Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Born to make history

This one's for the ages.

When Sachin Tendulkar retires he is going to be associated with zillions of cricketing records. As with so many special things destined for him, here is one more curious association between history of the colonial game in his land and its greatest product here:

If you join the two digits of Sachin Tendulkar's age (in years) at the time of his 1st Test century to the two digits of Sachin Tendulkar's age at the time of his 1st ODI century (in that order) we get a significant year in the history of Indian cricket.

The year is 1721. It corresponds to the 'earliest known reference to cricket being played in India.'

[Check out on the concluding section of this wiki link.]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When losing the plot comes with a clot

There can be n number of ways a captain can lose his head while playing a crunch game. Pic 10 of this series records one of them.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Greg Chappell the great ODI all rounder

Did you know that besides being an all time great batsman the Indian cricket coach is quite Viv Richards-like in qualifying as one of the top all rounders to have played in ODI's?? I never even bothered to check until I came across this Friday column by S Rajesh on cricinfo.

Chappell Jr. has taken 72 wkts in the 74 ODI's he played!! Now I know what makes him bowl so much at the top order men in the nets.

The article gives a reasonable method to judge all rounders in ODI's. Problem is, while the bowling economy rates of players is available on the players' stats pages the batting strike rate is yet to become a permanent feature in those columns...Wisden and Cricinfo, are you listening??

Strike rates and economy rates of individual players are functions of average strike rates / economy rates for that era and need to be viewed as such. You need to make a few adjustments while judging specialist bowlers and batsmen from different generations with those figures. But for the all rounders the relevant figures, as indicated in Rajesh's article, are differentials of batting and bowling figures - and that should essentially cancel out such 'generation gaps'.

Clarification: Players' career batting strike rates are already available on the individual player pages of cricinfo. In the post above I was suggesting their incorporation on statsguru so that we get filtered values of strike rates.
[cross posted on Different Strokes]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

D L F?

In other words, Did Lara Falter as a captain by batting himself, the best batsman, at number nine in yesterday's nail-biter of a run chase against India? Was it overconfidence on his part? Was it poor experimentation? And that's not all - there's another nasty angle: "Was it a got up match?" asked my colleague today. Typical Lara.

The intuitive captain that Lara is, it is likely to be none of those. 'A gamble' is perhaps a more correct call. West Indies have already qualified for the finals and it is quite possible that Lara saw dual benefits in trying out his perennially failing lower order bats at the top in last evening's modest chase. Those batsmen could have gained much needed confidence if West Indies could win without the services of Gayle and Lara. The West Indian spoke about that angle in the post match conference.

Lara kept silent about the other perceived benefit of his experiment though. It would have been 'improper' to make a public expression of it. He reckoned that even the unlikely outcome of an Indian win would significantly bolster India's chances of making it to the finals - which is all very well for West Indian chances of winning a long awaited trophy. Lara's assumption: India can hope for a win against Australia but winning with a bonus point in a knockout match against the full-strength world champs is akin to asking for the moon.

Understandably Lara could not put words on this aspect of his decision making and utter those in a press conference. There's no way a skipper would want Australia to know of the esteem that his team reserves for them nor would he like a wounded Indian team to treat the final as a prestige fight if they reach that far.

It was never going to be an all-win experiment though. The shocking result of that strange batting order jumble means Lara and his top order mates will be saddled with deep worries about middle order fragility in the final match. Come Sunday and we will know if Lara had called correctly during yesterday's lunch break or he was indeed foolish and took too much upon himself as captain and player by making a facile win difficult for a team that was only just getting used to winning.

While we continue to get confounded by skipper Lara's mind and its strange functioning, Tim de Lisle gets bamboozled by some other minds.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's how you field and bowl, dears

You score over 300 runs and lose comfortably. Next time you set 163 and win against the same team playing with 9 batsmen, a keeper and a specialist bowler . I'll have to end this here - I am frantically making a list of all those who ever accused one-day cricket of being a batsman's game, to be handed over to a cricket loving bhai I know. "It's a long time since I broke some bones," lamented the poor guy when I last met him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

He is back

...and across, and forward. He's everywhere on the bowlers' minds. And he's magnificent as usual.

Pssssst.......he's back too, and so is he. All in the same tournament! No wonder it makes someone up there break down so often.

[Pic: cricinfo]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It doesn't get bigger than this...except the hype

Every new cricket series brings with it the next level in marketing of the game. I do not expect to be charged with overstatement for stating that this image provides a comprehensive picture of a world centred around promotion. Not even 24 hours have passed since the English Ashes squad was announced and we have this image splashed across the web. Do not recall seeing anything as dramatic as that during the build up of any recent big series. Not even the last Ashes that is barely a year behind us.
But then, no one expected the 2005 version to be much more than a formality. This illustration, then, is a tribute to the elevation of English cricket team in the domain of public awareness and it is commendable that they have raised such hopes of a repeat dogfight even in the face of losing so many of their 2005 heroes to injury.
There is another team though where half the team does not matter anyway because those players simply do not crave to be the one that made a difference (except maybe against India). They seem hell-bent on clinically removing every remaining reason for the team's numerous ardent supporters across the globe to keep on rooting for them. I must say that they do a pretty good job of it.

Update: Here's an expanded modification of this post.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Those moments of motion frozen in time...

....are what sports photography is all about.
You look at the celebrities and their supporters here.....
....A few young men enfolded by a mystic haze in their own divine world here ....
......Or at this delightful, wonderful collection of magic moments from a cross section of over 100 crore people by Will Luke.....
Each of those gems is a small yet fathomless chapter in the game of cricket told thru a single moment of visual inspiration that was also a magnificent feat of hand-eye (or should it be finger-eye) coordination, a chapter that could not be described quite as well by all the words coined in history.
Seeing is believing, and there hardly was ever a point of time in my existence when I believed in that more than I do now after coming across those pictures. I am glad that I blog about cricket - as that alone allowed me the fortune of getting to them.
Many of those pics transend the sport they depict. It could have been any sport in those pics and I would be as blessed to get a share of them as I am now. But I am just glad that it is cricket in its resplendent 24 carat glow that those snaps reflect rather than another game.
About his passion for cricket pics from the sub continent Will has this to say in one of his posts:
"I still haven't discovered what it is that appeals to me about cricket photos from the subcontinent. I love all cricket photography, partly because I'm an amateur snapper myself but mainly because there's something mystical about "freezing" action into one moment. Perhaps it's that cricket is to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh what football is to Britain. But moreover cricket on the subcontinent appears born from the dust and soil. With the exception of the privileged, children aren't given shiny white pads and a slazenger bat for their 7th birthday; they play with sticks, on dusty tracks, on railways, platforms, mountains and> wherever they choose. It's much more a way of living, of passing time, than it is of playing the game.
That's my blinkered view of it anyway....."
Meanwhile I am still searching for Sunil Gavaskar's email ID. Do Send him these links if you have his contact, as he badly needs this medicine. Things can get from bad to worse if he manages to expose himself to some of the footage from his own playing days while in this frame of mind.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Moin-ud-dowla: a road map to Test cricket for ICC associates?

The Moin-ud-dowla Gold Cup tournament is played over 3 days in a 2-limited-overs-innings-a-side format. The first innings is of 90 overs and the 2nd innings has 40. Excepting a final addition of totals the two innings are treated independently i.e. remaining wickets, overs or time from one innings do not carry over to the next. The one day wide rule is firmly in place.

I read a report where Bengal captain Deep Dasgupta explained some of the rules at the press conference and I must say I like the present format as it facilitates evaluation of talented one day specialists and young club cricketers that may become future first class and Test prospects.

Most of the young talents unearthed at club level are only exposed to the limited overs format by the time big opportunities start knocking at their doors.This is true even for some established Test nations like India and Pakistan. The Moin-ud-dowla format (I do not know if we have a proper name for it), while ensuring a result, can allow budding cricketers to build their stamina, improve concentration and maintain intensity over long periods.

There are a few associate countries of ICC that have a future in cricket but are yet to institute a first class format in their domestic infrastructure. They can implement this present format adopted at the Moin-ud-doula tourney for their apex domestic cricket tournament and maybe chart a path of progress to five day cricket.

Perhaps they will need to expand that limited-overs rule of one bouncer per batsman per over and increase the margin of error for an off-side wide. Wait, wait - some more much required alterations are already rushing to my mind.....
[Cross posted on Caught Behind]

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Aerodynamics of a cricket ball..

The subject often becomes a raging topic following marvellous spells of swing bowling or allegations of ball tampering in international cricket. The cutomary response by e-readers: maybe a few browses across the net after reading a thought provoking article or report on the subject and a blog post with a lot of questions, and that's it for most of us. Imagine a person pursuing the subject for 25 years! Meet Rabindra Mehta, Sports Aerodynamics Consultant and NASA Scientist who makes the effort to share on cricinfo his learnings about the subject.
Thumbs Up mate, we are blessed to have people like you.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Shoaib's 5 years younger than Asif....

The cricinfo bulletin of the 2nd ODI between Pakistan and England (I could follow a part of the English innings and that was it) had a link of player pages. Cricinfo has this nice feature of listing the significant personalities discussed in a report and linking these names to respective personality pages. I casually pressed the link to my blue-eyed boy 'Mohammad Asif' and was horrified to learn that he was a 1971-born! Goodness gracious - age is the last similarity I have in mind when I keep saying that Asif reminds us of Glenn Mcgrath.

But then the reality strikes: our grandpa Asif is yet to play an international match. It was after all a minor linking error that allowed an Asif namesake his unexpected turn under the spotlight. And no wonder it happened - I counted 12 Mohammad Asif's in all on the Pakistan players' list. All was well thereafter and I slipped into my own
Asif's player page.
Update: I cannot resist myself from sharing with you a potentially fatal thought that (fortunately) never occured to me during the precise period of shock described above. I may not have survived the damage if an image of former Pakistan fast bowler Aqib Javed had surfaced in my mindscape while I was still trying to digest the extreme advanced age of Asif.
Allegedly born in 1972 (and having started the rather easy job of fast bowling at first class level in the 1984-85 season aged 12 - right, t-w-e-l-v-e), Aqib happens to be younger than the 1971-born Asif.
Was Aqib Javed born aged five? I can't say - and that's a pity as that could have explained his rather 'early' start and likewise departure (he was spent by the time he was '26'). But he sure could have knocked me off for a round hundred; I take this opportunity to announce that the previous post was the 100th one on Pavilion View. Cake's on the way...and with it we will celebrate this new lease of life for your blogger friend. you'll agree that the landmark's far too innocuous when weighed against a narrow escape.
[The Aqib Javed info was pointed out in an earlier blog comment at a different forum as an 'intergalactic incredulity' by Jay, a cricinfo reader friend and supporter of Pakistan cricket team.]

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Mindless, bordering on heartless

Cricketers of this era are turning out to be an an ill-advised lot - and we say this leaving aside controversies, politicking and on-field issues of cricket. If not for the game that gets increasingly beyond their control, the players can surely do better for the environment - and for themselves.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bad time to be a fast bowler

.."in the 2000s, fast bowlers average more than 32 per wicket, while in the last five decades they touched the 30-mark just once. In fact, to find out the last instance when they gave away so many per wicket, you'd have to go back to the 1930s, when they averaged 32.89."

S Rajesh laments the dwindling stock of fast bowlers in the new millennium, with 2004 being the worst year for them in post war history!

"Since then (2000), the runs per wicket for pace bowlers has always been on the wrong side of 30, with 2004 being an especially poor year - their average of 35.15 is the worst for fast bowlers in any single year since the war."
Not surprising at all, not surprising at all. Morning showed the day ahead during the new Year Test of 2004 when Brett Lee registered a double century of conceded runs in the Indian 1st innings at Sydney.