Monday, September 28, 2009

Spin it to win it

They used to say that South Africa was the deathland for spinners. There were as many good spinners in the SA team of the 90's as there were fish in the Dead Sea. It slowly started changing since the middle part of the current decade. The pitches in SA did not change much. However the spinners around the world have gradually started realising what Shane Warne always demostrated when he used to bowl in Australia and South Africa - that bounce could be as much an ally of spinners as turn.

The modern spinners have since worked with an objective to use the South African bounce. The bigger grounds in South Africa (certainly bigger when compared to the average sub-continent ground) compliment the spinners in taking help of the extra bounce. The great return of spinners in the 2nd edition of IPL showed that a new world awaited quality spinners in Springbok Land.

The available results and team performances in the current ICC Champions' trophy, in particular the India Pakistan match, spell out in no uncertain terms that the show from a team's leading spinners is going to decide the team's progress in the qualifying stages of the trophy. And with pitches likely to get more ragged durin that phase, the better spinners are likely play even more important roles in their teams' progress as the tourney nears its business end.

There is also a possibility of the script unfolding in a different fashion. The bounce is likely to go out of the pitches in latter stages. It will take some adjustment for the spinners to adopt more of a sub-continent approach (more turn, less bounce) to avoid being found out by batsmen.

Eleven XI's

I found some thoroughly enjoyable selections in the eleven greatest XI's in ODI's.

Some of the nippy comments made to support the various selections:

Brian Lara (in All time World XI): "Not many can guide a waist-high Waqar delivery outside off-stump over fine leg for six. Fewer can make a massacre look beautiful."

Glenn McGrath (in All time World XI): "No bowler makes batsmen more doubtful of their judgement. He wrecks confidence in inches. He knows that two inches are all you really need."

Azharuddin (in The most elegant XI): "The Nizam batted like one. We must display his wrists in the Salarjung Museum (after he departs, of course)."

Bishen Bedi (in The most elegant XI): "Sent the ball on a beautiful loop, which, long after the batsman had departed, left a rainbow on the pitch."

David Gower (in The most elegant XI): "(C) If Michelangelo were alive, he would have sculpted this David, in cover drive position."

Glenn McGrath (in the most boring XI): "What a great bowler! And with just that one delivery: the ball swinging away a wee bit from the off-stump."

Ravi Shastri (12th man in the most boring XI): "That this man once hit six sixes in an over in a Ranji match makes us believe in miracles."

Jonty Rhodes (in the fielders' XI): "Do we need to explain? Was the first superstar of fielding. He redefined the art. He did to fielding what the Wright brothers did to transport."

Shane Warne (in the Fielders' XI): "Despite the fervent text messaging, his fingers were always up to the responsibilities of fielding."

Wasim Akram (in the Left handers' XI): "Because we swear we saw him bowl an inswinging outswinger. And because he planned—and succeeded at—a dismissal involving a set batsman and a full-toss."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

National Anthem by South African Singer

I thought this was a rather sweet rendition of the Indian National Anthem by a South African singer. This guy did another good job some time earlier with the Pakistani national anthem as well. That is when I decided to record the Indian anthem from the telly with my camcorder. I liked it enough to upload it on youtube.

FUN FACT: Notice how Ashish (Nehra) and (Rahul) Dravid appear both in the words of the anthem as well as in the video, but in converse association! Ashish Nehra appears on screen as the anthem goes "...Maratha DRAVID Utkal Banga", while Dravid appears on screen soon after the anthem goes "taba shubha ASHISH maange".........

The two ODI comeback men probably needed to swap their positions on the queue to make more appropriate tele-appearances in tandem with their names getting sung as part of the national anthem. After all, not everyone is fortunate enough to have their names in the national anthem - ask others in the Indian cricket team.

Holding the hands of greats

A little over 20 years back, I was dreaming of becoming a national level cricketer some day who could play 70 odd Tests and finish with 300 wickets and 3000 runs in Tests. That dream disappeared pretty soon afterwards.

Before start of the 2009 ICC trophy India-Pakistan league match today, the players of both teams were escorted out by young boys and girls. Some of them, including Sachin, were actively chatting with the kids who were holding their hands as the cricketers walked out into the ground. These kids were much the same age as I was when I used to harbour those Test cricketing dreams. Actually even Sachin & Dravid too would have been of similar age in those days. They are a little more than a year older than me.

They - Dravid, Sachin and other great cricketers like them who are close to my age - too must have had those dreams, and they have since done enough to go ahead and live their dreams. In fact, some of them have done so much that it is a dream for kids of same age of present times to be walking hand-in-hand with a Sachin or a Dravid and find him not only smiling but also showing a keen interest to chat with them.

And why just kids? The old fella in me turned back the clock at that sight and became the cricket enthusiast of yore for a fleeting moment. I felt goosebumps at seeing kids getting a chance to hold the hands of some of the greatest cricketers today. I envied some of those kids when I found them being indulged by cricketers of the stature of Sachin. Even at this stage of my life I could have done with such an unforgettable minute or two of indulgence!