Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Discovery 'Go' for April 5 Launch

THE IPL match on March 29,2010 between KKR and DD (Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils) was played at the Firoz Shah Kotla stadium.The stadium was all decked up. The match was a crucial one for both the teams as they had not performed satisfactorily in previous matches.

The toss was won by Delhi Daredevils, who chose to bat. DD had an advantage of playing on the home ground. Gautam Ghambir rejoined as skipper of the team after recovering from the injury. Though the early loss of the three wickets left people disappointed, but DD managed to score 177/4 by end of 20 overs. It was David Warner's unbeaten century that enabled the DD players breathe easy.

On the other hand, KKR also did not start off that good. Unlike DD, the Knight Riders come into form gradually. Fine bowling by Nannes and Amit Mishra led to early wickets for DD .The spectators seemed to be in high spirits till the end as they enjoyed the unexpected pleasant breeze, the loud cheerful numbers that were being played and needless to mention the bubbly cheerleaders. The match was won by Delhi Daredevils by 40 runs. KKR slipped down to the 6th position while DD rose to the 4th position.

All in all, it was a great morale booster to the DD.The KKR need to pull up their socks to stay in the tournament.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kings XI Punjab fined for slow over rate

Kings XI Punjab has been fined by the Indian Premier League (IPL) for maintaining a slow over rate during the match against Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday night.

At the end of the match, Kings XI Punjab were assessed to be one over behind the required rate after allowances were taken into consideration.

Since it was Kings XI Punjab's second offence of the season, under the IPL's Code of Conduct relating to minimum over rate offences, captain Kumar Sangakkara was fined $40,000 and each player in the team $10,000. Sangakkara was earlier fined $20,000 for his team's first offence.

Mumbai Indians' Sachin Tendulkar, Delhi Daredevils' Gautam Gambhir and Knight Riders' Sourav Ganguly are other captains who have been fined so far in the IPL.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shilpa Shetty to be celeb judge for IPL Rockstar

Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s tryst with reality shows continues as she’s drafted in as a celeb judge on Colors show IPL Rockstar, say various media reports.

Shilpa was quoted in a tabloid saying that she’s judging a reality show but couldn’t speak more.

Sources associated with the show claim that IPL Rockstar required a star connected to the Indian Premier League and so Shilpa was signed on. Shetty will rate the contestants for their star presence and the ability to shine as a true Rockstar. Sukhwinder Singh and Kailash Kher are the other judges on the show.

Shilpa and her hubby Raj Kundra are stakeholders in the Rajasthan Royals IPL team which is currently lying at the bottom of the table. In fact, ever since the couple joined the IPL bandwagon since last year, Rajasthan Royals’ fortunes declined as they not only lost their title but finished sixth in the 8-team competition.

IPL Rockstar hasn’t quite set the ground on fire and the naysayers might not approve of Shetty’s inclusion. However, not many gave Shilpa a chance when she won Big Brother 3.

Meanwhile, Sa re ga ma pa Challenge 2007 finalist Raja Hasan too has joined IPL Rockstar.

“When asked about Shilpa Shetty coming in as judge, Hasan replied “When the God of cricket (Sachin Tendulkar) is in the ground, the rest are simply dwarfed. Honestly, I’m not aware of Shilpa’s participation but it would be great to perform in front of her.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tendulkar's knock against KKR is his highest T20 score

Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar's match winning knock of 71 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) was his highest Twenty20 score.

Tendulkar's unbeaten 71 off 48 balls at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday is his second 50 in the third edition of IPL - his fifth IPL 50 overall.

Other statistical highlights of the match between Mumbai Indians and Knight Riders:

Tendulkar's runs tally of 176 (ave. 58.66) in four games is bettered only by Jacques Kallis (264) and Virender Sehwag (186) in the third edition of IPL.

Tendulkar earned his fourth MOM award - the most for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Sourav Ganguly, during the course of his 31 off 34 balls, completed his 1,000 runs in Twenty20, aggregating 1,013 at an average of 23.02 including four 50s in 49 matches.

Chris Gayle posted his sixth 50 in Twenty20. His knock of 75 off 60 balls is his first 50 in IPL.

Mumbai Indians have won all five matches against Kolkata Knight Riders in and are now placed on the top of the table with six points, having NRR of +1.330.

Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers have won three games each in the 2010 edition of IPL.

Knight Riders recorded their 19th loss in 31 matches. Kolkata's tally of 11 wins is the least amongst eight teams - winning percent 37.09.

Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils have lost three games each.

Kolkata (155/3) have posted their highest total against Mumbai, outstripping the 139 for six at East London on May 1, 2009.

Gayle and Ganguly were involved in a stand of 71 - Kolkata's highest for the opening wicket against Mumbai in five games.

The stand is the second highest for the first wicket for Kolkata, next only to the 101 between Brad Hodge and Manoj Tiwary against Bangalore at Kolkata on March 14, 2010.

Monday, March 22, 2010

IPL steroid to boost Kerala cricket

The first cricketer from Kerala to play for India, Tinu Yohannan, looked destined to become a professional athlete. That his father TC Yohannan broke the Asian Games record in long jump at Tehran (1974) meant that his pedigree as a track and field star was impeccable.

When he reached high school, Yohannan junior dabbled in cricket and became the strike bowler of his school team. A break with a popular cricket club in Kochi provided him the launch pad, which sent him all the way to the Indian team.

A decade ago, however, Yohannan’s career path to Team India was more of an exception than the norm in a state where football, athletics, swimming, waterpolo, volleyball and basketball have traditionally dominated.

Youngsters adorn their walls with posters of Diego Maradona, Carl Lewis, Steffi Graf, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. IM Vijayan, the former India football skipper, can still draw as big a crowd as Sachin Tendulkar. The advent of Yohannan and then Shanthakumaran Sreesanth did trigger a passion for cricket among Malayalees but football or athletics still held their sway.
All that, however, could just change with Kochi bagging the franchisee rights for an Indian Premier League team.

KN Ananthapadmanabhan, the former Kerala leg-spinner, believes that the launch of a Kochi-based team will open a window of opportunity for aspiring players from the state.

“Just imagine one of the young Kerala fast bowlers dismissing Virender Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar. What ails the Kerala cricketer is a lack of confidence because he hardly gets an opportunity to rub shoulders with the big boys. Even Sreesanth, after breaking into the national team, has played only a handful of games for Kerala. If our boys can share the dressing room with international players and play against them they will gain immensely,” Ananthpadmanabhan, also a former junior national selector, told DNA.

Incidentally, it is only in Kochi that league cricket is played over two days of 90 overs each. The other cricket played in the districts is either 50 or 30-over games.

“Quality turf wickets have been laid in new stadiums in Thalassery and Palakkad. However, most of the other turf wickets are within grounds where at times the boundary is just 30-35 yards away. Rest of the cricket is played on matting wickets. Hopefully, having a Kochi-based IPL team will improve infrastructure rapidly,” Ananthapadmanabhan said.

Sreesanth believes that the new IPL team will see more role models emerge. “When it came to fast bowling I always looked up to Tinu. Now, I am sure we will see more youngsters take up cricket as a profession over athletics and football. Sports in Kerala will get a big boost as having an IPL team will mean more investment and greater interest in cricket.” Sreesanth told this newspaper.

As for where his loyalties will lie, Sreesanth said: “I would love to be an icon player for Kochi and help them win the IPL title. That said, as of now I am enjoying playing for Kings XI Punjab.”

Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) secretary TC Mathew said: “We are establishing cricket stadiums in 14 districts and will train 300 players under the Cricket Academy and Sports Hostel (CASH) programme, an international-standard cricket stadium with a seating capacity of 50,000 will come up in Edakochi,” Mathew said.

This season Kerala’s only success in Ranji Trophy was a walkover, courtesy Services. However, Ananthapadmanabhan believes results don’t reflect the calibre of the side. “We are a much better team.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tendulkar's fourth IPL 50 him takes past 600-run aggregate

Sachin Tendulkar's 32-ball 63 against Delhi Daredevils is his fourth 50 in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The knock fetched the Mumbai Indians skipper his third Man-Of-The-Match award in New Delhi at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Tendulkar, who hit his sixth 50 in 22 matches in the shortest form of the game in Delhi on Wednesday night, moved to second position behind swashbuckling Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya with an aggregate of over 600 runs. Tendulkar has 632 (ave. 33.26) from 22 matches and Jayasuriya 765 runs for Mumbai Indians.

The other highlights of the match:

# Mumbai Indians have recorded their second win in five games over Delhi and are the only unbeaten team in the third edition.

# Saurabh Tiwary (61 of 37 balls) has posted his fourth 50 in Twenty20.

# Tiwary has batted extremely well in the third edition, recording successive fifties apart from maintaining a strike rate of 162.85.

# Virender Sehwag has completed his 700 runs in the IPL -- 713 (ave.28.52) in 28 matches. He is the second player for Delhi Daredevils after Gautam Gambhir (901) to achieve the feat.

# Dinesh Karthik and Adam Gilchrist share the IPL record for most stumpings (10).

# Mumbai Indians' 98-run triumph is the biggest winning margin by runs in the third IPL edition, bettering Chennai Super Kings' 55-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders Tuesday.

# Mumbai Indians (218/7) have registered their highest total in the IPL.

# Mumbai, with their successive 200-plus scores, became the first team to record two totals of 200-plus in this edition.

# Mumbai's total is the best by any team against Delhi Daredevils, surpassing Rajasthan's 192 for nine at Mumbai on May 30, 2008.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shaun Marsh moves closer to IPL return

Shaun Marsh will be in India by the weekend provided he can convince Cricket Australia his injured back is fully healed. The opener Marsh, who was the batting star of the first IPL, has been troubled by a bulging disc problem for the past five weeks and the injury interrupted his Australian one-day ambitions for the second year in a row.

If he can prove his recovery to Kevin Sims, the Cricket Australia physiotherapist, on Friday, Marsh will try to get on a flight that night or on Saturday morning and begin his road back with Kings XI Punjab. "Hopefully I'll get the all-clear, which I'm really confident of doing, and get over to play some cricket in India," Marsh told Cricinfo.

"It's perfect to get away and play over there, it's a little bit more relaxed than playing international cricket, so I want to get over there and have a little bit of fun and enjoy it. I'll see what happens after that."

Initially it was thought Marsh suffered back spasms in the warm-up before the third ODI against West Indies last month, but the injury was diagnosed as a painful bulging disc. It was another untimely setback for Marsh, who was floored by long-term hamstring injuries last year, just as he was becoming a fixture at the top of the one-day order. In 26 ODIs he averages 37.96 and made starts in all eight matches against Pakistan and West Indies this summer, with his scores ranging for 12 to 83.

The latest issue has forced a change in his approach to fitness for Marsh, who is still only 26. "The last year I've had these injuries and it's made me realise I have to start look after my body a little bit better," he said. "I probably really haven't worried about it too much. This has given me a little bit of a kick up the bum that I make sure I do everything right, with recovery and gym work and that sort of stuff. I see it as a minor setback."

Shane Watson, who seems to have overcome his injury plague, has offered Marsh support with his problems. Marsh has not followed Watson into a life full of pilates and free of alcohol, but he has restructured his training and wants to build on the outlook in India.

Punjab are currently win-less after two games and have matches on Sunday and Tuesday, which Marsh could be part of. He was the surprise of the first IPL, topping the run list with 616 at a strike-rate of 139.68, but he didn't play in the second event due to his hamstring problems.

Later in this campaign he hopes to run into his little brother Mitchell, the 18-year-old signed with Deccan Chargers. "He had a fantastic year this year, he came on in leaps and bounds," Shaun said. "Hopefully I'll get over there and play against him."

Mitchell left Perth for India on Tuesday and the brothers' franchises are due to face each other on April 16. By then Shaun will know how his body has coped with the extra demands of his rehabilitation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Injured' Dhoni out of IPL 3 for 10 days

Chennai Super Kings' Indian Premier League campaign received a huge blow on Wednesday (March 17) with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni being ruled out of action for the next 10 days because of an elbow injury.

"Dhoni will be out of action for the next 10 days and the exact nature of his injury is being examined by the doctors at a private hospitals here," a team management source said.

Dhoni underwent an x-ray test after being hit by a rising Shane Bond delivery in yesterday's match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens even though coach Stephen Fleming ruled out any major injury to the India skipper.

Suresh Raina has been appointed as the stand-in skipper. Sources added that Dhoni will be travelling with the team to Delhi, where the Chennai side will take on Delhi Daredevils at Ferozeshah Kotla on Friday. "He will be travelling with the team to Delhi," the source said.

Earlier, the team’s coach Stephen Fleming ruled out any major injury adding, “He has gone for an X-ray. I hope that everything is well and it’s just a bruise and nothing more than that.”

Apart from the match against the Daredevils, the injury also rules Dhoni out of Chennai Super Kings' matches against Kings XI Punjab (March 21), Royal Challengers Bangalore (March 23) and Mumbai Indians (March 25).

Monday, March 15, 2010

IPL 2010: CSK Vs DC - Cricket live score, updates, streaming

Chennai Super Kings take on Adam Gilchrist's Deccan Chargers today, March 14 in the IPL 2010 Twenty20 at Chepauk. Do watch the live coverage, cricket live scroe, latest updates and live streaming.

Today is a big day for Indian Skipper MS Dhoni, as his IPL team Chennai Super Kings take on Adam Gilchrist's Deccan Chargers today, March 14 in the IPL 2010 Twenty20 at Chepauk. Today's match, CSK Vs DC would be Chennai's first match in the IPL 2010 season 3. Whereas,for defending champions, Deccan Chargers, today would be their second match in the IPL 3 after losing their opening match against SRK's Kolkatta Knight Riders.

The CSk Vs DC IPL T20 match would be a day night affair and would start at 8pm Indian time. The live coverage of the match and the cricket live score can be watched on Sat Max TV Channel. Also the latest news, updates and live streaming will be available on a number of websites.

Today's Match, would be a treat for all the viewers across the globe as both the sides have some of world's best players in their teams. Dhoni's Cuper Kings have a slight edge over Deccan Chargers as they will be playing at home and all its key players are in great form. However, CSK will be without the services of Flintoff, Hussey and Oram. But they have Dhoni, Hayden, Murlidharan, Raina, Kemp who can fire anytime and anywhere.

On the other hand, DC will be under a bit of pressure after losing their 1st match against KKR. But they have players like Gilchrist, Gibbs, Symonds, rohit Sharma who can single handedly turn things around.

The Pitch will be a batting's paradise, promising a high scoring match. So whats your take? Who will win today's IPL 2010 match between Deccan Chargers and Chennai Super Kings?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Charged up Deccans take on Knight Riders in glitzy IPL opener

The third edition of IPL will kick off on Friday evening with Defending Champion Deccan Chargers taking on the Shah Rukh Khan owned franchise Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

Heavy security arrangements have been made in the vicinity of the Stadium.

The match will be preceded by an opening ceremony, which will witness performances by some top international performers like - Lionel Ritchie, UB40 and Bjorn Agan, besides Bollywood star Deepika Padukone as well as some spectacular fireworks.

The eight teams Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab) will be honored in this ceremony and the games will officially begin with the first match.

This IPL will be important for the players for more than one reason. They would be looking to give their best in this season so that they can strengthen their case for the IPL IV auction in 2011.

The one and half month long cash-rich T20 tournament is known for its thrilling and nail-biting encounters in past.

The inaugural edition of IPL was held in 2008, since than it has earned unanimous popularity across the world. Buoyed by huge success, IPL management has announced to add two more teams in 2011.

The Final match of IPL 2010 will be played on April 25, 2010.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Deccan Chargers will play exciting cricket, says Gilchrist

Deccan Chargers' skipper Adam Gilchrist is very excited and keen to do well in IPL-3. The defending champions begin their campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai on March 12. In an exclusive chat with ToI on Tuesday, Gilchrist affirmed his team's commitment to play an exciting brand of cricket. Excerpts.

You're probably the best advertisement for a wicketkeeper-captain, leading the defending champions...

Thank you. Wicketkeeping brings with it an involvement throughout. You're involved in every ball, perhaps more than anyone else. So it helps you have a better understanding of the game and what's going on. I think that helps the team when it needs attention or direction.

It was tough going in IPL-I. How difficult was it for you to face the situation after getting used to the Australian way?

It just confirmed to me that losing, the feeling of losing, is the same no matter who you play for. It's not that we never lost a game for Australia. We had lost and I had experienced it before. I was very lucky to play in a successful era for Australia. But that (DC) was a great challenge for me and everyone in Deccan Chargers.

Did you veer off track in trying to adapt to local conditions than forging a separate DC identity?

Without doubt. Every team would have been looking to understand and appreciate each other's cultures, especially when most teams had nearly six different nationalities. We were the same. Perhaps we overdid it early but since no success came we probably neglected it towards the end. What we realised was that we needed to create our own environment and culture.

Given the clout T20 wields what do you reckon are the major areas due to change because of the new format?

In terms of cricket, the mindset of the players: that anything is achievable. It's really creating a new style of cricket. Brendon McCullum showed last week and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan is doing it. I read with interest McCullum saying the bowlers are getting better so we need to open up new areas on the ground so that we get more scoring options. It's fascinating to watch that happen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mandira's cricket, cocktails and conversation

It’s T20 season and kickstarting the excitement this time round is Citibank, the IPL’s official bank, with an afternoon of cricket, cocktails and conversation between television anchor Mandira Bedi and Deccan Chargers’ star player Rohit Sharma — the winner of the 2009 Citi U-23 Success of the League Award.

He unveiled the trophy for 2010 after interacting with guests at the Citibank initiative in which Mandira conducted a lively cricket quiz and Sharma himself gave children present tips on bowling.

Of Sharma winning the award last year, IPL Commissioner and Chairman Lalit Modi said, “Rohit was the deserving winner. The DLF IPL is the perfect opportunity for young players to make their mark at a global event and showcase the skills that will make them future stars. It is great that Citi places such an emphasis on success in young people. I am sure that the Citi U-23 Success of the League Award will be a prize all aspiring cricket stars will covet.”

Vijay Ramchandran, Chief Marketing Officer, Citi South Asia, added, “We are pleased that our smartly chosen avenue through the IPL has helped us reach out to millions of Indians and establish long-term relationships with our customers, the majority of whom love cricket. We have launched a host of interesting offers that will give them an opportunity to enjoy the IPL Season 3 live in the stadia.”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

IPL will help local players'

The security at the team hotel was predictably tight but Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared relaxed and confident here on Monday, ahead of Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) battles in season III of the Indian Premier League.

Dhoni said, “We reached the final and the semifinal in the first two editions. We can win the title but need to play to our potential.

“But then, given the kind of format Twenty20 cricket is, you cannot guarantee success. Things can change very quickly. You can have good days and the not so good ones.”

He noticed the security around him too. “I think the security has been great. We are all feeling comfortable.”

Primary strength

The dashing wicket-keeper batsman maintained batting was CSK's primary strength. “We are basically a strong batting unit. We have a useful bowling attack too.

“We have players who can step in to bowl if our main bowlers go for runs. I think, overall, we have a balanced side,” said Dhoni.

Dhoni conceded CSK would miss the injured Andrew Flintoff who would take no part in this edition. He was not sure either about Jacob Oram's time-frame for recovery from yet another fitness concern.

“We have Justin Kemp this year though. He can be a destructive batsman and can chip in with the ball.”

He, however, expected the senior bowlers to rise to the occasion.

“Someone like Muttiah Muralitharan is still a very good bowler. He is also a great character, adds a lot to the dressing room.”

Gruelling event

The CSK skipper acknowledged IPL could be a gruelling event but added the upcoming edition would be less tiring than the competition in South Africa.

Home base

“Twenty20 cricket is a demanding format, physically and mentally. There is also a lot of travelling involved. But at least, we would have a base this time.

“We did not have that in South Africa. The competition would also help us to prepare well for the Twenty20 World Cup.”

Dhoni felt the domestic player had gained much from the IPL.

“I think coach Fleming and cricketers such as Michael Hussey have been good mentors. A lot of Indian cricketers have benefited.

“S. Badrinath, M.S. Gony and M. Vijay have gone on to play for India.

“Suresh Raina has emerged a much better cricketer. So, the IPL really helps the emerging players.”

This is precisely the reason why Dhoni firmly believes only four foreign cricketers should figure in the eleven. “It is the Indian Premier League, right? I think, the Indian cricketers should gain the most from it.”

Fleming's take

Coach Stephen Fleming said, “While the international players enable a side win a game or two, it is the strength of the domestic players that helps a team win the title. I think a lot of good local talent has come through in Tamil Nadu.

“This is a region that has a rich history in the game and is extremely proud of its cricket. There is a very good development system for young cricketers here. All said, local players are the key.”

Talking about practice sessions, he said, “There would be more quality than quantity. We will strive to be extremely focussed and intense.”

Friday, March 05, 2010

Who has the right to broadcast cricket news?

The Indian Premier League can’t seem to keep itself free of controversies. If it isn’t the Australians, it’s the Pakistanis and political parties. Just when matters died down, Indian news channels have drawn swords against IPL’s India broadcaster: Setmax.

Last week the News Broadcast Association (NBA), representing 34 news channels across the nation, decided to boycott the coverage of the third season of IPL that starts soon, due to its restrictive coverage guidelines.

Opposing the newly proposed guidelines for IPL coverage issued by IPL and Setmax, the NBA stated that IPL/Setmax have arbitrarily refused to abide by their commitment as contained in the 2008 norms drafted jointly by both parties.

“In view of this position unilaterally taken by IPL/Setmax, members of the NBA are unable to offer their viewers any coverage in relation to IPL or its proposed matches,” said their official release.

Setmax is pained by the rampant usage of cricket clippings aired on news channels and sometimes, dedicated cricket programmes using their footage and allegedly robbing them of their channel audience.

The official Highlights are often given a miss. Add to it the fact that news channels tend to get sponsors for their special cricket shows, thus making revenues that the official broadcaster lost out on.
And this gets Setmax’s goat.

Back of the envelop calculations show that Setmax stands to lose Rs. 10 crore throughout the event. Hence it believes that since it has legal rights to the footage, it has the prerogative to set the rules of
the game.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

ICC chief Howard welcomes strong India

Former Australian prime minister John Howard has welcomed India's new-found influence over world cricket as he prepares to become the sport's governing body chief in 2012.

Howard, who is facing a challenge to win over Asian nations, according to Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan, said India's growing power was positive for the sport.

"India is the second most populous country in the world, it's cricket-mad, they are pluses," Howard told state radio on Wednesday.

"I think it's entirely wrong to look at the Indian involvement in cricket in a negative light.

"I think of those millions of people in India and the sub-continent... who play cricket. They play it with a passion and love it."

Howard, a self-confessed "cricket tragic", has been nominated for the rotating International Cricket Council presidency and will take over from India's Sharad Pawar in 2012.

Muralitharan said he had forgiven Howard for labelling him a "chucker", but added that it would not be easy for the conservative former leader to get South Asian nations on-side.

"It won't be an easy job. He has to convince the subcontinent -- that's going to be a tough challenge for him," Muralitharan told the Sydney Morning Herald.

India's huge market has made it cricket's most important powerbase, with its Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament handing out lucrative contracts to the world's best players.

Howard also defended his suitability for the role despite having no experience of sports administration, unlike the New Zealand contender John Anderson.

"I think the fact I haven't been involved in cricket administration is explained by the fact I had a day job which made that rather difficult," he said in reference to his 30-year stint in politics.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sachin tops 'trust' list in cricket; Lalit Modi at bottom

The legendary Sachin Tendulkar has been named the country's most trusted person in the cricket arena, wherein IPL Chairman Lalit Modi has been ranked at the bottom.

In a list of 100 most trusted people compiled by Readers' Digest magazine, Sachin figures at the eighth position -- the highest among people related to cricket and next only to chess champion Viswanathan Anand (overall 6th).

In the same list, IPL Chairman Lalit Modi, arguably the most controversial cricket administrator, has been ranked 93rd -- the lowest rank for any cricket-related person in the list.

About Modi being at the tail-end of its Trusted list, Readers' Digest said "perhaps it's controversy that still stalks Lalit Modi, cricket administrator and chairman of Indian Premier League, who at 93rd position is the only sports personality to feature amongst the trust list's tailenders."

While Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, ranked 97th, is also related to the field of cricket in his capacity of Chairman of BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India), but he's more of a politician.

Among people in the list who owe their fame to cricket, Sachin is followed by Team India captain MS Dhoni at 42nd position in the overall list.

Last week, master blaster Tendulkar dedicated his record unbeaten knock of 200, scored in the one-dayer against South Africa, to the people of India.

After the match, Sachin thanked his fans and people of India for their support and said: "I dedicate this ton to the people of India. I thank those who supported me and this is indeed a special moment."

Besides cricketers, other sportspersons on the list include Viswanathan Anand (6th), shooter Abhinav Bindra (25th), Mahesh Bhupati (49th), Leander Paes (57th) and Sania Mirza (81st).

Monday, March 01, 2010

'Cricket needs leadership from India'

Sachin's ODI double

Like millions of others, I have been a Sachin Tendulkar fan for many years now. And while the real excitement was watching him emerge as the best player in the world, it has also been wonderful witnessing his endurance. There have been quite a few good judges who have tried to persuade Tendulkar to retire, but I am not one of those. The Indian cricket lovers simply can't get enough of him, and let's face it, he will be retired for a long time. His double-hundred against South Africa was another milestone in the career of a man who has been a great example to cricketers young and old. Despite making more runs than anyone else in cricket, Tendulkar remains true to the spirit of cricket - though he has to live a life that is very different from that of many of his team-mates.

He is so loved. He is mobbed wherever he goes in India, and many other cricket-loving countries. He and his family have to take holidays in remote places to experience things most of us take for granted - like shopping or going for a drive. Even a family meal at a restaurant is just not on. He has handled all this adoration with the same calm control he possesses when he has a bat in his hand. I don't think there can ever be another Don Bradman, but if there is, Sachin Tendulkar would be the man.

Brett Lee's retirement from Test cricket

Brett Lee's retirement from Test cricket shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. He has been through a tough time with injuries, and is now at an age when he needs to manage what he has left in his fast-bowling tank. This likeable fast bowler has also had to manage a recent marriage break-up, and [the retirement] goes with being a good dad to his young son Preston.

As much as Lee loves Test cricket, he, like many of his team-mates, is faced with a tougher decision than those who have gone before. The international calendar has changed dramatically with the advent of the lucrative Twenty20 tournaments around the world. It is no longer imperative to have a board contract to make a living and this is resulting in those close to retirement, and fast bowlers in particular, reassessing their plans. Brett Lee has decided that if he gives Test cricket away, he has a chance of making an impact in ODIs and Twenty20.

He retires as Australia's fourth-highest Test wicket-taker - he took 310 wickets in 76 Tests. His contribution while playing in the world's best cricket team for over a decade will give him immense satisfaction. While Australia don't have a super-fast replacement for Lee, there is no doubt that the very healthy first-class competition will continue to produce hardworking and effective replacements, like Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle. The cupboard is certainly not bare. Brett Lee has brought to Australian cricket the excitement that goes with watching a seriously fast bowler. He falls into the same category as Shoaib Akhtar and Dale Steyn - super fast and aggressive. His Test career may be over but expect to see him bowling and hitting out in the limited-over formats.

Are fast bowlers a dying breed?

There are some experts who are worried that fast bowlers are a dying breed. They argue that too much cricket and not enough recovery time is killing them off and that the balance has shifted in favour of batsmen over the years. There is no doubt that this is partially true. The advent of the helmet has certainly reduced the test of courage and bats are far better than they were. It is up to those of us who know the game to come up with answers that address the problems that unsettle the balance between bat and ball. Fast bowlers flourish on fast, bouncy pitches, so all we have to do is see to it that pitches around the world are, in the main, hard and not devoid of surface grass. This past season in Australia groundsmen were instructed to prepare normal pitches but to leave more surface grass on the pitches. The pitches were wonderful, and we saw plenty of good cricket. Flat pitches, like many in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies, allow batsmen to dominate and the result is often boring. Again, we are in the hands of the administrators of the game. If they don't take action nothing will change.

Premature retirements

It amazes me that cricket lovers and some administrators are surprised that cricketers are announcing their retirement from Test cricket in order to prolong their ODI and Twenty20 careers. Let's try to get all this into perspective. Since World Series Cricket back in the late seventies, the financial position of cricketers has continued to improve. As a result top players are playing well into their thirties, and in some cases forties, to take full advantage of the wealth on offer. As they find it more difficult to handle the hectic programme, something has to give, so it's natural that the toughest and most time-consuming format of the game, Test cricket, is the victim. Giving away Tests gives top players more recovery time, while also allowing them to play in all the limited-overs internationals. It also gives them a better opportunity to play in the IPL and to cherry pick the other Twenty20 domestic competitions around the world, in an effort to ensure they have a team to play for in the lucrative Champions League. It's all about money, and the IPL is the biggest money spinner.

Let's face it, cricket administrators don't know how to handle the new cricket landscape. India have already managed to wrestle from the world game a window of two months in which to play the IPL, but more importantly they have set up a franchise system which is able to offer overseas players financial incentives to play. The whole model is based on television revenue, and every cricket nation is now faced with the prospect of losing their best players to India's IPL for no financial return whatever. It's only a question of time before all this will come to a head, and when it does India will be asked to make concessions, but it may well be too late. Ultimately the players will decide what is best. Do they want to continue to be contracted to their respective boards, and in so doing do as they say or will they choose the freelance option? Some will stay and others will go as they are now, but there can be no doubt that the game as we know it will change unless the all powerful Indian board decides or is forced to adopt a different approach.

The IPL and security issues

The security for foreign players during the IPL has again become a talking point, and there are many players who are apprehensive about taking part in this year's tournament. Regrettably, we live in an age where no government or cricket board is in a position to give meaningful guarantees to players. They do, however, have to listen to the concerns of the players and do their best to implement their requirements. The attack on the Sri Lankan players in Lahore has ensured that it is no longer acceptable to put in place minimal security arrangements. Hotel and ground security has to be top-class and appropriate convoy procedures have to be in place when teams are moved between airports, hotels and grounds. Another player-related incident in India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka will have a shattering effect on cricket in the region.

It's far too easy to accept that the security threat is a modern reality. As far as I am concerned it's an individual thing and I can see a time when cricket authorities the world over will be left with no option other than to allow players to make their own decisions without there being any repercussions. We could even see a situation arise where players who agree to go to places that are dangerous will receive more of a financial incentive for doing so. If, for example, Pakistan wanted to play a World XI in Pakistan in an effort to get some decent home games, they would, I am sure, succeed in putting a team together but it would be expensive. It's also worth noting that the more the cricketers rely on the IPL for a living, the more likely it is that these players will go to India regardless of the threat.

Saving Test cricket in India

Recently Rahul Dravid bought into the cricket-calendar debate and what he had to say was interesting and will raise a few hackles in India. Dravid wants India to adopt a similar approach to their scheduling to that of Australia, South Africa and England. He actually went a step further and suggested that India should use their clout to lead the debate. Great idea, but I am not going to hold my breath because it seems to me that while India holds the financial trumps they will continue to adopt a divide-and-separate philosophy. There are so many issues that need to be resolved before cricket settles down to a period of peace and prosperity. For this to happen the game needs leadership, which has to come from India or it will simply not happen. A rolling programme has to be devised which takes into consideration the requirements of everyone in the cricket family. Such changes don't usually come about until a disaster occurs. It's rather like an alcoholic - there is usually the downhill slide, and then comes the call for help, and the recognition that there is a problem; thereafter it's usually plain sailing.