Melbourne: The Australian Cricketers Association has found out from a survey of player attitudes towards Twenty20 cricket that if quality spinners have to be preserved then they should not be thrown into the shortest and the trendiest form of the game, the Australian media reports.
A report in The Age says while the super-abbreviated format has gained credibility even among traditionalists, there is a strong view among Australian players that it threatens to destroy budding spin bowlers.
Harbhajan might have to sit out: Dhoni
Among players contracted to Cricket Australia, 64 per cent said Twenty20 diminishes spin bowling skills. “Anecdotally players believe T20 encourages negative bowling and as such is counter-productive to the development of spinners,” the study found.
That argument was wholeheartedly endorsed last night by spin bowling mentor Terry Jenner, the day after chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said he was disappointed in the development of young South Australian pair Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey, who are contracted to Cricket Australia but have been unable to nail their spots with the state side let alone press for national selection.
Jenner refused to discuss Hilditch’s remarks, but the man who coached Shane Warne throughout his exceptional career has consistently argued that young spinners take time to mature to the point where they can defend themselves in the first-class arena, and that limited-overs cricket is their enemy.
“There is no place for a developing spin bowler in Twenty20 cricket,” Jenner said. “In my view, you might as well bowl Michael Clarke and all those (part-time) guys in those forms of the game because the outcomes are pretty much the same.’’
“I watched (Indian off-spinner) Harbhajan Singh in the Twenty20 final and I reckon he bowled 90km/h plus from wide of the crease. He was effective, but picture a developing spinner trying to do that and he would be lessening his capacity to improve.”
Jenner believes Twenty20 in England, where it was first played at domestic level, has inhibited the development of spin bowlers in that country. “If we are looking for Test cricketers we are not going to find them in Twenty20 and, dare I say this, we’re not going to find them in 50-over cricket either,” he said.
“Someone who spins the ball should not be encouraged to take away his spin to try and bowl four overs and go for less than 50. They may as well roll out a bowling machine.”
In general, state and national players believe Twenty20 enhances skill development, with spin bowling the exception. Interestingly, state-contracted players were less inclined to think that Twenty20 was damaging for young tweakers.
Australia’s premier one-day spinner, Brad Hogg, has not played a Twenty20 international since last summer, while other teams have persevered with spinners.
New Zealand skipper and left-arm finger spinner Daniel Vettori, for instance, thinks there is a place for spin bowling in the shortest form of the game. In fact, he believes they will flourish. “If you look at the (Twenty20) World Cup, spinners were some of the most successful bowlers. And every time I have watched a game or played in a game spinners held quite a bit of control not only over wicket-taking but over run-rate,” Vettori said.
“I think they are going to be a more and more important part of it. We’re playing two, we even played two at the WACA (Ground). We realise how important it (spin) is and I think other teams are seeing it around the world as well.”
INDIA’S cricket tour of Australia erupted in controversy last night as its players learned they would be slugged $1.5 million by the Australian Taxation Office.
Sources said the tax grab had angered India’s superstars, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Their match payments and tour fees are not taxed in India, where they are treated by financial authorities as amateurs.
The tax slug is further fuel for a potentially explosive series against Australia. The MCG is expected to be packed next Wednesday for the start of the Boxing Day Test.
Indian and Australian players clashed several times during a one-day series on the subcontinent in October, when all-rounder Andrew Symonds was labelled “monkey man” by the crowds.
India’s newfound confidence springs from its Twenty20 World Cup success this year. The Board of Cricket Control of India rewarded its stars with more than $2 million in bonuses.
Among other gifts, a Porsche 911 was handed to team hero Yuvraj Singh as a personal present from Vice-President Lalit Modi. The Indians have not been taxed on previous tours. But a change in Australian laws since they were last here in 2003-04 has left the tourists flabbergasted.
Since July 2004, all sportspeople and entertainers who work in Australia have had to pay tax.
The BCCI tried to get an exemption, and is still investigating ways around the red tape. India’s media manager, Dr M.K. Shridhar, last night confirmed the BBCI was investigating the tax matter.
“This taxation issue is being handled by our office in Bombay,” he said. “We are taking the position of what our own tax consultants at the BCCI say.
“Cricket Australia is helping, and they will work together and come back to us with a solution. Then I am not very sure if it will still apply.”
India’s stars are treated like royalty at home, and are some of cricket’s wealthiest players. Tendulkar alone is said to be worth millions. The Indians are taxed only on sponsorship earnings in their home country.
In Australia, it is believed they will forfeit about $500,000 from the Test series, and $1 million from the one-day series and the one-off Twenty20 clash at the MCG, in tax.
Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said the board’s memorandum of understanding meant the Indians had to follow Australian laws.
“When you are in Australia, the Australian tax law applies,” he said.
The tourists will play four Tests against Australia, beginning on Boxing Day at the MCG, a Twenty20 match, and up to 11 one-day internationals before heading home in March.
What are the chances that we’re going to see another brand new opening combination walk out on Boxing Day in Melbourne in the first Test of the toughest cricket tour in the world? Logically, very high — if India bat first of course, otherwise, we’d have to wait a couple of days.
It’s going to be very surprising if Rahul Dravid is not Wasim Jaffer’s new opening partner in that first Test.
Dravid, India’s most successful Test batsman in modern day cricket, and the man largely responsible for Sourav Ganguly’s enviable Test captaincy record, would definitely not be happy about moving up a spot.
But, he is not the skipper anymore (of his own accord of course) and the team man that he is, Dravid would almost certainly open if he is asked to do so, in order to accommodate Yuvraj Singh in the middle. In which case, India’s batting card would probably read Jaffer, Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Dhoni etc.
What gamble was this?
So here’s some more reasoning then: If that does happen (which is likely) the great Indian cricketing gamble (the act of picking a badly out of form Virender Sehwag), is not really a gamble at all. It is just a mystifying selection.
To play Sehwag ahead of Yuvraj, in sublime touch, would be totally irrational, even if you make allowance for the trend of strange decisions in Indian cricket. So why did we have to be put through this sham of a gamble on Wednesday, when Sehwag was announced in the squad after not being in the probables? Or, else, why did we have 24 probables announced at all?
The only way Sehwag would play (plausibly, again) is if Jaffer and Dravid have miserable failures in the first two Tests and you pick Sehwag instead of, say, Jaffer. It would be interpreted as madness to even think of dropping Dravid for Tests.
But then again, if Gautam Gambhir was your first choice opener (as has been stated by the selectors and team management), then why didn’t they just take Gambhir along as a back-up, if the thinking is to open with Dravid? You also have Dinesh Karthik in the squad anyway.
Why not Gambhir?
Gambhir’s sore shoulder is being given an outer limit of three weeks rest as a precautionary measure. Twenty-one days from now is just ahead of the second Test at Sydney. Just as an aside, when did he pick up that injury? And if it was before the Test, because he didn’t seem to get injured during the Bangalore game, why did he play it/why was he made to play it?
The Delhi southpaw should definitely be in the one-day squad. So he might as well have spent time with the team, become acclimatised to the conditions and been there as a back-up, if need be. That was the thinking behind taking Jaffer to the ODIs in South Africa last year (the one-day series there preceded the Tests).
That X factor
Coming back to Sehwag, there is no doubting that his impact on the Australian bowlers from last time around weighed in his favour. But that was four years ago. In the time since, the world has changed and so have Sehwag’s own fortunes.
An average of 13 or so in five Ranji games so far this season and an inability to negotiate some ordinary domestic attacks (or an unwillingness to show the patience to wait it out) is not a good sign for him or for the Indian team.
Yes, with Sehwag, the argument always is, “You never know”. True, at his best, he can be devastating but he is not at his best and is instead, possibly at his worst in recent memory. That above argument was fine when the man with possibly the best hand-eye coordination in the business was secure in his mind about his place in the scheme of things.
At this point, it’s difficult to imagine that if he walks out against Australia, he will not feel the pressure of the immediate situation or not know that a bad outing could well spell the end of what has been an astonishing international career.
As things stand, Anil Kumble is going into the world’s toughest series with some serious problems. Agreed, when Ganguly led the team in 2003-04, no one gave them too much of a chance, but this situation is even worse. Then, there was clarity of purpose about the team, no real confusion about anything.
The only doubt was over whether Aakash Chopra or Sadagoppan Ramesh would open with Sehwag in Brisbane. Incidentally, India’s success on that tour was attributed a lot to the tremendous success of that Sehwag-Chopra opening combine. Incredibly, they did far better than the famed Langer-Hayden combination did for the Aussies.
Now, people are four years older, bodies, even those in sublime touch on Indian soil, are four years older. You are probably going to deeply upset your best Test batsman in Dravid if you ask him to open, even if he will do it. Your two best pacemen’s fitness and ability to last a high intensity tour will be tested. Of those that are fit, two are greenhorns (Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh) and one, Irfan Pathan, is on the comeback trail and will be under pressure to perform if he does play.
How effective the spinners will be except in Sydney (Kumble is our best hope but he will be handling the additional burden of the captaincy) is another matter for debate. All in all, it’s tough to see this as being an Indian Summer Down Under. But then, there’s always hope.
ICL is here to stay. Buoyed by the success of Twenty20 games in Panchkula the Indian Cricket League is planning to host another tournament in March next.An agency conducting survey regarding the viewership of programmes being run on various TV channels found out huge interest generated by the ICL matches among cricket buffs. “While the current Indo-Pak series got 2 rating points, the ICL matches got 1.8 rating points,” Essel Group’s executive vice-president, Ashish Kaul, revealed here.
“The tournament will be held at the same venue (Tau Devi Lal Stadium at Panchkula) in March next and possibly one more in October,” Kaul revealed here.
“The number of teams likely to participate the next time is likely to go up.” Kaul said adding that the focus, at the moment, was on the Tau Devi Lal stadium, where more facilities would be added to make it a better venue.
“The ICL matches will reach there in the households in Europe, the USA, the Caribbean, South Africa, Sri Lanka and other countries,” said Kaul, elaborating about a deal signed for the telecast of the ICL matches. The deal will enable its matches being available on TV sets virtually worldwide.
“Gateway, Astro and Siffy, all well reputed companies, will arrange live telecast of matches. Astro is one of the biggest DTH telecast provider.” The ICL matches are already available on a number of Zee channels across the country.
“Ideally, we would like that all big cities in the country have their own teams like Chandigarh Lions or Mumbai Champs competing among themselves.
“The successful launch of the tournament is like a dream come true. We did not have much time at our disposal to prepare for the 17-day tournament. There was a lot of skepticism about its launch. We have proved a lot of people wrong. Despite huge time restraints, I think we have managed to put up a decent show. The infrastructure has been put in the shortest possible time which in itself is a record of sorts.”
“Now that a beginning has been made, we are aware of the problems and the unexpected glitches which will be taken care of in the next tournament,” he said.
Asked about the offer made to host the matches at Eden Gardens, he replied that certain problems cropped up due to which Kolkata was not thought of as a venue.
He said that the ICL got a boost with former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav rallying for the success of the ICL. Besides Yadav, leaders like Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Amar Singh and Shatrughan Sinha have already visited the venue.
If you’re a sports aficionado, a late-November game between the Lions and the Jets means a battle of attrition between two of American Football’s perennial strugglers. It’s not usually a match-up that you pencil into your calendar as a highlight of the sporting year, and there’s seldom much at stake other than professional pride.
But last Friday, at an obscure stadium on the outskirts of one of north India’s smaller cities, the Lions of Chandigarh and the Delhi Jets fought out a twenty-over game that could have far-reaching ramifications as far as the game of cricket is concerned.
There may have been only 6,000 people watching, but that represented a full house for the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, a far more modest venue than Ford Field or Giants Stadium.
As is the case with their North American namesakes, there were few marquee names on view. The Lions were led by Chris Cairns, the New Zealander who flirted with greatness throughout an injury-interrupted career, and also included the South African Andrew Hall, an effective all-rounder but hardly a show-stopper.
The Jets were captained by Sri Lankan Marvan Atapattu, a man who had a successful international career only after the most horrendous start imaginable – he scored one run in his first six Test innings. By twenty-over standards, it was an uninspiring game.
The big hits were few and far between, though the fielding was far superior to that usually seen at domestic matches in India. The Lions, who have home-field advantage right through the inaugural Indian Cricket League with all the matches being played in Panchkula, just edged it at the end, with Hall bowling a tidy final over that cost just five runs.
The result didn’t matter though. What did was the response of the crowd packed into the hurriedly constructed stands, many of whom had opted to give TV coverage of the Indian run-fest at the Eden Gardens a miss.
The outfield may have been patchy and there may have been a lack of genuine stardust in the middle, but the assembled throng lapped up the entertainment on offer.
Kareena Kapoor, a Bollywood star, was central to an off-field performance that included song, dance, cheerleaders and fireworks – in short, everything that you might get to see at a Super Bowl.
The striking contrast was with the Twenty20 tournament that the Indian cricket board organised last April in the wake of the Blue Billion’s dream turning into a nightmare at the World Cup.
Though the format was a novel one as far as India was concerned, it ended up just like any other domestic tournament, with matches played out in eerie silence and utter indifference from fans seduced only by the bright lights of international cricket.
You couldn’t blame them either. As far as the board is concerned, the fans are almost a necessary evil, cattle to be herded into shabby stands and provided with facilities worse than that found in most stables.
No one can bring in their own food or water, and the indifferent refreshments on offer include junk food and colas – only those endorsed by the board of course.
As for the toilets, God forbid you should ever need to use the facilities. At the Eden Gardens, India’s answer to the MCG and Lord’s, two toilets cater to a cavernous stand that houses thousands and the press box.
If start of play is 9am, it’s safe to say that these are unusable by half past nine. Often, there isn’t even running water.
When you then get a competition that actually appears to care about the average punter, an enthusiastic response shouldn’t be surprising. The ICL staged a coup of sorts by pricing the cheapest tickets at a hundred Rupees [£1.25], a far cry from BCCI events where sub-standards seats in the sun go for five times the price.
Will the concept work, and force the Indian board to look to change? That’s still doubtful, given the lack of big names in the ICL. Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq lead the Mumbai Champs and the Hyderabad Heroes, but like Cairns and Lance Klusener (now with the Kolkata Tigers), they’re has-beens on the lookout for a fast buck.
Not one big name currently plying his trade in international cricket is on board, with Mohammad Yousuf now facing court action after reneging on his contract.
By comparison, the ICL’s rival Indian Premier League claims to have agreed terms with a sizeable number of international cricket’s great and good. It appears certain that only one will be left standing eventually, and given the Indian predilection for stars, it will most likely be the ICL that shuts shop or sells out.
If Indian domestic cricket is ever to be vibrant, the only way is to ensure the participation of the top players in at least some of the games. A Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium in April 2000 best illustrated that. Tamil Nadu piled up 485, with Robin Singh – currently India’s fielding coach – and Hemang Badani – now of the ICL’s Chennai Superstars in the – scoring big hundreds.
A few dozen and the obligatory stray dog had watched the opening day’s play, but once Sachin Tendulkar started to show signs of playing a special innings, word spread quickly. By the third day, thousands – stockbrokers, diamond merchants, tea vendors and journalists supposed to be on the desk – had come through the turnstiles to watch one of the great innings in domestic cricket.
Tendulkar finished unbeaten on 233, and Mumbai had a precious five-run lead that they would build on en route to yet another trophy. Tendulkar has hardly played for Mumbai since and the crowds have responded by staying away.
Ultimately, all the Kareena Kapoors of the world won’t bring them back. Only a Tendulkar, a Ganguly or a Dhoni can do that.
Javagal Srinath, up there right at the top shelf when it comes to the fast bowling greats from India, sees reasons to worry when he looks ahead at India’s tour of Australia, and the men who must fight the best cricketers in the world, at their own terms and playing conditions.
The injuries to the prime pace bowlers, the lack of depth in the talent pool, bothers him most. Then, the uncertainty over of the opening batting combination is worrisome. According to him, how you start in Australia will determine how you finish.
He says that to do well in Australia, the openers need to have the right technique, patience — and also the instinct to get the runs when they’re available. He says you can’t afford to be over-attacking and over-defensive.
Srinath examines the case of the four openers in the list of 24 probables for Australia, though he says, firmly, that he won’t say who will be the three he would pick up if he were a selector:
He looks a class apart, and he can adapt to different conditions. A backfoot player, he should do well on the Australian pitches. But he has too many strokes, and he must try to curb his attacking instincts a bit. The problem with him is that when he’s in the groove, he plays too many strokes. He should pace his innings better. Maybe a chat with Rahul (Dravid) will help. He must make sure that he handles the responsibility well.
He’s solid, has patience and all kinds of strokes. I would say that he’s better than Jaffer. Gambhir is a natural strokeplayer. His success in T20 and ODI cricket have given him confidence. But he is a compulsive puller, and for Australia, he needs to be prepared to handle the short stuff well. That’s one area he would be targeted in. If he sticks around, after handling the initial part, he should score a lot of runs.
He made lots of runs this year, and that’s keeping him going. My worry about him is that he has failed to replicate his England show in this series against Pakistan. He has the technique, he looks good as long as he’s at the wicket, but we haven’t seen him play long in recent times. Balls outside the off stump are a problem right now. He lives on scoring runs, and once his scoring is curbed, the problems arise. For Australia, you need to have patience.
He’s been there in Australia before, and he can block the ball well, but he was over-defensive, which is something he has realised. Maybe, if he gets an opportunity this time, he has to correct that aspect of his batting. He has a tight technique, which is essential for an opener. But there are too many openers in the fray right now, and one must see how it goes for him.