'You cannot take away Harbhajan's class'
Harsha Bhogle came on the Rediff Chat on Thursday evening, and over five thousand readers logged in to know his views on wide-ranging subjects -- from Tendulkar's elusive 100th international ton, Harbhajan's poor form, to what Team India must do to succeed on the upcoming tour of Australia.
Like his extempore on-air eloquence, the 'God of cricket commentary', as some readers addressed him dring the chat, fielded the questions with his usual finesse.
Read on for Harsha's replies:
Akhil: What's gone wrong with Harbhajan Singh? Why is he unable to regain his form?
Guess it happens to everyone over a long period. He needs to reinvent himself, like all of us do. But you cannot take away class, 400 wickets aren't presented to you!
Image: Harsha Bhogle in Rediff.com office in Mumbai during the chat
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
'Australia are vulnerable at home'
Gds: What are India's chances on the Australia tour?
Pretty good. Like in England, I believe the new ball will be critical -- how India plays it and how India bowls it. I believe Australia are vulnerable at home, more than they have ever been. But they will come hard. I think it should be a great series.
ekarthikcs: The team management should pick horses for courses Down Under. We are to play a Test match in Sydney and Adelaide Oval, where it assists spinners compared to MCG and WACA. Ideally, it would be advisable to play [Pragyan] Ojha and [Ravichandran] Ashwin in SCG and Adelaide. Your say on this, sir.
I think this team has those options. If the tracks turn at Sydney or Adelaide, India can play both spinners. In fact, Ian Chappell often talks about playing two spinners regularly at the Adelaide Oval.
Image: Pragyan Ojha
'Maybe, Dhoni should be a bit more consistent'
Anshu: Should MS Dhoni's form in Test cricket be a concern for India? Shouldn't the team start looking for other options in Tests by giving Dhoni some time to rest?
Not really! Maybe, he should be a bit more consistent. But I wouldn't worry about it just yet.
cric_freak: Who do you think should replace Praveen Kumar for the Australia Tests? More specifically, how much of a chance does Irfan Pathan have?
I guess you want to look at Vinay [Kumar] or [Abhimanyu] Mithun as the first in the queue. But I wouldn't mind looking at Irfan Pathan. To be fair, have only seen his bowling figures, which are very impressive. But clearly, he now has a lot of overs behind him.
Image: MS Dhoni
'We are obsessed with celebrities'
India1a: I started watching cricket after Sachin started playing. I will end watching cricket after Sachin retires. No quality in today's cricket; no genuine fast bowlers or spinners, match-fixing, too many games. Golden era for cricket is over. Agree?
No, I don't agree. We always glamourise our generation and the one just past and are apprehensive of the future. But the truth is that newer players, like the tides, always arrive.
jais-kool: Why are we, Indians, are always in a hurry to make any player a star or villain?
We are to blame ourselves. We are obsessed with celebrities, it is an unfortunate trend.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'Sachin's 100th 100 is a major landmark; it will never again be achieved'
KG: Are we making an unnecessary fuss about 100th ton by Sachin?
The 100th 100 is a major landmark and will never again be achieved. Certainly, that is my gut feel. So it is natural that people look forward to it. But we have overdone it, grossly! If it has to come, it will, but we cannot agonise over it for too long.
hh: Should Sachin retired from ODIs?
Guess it is his call, but he isn't playing much these days. I personally wish he had played the first three ODIs [of the West Indies series], but he knows his body and his preparation better than anyone else.
gsk: Is Sachin Tendulkar over-rated? The person who has changed the fortunes of the Indian team is Virender Sehwag...
Wow! Sachin over-rated! In England, a few years ago Nasser Hussain told me, for all the adulation we don't know the value of what we have!
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'We confuse being responsible with being defensive'
Prasad2006: In the first one-dayer against the West Indies, Virender Sehwag opened with Parthiv Patel. Shouldn't he open the innings with Gautam Gambhir instead?
I believe Sehwag and Gambhir should open in all forms. But there is a comfort factor within the team that we are not privy to. Maybe, Gambhir prefers No 3.
kaushal: Sehwag has been playing for India for long time. He has not played even a single responsible inning when India is in deep trouble. Why do the concerned cricket authorities always spare him?
Sometimes we confuse being responsible with being defensive. Often being ultra cautious is also irresponsible.
Image: Virender Sehwag
'Aaron, Yadav need to work on fielding and batting too'
Ashishdh: Why India is not able to produce fast bowlers bowling @speed of 150 kmph or above? Pakistan and Sri Lanka are having those bowlers, with similar climatic conditions.
Sanjay Manjrekar told me that in Pakistan if you bowl 135 they don't cast a second glance at you! A bit like an Indian Ranji trophy batsman scoring 112! It's the culture, I guess.
Danish: What is the reason Indian fast bowlers lose their pace, like Zaheer Khan/Munaf Patel? They were the fastest in the country; now they are all medium pacers...
With Zaheer, it is now a question of fitness. And I never saw Munaf bowl fast!
Jitendra: Your views on Varun Aaron as a future speedster?
I like Varun, as indeed I like Umesh Yadav. But would be nice if both could work on fielding and be able to hang around with the bat.
Image: Zaheer Khan
'BCCI shouldn't have anything to hide'
Anshu: Do you think RTI for BCCI is a good idea?
Haven't studied the impact of the RTI on BCCI, but, on a more basic level, I feel you shouldn't have anything to hide. If you do, there is a problem. But I would like to know more before I have a firm view.
me kashif: Can't understand why BCCI is against DRS? Even if it's not fool proof, it should have been used, because it will applied for both the teams, not just against India. If there is a tecnology availble, one should use it.
Well, the technology fell short in England. Of particular concern was hot spot. And I have never been a fan of ball tracking post the point of impact.
Image: N. Srinivasan
'Virat would be my first choice for No. 6 slot'
Narayan: Who would you recommend for the No 6 slot in Test cricket? [Virat] Kohli , Yuvraj [Singh], [Suresh] Raina , [Cheteshwar] Pujara , Rohit Sharma or [S] Badrinath?
I thought Pujara had the best credentials, but he seems to be going through a bad phase with injury. Seems a class player, though! Of the rest, Virat would be my first choice. I'm quite eager to see how Rohit handles the longer form. Feel for Badrinath; he's a quality cricketer. In another era he would have played a fair bit of Test cricket.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
'The role of a coach is vastly over-rated in the media'
Pushkar: How do u rate coach Duncan Fletcher?
Don't know Duncan Fletcher at all. Have said hello a couple of times at best, but have never spoken to him. Nasser Hussain, whose views I respect, thinks he is excellent, and Rahul Dravid had a few nice words too, so he must be good.
Aditya: Like England, do we also need a spin bowling coach and batting coach?
No. Sometimes too many coaches prevent players from thinking for themselves. The best players are those who know their game the best and need a sounding board occasionally.
Venkatesh: How much can the role of a coach play in the performance of a team? I remember India performed well under Anil Kumble in the last series against Australia in Australia without a coach.
The role of a coach is vastly over-rated in the media. His is a supportive role, but, eventually, it is a captain's team.
Image: Duncan Fletcher
'We tend to believe people are irreplaceable'
Somu: Do you think Indian youngsters are ready to replace the Big 3 (Sachin, Darvid and Laxman) in Test matches?
I am sure, in course of time, they will. We tend to believe people are irreplaceable, but the world moves on!
Vikram: Don't you think young blood has changed the face of Indian cricket?
In the shorter form, yes; but not yet in Test cricket.
Image: Rahul Dravid
'Sourav Ganguly's views are fresh; he speaks his mind'
SuyashO: Who do you share the best chemistry with while commentating? Dada [Sourav Ganguly] sounds a little dull, but love his viewpoint!
I have enjoyed being in a studio and in a commentary box with Sourav. His views are fresh and he speaks his mind. In course of time, as he understands the medium more, he will become even better.
Image: Sourav Ganguly
'The best players are coming from smaller towns'
Laxman: Why do you think Mumbai has stopped producing the best talent?
It is a trend we are seeing all around India. The best players are coming from smaller towns. Having said that, Virat is from Delhi, Rohit and [Ajinkya] Rahane from Mumbai!
Image: Ajinkya Rahane
'Selectors should have seen more of Rahul Sharma in first class cricket'
Manoj Nair: What do you think about Rahul Sharma? Worth a selection for the Indian team with just few performances in IPL?
I must confess I was surprised by Rahul Sharma's selection for the Tests. He looked really impressive over four overs, but I would have liked the selectors to have seen more of him in first class cricket.
ManojNair: With Kochi players being sold, who do you think will be the best buy other than Brendon McCullum?
Here you go... Manoj, Jadeja, Jayawardene, Parthiv.
Image: Rahul Sharma