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, February 21, 2007

captaincy records

I have never been too hot on TOI articles ... and neither on statistics coz I always believe they don't give the complete story.

But I found this one interesting. I am not vouching here for the stats shown in the article ... I have not checked and I am not gonna check it either ... but if correct, then it is pretty interesting.


The Chuckster

************************* ARTICLE IN QUESTION ********************************

Dravid has best ODI success rate among Indian captains


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NEW DELHI: With the World Cup around the corner and the top eight teams gunning to lift the most coveted trophy in the West Indies, there is good news for Indian skipper Rahul Dravid. Statistics show that the 'Wall' is India's most successful One-day captain among all those who have captained India in at least 20 matches.

Under Dravid, India have won 32 of the 58 matches that have produced results during his tenure. That's a success rate of 55%, just a little higher than the 54% success rate that Sourav Ganguly, Mohammad Azharuddin and Kapil Dev had. This may seem like a fine point, but the statistics actually understate how much more successful Dravid has been than his predecessors.

That's because, of the 62 One-day matches in which Dravid has captained, only two have been played against a traditional minnow — Zimbabwe in 2005 — while the rest have all been against the top teams in world cricket.

In contrast, Ganguly had 31 wins against the likes of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia and Netherlands boosting his success rate and Azhar had the benefit of 20 wins against the whipping boys of international cricket.

Exclude matches against the minnows and Dravid's success rate drops to 54%, but Ganguly's goes down to 43% and Azhar's to 49%.

Only Kapil Dev, with a 51% success rate against the better teams, comes close to matching Dravid's record.

Kapil, in fact, has a better record leading away from home — excluding minnows — than even Dravid. On foreign soil, Kapil won 49% of the matches he led in, whereas Dravid has won 10 out of 23 completed matches for a 43% success rate. That put's him in third place behind Gavaskar, who had a 46% success rate with 11 wins in 24 matches.

Ganguly's record abroad (23%) is the worst among the six captains who have led India at least in 20 matches each.

Azhar has the best record at home (excluding minnows) with a 65% win rate, but Dravid is not far behind at 61%. On this list, Ganguly finishes in fifth spot, ahead of Gavaskar, who could captain India to only 14 wins in 35 completed matches.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Sehwag's run out in final ODI

It was a dumb way to get out ... but then I don't really think it gives us any new reflection on Sehwag's attitude ... it is not as if he didn't get into the crease coz he doesn't give a damn. I think it is just an Indian habit to be careless .... even at the end of his illustrious career, Azhar used to cross the line carrying his bat in the air while taking a run ... and many a time replays have showed that had the ball hit the wickets, he would have been out not coz he was far away from the crease line but just coz the bat was in the air. The same is true of many others ... hey, I have even seen Dravid do the same many a time.

A friend of mine pointed out a parallel with the New Zealand guys running out Muralitharan who was rushing to congratulate Sangakkara. They called it unsportsmanlike then ... and the call was almost universal ... the Black Caps r cheaters. Legally they were in the right ... but from the point of view of the spirit of the game, they were wrong.

I personally think there could be no parallel to this case and Sehwag's run out. Firstly Murali had completed the first run ... and while his mad rush to congratulate Sangakkara might be uncalled for, at least the run had been completed and the keeper can always say "hey I thought he was going for the second", even if we all know it wasn't so. In Sehwag's case, he was lazily walking across the pitch to the other end after guiding the ball to third man ... the throw from third man was a nice, looping throw coz no one was really thinking of a run out ... when Sangakkara collected it, Sehwag was about 5 feet away from the crease line at the non-striker's end ... he was strolling towards the crease with his back towards Sangakkara ... and Sangakkara hesitated just a fraction of a second before lobbing the ball towards the non-strikers end ... and when the ball hit the stumps, Sehwag had almost turned towards the keeper's end again ... he was just planning to turn around to see if the match was still on, I guess ... :-) ... his feet had not yet touched the crease line ... and technically speaking, the run was not completed coz unless he crosses or touches the crease line, the run is not complete.

If a man crosses the crease line ... and maybe strolls out to pat down an offending blade of turf on the pitch or so, one can say "hey it is not on to try and run him out". But if the guy taking the run has not even reached the crease line, it is definitely a run out ... look at it this way - by running out Sehwag, Sangakkara actually saved a run for Sri Lanka ... coz Sehwag had technically not completed the run.

Anyways ... when lady luck is not on ur side, these things happen. It will be an interesting world cup to watch, for sure.


The Chuckster

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The WC 20007 team

There was a time when I would have made this post five minutes after the team was announced ... how things have changed!!! Better late than never!


Keepers - First time probably that a squad is selected with two keepers and having realistic chances of both playing in a match ... one as a keeper-bat and the other as a bat.



The wild cards

When I see this team, a few things strike me. The most obvious being the return of Ganguly and Zaheer as the spearheads of the batting and bowling attacks respectively. How things change and who could have imagined this a few months back? U can't keep a good man down and these two just go onto prove it - though I prefer to say - "You can't keep a good man down but sometimes u gotta kick his ass to get him up".

The team is looking pretty decent right now and if the wild cards can settle themselves somewhere, this will be one team to reckon with. SRT and Ganguly while not exactly setting the Thames on fire, are looking better match by match. Uthappa seems to be having trouble with the short one but just like one can't make a reputation in two games, neither can a reputation be torn in two games. The pitches in the Windies are not really going to be the pacy, bouncy type (at least going by India's last two visits to the Windies) and with some work, he shoudl be able to handle all but the best of short pitched fast bowling.

I somehow dislike Dravid coming in at 3 every now and then and wonder why he can't see how good he is at 5. Experts keep talking about him coming in at 3 to provide solidity and anchoring to the batting but in a 50 overs game, who needs anchoring? In a test match, yes, but in an ODI, all he does it something a lesser mortal can do .... and towards the end, as he showed in the third ODI against SL, the new improved Dravid of the past two years is an excellent choice for No. 5 ... "he fits like a glove" ... "he is made exactly to measure" - to borrow two dialogues from a favorite movie of mine - Fiddler on the Roof. He can improvise ... he doesn't really panic and can see the game through ... and he seems to have added some "big hit" shots to his armoury in the past couple of years ... things u could never imagine from the Dravid of some years back.

Anyways, Sreesanth is lucky to be in the list considering he bowls like a millionaire in the ODI game. The rest of the bowlers were automatic choices once they were all considered fit ... the only missed bet in this could be Ramesh Powar ... he has outbowled both Kumble and Bhajji in the last few months in the chances he got ... and if current form and merit were the only criteria, one of the two stalwarts should have missed out. Unluckily for Powar, reputation played a part.

Reputation also brought Sehwag a second world cup call up. Based on form, he would be behind both Uthappa and Gambhir if considered for opener position.

That is another confusion I have here .... I thought Sehwag was being positioned for the middle order (the Chuckster has been hollering for two years now that Sehwag should be shunted to No. 4 or 5) and he goes and opens in the 3rd ODI against the Sri Lankans. If he had come up with a 60 odd in the game, the cat would indeed be among the pigeons. The point is - Uthappa has gotten some chances at the top and he has performed reasonably well to expect him to be the opener. Now if Sehwag were to hit a 60, it would in no way answer the question as to whether he has a future as a ODI opener (look at his career stats), but it would definitely put the pressure on the team management to make him bat up top. Then what happens down below - can Uthappa fill the slot below? He has never even been tried down below while Sehwag knows what it is like to bat in the middle order.

If u look at a realistic 11 for the WC among the team selected -

Gangs - 1 or 2
Mr. X - 1 or 2
SRT - 3
Yuveraj - 4
Dravid - 5
Dhoni - 6
Batsman 7 (Sehwag / Kaarthick / Uthappa) or Pathan
Four bowlers

If batsman 7 is taken, then we go in with 4 regular bowlers and if Pathan is taken we go in with 5 regular bowlers and still not compromising too much with batting. I think it is too close to the world cup start now to expect Pathan to be one of the main bowlers ... it is either fifth bowler (all rounder) for him or nothing.

While the line up above is risky in terms of Yuveraj being woefully short of match practice, what is the option? Once the 15 is selected, one has to make the team of 11 out of it. The only way to sideline Yuveraj in case he looks shaky in the practice games would be to play both Uthappa and Sehwag .... one up top and the other in the middle.

So who will be Mr. X - I would personally keep Mr. X as Uthappa simply because Sehwag if playing as batsman 7 or in place of Yuveraj can bat in the middle ... it would be too much of an ask to bat Uthappa in the middle right at the start of his career and that too at a stage as big as the world cup.

If Yuveraj were to re-discover his touch, I think India's troubles would be more or less over ... sure that still leaves the batsman 7 / Pathan conundrum but I have never seen a perfect line up yet and am not hoping to see one in this world cup. If Yuveraj were to get the touch he enjoyed prior to the second ODI in the Windies where he got bowled by that slow full toss from Bravo (curse ya, Bravo .... curse ya), this team would have a lethal batting attack. However, I continue to be surprised at the vagaries of fate ... a batsman batting like a dream till that full toss handed the match (and the series to follow) to the Windies suddenly loses it all in the next few months .... truly a killer blow but are batsmen so fragile mentally? All it took was one ball ... and the swaggering, confident Yuveraj is replaced by the pusher and poker who looks like he can't finish his dessert any more? Strange game, this!

A lot of people talked about taking two wicket keepers to the WC being unnecessary etc ... and I laugh when we call them experts and hold our mikes in front of them to get some sound bytes. What phucking two wicket keepers? Sure, Kaarthick is no Dravid or Ganguly or SRT but on current form, he is very much as much a batsman as Sehwag or Uthappa or Yuveraj. In the recent past (including SA), he has grabbed whatever chances he got and made a decent if not outstanding contribution. I think opportunists like him is what Indian cricket needs ... so many in the past would have gotten the same chances, made a meal of it, gotten dumped and whined about a lack of proper chances. Kaarthick is an example ... he got a "few" chances ... he took those few chances ... and hey, he is going to the world cup. Ganguly and Zaheer at least were the big names and their coming back on the basis of form was always possible since they had the credentials to back their claims ... Karthick's selection is simply a reward for grabbing of chances ... or a lack of other choices, whichever way u want to take it. Sure, two wicket keepers are not required ... but who says Kaarthick is a worse batsman today than Sehwag or Uthappa or Yuveraj .... or Raina / Kaif / Mongia?

Overall I am happy with the selection ... only wish Powar had made it but that is probably the only grouse. Greg and Dravid have experimented with a whole bunch of guys in the past months and not many have shown themselves to be upto scratch. So when someone complains of A, B or C not being chosen (am sure Sunny Gavaskar will be out with his column soon ... ridiculing Greg Chappell for his failed experiments ... commenting on the selection of Kaarthick ahead of the youth brigade promoted by Greg), we have to ask - what are the choices? In the end, though Raina seems to be a favorite of the coach, if he doesn't look like currently being able to make any runs, there is no point in his going to the Windies ... might as well take Kaarthick who looks like he fits into the International scene, if not like a glove, then at least like a sock. Yuck ... even I didn't like that comparison.

Laxman seems to be unhappy ... but as the Chuckster always said - either he bats at 1, 2 or 3 ... or doesn't get to play. Dravid has developed so much as a ODI player in the past two years ... Laxman could do well to compare himself with Dravid two-three years back .... and today ... and see what a gulf exists today.

Anyways ... fun times r ahead .... one ODI match left against Lanka and I hope they play the 11 they have in mind for the World Cup ... I would like to see how that team performs.

To sign off ... there was this funny comment of Sreesanth commenting on finally having learnt the art of bowling in ODIs and promising not to give away too many runs ... and then promptly getting hammered in the next ODI. LOL!!! Anyways, what does he mean - he learnt??? How did he gain this magic knowledge in between matches ... what took him so long ... and is he never gonna get hit around again? LOL again.

Chalo cheers guys

The Chuckster

Thursday, February 08, 2007

How did it come to this?

I love this dialogue in "Lord of the Rings" when Theoden, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli along with the king's army are gonna ride out of Helm's Deep to meet the orcs in battle. How did it come to this ... such a simple dialogue that conveys so much of helplessness and wonderment.

Well, anyways, I was browsing Prem Panicker's blog and he was commenting about how a simple discussion on cricket turns to abuses and name-calling ... and when did we all forget the art of listening and discussing with each other instead of going for the jugular (not his exact words ... but the same kinda meaning).

Recently I put my article on Rediff about hero worship ... in which they changed the title to something about Sachin Tendulkar. Though my article took SRT as an example, it could have been anyone ... could have been Ganguly or could have been Amitabh Bacchan.

While people may agree with my comments or not, that is their freedom just as it was my freedom to give my opinion. However, what was really disappointing was the way in which people were ready to mangle and tear and swear and abuse the hell out of someone who thinks different from what they do.

I got a lot of abuse ... some in polite flowery language and some in more "to the point" language ... one of the mails, however, stands out in my rememberances. It simply said "I hope you die very soon".

Ok, so they love SRT ... ok, so they don't know me ... ok, so I have not brightened their days by hitting Shane Warne over his head multiple times. But to wish someone dead coz he questions whether the man is still as good as he was ... coz he wonders why a man is being considered god? Ok, so if someone wants to consider him god, he can always say "it is my bloody business who I consider god and I will thank you to take ur nose outta my business" ... but to wish someone dead coz of this???

They r burning Vengsarkar's effigy in UP coz Kaif is not in the team ... Chappell had his funeral procession taken out during the Ganguly-Chappell spat. Very soon, I think being a selector / coach will become a very dangerous job simply coz the fans have scented blood and someday they might just kill someone who doesn't take in the guy from their state.

This is not just about cricket ... it is our attitude and our thinking which is reflected here ... which will soon not be limited to cricket. We are such a diverse nation in terms of languages, cultures, religion etc ... can we afford to be so intolerant?

My post might be considered as making a mountain out of a molehill but somehow this fanaticism scares me ... no, not in the way it will stop me from blogging or from writing articles on what I think ... but in the direction our country is moving in.

I frequently wonder - "How did it come to this"?


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Worthy of commenting on the gods ... err ... cricketers

Rahul Dravid never struck me as being a prize snob but there is something fat-headed in this statement ... if indeed it is not been mis-quoted. See the article here.

So those whose names r in the annals of cricket history only can comment on the demi-gods ... hmmm! To think this Desai guy is a team manager appointed by the BCCI ... LOL ... probably the guy feels like shit right now after hearing Dravid's comment.

Right or wrong is a different matter ... once this guy has been made the manager, his report has significance. Else Dravid should have protested to the BCCI immediately after the guy was appointed ... he should have said "I want only someone whose name exists in the annals of cricket history to be the manager ... since the manager has to make a report and submit it to the BCCI".

It is not as if it is not Desai's job to do this ... right or wrong, he has perceived something and reported it to the BCCI ... which means he has done his job.

Makes me sick, this attitude ... but then we deserve it, this attitude of snobbery by the cricketers towards the common public (Desai's comments and the comments of the general public are now worth the same .... since the public does not figure in the annals of cricket history). U think those guys r gods ... they think u r fools ... LOL.

However, I am sure that if we win the ODI at the Eden tomorrow, everything will be forgotten.

Anyways, Cheers

The Chuckster

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Getting flak ... HELPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!

Whew! I am getting so much abuse (through comments at the bottom of the page and by email) I could get mentally scarred for life ... ;-)

See guys, I knew even when I wrote it that I was gonna get people calling me lots of bad names. I earn a decent bit of money and do not get a single penny from this article on Rediff. They don't pay for "guest columns" as they call it. For those who think I am doing this to get publicity, a dampener - My day to day job has nothing to do with the media and a good / bad response to this article will not get me even one rupee extra in my regular job. So chill, guys!!

I also think that the title of the article contributed a lot to making this a SRT bashing article, which it wasn't really meant to be though it uses his example. As I said before, I put in a different title and Rediff changed it. Pasted below is a mail exchange with the Rediff editor Ivan Crasto over this "title of the article".

Sigh!!! Guess the Chuckster was never meant to be popular.


The Chuckster


From : IVANC
Sent : Thursday, February 1, 2007 7:25 PM
To : "Ranganathan Sriram"
Subject : Re: Your article

| | | Inbox

I agree with what you say, but, from experience, no one will click with just that headline. Just see the responses because of the Tendulkar headline; it would be the same even if it was Sourav or Dravid or Sehwag.

Anyway, thanks a ton; the feedback is good


----- Original Message -----
From: Ranganathan Sriram
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 6:24 PM
Subject: Re: Your article

Thanks Ivan ... I appreciate it.

A request - The title u have given to the article "Love Sachin for what he was" makes it sound like a Sachin Tendulkar article, whereas the attempt made by me is to keep him as an example and talk about hero worship in cricket.

If possible, kindly change the title of the story to "Hero worship - Take a Chill Pill" or something on those lines ... otherwise, even before people read the article, they will form an opinion based on their love or hate for Sachin and reading the article will always be a bit biased after that.

Thanks and regards


Article up on Rediff - A title makes a lot of difference

So rediff put up my article here

I had given the article a title of "Cricket Hero Worship - Take a Chill Pill". Basically the idea of the article, even though it takes SRT as an example, was about hero worship. With the title given by Rediff "Love Tendulkar for what he was", it basically sounds like a SRT-bashing article ... :-) ... once u read the title and form an opinion, it is really hard to change it while reading.

I am gonna get flak .... but I said it as I thought! That is the best I can do!


The Chuckster

Chuck doing a Sunny here - nitpicking

Ok, I am gonna be a nit picker here, just for fun sakes!

There r rules regarding the usage of the national flag and recently there was this hullaboo where sportpeople were asked to remove the national flag from their helmets (SRT and Yuveraj in cricket and Narain Karthikeyan in F-1 being examples). The issue blew away and I guess today no one has a problem with it. The govt wanted to create a fuss ... once it showed its muscle, it thought - ok, lets cool it. It is not that big an issue.

I don't know if it is a big issue or not ... but no problems with that!

However, flags on helmets as a mark of respect or as a means of motivation - as players claims it to be - is all ok. Now that SRT has been conked on the helmet 4 times in the past two years, what happens if the ball hits the flag on the helmet and damages it? If the match is in India, will we arrest Brett Lee or Shoaib for disrespect shown to the Indian flag? Is SRT or whoever, even allowed to put the flag somewhere where it is in danger of getting hit by a 150 mph projectile and probably damaged beyond recognition?

Interesting thought!

Cheers all,

The Chuckster

Amarnath's comment not creating a storm?

Recently Mohinder Amarnath put forward a theory which is not so new in tea sessions at office but never spoken about aloud officially, as on TV and on record.

He professed that SRT was bluffing when he squats down on his haunches when he gets bowled. We have seen it countless number of times ourselves, and wondered why only he gets these shooters. I even pointed out in one of my previous posts that hawk-eye suggested one of those "kept low" balls in which he was given LBW would actually have passed over the stumps. Hawk-eye might not be 100% accurate but at least this tells us the ball was not "that" low.

And there is no screaming, no hair pulling and scathing comments by greats ... it is not that they agree or disagree - it is just that the issue is boring. LOL - if a certain Greg Chappell had made the same comment (just an example - not saying he endorses it), by now the parliamentarians would be asking for his head.

I also wonder - if Mohinder Amarnath had become the coach of the team, when he competed with Chappell and Moody for the slot, would he ever have made such a comment? Yes, Jimmy is an outspoken guy but being in the team management and even thinking on those lines - isn't that a suicide mission?

Cheers all

The Chuckster