thing wrong with SRT was his mindset and if that changes, sooner or later, the runs will flow as consistently as they did. The long layoff is evident by some of the shots he plays even though his first two innings seemed magical. One shot was a charge down the wicket and a cross batted slog against Vaas which resulted in his off stump flying out of the ground ... SRT has charged the quicker bowlers before but he usually does not completely miss the ball as he did here .... rust, nothing else. It seemed unnecessary bravado but then when it comes off it results in a six or a four ... the man has played shots like this before and successfully ... so lets just give him time.

This post of mine might be a bit mixed coz I started writing it after the 5th ODI (I think) ... and today I am continuing it on the day the first ODI against SA is currently in progress. So bear with me ... office pressures.

On the bowling front, one thing strikes me ... Sreesanth seems to be a millionarire kind of bowler ... he comes up with good deliveries every now and then but then bowls a hit-me delivery every now and then too. He needs to improve on his control and it would be good if he does that coz with nice run-up and delivery and the pace he generates (upward of 140), he is a very good prospect ... but he also has to learn that in his first few matches, going at 6 per over will not matter too much ... but he better start learning fast coz there r many others who r waiting ... the fun part about this whole Chappell way of doing things is that for every spot, there r more than 2 possible contenders and that is good. Sreesanth has to remember that there is one Zaheer Khan sitting out of the team who might be back anytime. In my opinion, Zaheer has a much much better chance of making a comeback than Ganguly simply coz a Zaheer with a different attitude will be a very big asset to the Indian bowling line up. A Ganguly with a different attitude will still suck at batting. Anyway, there r those who think Zaheer has been targetted simply for being Ganguly's boy but to those I say this - Bhajji, Sehwag and Yuveraj r Ganguly's boys too ... they r in this team coz they r able to follow the stadards laid out by the boss. In Zaheer's case, look at it this way ... look at his old tapes when he was new and bowling 145 kmph ... look at his tapes of couple of series back. U can see why he bowls 135kmph now ... loads of fat ... a huge butt ... he really doesn't take this fitness thing seriously ... u can see that just by comparing the Zaheer of 5 years back with the Zaheer of today. That when he is a young man ... its not as if with old age, his fitness is also coming down ... he oughta be peaking now ... he isn't.

Still on bowling, can someone tell me where RP gets his pace from? I mean, he is pretty well built and all but his run up and delivery doesn't really suggest great pace and he clocks 140 + on the speed radar.

On Ganguly (since I mentioned him in the previous para), he scores two ducks in the Duleep finals ... lol ... both times falling to Zaheer. Hmmmm, Ganguly's boy??? LoL - here is Zaheer trying to make a comeback into the team and if he has to run over Ganguly in the process, so be it. Good for Zaheer. Bad for Ganguly coz Zaheer is definitely a class bowler as he has shown many times ... one good knock against an attack led by Zaheer would have gone a long way in showing people he still had it in him.

On Ganguly yet again, Ranatunga shows off his stupidity / whatever u want to call it in an article titled "India should learn to respect its heroes" - - in which he says the treatment given to Ganguly is bad blah blah blah ... I wonder how he wanted it handled? Have Ganguly in the team till he decides he wants to retire? Ganguly has a very simple job before him and that is to follow the set of guidelines given to all the players in the team by the coach in terms of fitness and fielding ... make runs in the domestic circuit to show he is in form (and no, one hundred, one 14 and two ducks does not show he is in form of any kind). That is the problem with the Ranatunga types ... they themselves stuck onto their seats for far beyond their expiry dates simply by being captain or being influential in different ways ... they naturally can associate with a guy like Ganguly whose only claim to be in the team today is that once he used to make runs. Geez!

Finally to end this post with reference to an article from Harsha Bhogle. I used to admire his writing a lot in the beginning but then there was a phase of time when Bhogle became a terrible fence sitter ... he would decorate his articles with extremely flowery language and use plenty of beautiful expressions but really wouldn't give his opinion one way or the other on many issues. Anyway, in this article - - Bhogle talks about some "pitiable" person writing some "crude" banner which reflected badly on Ganguly. Sigh, Harsha ... u r so right but I would have respected u so much more if on the day in SA a couple of years back, when Ravi Shastri said "Sehwag is not fit to tie Tendulkar's shoelaces", u had said even one word of support for Sehwag or indicated in any way that Shastri was out of line in stating that. Shastri did not make any banner that day but while u couldn't do anything about the banner in Ahemdabad, u could have done something about Shastri's comment ... but then calling some fellow in the stadium as "pitiable" and calling a Shastri or a Gavaskar the same would be two different cups of tea ... u don't have the nerve for that, do u??? Apart from that one instance, there have been instances time and again when ur co-commentators, whether it be Shastri or Gavaskar or Sidhu have bad mouthed or made cruel fun of players ... and u sat alongside them and pretended nothing happened. I agree u urself didn't say anything but when u can't comment on the Shastris and the Gavaskars and Sidhus, really, it is pathetic to make a comment on some spectator in the stadium who puts up a poster. And believe me, the contents of the poster in Ahemdabad were a lot more creative than "Sehwag is not fit to tie Tendulkar's shoelaces".

Ok guys, the first ODI just finished at Hyderabad with India losing to SA ... I guess I will end my post here. Maybe post after I see highlights or maybe later.

Anyway Cheers ... and keep coming back.

BTW, check out the blog ... the guy is really Ganguly-mad.


The Chuckster

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

before the pune ODI

There was King Midas who had the gift of turning everything he touched into gold. Then there is Greg Chappell who suddenly seems to have developed the Midas touch. Just like the Indian team was looking ragged in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, they look razor sharp in this series and man, is everything clicking for the Indian team or what?

They send up Pathan and he delivers the goods! They send up Dhoni and he delivers a knock out punch. SRT has suddenly become ten years younger and Bhajji is again looking like the spinner who gained such a reputation in his early days.

Firstly about Dhoni … I can’t wait to say this but I know I will get plenty of flak for this. Man, is this guy’s cricket ugly or what? Sure, when u hit 10 sixes in an innings, it doesn’t really matter if u r pretty but seriously, some of those shots had me going “ewwwww, man that sucks”. He does have raw power though … I think at some point of time he must have fluctuated between playing cricket, golf, hockey or tennis and when he finally decided on cricket, he carried over some style from his other passions. Some of those shots he hit in Jaipur were clubbed so hard the fielders are lucky the ball didn’t go in their direction else they might have been duty bound to try and stop it. As for his sixes … LOL … the first two over covers were amazing simply coz of the power behind them … it isn’t easy to hit them where he did … even SRT and Sehwag who go for sixes on the off prefer to cut it over point or third man for six where the momentum of the ball does most of the job. Even Sourav Ganguly, whose come-down-the-track-and-hit-over-covers shots were breathtaking used to get into a good position by moving his feet to the correct position … Dhoni on the other hand just stayed in his place and swung the bat hard … the ball kept traveling.

I will say this though. As much as his innings was impressive in its audacity and power, it did nothing to convince me that he will succeed against any decent attack in even mildly helpful conditions. He doesn’t really have a great technique … it is more of hand-eye co-ordination and that works fine when the pitch suits batsmen and the bowlers keep pitching it up … but a bowler who can move the ball will eat him for dinner … unless the ball gets old or the pitch becomes too flat in which case Dhoni will eat him for supper. Anyway, the man is young and he can learn … there is no rule which says he cannot learn how to counter the moving ball … and if he does that, he will be devastating. Today, in my book, he is just impressive and for those who are comparing him to Gilchrist, forget it! He is good … but not that good!

SRT gave his wicket cheaply in Jaipur but suddenly, there is a spring in his step and a freshness about his batting which has been missing for so long. It is like he put down a burden he was carrying for so many years and suddenly discovered he can straighten his back and stand tall again … he really hasn’t aged as much as he thought he had. Personally, I think the reason for the sudden change is two-fold. One is the straight talking Aussie named Greg Chappell who might have given him an honest opinion of the same type he gave Ganguly … only where he told Ganguly that he wasn’t good enough, he might have told SRT that he was just plain stupid. In the Chuckster’s opinion, SRT has been shooting himself in the foot for the past two years in the guise of becoming responsible and being senior etc. In true Indian tradition, all the people he spoke to, including former players named Sunil Gavaskar, would have patted his back and told him that a genius like him could do no wrong. Enter Mr. Chappell and to the same question, he might well have told SRT that he was making an ass of himself. Even before the series, there were talks of SRT moving to the middle order and that might well have been spelt out by Chappell to SRT … “listen mate, I need a hitter up top and if u can’t do it, u better let someone else handle it”. Frankly, if the first three matches of SRT’s return are any indication, Chappell needn’t worry about a hitter up top … they don’t come any better than SRT in current form. Even in the third match though he went cheap, really it was the rust that showed up … sooner or later he was bound to screw up coz he has been out of cricket for so long. The ball from Vaas was wide and SRT could either have left it alone or moved his feet some more … he tried to stand his ground and swish at it and paid the price … personally, am glad it happened in the third match and not in the first.

This “back to the SRT of old” approach leads me to wonder if his lousy batting of the past two years was indeed due to his own mental cobwebs or if he has paid the price for being “little Mr. Perfect”. People have talked about injuries taking their toll on his body which may well be true … but the recent layoff, from my knowledge, has been purely from the tennis elbow point of view … so injury cannot be the sole reason for the change in approach. He hasn’t had a back operation, he hasn’t had a toe operation, he hasn’t had any operation except the surgery for tennis elbow treatment. Even in his interviews, he has soundly condemned those who questioned his change of approach as “those who don’t know much about cricket” and has advocated his changed role in the team as a senior batsman who should play responsibly. Leads the Chuckster to ask one question - Who defined that role and responsibility for SRT? Did team management in the form of Ganguly and Wright dream up this strategy? Did SRT formulate it on his own and if so, why didn’t team management have a say in how the best batsman in the team approaches his cricket? Was SRT playing lousy cricket coz of “team interests” as defined by team management? Was SRT happy playing the way he was playing or was he just being the “complete team man”?

The above paragraph reflects badly on Wright and Ganguly but isn’t it so amazingly apparent that SRT is a different player under Greg C and Dravid’s leadership? Just to cover all bases, let me detail yet another theory which could account for the change … and I am not giving the theory just for the sake of giving it but I keep wondering about this and so just putting my thoughts on paper. Maybe it was injury after all … but not in the way we are thinking. Maybe injury did make a big difference to the way SRT approaches his shot-making and he adjusted to prolong his career … after the layoffs at different times over the past year or so, maybe he just had enough of it. Maybe he realizes that he has no control over his body wear and tear and someday, sooner or later, he just has to accept reality that his body is no longer upto it. And once that realization came, maybe he just figured – hell, dunno how long it lasts but as long as it does, let me enjoy myself out there and to hell with the safeguarding of the body by cutting out the shot-making and the aggression. Let me play the way that will make people remember my last days on the field even if my body breaks down next year.

I would love to hear SRT’s real take on the matter some day … in some auto-biography, maybe! Coz whatever I have heard from him till date … well, under Greg C, he is contradicting himself completely.

Dravid has been getting a lot of praise from all quarters for his captaincy and frankly, he seems to be a more active on-field captain than Ganguly ever was. To his credit, he has tried to make things happen both while his team is fielding and batting … and luck has favoured him. Also, his team has supported him well and for that reason alone, it is celeberation time. I was afraid that it might take time for the Ganguly hangover to go and Dravid might face opposition from within his team. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet or I am yet to see it in whatever TV coverage I am catching.

This brings up the tickling issue of Ganguly and a possible place for him in the team. As long as SRT was being thought of as a middle-order option by the team management, there was always the possibility of Ganguly making his comeback in his favorite position. Now with SRT going great guns at Number 1, suddenly there seems to be no need for Sourav Ganguly. Whether u bat Sehwag at Number 2 or 5 (as the Chuckster advocates), u still don’t a place for Ganguly. Assuming Kaif becomes fit for the next set of ODIs, the first seven (including Dhoni) select themselves …. SRT, Sehwag, Dravid, Yuveraj, Kaif and Venu. Ganguly’s supporters (and Mr. Navjot Sidhu has suddenly become one … as my friend “S on Cricket” pointed out in a comment) have already started looking at the fringe players to push Ganguly’s case. In a program yesterday, Navjot Sidhu ripped into JP Yadav (wonder what the poor fellow did wrong) and kept asking how a JP Yadav can fit into the team when Ganguly could not. Well, Mr. Sidhu …. JP Yadav can bowl a good wicket to wicket line that Ganguly cannot (or would not when he was captain … might change now that his ass is on the line); JP Yadav can be sent at number 3 or number 7 or number 9 according to the plans of the captain / coach which cannot be done with Ganguly without the media and all of Calcutta raising Cain. JP Yadav can be kept as a super-sub which Ganguly cannot without *sigh* the media and all of Calcutta raising Cain again.

The reason for the *sigh* above, u ask? It is because India have hammered SL three consecutive times and some people are still attacking JP Yadav and burning Pranab Roy’s (selector from East Zone who is taking flak for not getting Ganguly into the team) effigy. Anyone have any doubts still why India cannot adjust to the likes of Greg Chappell?

For those who are questioning JP Yadav, Venugopal Rao and Murali Karthik’s place in the team as a point in favour of Ganguly’s inclusion, all I can say is – “How the mighty have fallen”! There was a time when Ganguly used to be our top ODI batsman … now we r wondering if we can push the kids aside to make place for the guy … everyone realizes that on form, Ganguly cannot challenge any of the players he ought to ideally challenge for a spot, considering his experience and position …. Hell, if Dhoni hadn’t hit that 183, we might have found Ganguly taking tips from Syed Kirmani and trying out for the “keeper who can bat a little” slot.

I can’t help grinning at one thought … Sadagoppan Ramesh must be laughing himself silly at Ganguly’s predicament. The best opener India had before Sehwag came onto the scene, Ramesh’s career was cut short coz of Ganguly’s whims and fancies … he just didn’t fit into the “team” that Ganguly was trying to form. There are those who say Ramesh’s “lack of team spirit” attitude went against him but if Sehwag, Yuveraj, Bhajji and Zaheer can be in the team, then there is no reason to give that as a reason. Probably (just a guess here), he might not have given Ganguly the “respect” due from a player to a captain … we might never know the reason but that might well be the “attitude” problem Ramesh had … lack of runs certainly wasn’t a problem. Now to see Ganguly kicked out for not being part of “team” plans … man, that must be sweet music to Ramesh’s ears.

The Chuckster has in the past commented on Ganguly’s role as career maker or breaker. There were those who supported the power given to Ganguly on the arguments of “Ganguly is making the team … so let him do it his way” but the Chuckster has always maintained that while Ganguly has every right to support players and give them a long run, he doesn’t have the right to take away chances from those he doesn’t like or those he doesn’t feel are upto mark. It is a thin line between supporting the correct player and discarding the wrong player and no one should have that right to break a career. When Indian cricket plays so many games in a year, any player on the fringes can be given a decent run to gauge his capabilities …. instead of giving some a long run and others “not considered good enough” a shorter run. Let the player’s performance push him into the team or out of it … not the captain’s opinion of him or his capability. That way I like Greg C’s technique better … he sets down the standards and anyone who meets those is welcome to join the game … obviously the role defined for a player comes into the picture but I can’t see him dropping a bowler who takes a decent number of wickets or a batsman who makes a decent number of runs simply coz “he” feels the player isn’t good enough. At least I hope he doesn’t operate that way. There are many who owe their careers to Ganguly … and there r many who owe their lack of a career in the national team to Ganguly … while the former is good leadership, the latter is a bad sign, whether from Ganguly or from Chappell.

Finally, to end this post, a comment from my side on the way this blog takes user comments. I was getting too many spam comments and blogger provides a way of authenticating the user posting the comment is indeed a user and not a spam program. So for those who think it is an irritation, kindly bear with me. It is indeed dis-heartening for me to see “23 comments to ur post” and then realizing 21 of those are pushing pills to enhance some or other part of the human anatomy.

As I post this, the fourth match is on and Agarkar has just bowled a beautiful spell where he got pace and movement and troubled all the batsmen … took two LBW decisions and got a sitter dropped in slips by Dravid.

A final note to John Cook, a blogger from Australia who mailed me to inquire my interest on a blog-link exchange. Sure, old pal ... ur link is up on my blog now. May the cricketing blogging community never stop growing.


The Chuckster