Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The man who blew it

Greg Blewett was a batsman of calibre and grace. One look at him trading his stuff and you would nod in appreciation of sighting a quality player armed with an unmistakably Australian batsmanship . Not cementing a place in the Australian team is an understandable regret for him as he quits first class cricket. It was not unfair though, because his performances wavered too badly to displace any of the players to sport baggy green for long periods over the past decade.

The abiding memory of this man must be his partnership with Steve Waugh in the 1st Test against Springboks at their backyard in 1996-97. The best fast bowling attack of the world were denied a wicket over a whole day's play. It was wonderous for Indian fans to see a young player score that series-defining double hundred at Jo'burg against a team that all but gobbled us up in our first test there, the Boxing Day Test of the preceding series a couple of months back. [For the record, India were all out for 100 and 66 in that match. That 66, however, had a memorable side gain for India - it highlighted the abilities of a fledgling Wall that remained unbeaten on 27 in the rout with all other batsmen returning single digits.]

In some ways Greg Blewett was quite like Stewart Law. Both appeared on the international cene during the late 90's when Aussies were steadily gaining ascendancy in both forms of the game. Both had a lot of obvious ability of the eye pleasing variety. Both were part time bowlers of the partnership breaking kind. And both failed to achieve the heights they looked like reaching when they started out.

It matters little though. Greg Blewett feels he has done his best, and that is all that he could do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Best Batsman in Bangla

"I had confidence in Mashrafe [Mortaza]. To me, he is the best batsman in the team.." - Shahadat Hossain.

Exactly what I wondered about for a moment as I learnt of Mortaza's 4th day heroics against Indian bowlers. Since he made those head turning 30 odd runs to upset New Zealand in a World Cup warm up match Mashrafe Mortaza has shown more than decent batting ability whenever his team has needed it. His knack of knocking a furious cameo under pressure is the stuff of a genuine all rounder in his early days. While his methods will keep him miles away from the "Mr. Dependable" tag, his talent at belting leather makes itself obvious in innings after audacious innings.

I'm waiting for the day when Mashrafe is going to pull his team over the line against a big team in an actual ODI. Life will never be the same again for the young man as he will then be a star. Make no mistake, he is already a very good bowler. In his subcontinent though nothing succeeds like batting and ODIs.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Return of the jaded


I hope you still remember me. I can list a few reasons that have been keeping me away from regular blogging over the past month. Some of them are foolproof but I hate to lie to you so I must confess that the biggest reason is unfortunately a continuing lack of urge.

I am a quintessential blogger in the sense I just cannot make a post unless I feel like. For some mysterious reason I am totally blank in the mind at present. I cannot pinpoint the reason. It may have resulted from a sudden upping of ante on the job front, or from travelling distractions and family commitments for most of the past month. It may even be the brand new camcorder that is taking a lot of my spare time. More likely, the mind is still recuperating from the twin shock of Brian Lara's departure and Indian World Cup debacle.

Whatever be the reason, the end result is that no words or images fleet across when I think of making a cricket post. I do not remember a single instance over the past 2 years of blogging when "the bloggers' fog" has clouded my thoughts for such an extended duration.

So all that I can serve up is the link to a nice new blog I just found. It makes for good reading for cricket lovers, especially in India. Chances are you will like some of the posts in it.

Of all the posts I surfed through in that blog the part I loved most was a four line verse that whistles off an impassioned post in celebration of the return of Amit Bajaj's idol Sourav Ganguly to the Indian Test squad last December.

"...One man arrived to stop the kill,
With a bat of wood and a heart of steel."

Priceless. I wish these lines to kindle the hearth of a bankrupt blogger.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Every doc says she's sick and yet....

BCCI woke up like Kumbhkarn in the Ramayana (too late, that is) and declared they would be taking drastic steps. Soon they realised that they perhaps had already taken one of them by promising to act tough even before they had a plan in place. They subsequently called for suggestions to restructure Indian cricket from ex India skippers and asked them to meet. It was a second drastic step because till that date ex-skippers were a breed that got remembered only for medal distributions at jubilee celebrations of various state cricket boards and for filling up vacant NCA Director posts (the latter even had an elementary cut off criteria of 400 + Test wickets or 10000+ Test runs).

The invitations to ex-captains of Indian Cricket Team were official upon hindsight, because the ex-skips actually acted on it (the NCA issue need not be brought up again in this context). They met and solemnly came up with a few logical yet not-too-rare points. This post is not an exploration on the action points coming out of that meeting. Rather we take a look at some of the opinions that spontaneously came across in response to the distress signal that the invitation to skippers sent ever so silently to many who either love Indian cricket or love to think about it.

[For all you know that not-fully-cured infection of ABCD - Acute BCCI-ian Cyber Diarrhoea for the uninitiated - may have resurfaced at an appropriate time. In simple non-medical words, an invitation email for 'f1 Indian Cricket' may have customarily got leaked and ended up in mailboxes of an interesting cross section of cricket folk across the world.A decade or two will surely pass before that cyber disorder issue comes up on the BCCI uncles' list of 'drastic steps needed' areas.]

Here's a nice triplet of instances. Old Indian cricketer (& incisive cric blogger) V Ramnarayan, old Indian foe Allan Border [that constitutes another ABCD: Allan Border's Cricket Discussion] and old Indian friend John Wright have all come out with their perceptions of the do's and don'ts facing Indian cricket. These pieces are all roadmaps for Indian cricket circa 2007 with a surprising similarity of style. The likeness of presentation is all the more striking as they are coming from three dissimilar people separated in time, space and upbringing.

These articles, read over the past week or so, evoke a deep sadness in me. Those pieces incite a feeling that my dear IC is in the ICU and a set of three doctors, doctors that we think are pretty dependable and without malice towards the patient, are dropping in uninvited from various corners of the world to offer their take on the drastic steps needed to resuscitate the ailing patient. All of this happens while the officially appointed internal medics mull over an action plan to get their patient out of the precarious position.

The unison in opinion that these docs have with each other and with the internal medics is desperately bad news for all ears aching like mine to pick up the smallest bit of good news on this patient for quite some time now.

Sometimes you have to smile to yourself when no one else allows you to. So until the day there is reason for genuine rejoice I take delight to imagine what this sick patient can do to her craft if her vigour, even in this condition, is what the world still seeks to draw from.