This blog attempts to function as a confluence of thoughts from the blogosphere on any matters pertaining to international cricket.
May 2008 - Posts
Brian Carpenter links to a wonderful article by Simon Hughes on Mark Ramprakash. I too remember Ramps making his start in county cricket and thinking that he would soon dominate world cricket:
Even though I belong to the apparently small group of people who feel
that it would have been a retrograde step to bring Ramprakash back into
the England side in the last few seasons, Hughes's excellent article
has many resonances for me. In 1988 I was a Middlesex supporter and was
at Lord's for Ramprakash's heroics in the NatWest Final. Indeed I still
have a scorecard which he signed for me at a reception afterwards in
the Lord's Banqueting Suite.
Those of us who knew what he could
do then were among the most disappointed by what came afterwards, but
we'll surely be among those who raise a glass highest when the
inevitable hundredth hundred comes.
I share your disappointment, Brian. But surely that doesn't mean that it's too late now? From Hughes' article, a telling moment for me:
When he moved
to Surrey in 2001 the coaches ascertained that he conformed to one
of 16 classic psychological types - introverted and prone to
occasional hissy fits. They were sensitive and made allowances. At
the same time he developed self-awareness through coaching. "I
completed the level-four coaching course last year," he says.
"I really enjoyed that and I've got a lot out of it which
I can take into playing. For instance, in the first two weeks we did
a management course where you learn about being with people and
relating to different personalities. It's made me more aware of
myself too. I wish I'd done that at 21."
It's too easy to be cynical about these things. Coaching does matter, and perhaps learning how to coach matters more.
Meanwhile, Ottayan spots a link to Mascarenhas' version of the real reason behind all the announcements about not wanting to join the IPL from English county player. The counties have not "given" permission.
D.S. Henry runs through the types of arguments that have been made against the IPL. My favourite is what he calls the "USA, EPL, therefore mushroom cloud" fallacy:
said this once before but, as Jack White tells us, it bears repeating now: there are plenty of areas
in which to criticise the US -- hundreds maybe -- but sport isn’t really one of
them. Sport is something they actually know how to do.
Very well. They are the biggest sporting
nation in the world, with the greatest accolades, they have the best
infrastructure, the best coaches, they continue to produce the
most winning athletes, their events are always flawlessly hosted -- and
so without having a single instance of on-field or in-uniform
any of their 4 major sports.
The players all belong to powerful unions, too. Ones that mandate minimum wages (in the millions of dollars) and go on strike to improve them.
David Barry gets a direct mention in a Andy Bull's Guardian article on statistics in cricket. The article talks about sabermetrics, the kind of statistical analysis started by Bill James in baseball decades ago. David Barry distinguishes between statistics for coaching and statistics for selecting players:
From a selection perspective, the outcome numbers are still
going to be important. No-one cares what your percentage of dot balls
is if you average 25, and no batsman will hold down a spot in the
national side with such a low outcome number. Cricket games are won by
the team that scores the most runs, and we shouldn't lose sight of
that. All the 'processes' work is no good if it doesn't improve
averages (or strike rates, in limited overs cricket).
there are times when process numbers might be useful in selection — if
a batsman has bad process numbers, then perhaps with coaching he might
improve a lot more than a batsman who's already largely optimised his
game. I don't know. Without seeing the figures involved and knowing
what improvements are usually made, it's hard to say how useful such an
approach would be.
One thing I would like to see is collecting data on fielders. There's lots of data on batting and bowling, even more now for teams who've been collecting ball-by-ball data on the type of ball delivered and the shot played to it, thanks in the main to Hawkeye. But what about fielding data?
Homer links to posts by Ducking Beamers on identities in the IPL. Beamers starts with:
Recently, I’ve found it difficult to make even the most basic points to
my friends — the importance of empirical evidence in rational debate,
for instance — but I want to take on a much complicated topic,
involving post-colonialism, sledging, and media coverage. Stay with me.
And the first comment in response:
so you are ashamed of your fellow indians…they didn’t act western
enough for you. I don’t think the problem is with indians i believe its
with you…your are ashamed how this will reflect with your WESTERN
Over in the West, Chrispy went to the Rose Bowl to see the England Lions take on New Zealand and has some great photographs to prove it.
And Patrick Kidd lists his probable XI:
So... Probable XI: Strauss, Cook, Vaughan, Pietersen, Bell,
Collingwood, Ambrose, Broad, Sidebottom, Anderson, Panesar. In other
words, no change bar the opening pair from the winter. I'd play Bopara
instead of Collingwood and Hoggard instead of Anderson. And warn Cook,
Vaughan and Bell that they owe a few big scores if they want to play
against South Africa. And what about Saqlain Mushtaq...
Finally, Nanda points to a wonderful cartoon site reflecting on the IPL.
Patrick Kidd writes about the rash of English players going out of their way to announce that they've turned down an offer to join the IPL. These honourable players most likely weren't offered much to play given limited budgets, but never mind because it looks like the IPL is set to scrap payroll limits:
The IPL had put a cap of $ 5 million (just over
Rs 20 crore) for the franchises this year to prevent the very rich team
owners from splurging too much.
"If we hadn't done that, I can
tell you that our players would already be the highest-paid across any
sport in the world," IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi said.
"It will happen - if not today, then tomorrow. Because once the
franchises have established themselves, it will be a free-for-all," he
Over in West Indies, George Lamming---one of the best writers from the Caribbean---suggests a link between the decline of the West Indian region and playing for money:
Lamming was also disappointed at the relationship that existed between players of the modern era and their employers.
"Today, cricket is a business. Guys are playing for money. They have every right to play for money," he said.
"It is sometimes unfair to be attacking them for indiscipline. We
have not prepared them to carry the weight of that legacy. You can't
ask them to carry that weight. They have one little chance to make some
"I've never been able to understand why we should allow the tensions
between the board and the players to go on so long. It seems that the
history of the relations of the board with the player is a history of
"You never get the feeling that the board and the players are
working towards some consensus which has to do with the sovereignty of
the game. It is the worst kind of industrial work relations that you
can get. It is tied up with the fragmentation of the region."
On another note, Homer and Ottayan have been writing about stump mikes
and the role of technology
Finally, Q has the run down on IPL performances so far: the second quarter end results.
Ottayan writes that Tim Nielsen has some doubts about the new changes to the laws. One big idea is that up to three decisions per innings can be appealed to the third umpire. Mohan outlines some of the proposals coming out of the ICC's cricket committee. On the appeals in particular:
The ICC Cricket Committee recommended further that Hawkeye could be
used only to determine the path of the ball up to the point that it
struck the batsman. A wise decision in my view. The questions that
could be addressed through this could be, for example, “Did it strike in line?” (for off stump LBWs), “Did the ball pitch outside leg?” (for leg stump LBWs), and “Was the impact too high on the pads?”, rather than, “Would the ball have gone on to hit the stumps?”
And Dileep writes about Charu Sharma being sacked from the Test-y Royal Challengers.
David Barry has another excellent followup statistics post. The original was on batting strategies in the first innings of one day internationals:
To take an extreme example, suppose you're a really bad team like
Bangladesh, up against a team like Australia. Whenever Bangladesh bats
first, they choose the run-maximising strategy. The results might be a
bell curve centred around 180. So a lot of scores around 170-190, a few
past 200, a few below 160, etc.
Now Australia has no problem
chasing any of those. Australia's only going to have problems when the
target's up over 250. So while the Bangladeshi averages will be
best-served by going with the run-maximising strategy, they may end up
losing every game.
On the other hand, if they play more
aggressively, then sometimes their batsmen will have a bit of luck and
they'll end up with a big score. In their long series of matches with
Australia, they'll have loads of heavy defeats, after making scores
like 120 and 150 and so on, but every now and then, they'll make 250
and have a chance at winning. So their averages will suffer, but their
win/loss ratio will improve.
Nesta replied with a comment on what exactly the Australian strategy is:
If none or one wicket is down at 15 you will see them up the tempo markedly until one of the batters falls.
same applies throughout the innings. When each partnership begins they
set the clock back to zero and try to increase the run rate in four or
five over blocks until they are at the their limit.
40 over mark they set a final target and usually one that seems just
out reach especially if 6 or more wickets are in hand.
And, finally, David Barry gives the facts and figures of Australia's relative dominance over batting first:
In day games, Australia has won 73% of matches when batting first
(ignoring no-results). Second is Sri Lanka at 49% — a whopping 24
percentage points! Australia has won 78% of matches batting second,
with South Africa second at 71% — only seven percentage points behind.
day-night games, batting first: Aus 76%, South Africa 63%; batting
second: Aus 62%, South Africa and Pakistan 55%. Once again, a bigger
difference in batting first results.
So it does look like
Australia have an advantage over their rivals when it comes to batting
first, above and beyond their general cricket superiority.
Farookh Engineer is possibly in trouble too. First the players, then the umpires, and now the match referees? Ottayan reports on the details:
Unfortunately, he seems to have landed himself in trouble for
suggesting that the BCCI needed to be lenient on Harbhajan Singh and
for making comments on S.Sreesanth.
Reports suggest that his
comments are unwelcome and Lalit Modi is making threatening noises that
his comments plus his attire, he was seen wearing the RC team’s
uniform, will be investigated.
Saloni Rana has the inside track on the second big controversy. First, Warne was pressured to not file an official complaint, and second, bizarrely:
But Lalit Modi while speaking the media in Jaipur stated that match
referee has slapped a fine of 10% match fee to both the parties
concerned in the matter and umpire has been handed one match ban.
When DreamCricket got in touch with the match referee he was surprised
to hear about Mr. Modi’s comments on Warne being fined and added that;
‘I believe Shane Warne has not done anything wrong and I have just
fined Ganguly and handed a match ban to the umpire’.
Meanwhile, the BCCI wants to set up counselling for Indian cricket players:
A top BCCI official told HT that a 24-hour
counselling hotline, on the lines of professional cricketers in
England, was not out of the question, but it was something they would
have to think about carefully, keeping cultural differences in mind.
“We recognise the need to educate our cricketers in aspects of life
other than cricket,” BCCI Chief Administrative Officer Prof Ratnakar
Shetty told HT.
“Punishment is not a solution in the long-run, education and
sensitive counseling is,” he said. “We need them to develop
holistically, help them grow as people, have normal inter-personal
relationships, cope with the demands of being in the public eye and
media scrutiny from a young age, and deal with the huge money they earn
from the ages of 19-20.”
Another controversy hits the IPL. Having one per week seems about right, although from the way the little punishments are being handed out it seems that the powers in charge aren't in control of the process yet! One big surprise is the liberal handing out of punishments to umpires. I guess they're not in charge on the field anymore, much less off it.
Nestaquin has a detailed and well-written summary of the game taken as a whole. Ganesh argues that the media's spin on this as an Australia vs India thing is a very bad idea, but Ottayan conversely suggests that Warne's lauding of Graeme Smith is a remarkable building of bridges between Aussies and Saffers. Ducking Beamers has some youtube clips, sides with Warne, but points out that Warne
slips up a bit when he says that the "Indian umpire" caved; I’m not
sure his ethnic background had anything to do with his decision.
And finally Q has the quotes from the press conference. Spirit of cricket, indeed.
King Cricket picks out the two big stars of the IPL so far, for my money. Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif. They're bowlers and they're way ahead of the batting contingent. The interesting thing about them is that they haven't expanded on their repertoire of deliveries. This isn't a case of adapting to Twenty20, but just doing the same old brilliant thing of bowling accurately:
So good on Glenn McGrath
for taking 4-29 for Delhi Daredevils against Bangalore Royal
Challengers and for doing so through skill. For all the ‘imagine
Matthew Hayden and Mahendra Dhoni batting together’ fantasies, it’s
been McGrath and Mohammad Asif, Delhi’s new ball attack, that’s been
the most exciting pairing - mere bowlers.
It’s not that they’re the most spectacular bowlers, because they
clearly aren’t. It’s that they’re of the highest quality and with flat
pitches and odds loaded towards the batsmen, everyone’s wondering if
there’s anything a bowler can do or whether they’re merely cannon
Meanwhile, Ducking Beamers has a brilliant as ever post on the dangers of the crickentertainment that is the IPL:
It’s a win-win for the involved stars, but it’s still opportunistic and
shady, not to mention a distraction from the real match at hand. The
question of “branding” cricket obscures the actual cricket as
cricketers — at least the Indians — become stars first, and players
second. On endorsements everywhere, Indian cricketers spill into the
Indian consciousness again and again, and I worry that the link between
the sport and its audience will become mediated by something other than
simply viewing a player’s bat hit another player’s ball. To some
extent, that’s been this blog’s thesis all along (that cricket is more
than cricket), but we’re talking about more than culture and history
here. We’re talking manipulation. We used to use cricket as a focal
point for our cultural neuroses, but now, the process has reversed
itself, with cricket deciding what’s important to us. In other words,
our cricketers have become media phenomenons, rather than sportsmen.
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