Force, Farce and Formality

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 20 August, 2019, 11:33 AM IST


The ad hoc committee that picked Ravi Shastri as India’s cricket coach until the 2021 ICC World Twenty20 would have been thanking their stars last week that the country was almost entirely distracted by the ongoing feud between the two neighboring nations about Kashmir. At the end of the day, despite the elite caliber of the panel, one could not help but feel there was a case of force, farce and formality at hand in Shastri’s re-appointment.

It seemed rather bizarre that Kapil Dev, part of the selection committee that included Ashuman Gaekwad – both of whom have coached India in the past and former woman cricketer, Shanta Rangaswamy, declared the winner the coach selection process as if declaring the medal holders on the podium. In reverse order, as if to build on the suspense, Kapil Dev announced the other runners at the forefront, Tom Moody and Mike Hesson.

But was there even a frontrunner besides Shastri to this contest?

Kapil Dev insisted that the three of them did not premeditate or discuss as they evaluated the candidates on one-on-one interviews. He claimed Hesson was a very “good boy” and suggested that the marks were being allotted on subjects much like a school curriculum. This was all theory and viva though. The practical matter was altogether questionable. It is time to call a spade a spade.

No one would dare accuse Kapil Dev of lying or conniving in front of the media. But it speaks two tongues when he emphatically stated that the trio never discussed anything between them including the marks they were according to each candidate based on the interview. Yet in conclusion, he reiterated that the three member panel, in their wisdom, thought in the end that Shastri was the best man for the job because he had been in the position, was knowledgeable about team India’s goals, local and had been sufficiently acquainted with the players. Going by that inference, was it not a farce then to have even conducted the interviews? By that logic, Hesson and Moody never even stood a chance at being selected.

Kapil Dev seemed almost annoyed when asked if Virat Kohli was consulted before the final decision was taken. But realistically, given how the Anil Kumble coaching stint played out in full view of the world, would the panel and the powers that be in the corridors of the BCCI dare to go against their captain by automatic selection?

In the end it seemed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was running a formality in keeping with the revised reforms as suggested by the Lodha report initiated by the Supreme Court. A sub-committee of a committee has now made the appointment to follow the rule of law for its own sake. With the women’s coach appointment having run into hot water with the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) at cross roads, and with the original cricket committee that picked Shastri the first time sidelined, in the larger scheme of things, it looks like a hot mess and much ado about nothing in the end. The result of this venture as acknowledged by Kapil Dev was a foregone conclusion days before the forced, farcical and formal interviews were scheduled.

It was back to business at usual for team India after two spectacular stories that died in the course of their own news cycle: the split captaincy and the Rohit Sharma-Virat Kohli feud and India looking for a coach beyond the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

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News Cricket

Combination of Shami and Umesh is powerful and dangerous - India's bowling coach

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 4:47 PM IST


India bowling Coach Bharat Arun has praised the Indian pacers for their performance in Whites. In the recent Test series against South Africa which India won 3-0, Shami and Umesh were on fire and showed their prowess by taking a lot of wickets.

While Shami picked up 13 wickets in the three Tests, Umesh scalped 11 wickets in the two games.

"He's (Umesh) strong and quick and now he is bowling in better channels, making the batsman play around the off-stump. He's got reverse swing, has a nasty short ball. He and Shami, who is fast, accurate and dangerous, are a potent combination," said Arun.

"We not only have quality pace bowlers but quality fast bowlers with different skill sets. And unlike in the past where we had one or two exceptional bowlers, we now have a bunch of pacemen who can bowl at over 140 kmph," he added.

Feature Cricket

Burgeoning Board Pockets, Nepotism and Player Unrest

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 25 October, 2019, 4:37 PM IST


Disgruntlement has become the name of the game. Cricket administrators around the world and not just India have become avaricious, drunk on power, lured by the money garnered through the burgeoning appetite for the game in its various avatars. The cricketers have decided they need to band if they are not be forgotten as vital cogs in the wheel. Still it is a fairly miniscule voice.

Cricket administrators in India are making a comeback and not entirely in a wholesome way. It was a mockery of the justice system in the country when Rajiv Shukla, former cricket administrator whose position became untenable because of his political entanglements, was all over the ruling BCCI President as Sourav Ganguly took his seat at the top of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

It betrayed the obvious fact that while the system had received a cricketer-administrator in a first of its kind, the former cricket administrators who have been denied another round due to age limitations or conflict of interest were hovering rather greedily for power like vultures. So as long as cricket is run in proxy, little can be expected to change in the corridors of power, even with a cricketer-captain leading from the front.

It is, in many ways, quite remarkable that team India have performed as well as they have in the past couple of years despite the shenanigans in the board room and their ignominious brush with the Supreme Court of India. While there have been doubts raised about the merit of Ravi Shastri as coach, few have been able to fault the credentials of Virat Kohli to lead the team to formidable successes, as the one down under against Australia.

Even as the Indian cricketers are offered a generous slice of the pie compared to their counterparts, it is still a drop in the ocean compared to the kind of money that fillers the coffers of the BCCI. The only reason one does not see the players revolt like in the Bangladesh cricket set up or with regard to the South African cricketers association over non-payment of dues is because of the money that Indian cricketers earn compared to these cricketers or also, the fact that the BCCI has managed to squash attempts to build a robust enough cricket association that can stand up to the powerful, influential, richest board in the world without thinking they will not be replaced.

By the standards of the unrest everywhere, one would think the Indian cricketers would demand far more money than they are currently being paid.

After all, without the cricketers and this huge appetite for the game, there would not be so much corruption and conflict of interest that make cricket administrators such as a shamelessly, outright power grabbing bunch of people. The very presence of people such as Shukla and N. Srinivasan, who still has sufficient clout of his fellow avaricious cronies in the boardroom to suggest a change of rules to allow him to go to the ICC once more shows that despite the humiliation, exposure and forcible changes, the lure of power, money and position is too enticing for the administrators to turn a new leaf.

In that light, it seems almost pitiable that cricketers fall into the trap of fixing and betting or accused of such in the face of such crisis when even the amount garnered through such malpractices is too negligible compared to what these cricket administrators pocket, directly or through their proxies.

News Cricket

Sanju Samson wants to win the World Cup for India

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 4:35 PM IST


Wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson is excited after getting another opportunity to represent India in international arena. He has played one game for the country so far. Despite scoring runs in the IPL and domestic tournaments, he has been ignored by the selectors. However, following his maiden double ton in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he has been picked for the T20 series against Bangladesh.

When he was asked about the changes he has made after making his debut in 2015, Samson said: “I understand my game better now. I can gauge what the opposition is thinking during a game. It has come through the experience of playing a lot of games. Obviously, I am much more relaxed now when I step out onto the field. I have grown as a cricketer as well as an individual now,” said the Kerala cricketer.

His dream is to win the World Cup for the Indian team.

“The dream is to play and win the World Cup for my country. I don’t know in which year it will happen. But that is my dream,” Sanju said in an interview with the Times of India.

News Cricket

Wriddhiman Saha confirms expecting second child with Romi Saha

Tarun Singh Updated: 25 October, 2019, 4:19 PM IST


After Dhoni, India’s favorite 'Superman' behind the Indian stumps, Wriddhiman Saha, announced a very special news on Twitter.

The Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha tweeted that his 35th birthday has become extra special as the couple is expecting a baby for the second time.

Wriddhiman Saha was seen with his wife Romi Saha and a cute little daughter Anvi Saha in the picture shared on Twitter.

Saha, who has a very calm nature, was exceptional behind the stumps in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa.

"This birthday is a bit special...we are eagerly waiting to welcome a new addition to our family. Proudly announcing that we are expecting a baby for the second time! Keep us in your prayers," he tweeted.

News Cricket

Deepak Chahar wants to win purple cap in IPL 2020

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:49 PM IST


Deepak Chahar has impressed everyone with his bowling in the shorter formats of the game. He is one of the star bowlers of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. His performance for the Yellow Brigade has led to his national selection time and again. Kaun Banega Crorepati, which is one of the popular quiz shows in India, recently came up with a question on the cash rich league.

Amitabh Bachchan, the host of the show, asked the question: “Who finally wore the purple cap at the end of IPL 2019?” and the options available were Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada, Deepak Chahar and Shreyas Gopal.

Deepak Chahar wrote his name for the upcoming edition of the league. “Maybe 2020 option C”. Imran Tahir won the Purple Cap for taking 26 wickets.

Meanwhile, Deepak will be seen in the upcoming T20I series against Bangladesh.

News Cricket

Misbah-ul-Haq ready to include Salman Butt in national team

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:44 PM IST


Misbah-ul-Haq wants more from Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq as openers otherwise he is ready to replace one of them with star batsman, who could be recalled after many years. Pakistan have faced a lot of issues in the recent times and one of them is the performance of openers.

The former skipper and current coach of the team has confirmed that Salman Butt is in his plans despite his tainted past.

“Shan Masood has performed well recently, Imam has done well in domestic [cricket] recently and Abid (Ali) also made 250 so those players who are performing in domestic cricket and also have performances at the international level are being preferred,” Misbah was quoted as saying by PakPassion. “Salman Butt is also there, once one of these players goes out of contention, then he can be considered.”

Salman has not represented Pakistan since five-year ban for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal.

News Cricket

Australia PM Scott Morrison turns water boy in a cricket match

Tarun Singh Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:30 PM IST


The cricketers had never expected even in their dreams that a Prime minister of a country can discharge the duties of a water boy for them on the cricket ground.

One such amazing incident happened on Thursday when The Australian PM Scott Morrison came with a drinks carrier in his hand for the players on the field.

The Twenty20 warm-up match between Prime Minister's XI and Sri Lanka was in the middle of a drink break when the PM wearing Australian team’s yellow cap and green-colored tie appeared on the field as a water boy. The players were pleasantly surprised at this humble gesture of the PM Scott Morrison.

The 51-year old Scott John Morrison is an Australian politician who is the 30th and current Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Liberal party.

On social media, he was applauded from all over the world for his humbleness.

Later, Prime Minister's XI team won the T20 match by 1 wicket, chasing a total of 130 runs against Sri Lanka.

On Twitter, many Indian fans appreciated the gesture of Australian PM Scott John Morrison and wondered if India’s PM Narendra Modi would ever be seen like this.

News Cricket

Gambhir pens thoughtful message for his ‘Favourite’ Sanju Samson after latter’s selection

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:27 PM IST


Cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir has time and again urged the national selection committee to include Sanju Samson in the squad. He was ecstatic when Samson was picked for the upcoming T20I series against Bangladesh.

“This is well & truly through the gap by @IamSanjuSamson!!! Congratulations on being picked in the T20 squad. Soft hands, nimble feet and hopefully a sane head...go Sanju grab ur moment, long overdue,” Gambhir tweeted.

Samson last played for India in 2015 when he went to Zimbabwe.

He has been marred with discipline issues in the past but the right hand batsman has worked on them and played with an open mind in the just concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Samson scored a well compiled double ton in the tournament, which opened the doors for him.

Videos Cricket

Watch - Ziva gives shoulder massage to her father MS Dhoni

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:19 PM IST


Ziva Dhoni is one of the famous star kids, who is loved by millions. The little angel has been spotted cheering her father during the course of Indian Premier League. Ziva went to World Cup as well, where she had a gala time with Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. MS Dhoni's munchkin was seen helping her father clean their new four-wheel beauty. After their hard-work, she even gave shoulder massage to former Indian skipper. The video of this adorable moment had gone viral.

Meanwhile, a lot has been written about MS Dhoni's future. While Sourav Ganguly wants to have a word with the legendary cricketers, national selectors have already moved on.

"If you sit down and take note MS Dhoni's achievements, you will say wow! it is MS Dhoni. Till I am around everybody will be respected, that doesn't change", said Sourav Ganguly.

MSK Prasad, the chief selector, is grooming Rishabh Pant as Dhoni’s successor, and he is not interested to go back to the former Indian skipper.

News Cricket

Rishabh Pant meets mentor MS Dhoni at his home in Ranchi

Staff Writer Updated: 25 October, 2019, 2:03 PM IST


Rishabh Pant, who is tipped to replace MS Dhoni in the shorter formats of the game, recently met the former India skipper in Ranchi. The young Indian batsman took to Instagram to post a picture with MS Dhoni and captioned it: Good Vibes Only.

In the picture, he can be seen talking to Dhoni at the latter's residence.

Dhoni paid a visit to Team India after the third Test match against South Africa.

Dhoni has not played cricket since India's defeat in the semi-final of the World Cup in England. He made himself available for the tour of West Indies and the home series against South Africa.

Dhoni was not picked for the three-match series against Bangladesh.

News Cricket

We are moving on from MS Dhoni to establish Pant - MSK Prasad

Tarun Singh Updated: 25 October, 2019, 12:39 PM IST


Dhoni’s future in international cricket has been the most-talked-about topic since he made himself unavailable after India lost semifinals in the World Cup.

But on Thursday, when the question on Dhoni’s future was asked, the Chief selector MSK Prasad very firmly said, “we are moving on,” from Dhoni and backing the young Rishabh Pant.

The Chief selector Prasad said, “We are moving on, we are very clear. Post World Cup we have been clear. We started backing (Rishabh) Pant and wanted to see him do well.” “We are focusing on him only.”

Although, recently in international cricket, the young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh has not performed as expected from him. His willow has been under-performing after the World Cup, scoring only 20 runs in three ODIs and 92 runs in five T20Is.

However, Sourav Ganguly, the new BCCI chief, is yet to speak with Dhoni but the Chief Selector Prasad has indicated that Dhoni is for sure not on his list to rejoin the Indian squad soon. Prasad feels that the new talent should be given a chance and claims that Dhoni also has the same view.

The 38-year old, two-time World Cup winning captain Dhoni’s silence has become a mystery, and only he knows what's going on in his mind? Although, the chances of Dhoni’s return are not completely ruled out by the five-man selector's panel. The mystery will be cleared when the former captain Dhoni speaks his mind.

Feature Cricket

Selectors clearly looking beyond MS Dhoni

Partab Ramchand Updated: 25 October, 2019, 10:49 AM IST


The MSK Prasad led selection committee has done an admirable job in picking the Indian T-20 squad for the three-match series against Bangladesh early next month. Whereas Bangladesh should be easy fodder in the two Tests they are a pretty handy side in the shortest format of the game even if they are No 9 to India’s No 4 in the ICC rankings. The format being as unpredictable as it usually is the selectors have chosen an ideal blend of youth and experience and on the way have given the big break to young deserving talent.

The name doing the rounds the most following the selection is that of Shivam Dube. With Hardik Pandya out of contention thanks to a surgery following a back injury the 26-year-old all-rounder from Mumbai was always going to be in contention for the big break after a string of splendid performances of late both for India A against West Indies and South Africa and also for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare trophy. An attacking left hand bat and an incisive right arm medium pacer Dube has been one of the many youngsters waiting for their opportunity to break into the Indian squad and now he has the chance to prove his credentials.

Another welcome selection is that of Sanju Samson. The 24-year-old Kerala wicket keeper batsman had for some time been tipped as the next big name behind the stumps before Rishabh Pant leapfrogged over him. Samson in fact has played one T-20 international against Zimbabwe four years ago but then was a largely forgotten man till a string of notable performances of late topped off by a scintillating double hundred in the Vijay Hazare trophy game a couple of weeks ago brought him again into the forefront. Samson and Pant both figure in the squad again emphasizing the number of capable wicket keeper batsmen around in the country.

In this regard Prasad’s comments on Pant and MS Dhoni are significant. The chairman made it clear that the committee was backing Pant despite the fact that he has not been in the best of form of late. ``We can only make a player by backing him and we are very confident that he will come out successful. It is a clear thought process that post World Cup we are focusing on Pant only.’’

So where does that leave Dhoni? Again Prasad was quite candid in saying that they were moving on and giving opportunities to youngsters to see that they establish themselves in the side. ``With Pant in the squad and Sanju Samson coming in I am sure you will understand our thought process.’’

So now the ball is in Dhoni’s court. He has to make it clear whether he wants to carry on or whether he is calling it a day. Asked specifically if Dhoni could come back to the Indian team by performing in domestic cricket Prasad did not sound too interested in the subject. ``That is purely his personal choice. We have already laid the road map about the future and you can see that in the way we are selecting the team.’’

The rest of the squad more or less was along expected lines. Pacer Navdeep Saini would normally have been a cert but for the injury he is nursing while the experience is provided by the likes of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma who will predictably lead in the absence of Virat Kohli who gets a well-deserved break.

News Cricket

India vs Bangladesh: Virat Kohli rested, Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson included in T20I squad 

Staff Writer Updated: 24 October, 2019, 5:28 PM IST


Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, has been rested for the upcoming T20I series against Bangladesh. The national selectors have included Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson in the squad for the three-match T20I series. Samson was in exceptional form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he scored 410 runs in 8 innings, including a double ton.

Rohit Sharma will lead the side in Virat Kohli’s absence.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Shardul Thakur have made comebacks while Ravindra Jadeja has been rested.

While Navdeep Saini has missed out following rotational policy, Hardik is still recovering from his back surgery.

India Squad: Rohit Sharma(Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant(wk), Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Shivam Dube, Shardul Thakur.

News Cricket

BCCI's new treasurer slams world body, says what is ICC without BCCI

Staff Writer Updated: 24 October, 2019, 4:49 PM IST


Arun Dhumal, who was recently appointed as the treasurer of BCCI, has come down hard on the governing body of international cricket.

"Could we have ever imagined that BCCI will not have a say in ICC's roadmap? It was never imagined. What is ICC without BCCI?."

He was referring to ICC’s decision of keeping India out of the group working towards chalking out a fresh governance model for the world body.

He also made it clear that BCCI is not in favour of the ICC as far as the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-2031 cycle is concerned.

The ICC is thinking of conducting a T20 World Cup every year and an ODI World Cup every three years.

"We are not agreeable to the new proposal of the ICC with regards to increase of tournaments," he said.

He is looking forward to cut down the expenses and increase the revenue of the board.

"My goal is to increase the BCCI revenue as what has happened now is that revenues are stable but expenses have gone up. Administrative and legal expenses need to be checked," he added.