Eden Gardens was in the spotlight on Tuesday (November 14) as India geared to face Sri Lanka in the first Test with more than a tinge of green on the surface. Wriddhiman Saha’s life behind the stumps was analysed in depth, and M Vijay opened up about his return. Outside the happenings in Kolkata, Trevor Bayliss’s life as an estate agent before becoming the England coach drew some attention, while Misbah-ul-Haq laid bare his life as Pakistan skipper.
This Indian team throws up spinners of different varieties – an off-spinner, a left-arm spinner and a chinaman bowler in Kuldeep Yadav. Saha has a simple approach – read the hand. “Reading the hand is 50 per cent job done. After that, you have to take into account the bounce of the wicket and the turn. The challenge is to catch every ball,” Saha said on Monday.
The Eden Gardens pitch has changed character ever since the whole centre square was re-laid two seasons ago. Seamers now enjoy bowling here. But because of its location – very close to the Hooghly river – and the nature of the soil, bounce had always been on the lower side. Efforts are on for an overhaul.
“Bounce comes from the compaction of the soil, about four inches underneath the top layer. The drier and harder the area, the steeper is the bounce. With no rain around, about three weeks are required to achieve the required compaction. This pitch hasn’t achieved it fully. But efforts are on to complete the task before the Test,” a member of the ground staff told this paper.
It’s usually an exaggeration when someone describes a green pitch as being indistinguishable from the outfield. But at Eden Gardens on Monday, when the groundstaff whisked away the white tarpaulin that had covered the Test-match pitch all afternoon, it was close to being the truth. Live green grass covered every inch of the strip, and you had to squint – at least if you were looking at it from the stands – to discern the subtle shift of shade where it bordered the rest of the square.
Even though three days remain before the start of the first India-Sri Lanka Test, it’s hard to see it changing too much.
Ashwin had already completed a round of the Eden when the other team members came out. Warmed up and ready, Ashwin start bowling at the spinners’ net and aimed at the wickets until the time the batsmen were padded up. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav later joined Ashwin while Rohit Sharma also rolled his arm over for a while.
M Vijay: Passing the day was very difficult for me. How much ever you occupy yourself, the thought of coming back into the team, the doubts about your fitness cross anybody’s mind because you are human. I found out a way. My family and friends backed me a lot in this phase, where I could give more time to my kids and see them grow and spend time with my wife. It was a totally different ballgame for me. Though it was difficult, I ensured that I was not thinking too much about my cricket and was giving 100 per cent to my family and rehabilitation towards getting back to a fitter Vijay.
What does it take to lead Pakistan?
I think it is very important just to know what is right and what is wrong. You just don’t have to live on other people’s opinion because from what I have seen there is no point taking the opinions of people too seriously. At the end of the day, I have to take decisions and the responsibility of its consequences. So it is important that you carry on doing the hard work to improve your own and the team’s performances.
I think when the team is performing, that is enough for the critics. The most important thing as a captain of an Asian side whether it is India, Pakistan Sri Lanka or Bangladesh is patience. You need to hold your emotions because that will help you to take better decisions. It is very demanding to keep your emotions under control but if you do manage to do that it will help you as well as the team.
Perry’s moment brought a rush of enthusiasm. But that’s risky thinking. If you valorise a format based on a good day, you condemn it for a bad one. England blocking out a draw on a pitch as ferocious as a sea-monkey invasion was no advertisement. But the why for women’s Test cricket doesn’t rely on every game being a classic. It’s simple. Women are now professional cricketers, and Tests are still acknowledged as the prime format for proving skill.
Those against the format have a simple argument too. Test matches cost money. Running four or five days at a ground is more expensive than one. Women’s cricket has the potential to become profitable, but the shorter formats are easier to market to fans and sell for broadcast. Multi-day cricket is viewed as a costly interruption.
Not long after England last won the Ashes in Australia, Trevor Bayliss was working as an estate agent. Deciding to leave his post with Sri Lanka after he led them to the 2011 World Cup final, he applied for his old job as New South Wales coach and was overlooked. Unemployed, he was invited to try his hand at selling houses in Penrith, west of Sydney, by family friend Michael Ball.
“He’s not a silly man, but he had to go and do courses to be licensed to buy and sell houses,” Ball tells BBC Sport. “He was very successful because he is a people person. The beauty is that the clients wouldn’t have had a clue who he was. It wasn’t until afterwards that they knew.
“I still have clients now, who dealt with Trevor, asking if he’s the England cricket coach.”
Flurry of changes expected post India cricket rights tender in January 2018 (The Times of India)
At present, Star India Pvt. Ltd – who bought the five-year IPL rights for Rs 16,347 crore – pays BCCI Rs 43 crore per game for all international cricket played in India. BCCI expects this figure to rise (per match) anywhere between 20 to 25 percent at a minimum. In fact, given the recent sale of BCCI properties, market reckons the figure to be higher. “It is on the basis of this income that BCCI will have to address the issue of player remuneration. At the moment, a First Class cricketer ends up earning around Rs 12 lakh per year, which is ridiculously low. That amount needs to go up,” says a cricket industry executive. “Alternately, there are cricketers who don’t play the IPL or may not wish to in the future, simply to keep their prospects in the longer version intact. A separate corpus needs to be created for them. That is, if you want India to have more Cheteshwar Pujaras.”
Mumbai cricket wanted us to be khadoos: Manjrekar (The Hindu)
The attitude doesn’t translate easily — a kind of unsmiling seriousness would be a street meaning — but most agree it is an attitude meant to intimidate rivals. Sanjay Manjrekar, former Mumbai captain and now a popular commentator, says its more than that. He calls it an internal thing, a firming up of resolve in the face of adversity, steely nerves in match situations, bringing out all the skill that practice builds. “The literal meaning of ‘khadoos’ is someone who does not smile too much, people who are not likeable. I guess that is what Mumbai wanted us to be like against the opposition. Khadoos meant being gritty, not giving an inch, taking up the challenge. So, if we saw a teammate getting a little relaxed, we would say, ‘Chal, khadoos ho [okay, get khadoos]’ to get players to fight for the team. It was not something we spoke very loudly, just a quiet act. After a long partnership, there is a tendency to relax a bit. At the right time, the senior partner or captain would use the word and make players switch on the mindset.”