» Cricket » 'This Pakistan tour will be tougher'

'This Pakistan tour will be tougher'

December 23, 2005 19:11 IST
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As part of a series of weekly chats on cricket, Prem Panicker appeared on the rediff Chat at 1300 EDT/1000 PDT on December 23. Following is a transcript of the chat.

Earlier transcripts:
- 'Ganguly ouster was wrong'
'On form pick Yuvi ahead of Sourav'
- 'Ganguly batting in top gear can win games'

Also see Prem's blog:

Prem Panicker : Good day all. Will be here for just a little over an hour today -- there is a transport strike in NYC and India Abroad's production schedules are out of whack, which is why.

Kamala : Good Day, Prem !! Hopefully you do not live "near a rock".
Prem Panicker : Ah no :-) In Manhattan, so I don't personally have any problem, but it's playing heck with staff strength and production schedules, unfortunately :-(

srisri : Prem, What do you say the result would be of the Pak series? Will it be 2-1 like the last time, in India's favour?
Prem Panicker : I'll leave the tea-leaf reading to those who are good at it, friend :-) The last time we were there, we were up against a disorganized, demoralized Pakistan side. If the way they played England is any indication, that is a thing of the past -- the team is back, its various components are clicking together. India is also a team on the mend, so the one thing you can safely predict is it's going to be the heck of a series.

srisri : With the BCCI president's backing, I think SG will roar back to form. Really miss SG, at his best. What do you say?
Prem Panicker : That's a two-part query. I'd really love to see Sourav bat at his best -- in top form and top gear, he is a spectacle all by himself. One thing, though -- the BCCI, Parliament, all of India can back him, and even put him back in the team, but that alone is no guarantor of form and runs; that bit, Sourav has to do all by himself. Be interesting to see how he rises to the challenge.

mjmj : Can India take on Pak with bowlers like A'kar?
Prem Panicker : Why not, boss? We have, before.

Crickup : As one of the powerful members (read wealthiest) of the ICC, why do we not do anything regarding the crisis in Zimbabwe cricket? I have read that before the NZ-Ind-Ziw ODI series, the NZ parliament passed a resolution condemning the atrocities in Zimbabwe but there was not a single mention in any of the Indian newspaper. Don't you think that as a journalist (even as a cricket journalist) you have an obligation to raise this issue and bring pressure on the Indian board? As a precendent we did support the exclusion of SA during apartheid but not in Zimbabwe?
Prem Panicker : We do have an obligation, as a member of the ICC, to push for action. I don't yet know -- the BCCI has been silent on that -- what discussions if any the board has had with the ICC on the issue though.As to the journalist bit, mate, it's been three years since I stopped writing on cricket issues on Rediff, as you probably noticed. Is it a larger question of whether journalists should bring this up? Yes, certainly.

Kamala : Why didn't India have a conditioning camp before Pak Tour ? Is it some kind of strategy of Chappell ?
Prem Panicker : Doubt there is any 'strategy' in not having a camp. More a question of giving the guys a bit of a break. They have been playing hard cricket for some time now -- the ODI series against SL and SA and then the Tests versus SL, so it is not like the start of a season where you need a camp to get the guys back into a cricket mindset. I'd think they'd likely be given their off-duty fitness regimen, and a bit of downtime with families ahead of what is going to be a heck of a tough tour.

Kamala : 2nd Question: It semms SG's entery into the test team is slim with Chappell's comment of "Support me or find another coach". What's your take ?
Prem Panicker : I doubt that statement was made in respect of Ganguly; it is more a case of the coach saying look, you want me to do a job, let me do it. And if you don't, fine, tell me so.

Harsha : Prem, isnt the top order of India esp the form of the top 4 batsmen in test matches a cause for concern when taking on Pakistan. None of them seem to be in top form at the moment and looks like it has to be set right before the Pak tour. Cant expect the Dhonis and Pathans to come good in every innings in Pak - they have a quality attack
Prem Panicker : I notice from Viru Sehwag's comments that this concern is shared by the team :-) Then again -- if I remember right, Sehwag himself was in hospital ahead of the second Test. Rahul Dravid was hospitalized ahead of the third Test. That is two members of the top four not in the best of health. Laxman's form seems good; Sachin looked in touch before he got that bummer in the Motera Test. The real question mark is with ref Gambhir -- but even he, unless my memory is totally mucked up, has only had this one bad Test series. So while the team will obviously be working on this bit, I am not sure panic buttons need pressing just yet

shantanu : Hey Prem, do you see any future for Zaheer Khan, Nehra and Balaji to make a comeback? If preparing the team for the WC2007 is a priority then surely having fast bowlers bowling regularly in ODI's and tests should be a priority too.
Prem Panicker : Nehra, last I heard, is in Aus working on his fitness. Balaji likewise, I recall reading, is working on some fitness issues. Zaheer Khan is the one in form and fitness, judging by domestic performances since the return from Zimbabwe -- so I'd expect to see him in the team to Pak. I agree that the other two have vital roles to play in the team -- provided they are fully fit, though, which at this point of time they seem not to be

Amitabh : Hey Prem, do you think it is a good example being set where Saurav Ganguly meets Dalmiya, Pawar over him not being in the team... Why are we diluting the role of the Selection Committee? Why have the Selection Committee (if external influence or zonal politics is going to intervene) ?
Prem Panicker : I think the entire Ganguly issue has been mismanaged by all concerned. By the selectors, whose duty it was in this case to ensure that SG knew what was coming, and not learn of it in the media. By the board, for not being clear in its statements on the issue. By the people taking to the streets and threatening bandhs and stuff over the exclusion of one player, whoever it is. By pols making political capital out of it. And by all these discussions and 'healthy meetings' SG has been having. If the BCCI has no faith in its selection committee, it needs to change it. If it thinks it is doing a proper job, the board needs to say so, and let them be. IMHO

savster : Should we support Agarkar now for his decent run with ball and bat during pk-india series, although he has a past with inconsistent form?
Prem Panicker : He's decent, but when it comes to picking the playing eleven, I'd think the questions the team will have to answer to itself are: 1. Do the conditions warrant three seamers or two? 2. If it is two seamers, who are the ones best fitted to lead the attack. You'll likely have a better sense of where Agarkar fits into that scheme of things on Saturday, when we know the composition of the team to Pak

DK : Hi There, DO you expect India to better in Pak ? It is very clear that India has lot of problems at the top order. Bowling may or may not click. Any idea ?
Prem Panicker : I'd expect them to do well in Pak, yes; don't see any reason why not. We keep talking of this 'lot of problems at the top of the order' -- which would refer to Viru, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman? If those five are collectively not in form, then I don't see where the solution lies, frankly.

pakkiya : Hello Prem. Always enjoyed your insights. What do you think about India's chances in the forthcoming PAK sseries, especially when both the teams are on a roll.
Prem Panicker : :-) That's the third time of asking this question. *L* I honestly think it's going to be one heck of a contest. How it goes depends on so many imponderables -- the nature of the pitches prepared, which we are told is apt to be fast; the form of the Pak bowling lineup; the form of the Pak batting too (we keep talking only of India's batting -- Pak hasn't exactly looked convincing in that department, outside of a couple of exceptions). And finally, there is that imponderable -- just who, on the day, is more hungry, who holds his nerve better. I know this much -- dont intend to miss a moment of the tour.

HarshaHP : Prem, what do you make of Tendulkar's fitness post his come back? He started off with a bang in the ODI's and then tapered off. Do you think Tendulkar is still apprehensive about that elbow of his? Are you seeing Tendulkar curbing any of this shots that he would otherwise play if he is 100%??
Prem Panicker : Actually, no, I don't think he has been. At least, I didn't watch the Tests too carefully, in the sense, didn't stay up all night five days in a row. In the ODIs, though, I thought after that start, if his form petered off it had more to do with some decision in his own mind to throttle back -- but nothing I saw made me suspect that injury or concern over the full recovery of the elbow had anything to do with it

SA : Hi Prem, What makes you an authority on cricket? Have you played any good cricket? Just wanted to know your crciekting background. Ni hard feeling.
Prem Panicker : None, mate. I have vague memories of hitting my sister's bowling out of the home and into the neighbor's window, but that's about it. I've also covered elections without ever having contested them; interviewed prime ministers without ever having been one, and so on :-)By way of aside -- isn't it curious that we never ask what qualifications an ex-crickter has to be a journalist?

Renga : Hello Prem, What do u think the India's strategy should be against Pakistan when they play over there ? I know Pakis must be aggressive this time to take the revenge.
Prem Panicker : Boss -- isn't it way too early to be even thinking of what the strategy could be? We don't know what the two teams are yet, though Pak has announced it will retain pretty much the same side. We don't know what kind of pitches there will be for the series. We don't know who, in the opinion of our selectors, are going to be our batsmen and bowlers. I'd think this particular part of the discussion is best left to the next chat, no, when there would be greater clarity on some at least of these things?

CricketLover : Is there any truth to the report that the selections are going with 3 openers + 4 middle order batsmen + 7 bowlers + 1 WK for the Pakistan tour? In this case I think Ganguly would probably miss out and also how many players does the tour party consist of?
Prem Panicker : I read that story a couple days back, in Indian Express if I am not mistaken. I don't know if that was speculation, or inside information based on off record chats with one or more selectors. I'd think, though -- and this is irrespective of the Ganguly question -- that you wouldn't really want to carry three openers with you. The selectors need to make a call on whether Gambhir's form blip is temporary; if not, they need to decide who his replacement should be, and pick him. Three opening batsmen and four middle order batsmen is seriously imbalance -- especially considering we are merely hopping across the border, and worst comes to worst, we can always fly someone home and a replacement out within hours.

raviranjan : Hi Prem, Do you think it is fair to discuss Ganguly in parliament? Looks like all the politicians from West Bengal have gone overboard. The sports jornalists from Telegraph write the pieces- as if they wan't India to fail so that they can justify Ganguly's inclusion.
Prem Panicker : No I don't. But then, politicians love the limelight and know an emotive issue when they see one. Did you read the account of the discussion they finally had? You could laugh, if only to keep from weeping -- lots of words about uplifting the standard of sport in th e country; they've been saying this from Indira Gandhi's time though and nothing has come of it.

Subbu : Hi Prem, What is your personal take on whether Saurav will make it back...? And if so, how would it be justifed by the 'authorities'? (Assuming it will have to justified that is...;))Subbu
Prem Panicker : I personally suspect the selectors will go ahead and pick him, and look innocent and say in justification that they had clearly said, when dropping him for Ahmedabad, that the door was not shut on him for the Pak tour anyway.

RonyPony : 2,2,2,39,19,11,2,67,93,9,123,6,2,4,47,19,16,74,18,78,82,11,18,37. 31,2,19,20,5,26,51,18,4,9,0,22,55,22,0,48,0,90,90,7,24,25,79,39,60.The total of the first row is 673. Whereas The total of the next row is 746.This is full of surprise.The first one is the total of last 25 ODI innings of the Indian great Sachin. The second one is of Mr. Sourav. If Sourav has been shown the door...why Not Sachin? Is this Star PAWAR?
Prem Panicker : If I remember correctly, this is clipped from an email that has been doing the rounds for some time now. I could answer this by spending 10 15 minutes with a list of scorecards -- but will avoid for now. Aren't you going to post the second part of this anyway, the one about Tests? BY the way, if I remember right, Sachin was out for six months through injury. How about putting up the scores of the last 25 ODIs both batsmen played in TOGETHER -- that way, we might have a better basis of comparison, since the opponents and conditions would be the same.

Viswa : Prem: Are you the Music Guy from Bay Area once upon a Time?
Prem Panicker : No sir

Gaurav : Prem do you think it was sensible of pawar to have a high-profile meeting with ganguly that was known to the public ?
Prem Panicker : I donno if it was 'sensible' or no -- it certainly was practical. Per reports, Ganguly called the BCCI chief and asked if they could meet -- why Pawar, that is not something any board chief will say no to, a meeting with a senior player who is upset about something. Can't see what else Pawar could have done, actually

vivek : Hi Prem, What do you think is the future of india after Kumble retires which may be in 2-3 years, since We don't see any new talent being nurtured. Is is going to be only Bhajji? what is your take on this
Prem Panicker : Its not just Kumble, that's the catch. There is Sachin, Rahul, Laxman to name just three, who are likely into their last 3, 4 years tops. Add Sourav to that mix -- and down the line we could be in the same sort of fix Aus is in now. Which again is one very good reason why the selectors need to continue their push for blooding youngsters.

ranajoy_sarkar : Hey Prem, wanted your opinion on a comment from the Sportstar article on Ganguly (who else?). It says "When Sourav asked Dravid for help during the crisis with Greg, Dravid, who had wanted Wright to stay on, said "You were responsible for getting him here, now you handle him". Do you have any information or inside scoop on this.
Prem Panicker : No sir. I read that comment, and that is the first I hear that RD and SG had differences over who should be coach. Ironic, really, if this is true -- that RD who wanted Wright is getting on well with Chappell, and Sourav who backed Chappell is the one now at odds with him

rakasworld : since you talk about not knowing the teams, any inside info on SG making the team for pak tour? if thats true then we can as well turn off our TV now.
Prem Panicker : No inside info, in the sense no I haven't spoken even off record to the selectors -- but from watching how things have been orchestrated over the past 8-10 days, I'd be surprised to the point of a coronary if Ganguly is actually not picked for the squad -- every indication now is he will be.

RonyPony : If performance and not star system is going to be the key for inclusion in the Indian team, well then figures don't lie and they say it all. Note that, I am not saying Ganguly is a better player than Sachin but both are at the same level if their latest performances are to be considered. So when some Ganguly haters start barking that Ganguly hasn't been performing of late, the facts say, so hasn't Sachin. Shouldn't be the parameters for selection to the Indian team be the same for all the players or when Sachin's turn comes past performances and huge experience are the criteria. Then we should start calling back Gavaskar, Shastri and the likes. Of late whenever India needed Sachin to perform under pressure he almost always failed. The latest being the series against SA. What do you say Mr. Prem?
Prem Panicker : Sure. The parameters of selection should be the same. No argument there. If you are suggesting that Sachin is not worth his place as one of the top six batsmen in the country on the basis of present form, then fine -- who do you suggest takes his place?

siva : Prem do you think that any of the Tamil nadu batsman or pace bowlers will be under the selection or atleast knock the doors for indian selection?
Prem Panicker : As on date? I don't see that happening -- most of the guys, like Sriram and Sharath for instance, have been knocking doors till their knuckles are sore and nothing has come of it -- I doubt at least in the short term, say the Pak tour and the England tour, any of them are really in the selectors' frame.

Gaurav : Prem how do you judge venugopal rao ?? some of his shots reminded me of gundappa viswanath
Prem Panicker : I donno, pal -- I know the similarity you are talking of when it comes to him playing square of the wicket (enhanced perhaps by his stature, he is the same size as Vishy). It's a bit like at one time, Yashpal Sharma used to provoke the same comparison, especially in his square cutting. Thing is, Rao thus far at the highest level hasn't played an innings of sufficient length, against sufficiently challenging bowlers, for you to want to make up your mind whether he has an all round game, or whether he just plays the one shot that makes us nostalgic.

roger : Prem, do you think Chappel or anybody else is making a sincere effort to concentrate on our bowling attack. The shuffling around with the batting order, improvement in fielding is great.. but how about the bowling.. we don't seem to have any consistent performers..
Prem Panicker : Um... you have Pathan who has settled in, you have Bajji who is now bowling well, you have Kumble who seems to have gotten younger and a tad more lethal. We have a problem with our fourth bowler slot, partly through injuries, partly through the vagaries of selection. But I notice the team increasingly is calling on blokes outside the frame -- for instance, Piyush Chawla on a couple of occasons was invited to join the team at practise, VRV Singh I remember reading was called to Motera -- so yeah, I'd think the team management is examining options

tffy : Prem - hope you can answer this non cricket question for me. Whats up with Varsha Bhosle? Is she still with rediff? Thanks!!!!
Prem Panicker : She is not. I last spoke to her mid-2005 when she was touring here, and we were supposed to do dinner but it never happened. Since then, no idea where she is -- thanks for reminding me, have to send her a New Year email :-)

sriraj : Prem, quick question on having a stable opening pair...if you actually trace it back in time, we have not had a stable opening pair (in tests i.e.) since Sunny-Srikkanth. We seems to be having strong components in other aspects of the game (coach, captian, team staff, batsmen, spinners, pacers) but our opening slots seem to be our Achilles Heel. Any comments? Thanks, Sriraj (also, love your blog)
Prem Panicker : That's true. We have had periods when combinations have clicked -- like Chauhan and Sunny, for instance, or Sunny and Srikanth, and so on, but at no time have we had a partnership that lasted years. Why? I suspect at least in recent times, it is because we are not picking a guy based on skill sets, but merely on runs in domestic. Gandhi, Dasgupta, Jaffar and so on, there's a long list. My personal opinion is Akash Chopra is among those we have seen till date the best bet for the long haul -- but then we kicked him out claiming he was too slow and on the basis of a temp slump, got in Gambhir, and now are on the verge of kicking Gambhir out and bringing in someone else.

HarshaHP : Prem, how do you rate the Dravid-Chappell combo?? Looks like they respect each other very much and they seem to hit off well. What do you make of some of the stratergies like making Pathan open and bowling Bhajji with the new ball. Personally i think all that takes guts especially if it doesnt come off you will look foolish in India where everyone has an opinion. Appreciate your insights
Prem Panicker : I think, looking in from the outside, they are clicking nicely. Then again, I'd expect RD to pretty much click with any sensible coach -- he has a mind of his own, but he is equally the sort of guyy who will listen to everyone, take all sorts of ideas on board, and not get impatient. Sourav tended, from whatever I know, to be less inclined to long strategy discussions and such.

vakalapudi : Hi Prem Why same set of rules two guys in the same team? Why none of the selectors has commented about sachin's recent failures? and everybody is talking about Ganguly. Do you think is it fair?
Prem Panicker : Which set of failures, mate? You mean the century that set up the second Test?

Gaurav : Prem arent we unnecessarily worryin g over the future ?? already we have got one yuvraj to replace ganguly ... im sure we will keep getting such players as and when needed ...
Prem Panicker : I wasn't exactly worrying -- we've had greats bow out before and always found replacements (I mean, we lost Sunny, Vishy, Vengsarkar, Mohinder, Kaps and others all in a shortish span of time and didn't exactly collapse in a heap). I'd expect we will replace Sachin, Sourav, Rahul and the others too -- my comment was merely that it might help to be aware of what's coming, and think ahead so the replacements are match ready before we actually need them

Amit : Prem, in your stint as a cricket journalist, did you come across any specific measures used by indian batsmen in practicing to negotiate/play strokes off seaming/moving balls?
Prem Panicker : Oh they do lots of things -- the taped rubber ball, plastic balls on tarmac or cement, wet tennis balls taped or no; even having bowlers bowl at them off reduced pitch-lengths, like 18 yards, so the ball comes way quicker.

Gaurav : Prem do you think RD needs to consciously be more forthcoming in order to avoid the impression that is being created - that he is GC's yes-man ??
Prem Panicker : Not really. Honestly, in any profession, I'd think it is counter productive to base your actions and words on the perceptions others have and how to counter them -- no matter what you do people will talk, you might as well do what fits the sort of person you are.

mvp : Do you think Dheeraj Jadhav should be given a chance as opener for the Pak tour? I think India is missing the way Akash Chopra played - his good defensive technique saw off the new ball and we didn't have as many collapses when he was around. Do you see him being brought back? Does Jadhav have a good defensive technique?
Prem Panicker : I just a while ago mentioned Akash as my pick. I notice Dheeraj Yadav has been getting a lot of media play and I've even had mails from some readers about whether he should be in the team or no; thing though is, I haven't seen the lad play, yet, so I'll leave the judgment to those of you who have. What do you think, does he have the skill set and the nous to make it?

rohan : Do u think Kumble and Mcgrath are temperamentally very alike bowlers in the fact that they both fustrate batsmen into making mistakes using their unerring accuracy and the age old virtues of line and length. Also do u think this makes them ineffective on tracks that are unresponsive to their styles of bowling?
Prem Panicker : In a sense, their cricketing mindset is similar in that they rely on accuracy, yes. But I'd think that is the safer option, because accuracy doesnt exactly go out of style on any type of pitch -- which is why over the long run the mcgrath/kumble type, who has a basic zone they bowl in and a series of set-piece variations they use depending on the batsman they are facing and the conditions, would be more successful than the sort of bloke who is brilliant when conditions suit him, and ordinary when not

RonyPony : Hey Prem, Why don't you share some of your pictures with us? Don't you think it feels very odd to chat with a celebrity without knowing how he/she looks? Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee
Prem Panicker : Of course I will -- the day I become a celebrity. For now, as a journalist, my byline is good enough, thanks mate

gau : Prem do you plan to settle in the US or return to India some time in the near future ??
Prem Panicker : I have no intention of settling in the US, if you mean permanently. When I return to India, though, would depend largely on Rediff, which has assigned me to the NY office to do a specific job of work -- and which can and prolly will assign me some other job when it believes this one is done

Dilhara : Sir,will the same india team beat lanka in lanka?
Prem Panicker : I don't really see why not. As on date, the Lankan team is struggling in more ways than one -- starting with wrong selections, reported ill feeling inside the dressing room, bad form, and so on

Giri : Prem Another non-cricket question. Why did you guys close Rediff radio. All I was told in an email was that we are upgrading the site. Wow quite an upgrade that site was closedWhat happened?
Prem Panicker : We needed to shut Radio down for various operational reasons, pal, that was a management decision. As the mail indicated, it is not a permanent shut down -- at some point I presume it will go back up, but I dont think that is on the slate for the immediate future

hetal : Prem, why ppl are opposing Greg. I see him one of the best coach in the world.You i wathc lot of games like American Football, Baketball, Baseball. In all the games who is the importent Coach and what ever coach say they play according to that. Coach is the main reponsible for winning or lossing of the game. But out indian ppl dont;t understand that.What you have to say about Greg?
Prem Panicker : Probably because we as a race are more used to thinking with the heart as opposed to the head?

gau : prem do you think kumble will be picked for odis now ahead of karthik ??
Prem Panicker : If the selectors mean what they say, about needing younger players, and also needing for ODIs players who are fit, and good to save runs on the field over and above their basic skill set, I doubt they can or will pick Kumble

rao : Hi PremSA has managed to survive the Ausssie Onsluaght for the first test. Do they think they can pull of an upsets over aussies at home?
Prem Panicker : Be brilliant if they do, no? There were shades here of how we started our 2003 tour -- outplayed for the large part of the game, but one stirring performance by Sourav Ganguly setting it up for the team to collectively get a second wind and fight back.

gau : Prem which would you say is sachin tendulkar's best 100 in test cricket ?? 136 at chennai v pak ?? any other ?? why ?
Prem Panicker : I donno I would pick any one of a few I enjoy watching over and over. Chenn ai is one; the onslaught he authored with Azhar in SA is another; Perth is a third... there are a few innings I enjoy, each has something different that I liked, so I've never felt happy picking one

Srikant : Hi Prem,I have not really beena fan of Greg Chappel...he might have improved discipline...and improved the fitness level of the indian team...but dont you think that he had no business pointing his middle finger to the Indians. Some one had rightly pointed that if the same thing was done by an Indian coach in Australia....things would have been different. WHY ARE WE SUPPORTING THIS GUY....when he clearly has no respect for Indians and their feeling...and also...his public spat with SG less than 2 months after being selected as the doesnt speak good of the person...whats more...he is insulting a person of SG's stature...i am not a bengali...but i would want SG to be reinstated in the team...the guy showed so much fighting skills in the delhi my opinion...GC is not good for indian cricket...he might be showing results now...but soon..he is going to bring down the entire team....i think that guys a little crazy and doesnt respect indians...what do you think?
Prem Panicker : Hang on, let me see -- in what, three months, he has improved discipline, he has improved fitness, results are coming in, but he is lousy because he flipped the finger?While I thought the act itself was pretty silly -- this is the era of cameras everywhere, anyone in the public eye needs to show some sense -- silly is all it was. About as much an example of good behavior as abusive crowds conducting the funeral rights of a person still alive. I personally, if someone flipped a finger at me, would prolly shrug a shoulder and reckon he goes down a tad in my estimation, or if I am pissed off enough, flip mine right back at him. And move on. I certainly, and this is my personal viewpoint, woiuldn't go around thinking he had insulted me, my family, my friends, my religion, my country, and the whole human race.

sita : Prem, why age is used as a descrimination in our criket selection. Is'nt it unfair to descreminate against age, race etc.Is'nt it that a person shd be taken in a team only of he is performing whether he is 35 or 25. What is your comments.
Prem Panicker : I dont think 'age' is being used in the sense, no one is saying okay, you are 32, you cant play. 'Age' is being used primarily to delineate many things that go with the ageing process -- a slowing down of reflexes, the decreasing coordination between eye, mind, and hands, that sort of thing. I mean, look at it this way -- in 1996 through 2000, I used to do both live ball by ball comm entary and chat at the same time, which meant typing detailed posts per ball AND reading and answering questions. Now I am doing just the chat, and finding I am much slower than I used to be -- that is, in my case, 'age'.

somnath : Prem, Raj singh became the Indian manager on Pak tour. Knowing that he is totally a ganguly basher would it be good for ganguly to step out from PAK tour?
Prem Panicker : duh, why? It is not like RSD will 'bash' ganguly in the dressing room, if it comes to that.

PT : Atapattu mentioned that India exploited the pitches better - Is is as simple as that? I thought he was not being sportive. What about talent, hunger, application, strategy? what do you think...
Prem Panicker : The losing captain in his disappointment says something in those post game interviews, donno if we even need to really talk about it. :-) It would be a bit like, when we lost the ODI series in SL, if we were to say the pitches were prepared for the SL slower bowlers and they used them better.

nysocial : Do u think SEHWAG deserves a place in the team after all the bad games he has played...
Prem Panicker : Um. This is still 2005, right? I donno, mate, why not go through his Test innings this year and make up your own mind?

asasa : i have few dreams Prem,Substantial innings from sachin in the second innings, aka chennai for winning cause.Veeru double hundred in one day match.will my dream come true? your take please
Prem Panicker : *LOL* Okay, part one likely will. Part two? I donno -- a double hundred will happen one of these days, but damned if I know who will do it. You know, coincidentally, yesterday evening I was watching a video of the Vizag one dayer against Pak? The one where first Sehwag, then Dhoni, went ballistic? I thought in that game, either could have done it -- but it takes a tremendous effort to hit that hard, that often, and that long.

gau : prem do you agree with me that yuvraj is probably the best natural all-round striker of the ball we have produced since sachin tendulkar ??
Prem Panicker : As a pure striker? I'd maybe put Sehwag ahead of Yuvraj on that count

MyPrecious1 : Hello Prem, My opinion on Ganguly's episode is that he was selected for Test Series keeping the ODI in Kolkata in Mind. The Test Team was selected before the ODI @ Kolkata. To make that match go through peacefully Ganguly got selected. And once that is done ( I dont think there are any matches @ Eden Garden in the near future!) he was dropped. I feel that Selectors shouldnt have selected Ganguly in the first place. Once he got selected he must be given enough chance to prove himself. What is your say on this?
Prem Panicker : *grin* Now that I am in the US, I can take the Fifth Amendment. Very handy it is, too. In any case, boss, that is one of possibly a dozen speculative scenarios, who knows which the right one is?

Ramesh : Prem, Do you think india has really transformed into a vary good ream and they are playing as a team or we have to wait watch them playing against australia ?
Prem Panicker : My personal take would be, the transformation process is in its early stages, maybe 40, tops 50 per cent complete. I'd think, too, that the two series, against Pak and England, are our best chance to complete the process, to develop into a well-drilled, hard-fighting unit. Is actually why I have been trying to figure out how to survive five days on no sleep, come January through April. :-)

kambli7 : why no senior player wants to talk to Ganguly? a) they don't like Ganguly b) They are afraid it may offen GC c) They don't care d) you don't have a cle e) all of the above
Prem Panicker : How about option (f) They are? I mean, just last evening I read a story of Sachin and SG. Sachin saying he didn't feel the need to tell the media what they spoke of, but going on to say he thouight SG had a lot more cricket in him. What makes us assume that every time two cricketers talk they then have to pick up the phone and tell us all about it?

devrup : Prem,what do you think, if you were the selector, would you pick Ganguly in the final 11, of the first test in Pakistan(where they have seamer friendly, bouncy tracks)I mean, ignoring the political pressure, I am only talking about cricketing abilities and skills, would you pick Ganguly on that kind of pitch and conditions on the playing eleven?
Prem Panicker : I'd be much happier answering this same question next week, mate -- because by then we'll also know who else they have picked as batsmen.WHICH, COME TO THINK OF IT, IS A NEAT WAY OF ENDING THIS ONE. SEE YOU GUYS NEXT WEEK, SAME PLACE, SAME TIME. ADIOS FOR NOW AND STAY SAFE ALL.

Prem Panicker : Guys and girls, got to be going -- is 2, and pages await clearance before press time. Will do two, three more and get out before I am sacked :-)

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