Friday, March 30, 2007

Cricketer Bazaar

Imagine being given a jigsaw, with a few pieces missing. As a consolation, you have some other pieces from other jigsaws. This is the kind of challenge, an international manager faces. His club or domestic counterpart can go shopping for the remaining pieces, as long as he has a fair idea, what they look like. All the international manager can do is cut and scrape the other pieces, and somehow try to fit them in. If only, he could trade his extra pieces for the ones he really needs.

Let us for a moment imagine, there was a market, where you could trade players. Purely hypothetical exercise. Let’s set the trading rules first. First, no money to be involved. There's too much disparity in the financial muscle of the different boards. Players for players only. Secondly, only the players currently involved in international or domestic cricket will be considerd. Finally and very importantly, the trade should make both parties better.

What are the potential trading scenarios?

  • Players in the reserves would be readily swapped as long as overall strength improves.( reserve for reserve)
  • A team would trade a team regular, if they have a comparable player in reserve , and a bigger need is fulfilled by the player they get in return.( regular for reserve/regular)
  • A reserve in your side fulfills a pressing need for another team and gives you the opportunity to upgrade a regular.(reserve for regular)

Does the trading option help cricket. Yes it does. One, it helps teams improve in every dept of the game and become more complete. Therefore, it improves the overall competitiveness of the international game. Second, it ensures that a lot of good players, stuck behind a better team mate, finally get to perform on the world stage. An Adam Gilchrist would have found many takers, before the Aussies finally gave him a chance on Healy's retirement.

Let’s now look at the trade scenario for Mr. Greg Chappell.

The obvious trade pieces - International caliber players, presently cooling their heels on the sidelines. VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Kartik, Mohd Kaif, Irfan Pathan, Murli Kartik, Suresh Raina, Wasim Jaffer, Romesh Powar

Immediate requirements - Trade heavyweights - First eleven players , who can be replaced by reserves, to facilitate blockbuster trades. Names in brackets are the guys, who will replace them in case of a trade. Dhoni ( Dinesh Kartik), Sehwag (Anybody will do), Dravid , Tendulkar and Ganguly (I can't see how Laxman would be any worse), Harbhajan(Powar or Kumble). The only untouchables are the trio of pacemen, as we have absolutely nothing in reserve and Yuvraj Singh.

  • A quality opener - even Simon Katich would be a major upgrade.
  • A fast bowling all rounder - somebody like a Justine Kemp
  • An impact strike bowler - how about getting Mashrafe Murtaza or Andre Nel

Will leave it at that now. Let your imagination run wild, and see what possible trades, you can come up with. So my dear readers (the handful , who are forced to read my posts), please, get some comments in.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When Dhoni scored a duck

I went to the same school as Mahender Singh Dhoni. It is the only trivia question , which can be asked about me.Needless to say , Iam a diehard fan.

Our man had already been a match winner on numerous occasions in One day cricket. And when he came to the crease at the fall of Yuvraj's wicket against SriLanka , I was harbouring hopes of an encore.There was an encore , yes, of his duck against bangladesh.As India fell further down the mire, it was a feeling of deja vu for me.

Flashback to 1995. Mahender Singh Dhoni was the superstar batsman of the school team.On the day of the inter-school final against Kendriya Vidyalaya Hinoo , I was bunking classes to see the match. DAV batted first and Dhoni , the youngest member of the team, was sitting on the lap of a fellow player, waiting for his turn as the one down batsman.

The first wicket fell fairly quickly and me and my fellow bunking buddies were suddenly giddy in anticipation of the pyrotechnics that were to follow.Our man strode to the wicket full of confidence ,completely ignoring the dismissed opener.Took his guard , surveyed the field placings and got ready to take strike.

The first ball was down the leg side.Dhoni went across to play a leg glance and as he did so, he lost balance, falling forward and dragging his back leg out of the crease.The bails were off in a flash and he was given out immediately. The Dhoni show was over.There was a sudden hush among the DAV supporters as we sat in complete disbelief.

The match was as good as over for me. DAV had lots of other stars and were expected to romp home anyways.There wasn't any fun in watching the lambs get slughtered.

More shocks were in store. Our star studded line up was bowled out for less than 75 and the so-called lambs finished the game in a canter, with more than 20 overs to spare and 8 wickets left. Shades of India -Bangladesh.

Next year , I was busy with my 12th boards and hardly followed the inter-schools tournament.Well almost, till they got to the finals.It was DAV vs KV once again.It was a time for revenge.We were hoping the guys delivered this time,just to set the record straight.

The revenge was of mammoth propotions. Dhoni opened and carried his bat for around 240 unbeaten , putting on an unbroken stand of 360 in 40 overs. KV were bowled out for less than 100 and the revenge was complete . This was the defining moment of Dhoni's school career.The beginning of a journey ,which has made him an India Superstar.

Back to March 2007.The journey is not over with another duck. Trust me , Dhoni can repeat the entire "DAV- KV" story all over again. He fits the bill perfectly for a modern day power cricketer. He was the first guy to score a double century in schools cricket and dont be surprised if he becomes the first one in one dayers as well.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Brazil or England

The “Vision Plan" of Greg Chappell is over. Heads will roll, fans will mourn, but trust me in six months time, this cricket mad nation will be back to normal. We just cannot do without cricket. As I take leave from being a cricket fan and go back to being a football fan once again, I have been thinking. Which country would be the equivalent of India when it comes to football?

After a little thinking, two countries come to mind and both have strong arguments in their favour.Brazil and England. I will now try to make a case for each country and then decide. We’ll have some parameters and allocate points on each. The scale will be from 10 to 1, with a country getting a score of 10 on a parameter if, they are exactly like India on that parameter.

So let us begin

The country as a whole - Brazil is so much like India. A developing country with strong agricultural base and grappling with very similar issues. Looked upon as a future economic power. England on the contrary is a far developed nation whose growth has plateaued.
Brazil 9 England 2

Passion for the game - Even though both countries excel in various other sports, football rules. It transcends all boundaries, engulfing everybody with the same passion.
Brazil 10 England 10

Playing Style - Brazil like India, favours natural talent and flair. England is more industrious, its strengths lying in physical conditioning and being better organized .
Brazil 8 England 2

Talent Pool - Brazil has a never ending assembly of world class players . So much so , that great players like Deco turn out for other countries, unable to get into the Brazilian team.India would love to have a couple of world class fast bowlers and a genuine all rounder. England suffer from the same affliction, regularly playing players out of position to complete the team.
Brazil 4 England 8

Home and Away -India and England have had their best results at home and have been miserable away. Very few English players have succeeded in foreign leagues. Look at the list of Indians to fail at county cricket. Gavaskar , Ganguly, Tendulkar and Kapil.Brazilians dominate every league in the world and are the only country to win the world cup outside their continent.
Brazil 2 England 9

Domestic Structure - Even with their great clubs, the domestic structure stinks in Brazil. Football is their greatest export as hundreds of young players look for greener pastures abroad.They dont even have a national level league.India and England are a lot better with coaching academies,corporate sponsorships and proper development programs for all age groups .
Brazil 2 England 8

Achievements - There is no doubting Brazil's position as the greatest country in football. England fans are still clinging on to the memories of 1966, not unlike India and 1983.
Brazil 2 England 9

The verdict - Brazil 37 England 48
India England Bhai Bhai

This is the way I see it. You may have a different opinion. Please feel free to give your own rating scores and comments.

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