Tuesday Aug 20, 2013
There can be few more rewarding ways to spend an evening than in the company of some of the greatest spinners in the history of the game. And to do it two evenings in a row is a special blessing. Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna are generous souls, giving of their knowledge and sharing their experiences with a magnanimity that has always been striking. And when they were joined by Anil Kumble for a more formal public session as the celebrations climaxed with an evening of awards, panel discussions and music on a Saturday evening at the KSCA, it was the experience of some 1300 Test wickets and hundreds of first-class matches that were on display.
With the DRS now favouring spinners on leg before decisions, offspinners in particular have reaped greater rewards for their efforts. Had the DRS existed in his time, would Prasanna have finished with more than the 189 Test he claimed in 49 Tests?
Wednesday Aug 14, 2013
When the laws of cricket were first codified in 1744, there was no 'leg before' dismissal. In the revised laws thirty years later, the striker was deemed out if 'by design' he prevented the ball from hitting his wicket. There was then the problem of judging intent, and it wasn't until 1795 that a leg before dismissal was first recorded. By then the 'design' element had been replaced by the condition: 'the ball must be delivered in a straight line to the wicket'. In 1839, the umpire's judgment about whether the ball 'would have hit the wicket' became a crucial element in the decision. It was almost another century before a ball pitched outside the off stump could claim an lbw provided it satisfied the other conditions.
The point about the quick history lesson is the time it took the authorities to arrive at the current version of Law 36, dealing with the leg before, although 'leg' is merely a convenience; it could be head or any other part of the body.
Wednesday Jul 31, 2013
In an essay he wrote some years ago, Pico Iyer said, "In the mid-19th century, the British famously sent the Bible and Shakespeare and cricket round the world; now a more international kind of Empire is sending Madonna and the Simpsons and Brad Pitt."
Whatever the state of the Bible and Shakespeare in India, it is the audience that adores the Simpsons and Brad Pitt that flocks the cricket stadiums today. Seen in the context of India's growth, there is an inevitability about the IPL. It is this inevitability that James Astill, the political editor of The Economist and former bureau chief in New Delhi, captures while tracing the emergence of modern India through its greatest national obsession in The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India.
Tuesday Jul 23, 2013
Of the five Indian captains born in July, generous tributes have been paid to three of the more recent ones. Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni have all been both successful as well as significant captains, and have been feted this month.
Two others did not have long innings at the top but are historically important too. Hemu Adhikari, the older of them, played India's inaugural Test against Australia, West Indies and Pakistan. He made 63 and 40 in the last of his 21 Tests besides claiming three wickets. That was in the notorious 1958-59 series against West Indies when four men led India in five Tests. The match, his first and last as captain, was drawn.
Monday Jul 15, 2013
The two most important lessons from the Ashes opener in Trent Bridge are: a) there is nothing wrong with the DRS technology and b) we can't leave it to the players and their sense of fair play to correct an umpiring error. The confusion over the dismissal of Jonathan Trott when England batted was brought on by the technician being caught unprepared. Later, Stuart Broad stood his ground knowing he was out because the Australians had used up their appeals.
In the Trott case, the operator goofed up. The inventor of Hotspot was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph: "It was operator error. My operator did not trigger the system in order to cater for the Trott delivery. Instead the operator sat on the Root delivery in order to offer a replay from the previous ball and did not realise until it was too late that he should have triggered the system for the Trott delivery as the priority. Simple mistake, something that anyone could have made but my Hotspot operator has worked on the system since 2007 and to my knowledge this is the first serious mistake he has made."
Monday Jul 01, 2013
It is just over a hundred years since a world Test championship was played. Only a third of the Test countries today were playing then. Television rights were not an issue. There was no question of two divisions for superior and lesser teams. Yet the Triangular Tournament of 1912, involving England, Australia and South Africa - the teams played a nine-Test round robin - was a disaster.
It was a wet summer, to begin with. Australia didn't field their best team and South Africa were not good enough. Wisden predicted (or warned), that it was an experiment that would not be repeated soon.
Monday Jun 24, 2013
Sometimes, in team sport, the past can sit heavily on the present. The team that won India's second World Cup contained the first player to make a double century in 50-over cricket. That apart, Sachin Tendulkar is probably the finest all-round batsman the game has seen. Opening with him was Virender Sehwag, who went on to break Tendulkar's record. The Man of the Tournament was Yuvraj Singh, the top scorer in the final was Gautam Gambhir. Also in that team were two bowlers with over 250 wickets: Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
Monday Jun 17, 2013
It may be unsporting, even politically incorrect, to say this - but a larger cause might be served if India do not win the ICC Champions Trophy. This is not fair on the captain and players who have performed superbly so far. India are the best team in the tournament. Yet, an on-field victory might be reflected in one off-field if it saves the necks of those who have dragged the fair name of the game through mud in recent weeks. The spot-fixers, the bettors, and indeed the BCCI itself. All will be forgiven, and perhaps forgotten. Can we afford that?