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Designer pitches, self-adhesive labels

December 29, 2002 04:11 IST
Its very sad indeed that, first, comes Jhanjharia and eulogises Ganguly, and then comes one Mr. Balaji and does the same with Dravid. Why do we fail to see here that the situation is beyond mere individuals. Ganguly and Dravid are both excellent cricketers.
The one thing that Indian media should really do is to slam these pitches that have been afforded to the Indian team. Why are New Zealand not faring so well with their batting on these pitches? Were'nt the Craig McMillans and the Flemings and the Astles not born there and played their cricket on such pitches all their life. Why then are they failing to get bat on ball? C'mon give our cricketers a break and slam these substandard pitches. What would the Aussie media have done?
Send Jhanjharia and Balaji and let them face Bond and Tuffey and let them see how hard the game is and let them get a few stitches on their chins and they will then stop the stupidity that they spit out at the readers.
--Setu Roday
Prem Panicker responds: Sad? I don't know -- I found it rather amusing that this entire storm blew up because of a column I wrote suggesting that maybe it is time to forget personalities and focus entirely on results.
The pitches have been criticized, and will continue to be. I'd think an even better time to do that would be when one such team comes visiting, and begins that whine about 'designer pitches'. What beats me, though, is how we ourselves fall into this trap -- thus, a wicket that turns is a "designer pitch" (which essentially is a tag given by a bunch of cricketers who can't play spin in their dreams) whereas a track more suited to lawn tennis is a "fast, testing track".
I'm all for realising what our shortcomings are, and working towards overcoming them, even if it means creating fast pitches at home for domestic competitions -- but damned if I know why we accept, and perpetuate, the labels stuck on us by others.
It indeed appears Mr Kishan Jhanjharia is so in love with his writing that he seems to lose what exactly he is saying. Actually I do see where his love affair with Ganguly emantes from, they both seem to suffer from verbal diarrhea, at the wrong time. A word for Mr Jhanjharia, he needs to ask for money back from the school he went to because while they thought him to write well, they forgot to impart wisdom with it.

As an avid follower of cricket and reporting on it, I would like to say that Prem provides some of the finest pieces there is, whether it is in reporting or analyzing.


Prem Panicker responds: You guys reckon we can drop what was at no point a particularly interesting subject? In our job, there are times when we are apt to celebrate a cricketer's, or the team's performance; alternately, there will also be times when we critique the player, the team, or both. We hope to do that based on what actually happens on the field of play -- if it then translates, in the minds of a section of the readers, as bias or whatever, we are okay with that; as far as we are concerned, such mail is more indicative of the reader's bias, than our own. Faisal and I are grateful for the kudos, we'll take the abuse -- even of the intemperate variety -- and let's leave it at that, this forum is far better used to debate and/or have fun with the game. Thanks, guys.


Saurav Ganguly should not be the captain of the Indian Test Cricket Team for the simple reason that he has not led from the front by example.

A Good Leader whether in cricket, any other sport, business, war and life always leads from the front by example. Come back to the old management saying, Leadership is Action, not Position and on that count Saurav Ganguly fails miserably in the Test matches.

Take the example of any other country, Australia - Steve Waugh, South Africa - Shaun Pollock, Pakistan - Waqar Younis, Sri Lanka - Sanath Jayasuriya, West Indies - Carl Hooper, New Zealand - Stephen Fleming all lead from the front by example, they are the ones who perform and expect the same from others.

Apart from a century in Sri Lanka in the test matches last year and a century versus England in Aug. 2002 Saurav Ganguly has not performed with the bat as a captain. Saurav Ganguly is a very good motivator as it appears reading and watching the interviews of Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Kaif, Nehra, Zaheer and others but alongwith supporting the team members and encouraging and motivating them, a captain has also got to perform, as he is also a part of the eleven.

Look at the case of Steve Waugh, he has to fight for a place in a team that is by far the best in the world and has been so for the past few years, still the Australian selectors want to consider Steve Waugh as a part of the eleven and judge his performance with others and for that being a captain does not offer him any leeway.

So why are we persisting with Saurav Ganguly? Yes, he is an inspiring factor for the youngsters, but then a non-playing person can also motivate the team, we need a Captain who leads from the Front by Example. We need Rahul Dravid as the captain of Indian Test Cricket Team. It is time for Saurav Ganguly to go back to Ranji Trophy cricket, smash a few centuries (on however placid the tracks maybe) and then make a comeback into the Indian team.

I was reading the reader response articles and felt like writing this.



Seeing the debacle of all the Asian countries over the last 2 months, and overseas performances of all teams over the years, I have a few points to discuss.

Any team is a tiger at home... and a mouse abroad. Therefore, it is highly absurd to have a world-cup at a single location, providing an easy route to the host to the semi-final. The fact that they have not gone on to win the world cup(except in the case of SL in 1996 maybe) is maybe because of having one bad day. Can you envision the New Zealand reaching the semi finals in 1992 if the event was held elsewhere? Or Lankans winning the cup if it were held in SA or England, irrespective of the fact they were a rejuvenated side? Or Lankans reaching the finals of a Champions Trophy this year?

I feel it is better to have a World Cup like the English Premier league or something on a home and away basis. Similarly we can have a Test championship. It will sure take a lot of time, but it will be a conclusive judge of which team is really the best in both forms of the game.

U might want to argue that the tours that all teams undergo serve the same purpose. But the problem is the cycle between one team playing all other teams takes a long time, and every series does not have the best players of both the sides. Hence I am not sure if that really counts. Therefore all the rankings do not really produce the correct picture.

I gave some thoughts towards this and am of the opinion that a test championship in this format can be held in less than 5 months, assuming you have 5 test matches (10 test playing nations) happening at the same time. 1 cycle completes in 5 days, 18 such cycles will take 90 days, with breaks between cycles, a 5 month period is sufficient. I am sure these 5 months will provide exhilarating cricket for all. A similar format for one dayers can be thought of instead of the World Cup/Champions Trophy.

I have not really thought of the logistics aspect of holding such a competition, and maybe you can throw some light on this. :-) Have you ever had thoughts like this? Do you think this is a good idea? If no/yes why? Do let me know.

--Avinash Iyer

Prem Panicker responds: Actually, since you use the soccer analogy, you do have the soccer World Cup being staged in one single location, once in four years. In fact, that is pretty much true of almost all team sports -- hockey, cricket, soccer, what have you. Or even the Olympics.

I suspect the main reason why no one is arguing too strenuously for a one day World Series on the lines you mention is that it will effectively ensure that close to half of your cricketing year is taken up with these slam-bam games, leaving very little time for Test cricket.

As far as the Test championship is concerned, I couldn't agree with you more. It was during Dalmiya's time as ICC chief that the body started work on such a tournament. The pity -- at least to my mind -- is that instead of going for a concentrated Test tournament (even say once in four years) that would, within a defined time frame of say five, six months have the various Test nations play each other home and away, it chose the more complicated route of coming up with four-year schedules and points and stuff.

One problem with the format is that it does not put emphasis on a 'team' -- if you define team as a collection of say 14 specific individuals. But for me the bigger problem is that the whole thing is so complicated, no one could care a hoot -- I mean, this Test championship business has been going on for over a year now and yet, it has stirred no excitement among the average follower, simply because we are not watching two (or ten) teams do battle, what we are doing is sitting down with tables and calculators and stuff trying to keep track of who beat who when -- and who can be bothered to do that?

I'd personally love to see that happen -- a Test championship, say once in four years, spread over say six months during which all other cricketing business stops. There is much lament that Test cricket doesn't draw crowds any more (at least, outside the subcontinent and Australia) -- a tournament like this would help bring the interest back.


The shallow defeat for the Indian team in New Zealand will be put in better prespective if we were,for one second,to look at this differently.Assume this series had been played in India with the conditions loaded in India's favour just as they were in the Kiwis's favour in Kiwiland(What did we expect dusty turners!)what do you think the result would have been?We would have seen a 2-0 Indian Victory.However the matches would have lasted longer as the Indians would have batted for two days atleast in the only inning they would have needed to play.Bajji and gang below him in the batting order would not have even got to bat!

Given the above scene, the fact that the Kiwi batsmen were seen dancing to Bajjis tunes even in their own backyard says eloquently what many people missed:this kiwi batting line up is not above even England's for failing in their own backyard against a set of bowlers who would find it very difficult to get in the smelling distance of Mcgrath n co in quality.
Indian batsmen however must accept that they were in ONE DAY mode throughout the series and that was their failing.
P.S.:Given his recent test performance,does Sourav Ganguly deserve his place in the side let alone captain it?
I believe the best player must be in the team and one among them should captain.Makes sense?
--Anand Natrajan
Prem Panicker responds: If your point is that all the talk has been about Indian batting failures, and that no one is really looking at how crumbly the Kiwi lineup is, I agree absolutely. Never mind India adapting to 'away' conditions, the Kiwis are struggling to adapt to their own conditions, which is somewhat amusing given all the talk.
Having said that, though, I'd think that to an extent the spotlight being entirely on the Indians is understandable -- after all, the team did go in to this tour with the reputation of being 'the best batting lineup in the world'.
Actually, that is the thing I find myself always curious about -- how do these titles get conferred? Sooner or later, someone somewhere says it, more often that not on television. Then it is picked up, and repeated often enough to give it the stature of fact. And next thing you know, someone or the other is going, best batting lineup, hmph!
As to the other -- you don't even need to look at the personalities involved. I believe -- alright, this is my opinion but what the heck, you asked -- that the best way always is to select a team, then from within it, pick a captain. It need not necessarily be the best batsman in the side, even -- the idea would be to pick within the 14 the player best suited to the job of leading the others.

After the scintillating performances in the Tests and the first ODI, I dreamt that 2 of our millionaire superstars had announced that they would be donating half their match fees to charity. Of course, I had a good laugh about it the next morning for being so naive as to even think such a thing.

--Anil Kelkar

Prem Panicker responds: Actually, Anil, maybe you should pay a touch more attention to your dreams -- they seem to be reasonably spot on. By which I don't mean that Indian cricketers immediately donate half their earnings to charity when they lose a game -- but many of them do, irrespective of results, contribute a tremendous amount in both money and time to various charitable causes, more in fact than you would imagine. And to their credit, they do this well away from the spotlight.



Of Injuries, Sham and Otherwise

Shut Up and Get Out, Prem Panicker