Having seen Mohammad Yousuf back in the news, this is the train of thought that went through my mind:

“He’s been out for nearly 18 months, but still feels he has plenty to offer to the Pakistan cricket team…I’ve been out for nearly 9 months, but I still feel that I have ‘plenty’ to offer to the cricket blogosphere”.

Yes, I’ve never really been a very regular blogger, largely due to the fact that I’ve been too lazy to do anything whole-heartedly.

Also, it’s always been a little dispiriting, churning out posts but having only a handful of people viewing them, let along commenting on them.

However, looking at the success of fellow bloggers like Jarrod and Leg Side Filth, and having followed their blogs even during the times when they were not so famous, I realized something….these guys kept churning out good content, even though, initially, there weren’t a lot of people commenting. However, due to the fact that they never gave up and continued, they are where they are now.

Therefore, this shall be my last comeback…I promise to update this blog at least 2 times a week, though the possibility of more posts is likely.

Therefore, I’ll start with a short note on the West Indies-Australia test series:

I couldn’t really catch any of the action on TV, largely because of the late nights spent at work.

However, I was eagerly following the live commentary, and the signs were encouraging from West Indies’ point of view.

They seem to have a very very good bowling attack, with Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach, and Ravi Rampaul leading the attack with Darren Sammy, the unassuming skipper, for support. They also have some good spinners in Shane Shillingford and Devendra Bishoo (the potential of Sunil Narine is unknown since he’s at the IPL, but from the amount of spin that he imparts on the ball, it can be confidently said that he will be a more successful mystery spinner than Ajantha Mendis was). 

However, as has been the case for quite a  long time, their batting has been disappointing, with the exception of Shiv Chanderpaul and, to a certain extent, Narsingh Deonarine. They seem to be prone to frequent collapses. 

To a certain extent, such shoddy batting was covered up, during the limited over series, by some superb power-hitting from Sammy, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell.

However, I don’t think that such power-hitting would cut it in Test Matches, where you need guys batting for longer periods in order to get good totals.

Therefore, if West Indies are to have a chance of at least winning a Test in the upcoming tour of England, the batting definitely needs to pull their pants up. It’s not gonna’ be any easier there, with England’s highly competent bowlers and the balls swinging in all directions.

Though the WI bowlers will have a good time there (not so sure about the spinners), the onus is gonna’ be on the batsmen, who will have to deliver if WI are to put up a fight!

I only got to know of the “Ian Bell run-out incident” itself when I got onto the Cricinfo mobile site.

Yes, the incident is unfortunate and did bring back memories of a match in 2006, when Baz McCullum took off the bails when Murali completed his run and then went to congratulate his batting partner, Sangakkara, on having reached his century. He failed to notice that the ball hadn’t been returned back to Baz. Everyone appealed and it was given out and Fleming didn’t bother revoking his decision to appeal. That dismissal cost us a fair bit as Murali was providing good support to Sanga,who would’ve stretched our lead further to ensure that the Lankan bowlers had more to bowl to in the final innings of the match.

It was the same here, except that Bell had packed in his gloves to go have his hot cuppa tea.

However, this incident was worse because there was the clear egging by Morgan, who has always displayed himself as a very street-smart player, to get back to his crease, all of which went unheeded by Bell.

The umpires asked Dhoni whether he wanted to keep the appeal on, to which he replied in the affirmative.

However, what makes this whole “recalling Ian Bell” incident farficial is this.

Strauss and the coach, Andy Flower, had the nerve to go and ask Dhoni whether he wanted to keep the appeal as such.

Did they really have to be a pair of babies to go and ask Dhoni to return the toys which he stole from them?

Naturally, Dhoni wouldn’t have wanted to be cowered by the demand made by the two, so he said that he wanted to discuss it with the team. The booing by the crowds, as well as the possible negative opinions which may have been formed of him (as if bad publicity about the preparation for the tour wasn’t hard enough to handle), would’ve persuaded him to overturn his appeal.

Besides, how bad would it look if, despite a personal appeal, he didn’t revoke his decision? People might even go to the extent of misconstruing it as disrespect for the two Andys.

Therefore, enough with the praises from the ECB and the ICC about how “the spirit of cricket was upheld by the two teams”.

That’s rubbish!

There was much more at stake for both teams than the Spirit of Cricket (it eventually proved to be less for England as Bell added a further 22 runs before actually getting out), so they decided to revoke it. I don’t think no-one’s conscience felt the pinch!

So, get over it, everyone, and focus on the great batting display being provided by the Englishmen!

I have an admission to make which will keep the marketers away…

I normally don’t post the nonsense which people usually ask me to do so on my “esteemed” blog via e-mail. Just hit the delete button and move on with life.

However, this video, which was sent by a James Fick from Rubicon, the official drinks sponsor of the English T20 competition, was too good not to post (no, I wasn’t given a free case of drinks for plugging Rubicon!)

It involves Murali and Swann being given a challenge, whereby a drinking glass is placed on a stump and a 50p coin placed on the edge of the glass. Whoever manages to knock the 50p coin without touching the stumps or the glass wins.

1. Pulse questions

The IPL website guys keep coming up with some hilarious questions to ask on their website.

As an example, for some reason, Robin Jackman seems to have accumulated a cult following during this year’s IPL. It might be because of his genial way of commentating.

One of the questions asked during a match, when he was commentating, was “Would Jackers have been a force in the IPL?”, to which an overwhelming majority answered yes. In another match, to the question “Is Jackers prophetic?”, there was a huge majority saying yes!

Yesterday, during one of the matches, Harsha Bhogle asked Simon Doull whether New Zealand players were nicer than Australians, to which the obvious answer came “yes”! Later in the match, when Brad Hogg was commentating with Simon Doull, the IPL Pulse question was “Are New Zealand players nicer than Australian players?”, to which 88% answered Yes (I’m able to remember the figure since it was such a hilarious question). Doull fell into fits of laughter, while poor Hogg was speechless….all he could say was “I love Indian people”!

 

2. Brad Hogg

For some reason, the commentating team for this year’s IPL seems more tolerable than previous years…

Actually, let me rephrase that : the IPL commentators this year aren’t the type who talk for the sake of talking.

However, there are still a few of those type remaining.

Most notably, Brad Hogg has been absolutely unbearable. He seems to be in a permanent state of excitement (looks like someone’s been put just adrenaline in his water glass instead of water itself) and has a really unbearable accent which makes him sound like an NFL commentator (I have no idea how that comparison came about, that’s the first thing that came to my mind).

Yes, there’s Danny Morrison as well, who has been in a permanent state of excitement since IPL 2008. However, he doesn’t always resort to stating the bleeding obvious all the time. Instead, his excitement does provide for some good entertainment.

It really IS difficult to describe why, but I just can’t seem to stand Hogg’s commentary…maybe it’s because of the combination of ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ and ‘hyper-excitement’ that makes him terribly unbearable.

 

3. Lack of crass commercialism

This IPL has been much more entertaining than the previous year. A number of reasons for this:

-          No ads in between overs

-          No flying balloon

-          No sight of Lalit Modi on TV

-          Lack of crass commercialism in general.

Also, the introduction of the ultra slow-mo camera has made the whole viewing experience much more enjoyable. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole ultra slow-mo technology and the IPL has fed me an overdose of it!

Also, the hiring of Archana Vijaya to the IPL panel has made the viewing experience much more ‘enjoyable’! ;)

However, I do find one of the presenters extremely annoying. There is one called Shabnam, who comes on with an extremely fake accent and asks pretty lame questions. Knock off the accent, ‘gal!

4. Chris Gayle

How does he do it?

This guy is so laid back, he doesn’t have to take any effort when hitting sixes. Even I find it difficult to hit sixes when playing with a heavy wooden bat in softball cricket!

I like watching sixes where there is a genuine effort made (see Paul Valthaty).

I don’t enjoy watching sixes made by guys like Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Kieron Pollard because they all seem to be what we call in Sinhala, “kanaa shots” (lucky shots).

However, there is an altogetherly different pleasure in watching Gayle hitting sixes.

Perhaps it’s the lack of emotion he displays when hitting sixes. From his reaction after hitting a six, you’d think that he’s just played off a dot-ball.

Leave all the poetry aside, I want many more Gayle-storms!

 

5. Kumar Sangakkara

Some ( I suppose, many) will curse me for life for saying this, but I’m secretly happy that Sanga is failing as a captain for the Deccan Chargers.

This hate might seem a bit surprising, considering the fact that he led us to 2 ICC event finals during his captaincy.

However, what really irked me was when people started ‘mourning’ the loss of ‘one of the best leaders we ever had’ when Sangakkara resigned as captain of Sri Lanka.

Come on, anyone who properly observed his fielding tactics and team selections would realize that he doesn’t really have the tactical nous and the likes, which are pre-requisites for captaincy. Yes, he was a good speaker and all, but being able to speak nice and diplomatically doesn’t qualify you in any way as a captain.

Most of the tactical nous that he displayed as Sri Lankan captain was the input obtained from Mahela Jayawardene, so Mahela was actually the captain from 2006-2011, albeit the unofficial one for the last 2 years.

Therefore, I wanted Deccan to lose as badly as possible so that people can realize that, even with a pretty good team, he’s not really all that good unless he has Mahela by his side.

However, Mahela is just unfortunate to be captaining a side which was selected without consideration to the possible team combination. The players whom the team management selected during the auction were mostly the rubbish ones. For some reason, they let most of the good guys go.

Despite the fairly rubbish side that Kochi has, Mahela’s still managed to get them to 5th place, which is 2 places above the Deccan Chargers. I shudder to think how dominant the Chargers would have been if Mahela was put in charge of them!

Personally, I would have had Cameron White captaining the side since he’s been an extremely successful captain with Victoria, leading them to the final every year in the Australian T20 competition ever since it started. Yes, he’s been pretty scratchy with the bat, but a super captain for a shit batsman is a damn fine trade, I say!

The return of Sourav Ganguly to the IPL …

Let me tell you one thing…

Sourav Ganguly is the KING of comebacks!

You have someone like Ajit Agarkar, who has made so many damn comebacks to competitive cricket that everyone keeps calling him the King of comebacks.

But this guy, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, when he makes a comeback, he makes it count! (go back to December 2006 and IPL 2010)

His recall in December 2006 to international cricket coincided with one of India’s greatest moments in test cricket (India winning their first ever test match in South Africa) and his recall as captain of Kolkata in IPL 2010 saw him become the 4th highest run-scorer with 493 runs in 14 matches and saw the team missing qualification to the semi-finals due to net-run rate.

However, his reputation was tarnished big-time earlier this year when he went unselected in the auction (despite fellow old-timers like Dravid, Gilchrist and Laxman being selected). To rub salt into his wounds, this was after he had jacked up his starting price to $400,000 (from $200,000) after having been promised by a certain franchise owner that he would be picked up by them.

It all descended into a farce when someone wanted his name to be put up for a second round of auctions but no-one bid for him then as well. Subsequent attempts by Kochi to rope him in was also dashed by the other franchises.

However, he’s now back in the IPL, albeit with the man that ‘disgraced’ him, Subrata Roy. Funnily enough, as one article on Yahoo! Cricket mentioned, he’s back in the team which is being captained by a player who was brought into the Indian team by him!

Bengal’s love for Ganguly

I had the good fortune of working with a person from Kolkata on a project. When I asked him whether the public disappointment and outrage over Sourav Ganguly’s non-selection by any franchises was real or whether it was just over-hyped by the Indian news-channels.

He said that it was very real and that there were actually protests against Ganguly’s non-selection by the franchises.

He then told me of a match he had attended in the currently ongoing IPL. When I asked him whether it was easy to get tickets, he said that it wasn’t a problem at all. I was surprised at this. He then mentioned a line which showed how much Bengalis really loved him.

For every empty seat at Eden Gardens, there is a Ganguly fan out there who can’t accept a Kolkata team without Ganguly.