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    Simple solution to India's bowling problems at the death...

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006
    .. get the opposition bowled out before the start of the 41st over..

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    Ganguly packed and at the airport?

    Courtesy: Cricinfo
    With a recall to the national team in the offing, Sourav Ganguly has prepared for a possible tour of South Africa by giving up the captaincy of the Bengal Ranji Trophy side. The national selectors meet in New Delhi tomorrow to pick the side for the three-Test series.

    From the looks of it, Ganguly is all packed and already at the airport ready to board..

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    Name any sport or Geisha Yells

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006
    The second Ashes Test starts Friday and after the drubbing that England received in the first test , it wouldn't be a real surprise if Monty Panesar gets to make his Ashes debut. The Aussies are going in with just one spinner, but Duncan Fletcher seems keen on playing both this left-arm slow bowlers at the expense of Jimmy Anderson. I just can't understand why Fletcher finds it that hard to drop Ashley. Giles did bat well in the first test, but that is not really what he is there in the squad for.

    In case you are wondering why I chose such a bizarre title for the post, look deeper - "Name any sport" and "Geisha Yells" are anagrams for Monty Panesar and Ashley Giles. Sorry, solving too many cryptics lately..

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    Drastic changes for the test series likely?

    Courtesy: Dileep Premachandran/Cricinfo
    Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir and VRV Singh are likely to be named in the squad for the Tests when the selectors meet on Thursday and, with Rahul Dravid not certain to play in the opening Test, Ganguly could join VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar in the middle order for what is likely to be a tremendous test of India's batting resources.

    I would like to think that Dileep wouldn't have written this if he hadn't had access to some insider information. Dileep thinks it is highly likely that Raina, Mongia and Pathan would catch the flight home after the ODI series and also adds Badrinath's name to the list of middle-order contenders.

    If you go by Dileep's article, you end up with the following the team:
    Openers: Sehwag, Jaffer, Gambhir (Jaffer is definitely the first-choice - Gambhir should just be a reserve option)
    Middle-order: Sachin, Laxman, Sourav, Dravid (and Badrinath as cover for Dravid)
    Wicket-Keepers: Dhoni, Kaarthick
    Spinners: Harbhajan, Kumble
    Seamers: Munaf, Zaheer, Sreesanth, VRV Singh (and Agarkar if 7 bowlers are picked)

    Given Sehwag's indifferent form, the selectors would definitely look to pick a reserve opener - and Gambhir fits the slot. So, if the selectors decide to use the 7-7-2 division, Badrinath misses out and if they go for the 8-6-2 version, either Agarkar or VRV would miss out.

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    Laxman recalled..

    Monday, November 27, 2006
    VVS Laxman, who was originally deemed physically challenged to play a part in India's ODI plans has been asked to fly in as a replacement for the injured Dravid. It needs to be seen if he would be able to land in time for the next game on wednesday. Laxman has had an ordinary start to the current domestic season - scores of 15, 50, 3, 45 and 31 (Duleep and Ranji games) are quite modest for a player of his stature. The team's morale is at its lowest ebb and Laxman is the kind of player who relishes in situations like these. The last time he featured in colored clothing for India was in August last year in the Indian Oil Cup, which incidentally was Chappell's first tour as coach. Zaheer and Kumble are already back, Laxman is making his way back - add Ganguly, Nehra and Balaji to the squad and you have pretty much the same set of players from the pre-Chappell days..

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    Good to Great in 365 days

    Just about an year ago, Mohammad Yousuf Youhana was one of those umpteen good gifted players on the test circuit. He had scored 4391 runs in 61 matches at a fairly decent average of 46.71. One year on (and what a sensational year it has been) and Yousuf has stormed his way into the list of greats. He scored 1887 runs during this period at a little less than 105.00 per innings with the help of 9 hundreds (five 190+ scores). His overall average has shot up almost 10 points and now stands at 56.05. The critics would owe it to some good batting wickets and some really ordinary bowling attacks - which is probably true to some extent, but even with all that it does take some effort to generate such consistency.

    Yousuf's scores in his last 19 innings - 223, 173, 65, 126, 0, 97, 17, 14*, 202, 48, 38, 15, 192, 8, 128, 192, 56, 191, 102.

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    Steyn stains India's tour opener..

    Thursday, November 16, 2006
    10-3-22-5

    Victims:
    • Wasim "the specialist with the GOOD technique on bouncy pitches" Jaffer - 5
    • Sachin "the one who MUST score big in every game that India plays" Tendulkar - 5
    • Mahendra "the one with the additional responsibility of batting up the order" Dhoni - 7
    • Suresh "the prodigy who can neither prod nor dig at the moment" Raina - 0
    • Rahul "the designated saviour" Dravid - 79

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    Aussie squad for the first Ashes Test

    Squad: Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait.

    One out of the three - Clark, Johnson and Tait - will play. I would pick Johnson for the sake of sheer variety.

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    The 664 run partnership record broken

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006
    The record now stands at 721.

    Courtesy: DNA
    Two under-13 batsmen, Mohammad Shahbaz Tumbi and B Manoj Kumar, put together an unbeaten world record partnership of 721 runs in a one-day match conducted by the Hyderabad Cricket Association.

    The partnership resulted in a 700-run win for St Peter’s High School, Bowenpally, as their opponents, St Philip’s High School, were bowled out for a measly 21.

    Tumbi made 324 (116 balls) and Kumar made 320 (127 balls). The runs came in just 40 overs with the help of an awful lot of extras - 77. Spare a thought for the bowling side...

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    Kumble and Ballmer

    Friday, November 10, 2006
    Courtesy: DNA/Dhananjay Khadilkar
    Speaking about India, the Microsoft chief predicted a ‘personalised television’ revolution, which would move ahead of cable television viewership in coming years.

    While Ballmer was at his flamboyant best, Anil Kumble’s poise and computer knowledge came in for a lot of praise. The record breaking leg-spinner, known for his unerring line and length, was sharp and precise while showcasing his company’s new software Matchcast.

    Kumble, who is the director of Stump Vision, a cricketing software company, said that Matchcast was developed using Windows Vista, Windows Presentation Foundation and Office 2007. To be launched in January 2007, Matchcast allows the user to watch a cricket match live and have access to relevant data at the same time. Kumble also demonstrated a product that allows the user to maintain a scorebook of cricket matches.

    I did take a peek at Matchcast. It is pretty cool. I liked the analysis section; it has all the usual stuff - the Manhattan, the wagon-wheel, the line-length chart etc. It would be interesting to see how they market it. People who watch cricket on www.willow.tv would tell you how cool the interactive scorecard feature is. It seems like Matchcast would add to that experience.

    A few ScreenShots from Matchcast:



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    It is all about the moustache

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006
    The VB Commericials for the Ashes:



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    Competing for places..

    Courtesy: Paul Collingwood's column on BBC
    We are all quite realistic about who is competing for places.

    With the wicket-keepers it is Chris Read against Geraint Jones. With the batsmen, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook and I are fighting for two spaces.

    There are no niggles between us. If anything, we drive each other on. It's not something we tend to talk about, though.

    Colly, you seem to have conveniently forgotten to mention the real competition - the competition for the spinner's slot - Monty Vs Giles. Ian Bell shouldn't have too many doubts about walking into the final XI. It should be a toss-up between you and Cook. I would pick you. But honestly, there shouldn't be too much change in the team's fortunes if they don't pick you. Same with the keeping slot - it shouldn't really matter much who gets picked between Jones and Read. The real question of debate is with the slow-bowling slot.

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    Freddie's new tattoo

    Courtesy: BBC
    "Andy is a big lad but in the scale of things it isn't really that big. It's more the impact of one day seeing bare skin and the next quite a prominent piece of art on his arm.

    "He's at an age where he knows his own mind. It's making a statement about something he does for his career. I don't think for one minute he'll regret what he's done."

    The new tattoo includes the Roman numerals for Flintoff's Test player number (591 - DXCI) and one-day player number (154 - CLIV), below the three lions of the England badge.

    A repeat performance of last year's Ashes - and Freddie will have the Ashes urn tattooed below those player-numbers.

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    Polly Umrigar.. R.I.P

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006
    Courtesy: NDTV
    One of the all time greats of Indian cricket Polly Umrigar passed away on Tuesday night in Mumbai. He was 80 years old.

    Umrigar represented India in 59 Tests and scored 3631 runs at an average of 42.22, and he had also picked 35 wickets with his off-break bowling.

    According to reports, he had been keeping unwell since June this year and was believed to be suffering from cancer. In fact, the legendary batsman had missed the BCCI's function felicitating former captains on Saturday.

    The first time I heard Polly's name was way back in 1988. I was in 6th grade and was representing my school in some inter-city Quiz. The last round was a rapid-fire round where we had to answer 5 questions in some real quick time. For us to win the event, we had to get all 5 questions right. We got the first 4 correct and then the quiz master asked us to name the first Indian cricketer to score a test double century. I had no clue and I remember my team-mate saying "Dolly something". We lost and I haven't forgotten the answer to that question since. May his soul rest in peace.

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    When Mr. Pawar got nudged..

    Monday, November 06, 2006
    Courtesy: India Times
    To begin with, as the closing ceremony drew to a close, Ricky Ponting waved his fingers at BCCI president Sharad Pawar, signalling him to come and hand over the winners' trophy. It may or may not have been in jest but Pawar had the decency to just laugh and ask Ponting to step forward instead to complete the formalities.

    But the story didn't end there. As the Aussies celebrated exuberantly, the stage was set for the victory photograph. However, even as the players were taking positions for the cameras, Damien Martyn tapped at Pawar - who happened to be standing there - and literally pushed him out of the stage. Pawar walked away quietly, not showing any hurt or anger.

    Intentional or not, it did seem a bit rude on camera. For those of you who didn't get to watch the incident that I'm talking about, here is the video..

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    Ganguly scores a ton...

    Courtesy: Varun Gupta / Hindustan Times
    There were no wild celebrations, none of the theatrics so often associated with him. Just a look towards the heavens and a punch in the air, as Ashish Nehra, who had fought valiantly to deny him the feat, rushed to his former captain, a man who backed him when others would not and congratulated him, as the rest of the North team followed suit.

    Outside the dressing room, national selectors Venkatpathy Raju and Ranjib Biswal stood up and applauded, flashing the thumbs up sigh to Ganguly.

    The significance of the moment was not lost on anyone, because at this stage, with Yuvraj Singh not available and the Indian batting floundering match after match, Ganguly, vastly experienced, had staked his claim for a national spot. The prince had just taken a giant stride to reclaim his lost kingdom and in the process, had transcended this Duleep Trophy. The game, now, seems merely incidental to the feat. Tea ensued an over later and both selectors came down the stairs to welcome Ganguly to the dressing room with open arms. It was hard not to imagine that they might have been welcoming him back to the Indian team.

    Whether you like him or not, whether he makes it back to the national team or not, whether he consistently repeats this performance or not - you just can't help admire that steely determination of his.

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    Vijay Bharadwaj retires

    Friday, November 03, 2006
    Vijay Bharadwaj made his international debut against SA in the 1999 Nairobi LG Cup. His bowling figures in his first 4 ODI games read 10-3-16-1, 7-0-38-3, 6-0-34-3 and 8-0-34-3. With the bat he made 18*, 41*, 6* and 24. Those performances were enough to fetch him a Man-of-the-Match award and a Man-of-the-series award. He had a slipped disc problem in the 2000 series down-under and though he recovered from it, he was never the same player. He was recalled for the 2001/02 ODI series against Zimbabwe and was run-out for a duck in the only game that he played.

    Courtesy: The Hindu

    "I never played for money or fame but I always wanted to play for the sheer pride of representing Karnataka. Now though the selectors have not announced the Ranji probables list, I know I am not in that list and hence I don't think there is any point in me extending my career. I am announcing my retirement and I thank my family, friends, KSCA, teammates, my cricket clubs — City Cricketers and BUCC and my employer Canara Bank, for all their support," Bharadwaj said.


    He wants to get into coaching/umpiring. Wish him the very best.

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    Cricket Oscars 2006

    Player of the Year, Test Player of the Year: Ricky Ponting
    Ricky was my pick. He did have a great year

    ODI Player of the Year:
    Michael Hussey.
    Yuvraj Singh was my pick. Hussey scored 769 runs at 64.08. But Yuvraj scored almost double the number of runs (1496) during the same period at an equally impressive average (57.53).

    Captain of the Year:
    Mahela Jayawardene.
    Ricky was my pick. But I'm happy for Mahela. And I'm glad that the adjudicators didn't pick the winner just by looking at the highest winning percentage. Ricky had quite a few rifts with the umpires on the field, while Mahela conducted himself very well both on and off the field.

    Emerging Player of the Year: Ian Bell.
    Asif was my pick. But after the doping scandal, there was little chance that Gavaskar and co. would do the politically incorrect thing. Without Asif in the fray, Bell was the obvious choice.

    Women's Player of the Year: Karen Rolton.
    Anjum Chopra was my pick. Guess, I was a bit biased. The women play so little cricket that it isn't always easy to determine who the best.

    Umpire of the Year:
    Simon Taufel
    I picked Taufel. Hat-trick for him - won it for the third consecutive time. For someone who sets very high standards, he did make a few mistakes this year. But, I guess the others committed more.

    Spirit of Cricket Award: England
    It couldn't be Pakistan. It couldn't be Australia. It could have been New Zealand. The adjudicators somehow seem to have found the English team to be the least controversial of them all.

    World Test Team of the Year: Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid (capt), Mohammed Yousuf, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath. 12th man: Brett Lee.

    6 Aussies, 2 Sri Lankans, 1 Indian, 1 Pakistani, 1 South African and 1 Englishman. Dravid gets to lead. Mahela Jayawardene and Younis Khan miss out from being a part of the star-studded middle order. Lee (67 wkts) did better than McGrath (34 wkts) last season, but has to make way for his senior partner. Murali and Warne accounted for more than 200 wickets between them last season and any team facing that lineup would seriously think of forfeiting the game without playing.

    World ODI Team of the Year: Adam Gilchrist (wkt), MS Dhoni, Ricky Ponting, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Michael Hussey, Andrew Flintoff, Irfan Pathan, Brett Lee, Shane Bond, Muttiah Muralitharan. 12th man: Andrew Symonds.

    5 Aussies, 3 Indians, 2 Sri Lankans, 1 Englishman and 1 Kiwi. Mahela gets to be the captain. Gilchrist and Dhoni are the openers - amazing pair of wicket-keeper batsmen.Sangakkara would feel bad for not making into the squad after scoring 1756 runs last season - but you can't just pack the whole team with wicket-keepers. Gilchrist is the keeper while Dhoni gets to play as a pure batsman. Not bad for someone who did not feature in the originial list of 17 nominees for the "ODI Player of the Year" award. Some would argue that Irfan doesn't deserve to be in that list, but he did have a great season last year - picking up 58 wickets at 21.93 and also scoring 500+ runs at 28.57.



    Pix Credit: Getty Images [Persons seen - Urmila Matondkar, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, A dancer, Preity Zinta, Simon Taufel, Karen Rolton, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond and Sachin Tendulkar]

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