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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Egg on my face?

I sent in an opinion piece to rediff (Ivan Crasto and Prem Panicker) to be carried on Rediff. This was an opinion piece I got inspired to write after reading this sentimental piece carried on Rediff some days back.

Don't know whether they carry it or not ... they never reply whether they will. If they do carry it soon, then man ... will it be a case of bad timing or what ... coz a certain Mr. Tendulkar, who scored his 41st ton today is featured a lot in my article.

Anyways, a ton here or a ton there doesn't really matter .... SRT is good enough to get a ton or two even when far from his best ... my article is not really about his performance but about the stupid adulation these chaps seem to get. But I know I will get feedback saying "so eat crow, dungbag". LOL!

I will put up the piece here on my blog if not carried by tomorrow. Since I wrote it, why waste it even if Rediff doesn't want it.

BTW, this guy who wrote the earlier Tendulkar piece ... hey, he got it on Hindustan Times too ... check this out. This one shows some editions that Rediff seems to have made ... of course the Rediff editors seem to have done a more polished job of presentation.

Looks like India will win the 4th ODI ... as I write this WI are 176/8 chasing India's target of 340 odd. Great ... all the cricketers will be heroes again.

Chalo cheers guys

The Chuckster

Friday, January 19, 2007

SRT as vice captain ... and Greg C's reappointment

SRT become the vice captain of the team to "support the captain with his vast experience" ... hmmm, I thought he was already doing that all this while since he was the senior most cricketer in the team ... at least that is what everyone led us to believe.

A vice-captain has to be someone who could be a potential captain ... Sehwag was seen as such a candidate and hence his position as vice captain made sense ... similarly, Dravid as vice-captain under Gangs made sense. Now, after 7 years of declining captaincy aspirations and clearly stating his distaste for it, our man SRT in the latter stages of his illustrious career, decided he could be the one. Make no mistake, if he doesn't want to be captain, then accepting to be vice-captain at this stage will only be problematic for Indian cricket. If one has to sack Dravid after the world cup, will one make Sehwag / whoever the captain and retain SRT as the vice captain? Sounds dumb even when I say it.

Anyways I have never been a fan of idiot Sanjay Jha of ... but this one was worth reading - read his article here.

Another one from cricketnext -

This guy says - Why renew Greg's contract? ... Hmmm, this is the first time I heard of someone talking about renewing Greg's contract ... where did he get his info from or did he just have no other idea for an article and so hey, anything on Greg C always sells!!! LOL

BTW, the world cup would be a month long affair at best ... India might win it or they might lose in the prelims / quarters / semis / finals / whatever. Question is - whether Greg is a good coach or not and whether Dravid is a good captain or not ... does it really depend on that one month period when the players might / might not be in form ... the bowlers might / might not click ... the batsmen might / might not be middling the ball????

Really, the Chuckster thinks - Greg and Dravid have had more than an year together ... we, the public only get to see the matches when they r played and focus on the results. To judge the captain / coach, the board really ought to assess whether the two have given the direction to Indian cricket that should have been given? Is the path on which they have pointed Indian cricket correct? If yes, then they have succeeded irrespective of whether India wins the cup or just reaches the quarters. If no, then irrepective of a SRT / Gangs streak of runs taking India to a cup victory, these guys should be out.

Definitely, the result at the world cup should not be the decider ... hell, 1.5 years of hard work judged by one month of games in what is cheerfully called as "a game of uncertainities".


Gangs as opener

The best opener India has ever had in the shorter version of the game, is back in business.

Firstly my stand - I think Ganguly being kicked out of the team was just and proper. I think today's focussed and determined Ganguly is simply coz his ass got kicked out and if he had been captain for the past year or so as he was for the past five, he (as a player) would have been pathetic today.

BUT ... as things happen so strangely when a certain Sourav Ganguly is concerned, he made good in SA ... and at the same time, seems to have planted himself squarely in the opener's slot for the ODIs.

See, Sehwag as an ODI opener was never on ... u just have to see his career stats to see that in the ODI game, he has never even been close to playing "great" innings which he could justificably claim in the test arena. A career average of 32 odd ... hell, Gangs at his peak was around 45 ... and when we talk averages, this difference is H-U-G-E.

Breaking the Ganguly / Tendulkar opening combo was probably what started the downslide for Ganguly as a batsman. Sure, the thought behind it was good ... to get one of the SRT / SCG guys into the middle order to bolster it ... while Viru makes merry up top. Sadly, neither did SRT / SCG succeed in the middle order, nor did Viru up top. Gangs, who has had a knack for his hunches coming off, should have also have learnt one important lesson - learn to back off when something don't work.

Anyways, Gangs is back ... more so because of the young turks failing than his having done something great in the domestic circuit. However, seeing his SA peformance, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Ganguly proves equally proficient at getting his groove back in the ODIs. Dunno if he will still be able to come down the wicket and spank the fast bowlers over the top ... but hey, with Ganguly I can believer anything and everything.

Here is to u, Gangs dost .... on song, u were India's best ODI bat ... here is hoping u re-create the magic.

As for SRT moving down, I really don't know if that is necessary. Yes, Robin Uthappa has done well in the domestics, but with 8 matches before the world cup, can be really make a spot his own? If he fails, then what? Sehwag again? Or SRT up top again? The way I see it - the credentials of SRT and Gangs as openers r not in question at all ... they would have been a safer combo to go in with so close to the world cup ... unlike Sehwag who is good for a quick 30 and not much besides that, both these guys have the capability to play big innings (note - here I do refer to the past ... today, whether either SRT or SCG can play the big hundreds is a question mark). Assuming Yuveraj comes back from injury, he will surely take one slot ... compared to the Rainas / Mongias / Kaifs, I definitely have more trust in a 85% fit Yuvi than a 100% fit others. Dravid at 5 would always be my favorite coz during the Gangs regime, he showed us all how good he was at that position.

The Uthappas and the Gambhirs can be played ... but the opening could make or break us ... I really would like to see a SRT / SCG combo coming out. From reports in the media, I doubt if that will happen.

Pssst ... u know what I really am scared of? If Uthappa and not Sehwag goes in as opener for the world cup, Gavaskar will have a field day cribbing whenever Uthappa fails (as he inevitably must, even if he does well ... hell, everyone fails sometime). He will make comments like "You have Sachin Tendulkar who has 14000 ODI runs and 37 centuries and who has opened successfully for India in countless number of matches ... and yet, a Robin Uthappa who makes a couple of tons in domestic cricket replaces him as the opener ... I cannot understand this logic ... blah blah blah blah". Of course, he will be much more muted if Sehwag is opening alongside Ganguly coz irrespective of the Chuckster's opinion of Sehwag as an ODI opener, at least the world seems to consider him an "explosive opener who can take the match away from the opposition if he clicks". Sunny can't carp too much about him as he could about Uthapppa.

Anyways ... take care, guys!


Racism and all that ... and Gavaskar

I found this one very funny .... it seems "animals" is a racist comment. At least from what I can get from the media reports, Gibbs has been banned for a comment callinng the Pakistani players or spectators (I am not clear as to which exactly) as "animals".

Ummmm ... "basturd" is not a problem ... "muther focker" is not a problem ... "focking indian bustard" (from what I could lip read of Nel in the SA test series) ... but "animals" is a problem.

Then our own Sunny Gavaskar was at it again! He prides himself on being the biggest deshbhakt ... his rants about the "Indian cap" r enough to make one puke ... still waiting for the day when he says "I am ashamed of the BCCI refusing to call this an Indian team ... and terming itself a private club and hence not responsible / answerable to the govt directives" ... of course he won't say that ever since that would be the end of all that lovely money he makes from the BCCI by being the consultant and advisor and chairman of various BCCI thingies at various points of time.

Anyways, Sunny bhai's rant can be understood fromm this para cut from this article -

During the course of the third and final Test earlier this month, it must be pointed out, Barry Richards had written a column in a South African newspaper which had enraged Gavaskar no end. He even wanted the entire media to confront him for writing that the South African team too was showing 'Indian fragilities'.

"In the South African context that is definitely a racist comment too. What does he mean by Indian fragilities," Gavaskar had thundered in Cape Town. "Such stereotyping of people and communities is just not on," he told TOI on Monday evening.

Barry responded by saying that maybe he should have phrased his wordings as "Indian batting fragilities". Well, he could have but when a cricketer is talking about cricket, it is really understood what is meant! Only a nitpicker like Gavaskar could have picked this one up and made a fuss about it.

My opinion of Gavaskar has never been good (as a commentator or judge of cricket ... coz he is too biased) and things like this just increase my irritation.

Some days back he had written some other article wondering who shoudl be punished for Pathan's situation .... in typical Sunny fashion he didn't take names but made it clear he means Greg Chappell. Well, sure Pathan's batting capabilities were made full use of by the Chappell / Dravid regime but I doubt if either of them told him not to focus on his bowling. Pathan loses his swing and with that his bite ... and "someone" is to blame for it? Not Pathan?

I am waiting for the day Sunny Gavaskar becomes the coach of the Indian team ... firstly, I think he will never have the balls to do that coz right now he can sit on his high horse and criticize everyone and everything and sound righteous and patriotic at the same time. If he becomes the coach, he will become accountable ... and I doubt if he will let that happen.

In all likelyhood Chappell will get the boot after the world cup ... he has made few friends and his way of doing things has not produced the results he (and we) had hoped for. I still believe the Chappell way but I am sure the Indian board / public will not have patience to let the results come ... for them, they results have to come "today". So surely, he will be out coz there is no way I can see the Indian team winning the cup ... and anything short of that will be met with "oh hey, even last time with the Gangs / Wright combo, we made the finals ... what is to shout about in getting a semi / final place in 20007".

Sunil Gavaskar ... I really hope and pray u get the job. I would enjoy that sooooo much!


The Chuckster

Nehra - the forgotten man

I was reading this article - about Ashish Nehra - and the thought that came to mind immediately was the difference between him and Zaheer.

Both were out roughly at the same time and for roughly the same reasons - fitness / attitude / form etc. While Zaheer slogged it out in domestic cricket, got fit, went to England, got fitter and returned to the team with impressive performances, Nehra went on record (about an year back) to ask for "senior players" to be taken back into the team once back from injuries, without having to prove themselves all over again.

Basically the guy wanted to waltz into the team coz he has bowled well for India in the past ... and yes, he has done that. So has Zaheer. And so has Ganguly played well for India in the past. These guys, on the other hand, choose to work on their shortcomings.

Ganguly hasn't really tightened up his technique or waved some magic wand ... he has just brought his concentration and focus back to his cricket. This was good enough for him to come up with good performances in SA ... and hopefully as the opener for the WI series and the world cup, he will do better still. Zaheer cut his butt size to about half of what it was when he was kicked out ... and the results r showing. A sharp 145 kmph bowler when he came into the team, he was trundling in at 120 - 125 when he went out. In SA, he was bowling regularly around 136.

Nehra is not in the list of 30 ... but really, the 30 is only important till the world cup and that is almost here. The question in the article about this being the end of the road for him was really stupid ... around April, the world cup would be over, and this list of 30 would be in the dustbin. Then it would be a free for all, in terms of the best players competing for slots. Since the new chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who gets impressed with what one did in 2003, I guess Nehra better start delivering on the field. Thankfully he has not given more statements about his views on "established and senior cricketers".

Interesting times ahead, I think! What with SRT as vice captain and Gangs looking as first choice for opener (Chuckster's view - he should never have left the opening slot in the first place). But those r topics for different posts.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

SRT - observations

Just an observation or two about SRT!!!

One - In his first 16 or so years in international cricket, he has faced a lot of fast bowlers but has always managed to play them well ... and he has never gotten hit. In the past year or two, he has gotten hit on the helmet by Shoaib Akhtar, Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken and Andre Nel.

Two - SRT seems to have added a stroke to his repertoire. He always played delicious cover drives on the up but that shot is showing up lesser and lesser nowadays. But in the last two tests, he has played a new shot two times - a cover drive down on one knee .... with an exaggerated follow through. Looks nice but nothing to beat the "on the up" drives he used to do at his peak.

Three - Again, SRT doubles up as he gets rapped on the pads in the second innings of the second test ... like he does nowadays so often to show the ball kept low (while the other batsmen don't find this amazing low bounce ... only SRT does). You must have seen it countless times in the past couple of years as his wickets will go tumbling behind him. This time however, hawkeye shows that the ball might have just rapped him a bit too high ... it might have missed the top of the stumps and so the umpire might not have been too accurate in handing out that decision. While that means SRT was done in by a wrong decision, it also means that the doubling up indicating the ball keeping low is indicative of getting beaten and trying to do something to cover it up.

Cheers guys

The Chuckster

Monday, January 01, 2007

Quick and dirty post - Jan 1, 2007

I write this on the night of 1st Jan ... a day before the third test between SA and India.

I have watched a lot of this series and while I have not had time to blog (ok I had time but didn't blog ... I admit it), let today make up for somme of it.

First my opinion of the game as played over the first two tests. One - the Indian bowlers r doing a damn good job ... they r not really as excellent as is being made out but they r doing damn good. Second, the Indian batsman are a)stupid and b) do not have a backbone. I don't care if Laxman has two fifties, SRT one and Ganguly one ... I frankly do not care.

Laxman's second test effort was really pathetic and Ganguly's effort in the first test, while being extremely brave and all that considering the circumstances of his return, reeked of stupidity. I hear many people talk about how they were the only ones who actually contributed (the websites on the net actually were conducting polls about whether Ganguly after his showing should be re-instated as captain .... sheesh) and seeing that everyone else just wilted and died, we should give credit where credit is due. Bullshit, I say. Simply coz Laxman / Ganguly is a top order bat who is supposed to be makinng runs irrespective of whether the others score or not ... I mean, laxman scoring and Ganguly / SRT / Dravid scorinng r really mutually exclusive. If one trotted out the excuse of "Ok so Lax didn't score but look at SRT" or "Ok Gangs scored 4 but hey, even Sehwag made 1" for everyone, then we just cannot blame anyone ... and if no one can be blamed, I can only assume everything is hunky dory. Is it really?

Laxman and Gangs batted with the tail and I truly appreciate that. I also appreciate that they absolutely made no effort to take charge once the tail started coming in. In the second test, Lax scored 50 simply coz the tail had the balls to stick it out with him ... he didn't see anything wrong with taking a single off the first ball when he was facing and taking a sinngle off the last ball when the Kumbles, Sreesanths and VRVs were batting. Hey, it was the same in the first match with Gangs around. Then VRV swung his bat to good effect and in the second test, Sreesanth made a few good runs. What is important to recognize is that VRV's effort in the first and Sreesanth's effort in the second were flukes ... they could as well have made 0 ... and being number 10 and 11 batsmen, their contributions can only be looked at as bonuses ... what was needed was for the Laxmans and Gangulys to have taken charge ... taken the bulk of the batting ... batted smart instead of batting hard. VRV won't succeed every match and neither will Sreesanth ... and the respectability these guys scoring gave the total score will not be available every match ... but neither Ganguly nor Laxman really seemed to think that hard.

That was the stupidity part (didn't include Sehwag in the stupids list coz his efforts have not been due to stupidity ... just "koyupu" as we say in Tamil ... "cheek combined with smugness" in english ... )! The "don't have a spine" part doesn't really have to be explained ... one can just look at the scorecard. I remember thinking to myself when SA declared on the 4th day around tea time ... Ok, if Sehwag strikes, we win this one ... else we lose. I knew right then we wouldn't be able to save the match unless there was rain or terrible light or something like that. I also knew that despite my contempt for Sehwag's attitude, he was the only one who could really take India to a win .... Dhoni probably could join Sehwag in this list but for all his dashing batting, he still has a long way to go before he can help win a 300 plus match .... ask him to hit a quick 40-50 in the end, and he can probably match the best among them ... in the second test, a victory for India really required a ton for someone ... and Dhoni is not really a ton guy yet ... Sehwag is ... in fact, Sehwag can hit a ton, douoble ton or triple ton ... depends on whether he really gives a damn ... right now I don't think he does. As for the SRTs and the Gangulys ... their days are past and while SRT might last much longer on past glory and Gangs might last some more time coz he simply won't die without a fight, it is really dumb to look on these guys for something on the scale required in the second test .... they could never do it in their prime ... definitely they won't be doing it on their way down the mountain of fame.

I could keep writing but reading what I have written uptil now, I realize I am rambling a bit. It happens when I try to cover what could be written over 10 posts in one single post ... so let me try to put a couple of paragraphs on different topics and end this one ... if I really continue on this blogging, I know the quality of the posts would improve ... ;-) ... as Gavaskar says (about SRT mainly ... and so I don't know if this is a compliment) - Form is temporary but Class is permanent.

About Gangs return, all I say is - best of luck to him! I personally would never have brought him back in the test team but this was to be expected considering the performances of the Rainas and Kaifs and Mongias. Raina might be learning a lot and it might be a temporary phase in his life where he simply doesn't look capable of scoring but he is not going to get the rope a Sehwag or SRT or Dravid has earned over the years (Sehwag has long spent the rope in the ODIs but that is another story). Actually what we must also remember is - Ganguly returned to the test team coz the young turk brigade of Chappell and Dravid got thier butts whipped in the ODIs and do not show any signs of fighting back. Strange, isn't it? Well, that is the BCCI for you!!! Anyways, irrespective of being stripped in the second test and irrespective of what he does in the third, I fully expect his name in the squad for the world cup. If not for any other reason, simply coz of the "hey if gangs scored 1, sehwag scored 0 ... why talk only of Gangs" factor. In fact, Gangs has much mome possibility of succeeding (not his peak years definitely, but maybe better than the Rainas and Mongias ... which is not a compliment considering what he once was) in the ODIs ... the laws of the game will give him the protection he needs. For those who point to his showing in the first test, let me just say this - he showed determination and courage .... he tried playing as straight as possible ... he showed more commitment than he has shown in the past three years .... but lets not kid ourselves that his technique is any better than it ever was when he was kicked out ... the difference is in the determination, not the technique.

About Laxman's return as is being said in many sites and columns where they talk in the same breath about Laxman and Gangs adding experience to the team .... well, he was never out of the test team, was he? What I really liked was his promotion to the post of vice captain. For the much needed kick up Sehwag's butt that this appointment gives .... and for giving Laxman a big big dose of confidence. For a man who in the last proper ODI series he played (in Australia when india toured under Ganguly ... that was when he really played as a "regular" member ... irrespective of any odd matches he might have played since) scored 3 tons against the world's top team, it must really be a confusing issue as to what exactly is required from him. Personally I think if we cannot fit Laxman in the first three then he cannot play in the eleven ... but considering that in today's scenario, SRT is the only confirmed member in the top three slots (someone look at Sehwag's career stats that tell more about his ODI capabilities than any bunching of matches over the past six months, one year, or since the last world cup ... whatever criteria the channels keep showing on TV to show his "bad form" ... what phucking "bad form"??? While his record in tests is deadly, in ODIs he has never even been good ... wait, don't curse me ... first look at those career stats), Laxman really should have been on that plane to SA as part of the ODI team. Not coz he is a great ODI batsman coz he isn't ... but coz there is an open spot in the top three ... and Lax can fit in there very nicely indeed! As for the "he can't field" argument, all I can say is "look at Munaf Patel field ... at least Lax is 30 plus ... here we have a youngster in his mid twenties ... nopes, the "cannot field" argument is out of the window as long as Munaf can be accomodated. If the team was overflowing with talent, one could be choosy ... not really today.

Finally about Vengsarkar's appointment as chief selector, I think we have an Indian Chappell from all the statements he is giving ... pulling no punches, is our colonel. If Vengsarkar were not in SA, Pathan's return to India in the middle of the tour would have been the starting of more parliamentary debates and we really need our parliamentarians to be focussing on more important issues like planning the next worthless bandh and whether the name of the state should be Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand. Chappell's experiments, while having the Chuckster's wholehearted support for its "kick them out of their slumber" flavour, have really brought in very few results which is really what the public wants. With Vengsarkar around, hopefully we can fit in Chappell's hard headedness with some common sense (his statements uptil now have made sense ... he hasn't hesitated to call a spade a spade).

Finally for the third test, there is speculation that Dhoni could miss out coz of bruised fingers ... and that Sehwag could be dropped for Gambhir ... and VRV for Munaf. While it might seem drastic, I really think Dhoni should play as a batsman ... if he cannot wicket keep but can bat. He has been one batsman who has not backed down from a fight in this series and while he is as reckless as Sehwag is, currently the rub of the green is going for him as far as batting goes ... and while on potential I would retain Sehwag (hey, he could give India a double ton tomorrow), on being conservative I would retain Jaffer (I am sure he will make his customary 20), purely on form I would pick Dhoni above them both. If he can bat, that is ... Dinesh Karthick has to keep if Dhoni's fingers r bruised coz we simply cannot afford to take the chance of anything popping out when he keeps ... but as a batsman even if heh doesn't score a ton, he could still contribute more than what Jaffer / Sehwag look to be doing today. Gambhir has to come in ... no doubt in my mind on that .... he got one chance in a practice game ... he grabbed that chance .... now the regular openers have screwed up twice, u have to give this guy a shot.

Cheers for now. Have a happy new year ... and be safe, all of you.

The Chuckster