Those gearing up for the third Test between Sri Lanka had plenty to read up on before getting their Saturday (August 12) started. Kuldeep Yadav’s arrival, Rangana Herath’s exit and Suresh Raina’s future were some of the features to whet the appetite.
Elsewhere, Dean Jones suggested that a world championship would revive Test cricket, and Graeme Smith insisted that adversity would promote positivity.
Kuldeep, though, is relevant to Kohli. He bridles with promise. Forget the mystery part, for the novelty of it will eventually fade as word goes around and his craft is dssected threadbare.
But a wrist-spinner with immaculate control is, generally, independent of conditions, and doesn’t need splintered wickets or dustbowls to weave his deception. Considering that India are scheduled to play in South Africa, England and New Zealand next year, he would be a priceless weapon for Kohli.
It would seem like a seamless transition. But it was not a gradual, planned ascension. It was rather accidental. Herath was the caretaker who became the king. For by the time Murali bid farewell, he was already 32 and perceived as stopgap, hoping that they’d stumble on a gem like Murali. But it never materialised, and soon forgotten when Herath began wrecking sides single-handedly like Murali. They were in a state of repose, like the indulgent monarch who never foresaw famine. They were forewarned several times that Herath is approaching the sunset, but they lived in the illusion that Herath was in possession of some kind of magic dust that would keep him bowling eternally. Being laid-back is a typical Sri Lankan trait, and it’s no surprise that it has sneaked into their cricket too. Not for them the laboured art of nurturing a player.
Raina hasn’t played ODIs for India since October 2015. In the last T20I that he played, the explosive left-hander had smashed 63 off 45 balls to fashion India’s 75-run triumph over England in February this year. “Raina’s an impact player, who can help us win games with his big-hitting down the order. Since we have a heavy limited overs schedule later this season, we need to play him now. He could be a key player for us in the 2019 World Cup,” said a source.
As much as the selectors deserve every bit of credit for churning out a Test squad with forward-looking thoughts, there is no denying the fact that the limited-overs sides need an injection of fresh blood. Despite making it to the final of the Champions Trophy, this side as skipper Virat Kohli said, plays the sort of boring cricket that on days — like the final at the Oval — can backfire, if two among the top-three fail to make it big. In Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, they have two players, who nobody knows for sure, whether they will be in a position to play the next World Cup.
Dean Jones: The Tests will be played over four days with 100 overs each day. There will be four points for scoring 350 runs in a day in the first innings, and four points for getting a side out within that period in the first innings. And 12 points are up for grabs for a win.
Dinesh Mongia: “There was no evidence against me. I was the only player not to receive BCCI’s amnesty to the ICL players.
“Ambati Rayudu earned a reprieve (for signing up with ICL) and went on to play for India. Is it not strange that the BCCI never banned me but has not responded to my requests to clear my dues. I have written to the BCCI and PCA (Punjab) but have not heard from them.
“I hope someone in the BCCI hears my case just as they have Mohammad Azharuddin’s.”
The list, accessed by The Indian Express, confirms the departure of the old guards like N Srinivasan, Niranjan Shah, Rajeev Shukla, Anurag Thakur, Ajay Shirke, Amitabh Choudhary, Anirudh Chaudhry, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ranjib Biswal, Ashirwad Behera, Brijesh Patel, G Gangaraju, TC Mathew from their respective state associations. They have now been relegated to general members.
As per the list, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) doesn’t have a president at the moment, after Srinivasan vacated the post by virtue of the Supreme Court’s January 2 and 3 orders. The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association is no longer under the control of Thakur and a three-member committee is running its day-to-day affairs. Similarly, the Orissa Cricket Association (OCA) is being helmed by a five-member interim committee following Biswal and Behera’s exit. “All five members are vice-presidents,” Behera said.
Graeme Smith: If I’m honest on that front, this is a transitional period for South African cricket. The squad appears to be in limbo, with there being a dearth of obvious Test Match talent presenting itself. All international sides go through this at some stage, and even against the backdrop of the ongoing political and economic issues that remain prominent when discussing South African cricket, sometimes there simply aren’t players out there putting their hands up.
If I were a domestic cricketer in my early twenties now, I would see this as a massive opportunity to force my name forward for selection. A worrying, yet inevitable trend that is by no means a new phenomenon, is these young players choosing to take their chances playing cricket outside of South Africa.
Michael Atherton: “Clearly England have moved on from Adil Rashid in red-ball cricket for whatever reason. He took 30 wickets in India and Bangladesh over the winter, so I have some sympathy for him.”
Michael Atherton: I think of Eagar as a photographer who spent time at the cricket, rather than a cricket photographer, such was his skill and eye for the moment and its context. Compared with now, the early 1970s presented problems and opportunities. He told me once that at a Leeds Test in 1972, he had just one over to get a photograph for The Sunday Times’s first edition, as a courier arrived at the ground at 11.30am to take the film on the train to the London offices.
Equally, players did not wear helmets, so you could see their faces and reactions; there were few sponsors’ logos to ruin the purity of the image. The story told by Ryan of Eagar’s summer of 1975, and the images taken on 35mm black-and-white negative and colour transparency film, reveal a different era.
NS Chaturved: “We at AG’s Office have managed to stay in First division. With no recruitment, we have to manage with our own staff. We cannot afford guest players like other teams, but we managed to get Unmukt Chand as guest player last season. He played for us not for money but to get match practice. So all of us are under pressure and we cannot play our natural game as we have to restrain ourselves for the ‘safety’ of the team.”
Meet Royal Challengers Bangalore performance analyst Sandeep Raju, who was in attendance during the clash between Ruby Trichy Warriors and Karaikudi Kaalai. “The next auction is a big one. We want to look at all tournaments and the different kinds of talent in them,” remarked Raju, who has been a part of the RCB think-tank since 2014, and has also donned the same role for India between 2013 and 2015.
“TNPL is one of those platforms where you can come and see where cricketers from TN stand, and then assess if they can play in the IPL.” With last week’s matches in Tirunelveli also figuring on his itinerary, a few players have caught Raju’s notice. “Like the commentators have been saying, Washington (Sundar) has been fantastic. R Sai Kishore too has been impressive. Antony Dhas was brilliant last night.” A cursory request for elaborating upon his job description throws quite some light on the intricacies of talent-scouting. “Everybody’s read or watched Moneyball. Numbers play a pivotal part in what we do.
Indians helped spread the growth of kabaddi in other nations and a slow-talking, genial Kiwi arrived with a guitar to help India play cricket.
Eventually, John Wright left with an expanded vocabulary of “jaldi” and “chalo”, a wooden coffee table that sits in his living room and the authentication of a deeply held belief. As he wrote to me last week: “I always believed if you all shared a passion for something then nationalities and race were irrelevant.” Presumably sporting people see possibility, not difference.
Buttler is similarly still keen to stay in the Test frame and was the reserve wicketkeeper behind Jonny Bairstow last winter, playing the final three matches of the 4-0 defeat to India as a specialist batsman at No7. But he has not kept wicket during his fleeting first-class appearances for Lancashire this summer, while Surrey’s Ben Foakes has trained with the England team.