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His Majesty, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

A few years back, Adidas, the premier sports brand has kicked off their new campaign – ‘Impossible is Nothing’ to promote their new brand. None other than Sachin Tendulkar was chosen as the brand ambassador alongside other greats in the sports world. Just like Sachin’s other endorsements, his presence paved way for its success in India and Adidas went to become his sponsor ending his long stint with MRF. It was yesterday, that Ad caption really meant for a sportsman, that too for its endorser. Sachin broke the 200 runs barrier in One day Cricket, which most of peers and counterparts failed to achieve. It was one of the most astonishing moments of his illustrious career of 20 years and counting.

As most of us know, the initial few years of his ODI career was not that great. He scored ducks in his first two international matches and took 5 years to score his maiden ton. But it was not as bad as someone imagines. In that period itself, he scored one of the best innings in a test match at the WACA and some fine test centuries in England. Although Sachin didn’t scored any ODI centuries until 1994, He come up with a scintillating knock against Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup to demolish Pakistan. His half-century paved way for India’s first victory against the arch-rivals. The maiden century came up against Australia in Colombo in 1994, which was only a beginning. After 16 years, he tailored an elusive 200, the first time in the history of ODI Cricket, also went on to become the highest individual score in ODI’s. In those 16 years, 46 centuries were made in almost all part of the cricketing world and against all the teams. 9 ODI centuries against Australia itself is a testimonial of his performances.

The long 20 years hasn’t been easy for the ‘Little Master’. Plenty of injuries, surgeries, cramp and hits, but he rise to the top after fighting with all these. He might be the only cricketer in the world, who hasn’t been dropped from the team for lack of form or being charged for on/off field scandals. What makes him so humble or how can a man be so simple after achieving this much in his life? Sunil Gavaskar reckons there is still a 16 year old boy in Sachin, who has the hunger to score runs and the passion to play for India. Whenever we think he has reached the Everest, he would have started his journey to conquer another one. Yes, this it would be the World Cup in 2011. It is played in India and the finals are played at the Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai, where he started his cricketing journey. A World Cup triumph would be the best culmination of a legendary career, which has made the billions of Indians proud.

Rankings and Reality

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The test series between South Africa and India were considered as the fight for the world no:1 position for both teams. After the end of the first test, South Africa have gained an almost unassailable edge over the host – Team India. If South Africa manages to secure a draw or a win, they will be at the helm. For India, nothing less than a win will secure their top-spot. Australia, who are currently in the third position, is playing impeccable cricket on the other side of the globe, infact in all forms of cricket. So does this ranking system makes any sense for the spectators and others in the cricketing fraternity?

In the last 12 months, Australia have played 14 test matches, won 8 matches, drew 3 and lost 3matches. In the Same period, India have played 9 test matches, winning 5, drawing 3 and loosing one. South Africa’s performance is – Played 8 tests, won 3, lost 3 and drew 2. So the Winning percentage of Australia, India and South Africa is – 57.14, 55.55 and 37.50 respectively. That means according to the winning percentages, Australia stays at the top, then comes India and the South Africans are way down! According to the ICC Rankings, India have a rating of 125, followed by South Africa with a rating of 120 and Australia at the the 3rd position, with a rating of 118. Australia have played 5 tests against England, 3 each against Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies. India have played 3 each against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, 2 against Bangladesh and 1 (so far) against South Africa. South Africa have played 3 against Australia, 4 against England and 1 (so far) against India.

So, after seeing the aforementioned stats, Does this ranking system makes any sense? The points and ratings are given of the basis of the win/loss at home/away criteria.That’s simply absurd. If a team is playing against comparatively weaker opponents like West Indies, Bangladesh and New Zealand, the chances for getting all the points are much high. Instead, If the ICC implements a weightage system, then it would add some credibility to this ranking system, if they are really serious about this. In the weightage system, teams will get lesser points, when they play weaker oppositions like Bangladesh and will get higher points, when they play Australia. Based on the past 1 year’s performances, teams can be alloted specific weightage and review it after every season. This would make the ranking system more competitive.

Why India can’t produce genuine fast bowlers?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
The bowling speed of the players who compete in the Duleep Trophy is a clear indication to India’s lack of ‘fast bowlers’ in the domestic circuit, despite having a state-of-the-art pace bowling academy in the form of MRF Pace Foundation. During the Duleep Trophy final, none of the bowlers could clock above 130 KMPH. Irfan Pathan, though picked up 5 wickets in the first innings, was bowling around the 110 – 125 mark. Dawal Kulkarni was bowling around 115-120 KMPH, though he swings the ball laterally. Shane Watson and Jaques Kaliis, the best allrounders of present, bowls at 140 mark. So What’s the real problem with the Indian bowlers .Let’s see some of the common issues.
‘Lifeless’ wickets
This has been a real problem for the fast bowlers, right from the legendary Kapil Dev. When India prepares for a test match, the first instruction given to the curator is to make a strip that turns from day 1. For that you really need a curator? Avoid rolling for a week and make it a dust bowl. It will have variable bounce and will turn sharply from day1. Winning in these kind of wickets will earn any appreciation?, rather the ground will be blacklisted and will be stripped off from conducting further test matches. When India outplayed the Aussies at the Perth in 2008, it was acclaimed as India’s one of the greatest win. Why it was considered like that? Simply because, It was played on one of the quickest and bounciest wicket on earth. So it is pretty clear that the temperament of team will only be tested, when they play on a sportive wicket. For a fast bowler, nothing more is annoying and demoralizing than playing on a wicket where the ball doesn’t bounce above the knee-roll. So, when you prepare decks that wont bounce and are graveyards for fast bowlers, then how can you develop genuine quicks?

Too many matches
Fast bowlers are prone to injury than spinners and slow bowlers. So we have to use them wisely and make sure that they get sufficient rest. Australia, now, have 8 fast bowlers in the reckoning, whom can be rotated. All these 8 bowlers have the ability to bowl at more than 145 KMPH. See the case of India. They have just 4 or 5 guys that too only 2-3 guys with some international exposure and the other factor is that India plays more international cricket than any other team! The result is India carrying a team of fatigued and injured bowlers, who are forced to play again and again despite being unfit.

So, If we have to come up with genuine fast bowlers, then we will have take a closer look at these factors and take necessary decisions. BCCI has ample money to provide facilities so it is up to them to make a move, otherwise we will be forced to go back to that time, where part-time bowlers ball with new-ball to take off the shine in the ball, before the spinners are introduced.

IPL 2010 – Truly Global

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

As the players auction concluded , we are all set to see the 3rd edition of Indian Premier league embark on. Lalit Modi has made a giant leap in pursuit of making the IPL a global event, by singing a 2 year deal with the Google-owned YouTube. As per this deal, YouTube users can see the live streaming of IPL 2010 through internet. This will also enable the UK spectators to see the IPL, as they would have missed the action due to television rights disputes.

The snubbing of the Pakistani players has sent a strong signal across the cricketing globe that, the players cant take the IPL for granted. If they are willing to lay majority of the matches, then they will get  contract. Many Australian players lost the contact due to this and Pakistanis lost it due to the animosity among the two nations.

So, after all the auction and broadcasting drama, the stage has set for breathtaking season of the Indian Premier League. Shane Bond is coming for his maiden IPL year, so is Keron Pollard. There are lot of quality bowlers and hard-hitting batsmen in this years IPL and we hope we will witness some scintillating matches like in 2008 and 2009.

ERRAND OF A COACH

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

What enters into the preamble of the role of a coach? How it is effective in the slice of sports and games? What is the real indication of a tutor and the way of his instruction to the pupils? All the above interrogations are often coming to mind of people who are involved in the field of sports and games. While we are instructing something about sports and games, a coach should be aware of the morrow of that particular game and he should have penchant on that game.

A real Coach should be a very good Communicator for providing clear instruction and feedback to the team and Individual players. Coach should be a good Teacher for developing the players’ skills and team tactics. Coach should be a very good Motivator for maintaining and controlling interest in players. Coach should be a very good Leader for organizing training, match day activities. Coach should be a very good Psychologist for dealing with various individual’s need and team. Coach should be a very good Manager for dealing with a wide range of players, officials and supporters. Coach should be a very good Sports supporter for developing fitness programs, injury prevention, care and management. Coach should be a very good Selector for selecting the team to best represent the club. Coach should be a very good Student for seeking continually to upgrade his knowledge of the game. Coach should be a very good Public Relations Expert for representing the club at official functions and community activities. Furthermore, there are some fundamental qualities of a coach viz; respect the individual, should have professionalism, capabilities to keep goal setting, using assistants, should have virtual planning for the preparation of innovative sessions, responsible for safety & fitness, should keep communication with learners, should have player discipline, should have potentialities for developing team spirit, should have ability to praising players’ responsibilities and skills, and capability to sustain team plan etc.. Moreover, a coach should summaries key points learnt from the exercise and encourage further practice.

It is a rhythm of coach that he never ever be a negative character or possessing discouraging attitude. Normal theory is that a coach should merely love the game and his players. It is not in a way of compelling students to improve their game and spirit. Real coach should express his views and skills and convert it into the mind of his/her students. Never ever use any abusing language in front of any learners, never demoralize any learner and do not create any misbehaving situations. Praise well, treat well and love them always, so that he could create a quality sportsman or a sportswoman.

Aussies Regained their Dominance, But Has ODI Cricket?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

There had been lot of talks about the existence of ODI Cricket before the start if the Champions Trophy 2009 and many opined that the Success of Champions Trophy would keep the ODI cricket afloat amid the euphoria of T20 carnivals like IPL, Champions league, ICC world T20 etc.  If we have to take those skeptics in to account then the life of ODI cricket is at stake.

The ICC has refashioned the Champions Trophy by trimming the no of teams to 8 and just 15 games to make it more attractive. But that has been an utter failure as just 1 match was decided in the final over and all the other games, including the Semi- Finals and Final were one-sided.

England and New Zealand did really well to knock out South Africa and Sri Lanka in the preliminary stages of the competition but couldn’t replicate that in the later stages when it mattered. South Africa continued their woeful outing in the ICC events and re-affirmed the ‘Chokers’ tag, which they were desperate to throw away. India was also no exception. They couldn’t justify the rankings and were crashed out in the first round. The absence of the pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, Explosive opener Virender Sehwag were added to India’s defeat but the retreat of Yuvraj Singh ,just before the start of the tournament had put India’s preparation in complete disarray. Sri Lanka looked mediocre in the absence of a fully-fit Muralitharan and an out-of-form Jayasuriya.

Australia peaked at the right time and that was perhaps the biggest difference of the tournament. They struggled early for the rhythm, however as the tournament reached the summit clash, they started to fire on all cylinders. New Zealand did well to reach the finals but held back in the crunch match. Australia are back at the helm, however it won’t be easy for them to sustain that.  They will face-off against India in 3 weeks time, which would be a hard-test for their rookies, who failed terribly in the last Indian tour.

The next 12 months will be a real test for ODI Cricket as during this period, as the world will witness the prime T20 tournaments like the Champions League T20, IPL 2010 and the World T20. The competition has been really stiff in the bi-lateral series but lacked that vigor in the multi-team tournaments and that has been the reason of plunge in the excitement as far as the ODI cricket is concerned. If things get worse, then we wouldn’t even see the 2011 World Cup and instead a T20 World Cup. It’s better to keep the fingers crossed until the 2011 World Cup.

Fitness for Cricket

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Being fit is critical in every sport as it will have huge difference in the application of skills pertaining to the game. Cricket is no exception. Modern day cricketers are very much cautious about their body as most of the matches are decided by the best fielding units that will be attainable only through high level of fitness. Here are some fitness tips, which would beneficial even for an amateur cricketer, who plays cricket not very often.

  • Start every Routine with a good warm up followed by stretches.
  • Focus on building a lower body and core
  • Use low-weights or free-weights to built a strong foundation
  • Mix long distance running and sprints to improve endurance and speed
  • Shuttle runs will improve the running between the wickets
  • Regular abs-workout can help you to improve your bowling.
  • Do small warm ups on match days and don’t try to work harder as you tend to become tired as the match starts.

Nutrition plays a very important role in fitness. If the workouts are not supported by proper nutrition, then the entire effort will go waste.  There are different aspects to be considered as far as nutrition is concerned. It is quite different for match days and practice sessions.

  • Drink more fluids to avoid de-hydration; especially salt-lime
  • Avoid consuming soft-drinks.
  • Avoid fatty and fried foods on match days as it can make you more tired and also fried foods
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables as it can increase your metabolism
  • Avoid food supplements unless you are a professional cricketer
  • Drink more water and fruit juices when your body is resting- This is the time where the nutrition comes in to play

All these points when combined will give you basic fitness. However, for a professional cricketer, a more structured program is vital.  If you are a beginner, remember that you must consult a doctor before starting any sort of work out regimes.

Tendulkar puts Youngsters to Shame

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

When Sachin Tendulkar bats like he did at the final match of the Compaq Cup, you can only sit back and enjoy it. The few who might have doubts that Tendulkar was beginning to rust would have to look the other way. The master blaster showed yesterday that he has absolutely no rust and no plans of slowing down as well.

During the post match interview yesterday, Tendulkar looked delighted and he had every reason to be. When asked about his body was holding up he replied that the body was holding up pretty well in spite of a few cramps and stuff. He has the payers of millions that his body continues to hold up as he goes on to conquer many many more records.

Ian Bishop’s comment at the end of the tournament really had me thinking. He said Tendulkar has only few demons to battle in his mind. It is very rarely that you would see a player sharing light talk with the opposition team’s players after the match. However Sachin has no qualms about doing chit chat with players from any team. This is an indication of his cool and composed nature. He keeps himself out of controversies which seem to be quite difficult for the likes of Harbhajan, Sreesanth and Symonds.

All in all, words cannot describe Sachin Tendulkar. He truly is a model for young and old alike. I guess we can take pride in the fact that we lived in the same era as him.

Master Proves His Class Yet Again

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Sachin Tendulkar has scored 9 ODI centuries and scored 7 times above 90 in the last 2 years. He is going strong as he gets older like a superior wine and his performance in the crunch matches has been quite exemplary. Sri Lanka didn’t had any clue of how to tame the master blaster when he was playing risk free yet sublime knock.

Sachin has been terrific in the last 3 finals which he played and amassed a mammoth 346 runs including 2 centuries and a fifty. He was accused of not playing to his potential after India lost several finals from 2000 to 2007 although he has played some terrific knock in the 1998 Sharjah cup and several other matches. He has silenced his critics with the help of these innings and the most important thing is that India triumphed in all these 3 finals.

Team India is in the race for the World No: 1 spot along with Australia and South Africa. If India wants to reach there and sustain it, Sachin will have a great role to play; playing solidly at the top and mentoring the youngsters to perform well when it matters. All the mentioned tasks are executed perfectly by Sachin and the performance of the team is a testimony of that.

Too Much of Cricket Will Spoil the Game

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

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There have been a lot of heated discussions prevailing in the cricketing world to ‘control’ the game. What does this ‘control’ imply? Is this to control the T20 matches to make the traditional versions alive or to truncate the Test matches and the ODI matches to increase the gush of money to cricket? ICC, at the helm of cricket is in a dilemma to choose the best for cricket; to make it popular at the same time not diluting it.

FIFA – the perfect example

So, what is the real concern? There are lots of wise men at the helm; however they couldn’t come to a conclusion to find the resolution for this ‘concern’. There are many things which cricket could learn from Football.  Being a game of small-duration, spectators endorse the brevity of Football, which perhaps is the main reason why it has roots across the globe. Being played in over 200 countries, football hardly has any crisis which threatens its existence. FIFA, the governing body of Football has the last word in football, when it comes to a decision. They continuously improve the game by applying new rules that would entice the spectators at the same time won’t kill the soul of the game. ICC should come up with new revenue models so that they stay on the top of the national cricket boards. Currently, ICC hardly has any power to stand against the power houses – India, Australia, England and South Africa. BCCI, the Indian cricket board stands tall due to the chunk of revenue coming from India.

Too Many Matches

‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ is perhaps 100% correct in the case of cricket. Let’s take the example of India – Pakistan matches before 2005 and after 2005. Though the matches played after 2005 were in front of a full house, the intensity plunged due to matches played often between them. The 80’s and the 90’s experienced lot of high-voltage contests between the two and never lacked the exuberance. Contrary to the current scenario is the Ashes series, which is not played very often, attracts lot of spectators and never lacks the intensity. It is the dream of every Aussie or English player to win the Ashes urn more than a World Cup simply because of the legacy it carries. Downsizing the number of bilateral series and implementing more 3 nation or 4 nation tournaments is also another solution.

Fortifying the grass-root level

The respective Cricket Boards should strengthen their domestic structure to form a good pool of potential players, who could represent their nation at any point. If the domestic structure is robust then, the team won’t lose its momentum when a senior player retires. Apart from this effort, the ICC should conduct the U-19 World Cup and other junior level ICC tournaments in more serious ways as these tournaments are the stepping stone for the youngsters to the International cricket.

All the efforts will go fruitless, if the member nations won’t participate actively. ICC could only formulate plans, which should be carried out by the member nations, who should not show their financial arrogance when decisions concerning the fate of the game are made.


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