Farkandfunk’s Weblog

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Posts Tagged ‘T20’

Test cricket -What’s testing us?

Posted by farkandfunk on July 11, 2009

As I pen this down, the Ashes are well and truly under way- which would translate to England getting their customary beat-down in this famed series.  For all the noise that was made,  if the way the first test is progressing is any indication, it’s not going to get any better for England .  Their batting still shows some promise – with the likes of Kevin Pieterson and Flintoff sure to contribute in the future, but the tall order is to beat this Aussie demolition squad.  A simpleton (Katich),   Cribber Ponting , an offspring of a backstreet boy  copulated with a pomeranian Clarke , a compass North all are piling on the agony for the english.

The questions on both sides remain the less than inspiring bowling attack. Australia is currently undergoing a makeover of sorts,  with stalwarts such as Mcgrath , Warne etc being replaced, and the newbies are not exactly the greatest discovery since sliced bread.  England’s attack on the other hand blow hot and cold depending on the situation, conditions, weather and other such things as UFO sightings and the chances of a successful Harman Bewaja movie.

In test matches, I feel that it’s the bowling that can make or break a test match (along with the pitch and conditions). Recall the nightmare of a game where India took on Sri Lanka at Columbo (952 runs scored) etc. True , it was a world record, Jayasuriya scored a shitload of runs, and Nilesh Kulkarni (remember him??) took a wicket of his first ball delivery.  But what else can we possibly remember from it, except that it was just a miserable game no matter how you break it. Similar to this on-going game, where we know that an English win is highly unlikely in this game even by the end of the 2nd day and almost impossible by the end of the 3rd day ( unless the englishmen metamorphize into Laxman, Dravid, Harbhajan etc).

Games such as those,  drawn test matches, and the fact that there are fewer folks coming in to watch a game at the stands,  have caused many sections to ponder how to modify the format (4-day test matches anyone?)  so that we have less of it. The purists in all of us wouldn’t change a thing of course. If was the case, there would have never been any 50-over games, and there wouldn’t have been T20 games.  We’ll never know what’s good or not, but lets assume we HAD to change something (since change is permenant and all that blah), what would it be?

Typical to my (lack of) style and character(lessness), I’m coming up with  a couple  of random suggestions here.  I’d like you all to spit at, germinate, nurture, these and more ideas, and see what  do we think of all this.

1.  Have a first innings run-rate limit which the teams should be on par or over. This can be calculated and set through statistics (ground, teams involved,  seasonal conditions,  what not).  Not being on par with this could lead to some form of penalization – negate some of the runs scored for example .

Pros: run rate is probably a big criteria in test cricket for forcing a result in a game. If there can be some way of upping the run rate – it might go in a long way of making it more interesting

Cons: This might get too complicated . Similar to the DL method, enforcing teams to think in statistics might attract too much flak.  It is highly likely to cause more controversy if not thought through and tested well enough.

2. Keep the 5 day format – but allow substitutions (perhaps 2-3) .  Increase the stake for both teams in the deal. Imagine some of the possibilities. There could be a situation in the 3rd and final test of a series which a team is leading 1-0. There could be a situation where one team might have 7 bowlers (5 + 2 all rounders)  in the 2nd innings, and just 3 premiere batsmen in the game, just to force the result. Or a team is chasing 350 of 40 overs for a win, and you bring in someone like Yousaf pathan in (who’d normally find it tough to break into a test squad), to try to win it.

Pros:  It might add some excitement to the game, where some new permutations and combinations of players might cause renewed interest and increase possibilities of results.

Cons:  The strategy might not really be endearing to the purists, and the desired results (results, crowds) might not happen.

What do you folks think?  The rotten eggs and tomatoes are in the comments section. Feel free to throw some at this.

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Shady’s Back:

Posted by farkandfunk on July 6, 2009

It’s been quite a long hiatus -thanks to travel, sickness, travel sickness, and a bunch of family occasions thrown in. In the meantime, these are the things that happened:

1. India promptly crashes out of the T20 World cup 2009 (mind you, then next T20 world cup is 10 months away!!).

2. Pakistan  gets the cup (Sri Lanka’s time will come), and in the process , Shahid Afridi attains puberty (uh…well..).

3. India then goes off to tour the WI, which Late accurately describes as an inconsequential match-up.

4. Real Madrid robs their fans accounts (and possibly even yours) to acquire a Euro-Brazilian clone (Kaka) and Bipasha Basu’s one-night stand (Ronaldo). Talks of them acquiring Ribery, and also taking over the inter-stellar galaxy is also on.

5. In the green grass of Wimbeldon , 2 sisters have their routine annual cat fight beating each other up before the younger one goes one better. Simultaneously, Roger Federer creates history in the present, but if you’re like me, your heart might have gone out to the brooding Roddick- now 2-19 vs Fedex , and he must be wondering if he has a better chance making it big as a 20-20 cricketer than emerging victorious against the Swiss freight train of talent.

3 Action packed weeks , and a lot to catch up on!! Now sit back while I do the unthinkable:  take you , the unsuspecting reader , into a time warp, back to the T20 world cup to re-live the nightmare. Albeit delayed, here are my ratings out of 10 for the Indian squad:

Sehwag :0 Being one of the 2/3 Indian batsmen who truly appears as “gabbar singh” in the nightmares of the opposition bowlers, hiding his injury was NOT a smart thing to do. As with all things connected to Indian cricket, we’ll probably never know the whole truth, but this was definitely a distraction and baggage the team could have done without. I felt the need to rate him because with careful planning, it could have been a little better.

Gambhir : 4 One of the most improved players (statistically) in the last couple of years for India, much was expected out of “Gauti”,especially with Sehwag missing from the top of the order. But he failed to deliver , ending with an average of about 30 for the series, and more importantly, didn’t get going in the crucial super-8 games. As an aside, is it just me or is Gambhir almost anonymous in the field?! I’ve even heard Javagal Srinath or Sidhu called on the field more often than him!! He definitely has a knack of NOT finding the ball on the field 🙂

Rohit Sharma : 3 After a wonderful tournament in the IPL, and a good couple of warm-up games, Rohit failed like most of his other teammates when it matters most. The talent is there without a doubt, but the atrociously bad shot selection and seeming lack of willingness to struggle through and stay is what bothers me a lot about him.

Suresh Raina: 1 One of the best young players of the IPL tournament and a then-definite lock for the No.3 spot, his presence in the batting order seemed to come as an after-thought for his captain. The move to number 3 for the last 2 games came too late, and Raina didn’t live up to the billing, miserably being exposed against the shorter rib-cage deliveries. A long way to go. He seems like a confidence and momentum player, if it breaks at some point of time, no matter what he tries, it always seems to be a wrong move. Makes me feel even worse for having a man-crush on him, but I still have hopes.

R. Jadeja : 4 Asking the youngest player to win a do-or-die game on his own was not the smartest of ideas, but he definitely tried. The 4 is more for his bowling and his general efforts.

Yousaf P: 5 Never had too much of a chance to express himself correctly, but kept India in the last game. If the strike had been rotated, one never knew what this dangerous man could have done, but again, if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

Irfan P: 3 Didn’t give India the right break-through when needed. RP Singh: 4 Didn’t carry his IPL form or the purple cap to the T20 world cup, was dropped for a game or 2 and then brought on again. Wasn’t used correctly, and definitely needs to buck up on his death-over bowling.

Harbhajan: 3 There’s no questioning this man’s heart (like he proclaims). He got India some good runs, upping the rate at crucial times, and did get some wickets. But after so many years in the team, Bhajji still isn’t able to don the mantle of the premiere bowler (like kumble has done quite often), and close out a couple of games. Inexplicably decides to become a spin version of Waqar Younis during the final stages, but pathetically bowls full delivers on the leg side- giving away the most crucial runs.

Ohja: 6 Bowled very well when given a chance, and then dropped without much rhyme or reason.

Ishant Sharma :  2 In the IPL, despite SRK’s antics, KKR’s team woes, and the curse of the Fake IPL Player, it was quite obvious that Zayed Khan Ishant Sharma needed some rest.  However, he was chosen for the World cup, and appeared in the warm up games and did well to warrant a start in the XI. Unfortunately, he had again spent it all by then, and looked a sorrowful version of himself . The effort was there, but the body just wasn’t.

Yuvraj Singh: 7 The one man who could actually stand tall amid all the embarassment. Talent is what talent does, and no matter what his character , he proved yet again that he has what it takes to win a game. Has improved leaps and bounds when starting his innings against spinners (used to be a weakness before), has all the shots and more.

MSD: 1 I am not quite sure why I gave him a 1. He got the team composition all wrong at many stages. Dropping of Ohja, not giving Raina , Y.Pathan etc games to get their eye in, promoting either himself up the order or Jadeja in the crucial game, not promoting himself up the order when the situation demanded, persistence with a jaded Ishant Sharma, “team walk-in ” to the media room, the list goes on and on. His inability to even attempt to clear the boundary in the last game was what really ticked me off the most.

What’s your take?

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Stat Turd chimes in on MSD, the No.3, and theory of Evolution

Posted by farkandfunk on June 11, 2009

We’ve saw it happen again yesterday. A wicket falls, and the now-familiar sight of  MSD walking in at No.3.  The innings is pretty much the same – lasts about 20 or so deliveries, gets an average of 1 boundary (possibly hit hard enough to destroy a fielder or an umpire from the face of the earth), a few quick singles and twos,  an attempt at upping the tempo, and the invariable dismissal.

A quick look around some of my daily reads (  Late, Prem ) gives you the flavour of the day. The aforementioned folks quite beautifully sum up the flaw in Messrs. MSD occupying the No.3 position .  Not wanting to be left out of the bandwagon, F&F echos the same thoughts  in this section (and pretty much the reasoning), but tries to look some numbers at the same time.

For posterity’s sake, let’s have a quick comparison between the numbers from the 50 over format and the T20 international format.  This will give us the basis for comparison. Some quick differences though:

1. T20 is like the highlights package of 50.

2. Strike rate is key

3. 50 Overs probably requires a little more planning and understanding of the game as it happens.  T20 is a little more slam bang

4. There are definitely going to be many less one-sided games in T20 than in the 50 over format. In fact, there definitely are more close games (keep this in mind).

50 Over format

We all know that the captain is an immensely successful 50-over cricketer. Have a look at the numbers , and let’s compare him to 2 other cricketers:

1. Yuvraj Singh – dangerous Bat and a definite feature in any Indian 50 over and 20 over team

2.  M. Hussey  – often acknowledged as one of the best players in 50 over cricket

50 Over Comparison

50 Over Comparison

That is quite stunning no matter how you look at it. Dhoni’s average and even strike rate in fact betters two of the best in business (though the strike rate is a little less signficantly different here).

An important feature here is the % Not outs, which is implies that there’s about a 26% chance that Dhoni remains not out at the end of the innings. Sweet!  Hussey’s % Not out is a jaw-dropping 36% , giving him bradman-esqe averages here, but let’s not forget that he also bats at No.5 or so. FYI, I also checked MSD’s averages and %Not Outs  in innings he played at No.3 or No.4 and they aren’t significantly very different either.

T-20 : 50-Lite

Now in this format of the game, let’s have a look at  MSDs performance, and compare it with his own teammates . This should be fair enough, since the Indian team is supposedly the best on paper.  Going by the same standards, we can imagine the average to go significantly down, the SR to well up, but hey that’s all good since it is a smaller format of the game. Right?

T-20 International Record -Indian Team

T-20 International Record -Indian Team

Umm…. Right?

Results

1.  Purely by looking at the numbers,  Dhoni’s record in the 50 over game is quite phenomenal so far.  He’s a definite asset no matter how you look at it.

2. While Yuvi’s SR significantly increases in the T20 game, Dhoni’s does too, but not by much.

3. Dhoni’s SR in the T20 game is the lowest – and lowest by a decent distance – in his own batting line up!  I’ve included Irfan Pathan and Robin Uthappa too in there, the former from an “bowling” all rounder’s capacity, and the latter- just for laughs  .

Conclusions

1.I’m not saying that MSD is a liability. Far from it. I think he’s a pretty good leader, and he’s also a great player. His keeping skills have improved leaps and bounds from before, and he provides quite an entertainment with some of his unconventional shots. And I must make note of his running between the wickets – definitely the amongst the best in Indian and world cricket.

2. What he is not (right now-take note again) is a T20 India No.3 batsman- yet.   A T20 innings has 120 balls. Let’s assume your top  6 batsmen play well enough to consume all that. Thus, per head, they get 20 balls each. Dhoni will, on the average, fetch you 21 runs in those 20 balls . Raina – 25.  I’m not saying he will do that every time. But those 4 extra runs are far more crucial in a T20 game, than in a 50 over game (due to the differences between the 2 formats noted above).  Yousaf can fetch even more perhaps – but consistency is key too.  The key here is to give the best chance for the strongest batsmen to propel the score over a longer period of time , eh -for more than 20 deliveries.

3.  Imagine you’ve got Dhoni and Raina who’ll atleast play 10 deliveries each. Let’s assume they play it out and take their singles and twos, and even a boundary on a loose delivery. Now who will you bet on being there for 20 more deliveries after that, and maximizing the score?  Not saying that MSD can’t do it, but I think the smart money should be on someone like Raina (you know I love him).

4.  Shots : Dhoni’s got some, but I think even he’ll admit that the bowlers have him figured out for now. Which is why he cannot afford to occupy a pivotal position and screw up.   For  now,  we see MSD getting  out in a similar manner. He might have cut down the risk of him getting out to his vulnerable deliveries, but he finds it more difficult to score BIG off them.

There will be a process of evolution.  For a person who’s also the captain and wicketkeeper (and Media Protector) of the Indian Team, the process might be a little slower.  Remember Sachin from before (early 90s ) and the Sachin now (post 2000)?  Bowlers , laptop coaches  et al. continuously figured him out, and yet, he kept evolving.

* I had a section with snapshots on “Sachin” here, but it was a complete dud on my part as I had the wrong player itself!! Thanks to Tifosi for catching that. I’ll try to get better info up next time. Apologies on the brain-fart.”

MSD can emulate a Sachin too- Evolve. If he works as hard in his batting as he did in his wicket-keeping (and that’s asking a LOT out of him right now), he’ll reach greater heights. But that is asking a lot out of him right now in the middle of the tournament.

Footnote

India had a glorious opportunity to get Raina or Yousaf a bat in the previous 2-3 games, and we sort of missed a trick there.

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So long, and thanks for all the fish mate

Posted by farkandfunk on June 9, 2009

So there you have it, the first big victim of the T20.

First this happened.

The Gayle Bitchslap

The Gayle Bitchslap

And then , this:

The Sangakkara Bitchslap

The Sangakkara Bitchslap

And so the Aussies got served with a giant double-decker Calypso-Lankan flavoured turd sandwich.  Not sure what really went wrong. It’s all quite easy in retrospect. If you look at the folks who’ve gotten action in the recent past (I meant the cricket variety, and not what Warnie does for a living these days), we can quite quickly narrow it down to:

Warner ( performed in 1 game)
D.Hussey (chipped in a little in both games)
Bret Lee  (well,  he did play a few games in the IPL and did ok in a couple of them)

We’ve got the rest of the guys, who’ve got caliber but have been inactive for a long while now:
Watson
M.Hussey
Haddin

We’ve got a couple of queer looking dudes:
Bracken
Clarke
Johnson (what do you expect with such a name , just kidding. decent bowler and an Irfanish batsman)

A what-the-fuck or hopeful selections:
Howritz (though he did bowl ok)
Hopes….er..

And to top it all , this guy:

Fail-El-Capito

Fail-El-Capito

Gone is the team you might loathe but respect. A team filled with some delightful talent such as Mark Waugh (the on-side play) ,Warne or Gilchrist, or the dogged determination of Steve, Mcgrath or Hayden , is now not all that jazz, nor is it that awe-inducing. The only guys I ever feel like rooting for is Mr. Cricket himself – one of my all-time favourite players.

First they run into WI, who have this habit of playing 1 match out of their skin (and it’s almost always Gayle to the party), and then totter around later. For Australia, the kings of calypso decided it be the match against them. While Gayle did school the boys from down under on some power hitting, A.Fletcher on the other end provided quite a surprising and stunning start to ease some pressure of the King, and let him know,
“Yo Mon, I’m here too. Dun havfta do it all alone.”
The batting lineup for WI looks fairly good , for now. Gayle on his day cannot be stopped, and you’ve also got Bravo and Smith (who can forget him absolutely brandishing the bowling in a couple of games). But they’ve got this tendency to either have this big game altogether, or fail collectively .While one could argue that that is true teamwork in both aspects, let’s not  reach that far. Hence, we find them either winning big or losing bigger. Plus, outside of the two very impressive opening bowlers, I am not very confident in the rest of them; there’s not much variety. When the going gets tough, I think it will be left to the old boys (chanderpaul, sarwan) to do the work, and I am not sure if they have it in them (unless they play India).

SL too have started out strong. Jayasurya is an older, less consistent Gayle, but then again, 1 crucial innings is as good as gold in such a tournament. Jayawardane and Sangakkara will do what they do, consistently build the innings , and go for the big shots on-demand.
Dilshan is the one that scares the crap out of me. He seems to be a cold-blooded killing machine of late, and really seems to give them a strong dose of agreession and edge at No.3/4. Pretty scary. Their mid-lower order unknowns sort of impressed with their hitting yesterday. The bowling begins and ends with 3M- with the heat-seaking missle that is Malinga,  Mendis, and the Murali (I thought of giving the remaining 2 lame suffixes like mystical and magical respectively). These guys are capable of playing the restrictive or attacking role , and the batsmen seem to play them with a lot of caution.   The islanders seem to have the weapons to succeed in such a format.

As for the Aussies, they’d probably win the Ashes, but bright flame that once was is slowly dimming. I think the cricket-world’s a little more balanced now. For now, we all can heave a collective sigh of relief that we don’t have to see the following specimen for a while:

"Backstreet's back alright!"

"Am I sexuuual? Yeaaaa--eaahh!"

Ricky-who-stole-my-candy-Ponting

"Who-stole-my-candy"

"We suck"

"We suck"

And joy for these gents:

"weee!let's make out and slap each other!"

"weee!let's make out and slap each other!"

"How do you like me now bitches!!"

"How do you like me now bitches!!"

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Jacob Oram reveals his true colours

Posted by farkandfunk on June 2, 2009

When Jacob Oram was drafted in the Chennai Super Kings squad, there was a lot of hope and anticipation from its legion of fans. One hoped that they’d see some destructive hitting when he would bat, and some tight stump to stump bowling at the death for CSK, choking and clogging the opposition worse than the public loos in a local train station .  Dhoni, who seems to have a weakness for all-rounders of the Ajit Agarkar caliber (how else can one explain the inclusion Joke-inder Sharma in so many matches that even he,  if given the option, would  bench his own arse), promptly persisted with Oram in almost all the matches this season. Oram would then proceed to promptly appear in the chennai yellows as consistently as a paan stain on the walls of a government building, a fungus on moist brittania bred, a rash due to a tight tantex underwear… well, you get hte picture.

We all know how Oram did this season of the IPL.

Webster Definition

Webster Definition

In IPL 2.0 (since its SOOO cool), here are his figures:

M    I    NO    Runs    Avg    SR
11    8    2    88    14.66    94.62

Bowling
M    I    Runs    W    Avg    Eco    SR
11    8    133    5    26.60    8.58    18.60

All rounder. Right.

For someone with a strike rate of below 100 in this format, an economy rate in bowling that looks like batting average (never a good thing for an all rounder no matter how you look at it), an experienced bowler who had  “Smack-me-coz-I’m-AKON’s-Biatch” tattooed on his forehead every time he came on to bowl at the death, he didn’t exactly have an argument in justifying his selection in the team.

Yesterday, India plays NZ in a warm-up game, and surprise surprise, Jo is included in his team. As team India cruises along, JO is brought in to the proceedings. A casual observer and follower of the game in the last few months would think that, oh alright, I guess the teams want this to get over fast, so that they can all go back to their rooms, get some food,  make long-distance calls to their families (or1-800-LoNELY in the case Warnie) /or simply do whatever it is  they do when they are alone in the rooms…

What we witness next is a 3-0-18-1 performance by Oram, taking the wicket of his clubmate Raina , and punking his other clubmate and captain Dhoni in the process. More disturbing would have been the fact that he bowled 2 relatively tight overs at the death, making Dhoni and the CSK think-tank scratch their respective heads and groins in no particular order in shock of what could have been when they sorely needed such control during their IPL adventure.

For Team India, it’s probably a little too early to panic. It was a warm-up game, and a loss here is better than a loss in the real thing. It also must have provided a few insights, such as:
1. the team composition didn’t exactly light the world on fire
2. Ishant sharma can do some damage in those conditions
3. Jadeja is pretty good -but he isnt there yet  – seems to lose his mojo when the going gets tough
4. Take nothing for granted (read: oram)
5. Rohit and Raina are the best bet for consistency – hope they continue on that vein
6. You can suck/not participate in IPL and still do well in the world cup
7. It’s good not to have hear/see/smell Modi

All said and done, the team will probably look like this:
Viru, Gautham, Raina, Yuvraj, Rohit, Dhoni, Y.Pathan, I.Pathan, Bhajji,RP, Ishant  (if Zaheer is fit , he probably replaces Ishant).

But the final word goes to Oram and his likes- thank you for raising the warning bell!

Black Caps ku whistle podu!

Black Caps ku whistle podu!

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