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Are the Australian selectors right in preferring rookie spinners over the more experienced Nathan Hauritz?

Saturday, December 11, 2021
So, the Australian selectors have thrown the five first-class matches old Michael Beer into the wild. Completely untested and raw, the 26-year-old left-arm spinner will be gifted his first Baggy Green at Perth, in the third Ashes Test. That means Xavier Doherty, who made his debut in the opening Test, finds himself axed after producing figures of 1 for 158 in the second match at Adelaide.

Leggie Steven Smith is the second spinner in the 12-man squad for Perth Test but the selectors have made it clear that Beer will become Australia’s 10th Test spinner after Shane Warne – the man who had pitched in for his selection. Warne, in his column, had written the South Australian tweaker was the best option for the hosts in Perth Test, which is his home ground. Beer’s selection, however, has evoked shock from other quarters.

Former spinner Stuart McGill is “gobsmacked” while the Doherty, the direct victim of this decision thinks the selectors are “panicking” and said, “In an ideal world, I would have liked a few more chances”, adding, “You have seen how many spinners they have used over the last couple of years, so I'm sure the selectors aren't quite sure who the next person is.”

Doherty may be right. The selectors do seem confused when it comes to deciding who Australia’s best spinner is. According to many, including McGill, the answer to that question is a straightforward ‘Nathan Hauritz’.

The off-spinner cannot be blamed if he’s thinking he has got a raw deal from the selectors and the team management. Two bad Tests in India shouldn’t be the criterion to show the doors to a spinner who has picked 63 wickets in 17 matches so far. Certainly not when the people preferred over him have anything but established themselves even at the domestic level.

If lack in form was the excuse for not including Hauritz in the original Ashes squad, it cannot be used to keep him out of Perth Test. A fortnight ago, Hauritz took a five-for at the very venue to bowl New South Wales to victory in a Shield match. In his next game, he scored his maiden first-class century.

So, have the Australian selectors erred in not restoring their faith in Hauritz? Voice your opinion here.
 

Shirin Sadikot

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With the World Cup in sight, have India done the right thing by resting the senior players for NZ ODIs?

Sunday, November 21, 2021


Indian national selectors have announced the squad for the first two ODIs against New Zealand. And once again, they have decided to rest some of the key players. The team, sans Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, will be led by Gautam Gambhir.

India has adopted this policy of resting the seniors from ODIs quite frequently of late in order to preserve them for the following Test assignments. This time it’s the tour to South Africa – perhaps the most difficult of all.

Given India’s unrelentingly tight schedule, it makes sense to preserve the ageing stars for the bigger challenges and ease the youngsters at the highest level to mould the future of the team. And to their credit, the young-guns haven’t done too badly. It would give India an opportunity to build the team for the World Cup.

They would certainly want to test whether the likes of Murali Vijay and Saurabh Tiwary have the mettle to translate their Twenty20 pyrotechnics into ODI success. Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin now have a chance to fight it out for the allrounder’s slot while the absence of veterans like Zaheer and Ashish Nehra will give an account of India’s young pace battery.

But on the other hand, the decision means that most of the players who’re certain to be a part of that World Cup squad will not play a single ODI in the sub-continent before the big event. India finish their three Tests, one Twenty20 and five ODIs in South Africa on 23rd January and 26 days later, on 19th February, open the World Cup campaign in Bangladesh against the hosts.

While all the players in question have played huge amount of Test cricket at home in recent times, they haven’t had a go in the limited overs format. Tendulkar’s last ODI innings was the 200-run epic in Gwalior against the Proteas on 24th February 2010. Harbhajan and Zaheer haven’t played a fifty-over game since the Asia Cup final in the last week of August. Only Dhoni has played all the One-dayers including the only match of the rain-marred series against Australia, which Sehwag missed due to injury.

True that most of these players have a vast amount of experience under their belt to cope with the change in conditions and format of the game. But these small things tend to hold greater importance when you’re talking about a tournament like the World Cup.

Keeping all the factors in mind and assessing the decision from both viewpoints, what do you have to say about India’s squad for the ODI series against the Kiwis?
 

Shirin Sadikot

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Is India’s bowling attack for the 2011 world Cup in place?

Saturday, October 23, 2021


Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli. Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara – these are the young men who have of late given us a feeling of assurance that the future of Indian batting is as dazzling as its past and the present. Be it Tests or ODIs, the young guns have put their hands up and shown their mettle with élan.

But what about the bowling front? True, India has never been a country of bowlers. We’ve had our Chandras, Bedis, Kapils and Kumbles and we still have a Zaheer and a Harbhajan. But a team that dreams of winning the World cup needs some fine men to be a strong support to the main guys.

As has always been the case with Indian cricket, there is no dearth of talent. Ishant Sharma is tall and fast – an attribute so rare with Indian bowlers. Sreesanth and RP Singh can run through a line-up in swinging conditions, Praveen Kumar is lethal bowling under the lights and Ashish Nehra brings in enormous experience in the death overs. The likes of Abhimanyu Mithun, Vinay Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav are soon making their presence felt in the domestic circuit.

The spin cupboard too, is anything but bare. Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha have demonstrated their capabilities in Tests and R Ashwin is soon showing his worth in the limited overs formats. Piyush Chawla too stays in the fray.

With such abundance of talent, what are we whingeing about? The answer to that question is another cliché that has been an integral part of Indian cricket. Inconsistency. Inconsistency in performance, fitness and selection. Be it Ishant’s pace, Sreesanth’s rhythm or Nehra’s death bowling, India has enjoyed it all sporadically. Also, sometimes one gets a feeling the Indian pacers spend more time in the NCA rehabilitation centre than in the nets or the cricket field.

Mishra and Ojha are a part of what seems like a never-ending game of musical chairs in India’s Test team and Ashwin’s inclusion in the playing eleven is at the mercy of India’s part-timer spinners, who Dhoni has a fetish for.

When India conceded 85 runs to Australia in the last five overs in the VIzag ODI, it wasn’t an aberration. Death bowling has been India’s Achilles Heels since the last two years.

"The last ten overs have always been a big concern for us. It's not a worry we have had (only) over the last 2 or 3 months. We have been bothered by it for the last – one-two years. We had done well in between but have not been really consistent. It's still an area where we can definitely improve.

“We are putting in a lot of effort but haven't achieved the desired result. We have not been consistent with it," The issue has even the captain MS Dhoni is at his wits end.

With the World Cup four years away, we can easily pick the eight best batsmen who are almost a surety in the squad given they’re fit. But can we say the same about the bowlers? If yes, who will be your pick?

 Shirin Sadikot is a sub-editor with Cricket Nirvana

Shirin Sadikot

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Will the two-Test series in India prove to be enough preparation for Australia ahead of the Ashes?

Friday, October 08, 2021


Brett Lee said that the heart-breaking loss to India in the Mohali Test will be a blessing in disguise for Australia. He thinks the defeat will harden Ponting’s men and inspire them to come all guns blazing in the Ashes.

The fact that the second Test in Bangalore is the last five-day game for Australia before they host traditional rivals England in November, doesn’t leave them will too many opportunities to iron out their flaws before their battle to regain the urn begins.

Ponting is still getting out to the pull shot. Cheaply. Doug Bollinger’s body is reacting to the rigours of the Champions League Twenty20, while Michael Hussey contemplates expressing his concerns over the tight scheduling to Cricket Australia. The other pace duo of Johnson and Hilfenhaus failed to clean up India’s tail on a fifth day track.

But on the other hand, despite being a much more inexperienced side as compared to the star-studded Indian team, Australia showed immense character in taking the Mohali Test to the tenterhooks. The batting of Shane Watson and Tim Paine was the biggest positive for the visitors. But how much will these runs on the flat Indian pitches count for as they face the England bowlers in complete diverse conditions? Also, with Brad Haddin confident of recovering from his injury in time for the Ashes, Paine is almost sure to miss out.

With the injuries, recoveries, lack of form and lack of match-preparation in similar conditions, do you think Australia will go into the Ashes fully prepared? Write in your views.

Shirin Sadikot

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Should 18-year-old Aamer be treated with leniency if proved guilty of spot-fixing?

Monday, September 13, 2021


Until last month, Mohammad Aamer was known to the world as a prodigious fast bowler from Pakistan, an 18-year-old who made the best of batsmen hop and jump with his menacingly bouncing and swinging deliveries, the young man who became the fastest to reach 50 Test wickets.

But that fateful day at the Lord’s changed it all for Aamer. A tremendously promising cricketing career suddenly got engulfed in the gloom of spot-fixing allegations. Aamer, along with his two senior mates, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, has not yet been proved guilty, but the proofs dished out by the British tabloid are damning. The smoke is too strong and widespread for us to believe there was no fire at all.

So, what if the investigations prove that Aamer had indeed over-stepped on purpose when he bowled ‘that’ rather huge no-ball? It’s a thought that gives jitters to anyone who loves the game of cricket. But it’s also a decision that will probably determine the fate of cricket.

There are plenty of suggestions voiced by various former and current players, administrators and writers on what should be done with Aamer if he’s found guilty. There is a school of thought which says his tender age must be taken into consideration while deciding his fate. After all, he’s only 18, and it would have been extremely difficult for him to say ‘no’ to an approach made by his captain and senior bowling partner.

As Mike Atherton said, in this case, the kid needs help and not punishment. The former England captain called for Aamer to be rehabilitated and educated against the vice of match-fixing before reinstating him back into the team. ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat too stated that Aamer’s age will be a factor in deciding his punishment. There were also reports the young man has been offered a bargain to let out the truth about his teammates and escape a harsh punishment. The people who support this argument feel cricket must not lose an outstanding talent to match-fixing.

But if the above course of action is implemented and Aamer is allowed to play for Pakistan again despite being guilty of trading his integrity for a few easy bucks, what message will it send out to the other players?

In the future, if a young player is approached for getting involved in such deals, won’t he say to himself, ‘he got away with it and so will I’? Besides, everyone knows, once you fall into the trap of the betting mafias, you’re caught in a vicious circle you can never escape from. What is the guarantee Aamer will not do it again in the future?

It can also be argued, if a player is ready for international cricket at a young age, he is also expected to have to maturity and character that needs to be had at that level. As admitted by current players like Michael Clarke and Stuart Broad, the ICC thoroughly educates a player against corruption even before he dons his national cap. Every player is provided with a pile of books which clearly mention the do’s and don’ts. In that case, age is immaterial.

Also, as Ian Chappell argues, if the fixers are let off easily, the honest players will think they’re fools to have rejected heaps of money for just overstepping the line by a few inches. If the ICC wants to clean up the game from the core, there’s no room for leniency. They need to crack the whip and make it crystal clear to all and sundry that if you cannot protect the integrity of the game, if you ‘cross the line’ of honesty even by a small margin, you have no right to be associated with cricket in any smallest possible way.

Which thought process do you agree with? If found guilty, would you give Aamer a second chance to redeem his morality? If he oversteps the bowling crease in future, would you let it go off your mind without a hint of suspicion?

Or are you of the opinion that he, like any man who sells his conscience and betrays the game which earned him the respect and fame, should be thrown out of cricket forever? Do write in your views…

© Cricket Nirvana

Shirin Sadikot

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Is it possible to make cricket completely corruption-free? If yes, how?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


The dark and gloomy clouds of match-fixing have besieged our great game once again. Those ghosts of the gravest crime in the sporting arena have come back to haunt the cricket world and guess who is at the centre of it all again? No points for guessing that one, it’s Pakistan.

The country has been the ‘butt’ of jokes (pun intended), an object of sympathy and at times of frustration. But what transpired towards the end of the Lord’s Test is neither funny nor pitiable. It is a crime, a matter of shame and disgust. And though the allegations are yet to be proved, their seriousness has evoked the wrath of the entire cricketing fraternity.

The PCB is once again under the scanner for its maladministration, corruption and plain carelessness. The ICC, which has been harping about cleaning up the game from the core is in an embarrassing situation where, despite having a special anti-corruption unit of their own, they had to be informed about the malpractices in their game by a small tabloid named News of the World.

The England cricket team, which had thought they were on a roll going into the Ashes with a 3-1 Test series victory against Pakistan, are suddenly hit by the possibility that their opposition might not have given their best and hence their triumph was not all that great after all.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who, till now was taking pride in his team’s fantastic come-from-behind victory in last year’s Sydney Test, is now told there are all chances his team didn’t win the match, the opposition lost it. Skeletons are popping out of the cupboard, and the ICC is now opening their eyes to investigate all 82 Tests that Pakistan played in the last two years.

The question is, what will be the result of all the probes and investigations that are going on? If they do not find enough evidence, the accused players will be let off. But does that necessarily mean the game is spotless?

If the investigation proves that the suspected players are indeed guilty of spot-fixing, then what? Life ban on the players? Ban on Pakistan cricket? What about the fans and other honest cricketers of Pakistan? Should they suffer because of some dishonest people? The questions are endless. But does anyone have a perfect solution? Can the game of cricket ever be made 100 per cent corruption free? If yes, how? Voice your suggestions here….

© Cricket Nirvana
 


 

Shirin Sadikot

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Is India’s stubborn stance against the UDRS coming back to haunt them?

Monday, August 23, 2021


The result of Sunday’s tri-series game was a classic combination of poor umpiring, indiscreet Indian batting and intelligent, disciplined Lankan bowling. While the quality of batting and bowling can be considered as part and parcel of the game, it was the five shocking decisions made by the umpires that caught everyone’s eye.

India were at the receiving end on four of those occasions as they lost the wickets of Sehwag, Karthik, Raina and Yuvraj to the blunders of the men in white coats. The situation is a bit ironical, given India’s strong stance against the UDRS, a system devised precisely to get rid of such anomalies.

Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who has time and again put his weight behind the controversial review system, urging the ICC to make it mandatory, didn’t waste this opportunity to reiterate his stance.

"Well, sometimes decisions work for you and sometimes they are against you. But if everything has to be fair, use technology and make it even.

"The ICC should make technology compulsory now because if some sides are using it and some series we are playing without technology I don't think that is right. Everyone should use technology. If it is a must,” Said Sangakkara.

India bore the brunt of some iffy decisions even in the Tests that preceded the tri-series, and every time that happened, the commentators were quick to remind everyone that it was the BCCI who chose not to have the review system in place.

And after Sunday’s match, Sangakkara, a shrewd character and a lawyer by profession, was quick to hit the hammer when the iron was at its hottest.

“Even before the Test series we have been for DRS and the only reason I believe why we did not have referral system throughout the Test series and through this series was because India did not want DRS,” he said.

Sangakkara’s Indian counterpart, MS Dhoni, however, has maintained the technology must be used only if it is fool-proof, which at present, the UDRS is not. Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar too has come out and made his dissatisfaction over the system clear, saying he prefers the Hot-spot over the UDRS.

The BCCI explained their indifference towards the system saying it is expensive and not 100 per cent accurate. Though the contentious system has its detractors in other parts of the world as well, there are more people in favour of the technology than against it.

So, for how long can the BCCI flex its financial muscles to have things their way? Actually, after suffering the severe consequences of not having the UDRS in place, the question is, are they having it their way at all?

Shouldn’t the BCCI keep their mighty ego aside and just give the poor UDRS a chance? After all, as the superpower of the cricketing world, it’s India’s responsibility to make sure they co-operate with the ICC in their attempt to make the game bigger and better. And the fact that the chances of the Indian batsmen – who are more often than not the victims of poor umpiring decisions – being given out wrongly will reduce, wont harm the team’s cause either.

What do you think? Have your say here….
 

Shirin Sadikot

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Should the ICC amend the rule-books to prevent players from adopting malicious tactics like Randiv’s deliberate no-ball?

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


Virender Sehwag was on 99 and India needed five runs to complete an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka. As one would expect from the dashing Indian opener, he clobbered Lankan spinner Suraj Randiv for a handsome six down the ground and raised his arms to celebrate his century and India’s victory with a bonus point.

But there was a twist in the tail when the umpire signaled a no-ball and Sehwag soon realized he was denied a very well deserved century. The length by which Randiv had overstepped – his back-foot was where the bowlers’ front-foot lands while delivering the ball – made it crystal clear that it was done deliberately to make sure Sehwag remains stranded on 99. With that one-foot big no-ball, Randiv not only overstepped the line of the crease but also the one that guards the spirit of the ‘gentleman’s game’.

Randiv, a young and inexperienced man, might have done it in the heat of the moment but overnight he has become a villain in India and a shame for Sri Lanka Cricket. The Lankan board has apologized to Team India’s manager and Sehwag too tweeted “Hi guys Randiv came to my room n apologize”.

But apart from the question of morality, the incident also highlights the crudity of rules. Any man worth his salt would not deny the fact that what happened off the last ball of the match at Dambulla on Monday was unfair, and that Sehwag should have gone into the dressing room with 105 not-out against his name.

Even Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara admitted that the charismatic Indian opener deserved his hundred, by saying, "I think those runs should have gone to batsman's credit. Rules should allow that such runs accrue to batsmen.

So, shouldn’t this incident induce the ICC to have another look at the no-ball rule and carve out a new sub-rule for such exceptional cases? Instead of following the rule-book blindly like robots, isn’t it time to make sensible changes in order to prevent the players from adopting such malicious tactics?

One way to do it is to treat the delivery as a no-ball and yet award the runs scored through the shot to the batsman, which means, in this case, the six would be added to Sehwag’s tally while the no-ball run would be considered as an extra.

Can you think of any other method? Or should the ICC stick with the current guidelines? Write in your views…

Shirin Sadikot

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Is India’s biggest strength – batting – soon turning out to be a weak link?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021


Batting has always been India’s USP, in all formats of the game. But of late, there have been instances when the very strength has come across as the weakest link. We need not look beyond India’s ongoing tour to Sri Lanka.

The depleted and inexperienced bowling attack was being talked about as India’s Achilles heels, but it was the glamour boys with the bat that let the team down on more than one occasion.

In the first Test at Galle, the Indian batting stalwarts crumbled against the might of Murali and Malinga before staging a comeback of sorts. But in the tri-series opener, against New Zealand the young batting line-up cut an even sorrier figure, slumping to their fifth lowest ODI total of 88.

Only three batsmen reached double figures and none of them showed the intent against the charged-up Kiwi pacers that made the most of the bouncy Dambulla track.

Hence, while fretting over the inconsistent and inexperienced bowling attack, did Team India fail to take notice of their biggest strength soon turning into an area of concern? Or their pathetic show with the bat was just an aberration of sorts? Do write in your views…
 

© Cricket Nirvana

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What is the best way to save Test cricket fundamentally as well as financially?

Monday, August 02, 2021


The good side of cricket's reality is the market delivers money, and decides the value of players, sponsorship and TV rights. That is the reason Dhoni has some wealth, Tendulkar isn't poor and other stars are comfortably above the poverty line. Cricket's capacity to create cash does good: the IPL offers astonishing rewards, Ranji players earn decent money and retired first-class players receive monthly pensions. 

Still there is the less known side to this reality — the riches of cricket touch only a few and not everyone is required to deposit vast amounts as advance income tax. The handful super-rich (members of the national team) strike gold but for those who fail to make Ranji sides, cricket is an uphill struggle. They have no jobs or reasons to stay in the game.

In other countries the situation is far more grim as, unlike India, money is scarce. English cricket is reeling under a severe crisis because T20 has lost its shine. Regular cricket isn't doing much better either — Test matches featuring Bangladesh and Pakistan have been financial disasters.

Understandably, there is concern, even gloom, in cricket circles. Counties have suffered big losses, the market is in no position to provide cash and the government, committed to genuine austerity and budget cuts, refuses to offer a lifeline. 

In this scenario, the big Test centres are hardest hit because they have massive bills and bank loans to repay. The Oval invested almost 30 million pounds in the last five years to create modern facilities, but is now looking to stage cultural/entertainment events to stay financially afloat.

At another level, apart from financial health issues, cricket faces other fundamental challenges. Test cricket, for long the premier product, is in desperate need of a makeover, a point proved decisively by the last game in Sri Lanka where Suraj Randiv, the poor off spinner, in his debut match, bowled 73 overs and conceded 222 runs. The flat pitch ensured the batsmen partied, bowlers got whacked (as described by Dhoni) and the game was of interest only to statisticians and batsmen who lucked out.

So, what is the best way to save Test cricket and its financial value? Day-night Tests, pink balls or just sporting pitches that offer equal help to batsmen and bowlers? Write in your views…

HT Content & Syndication Services

Amrit Mathur

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Should Muralitharan have played the entire home Test series against India before calling it quits?

Friday, July 23, 2021

 
So, world’s greatest ever wicket-taker has decided to call time on his Test career and what better way to bow out than spinning your team to a massive victory and in the process, scaling the 800-wicket summit.

Muralitharan couldn’t have scripted it better, or could he? He might have lost the menacing effect he once had on the batsmen but in the Galle Test he surely seemed better than any other spinner from both teams – in terms of wickets and skill – by a big margin.

Those viciously turning off-spinners and the bounce he generated foxed the famed Indian batting line-up once again. His wickets of Dhoni and Yuvraj in quick succession in India’s first innings were the turning points of the match and he did get the better of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar yet again.

He finished as the highest wicket-taker in the match with eight scalps. Murali surely has some more cricket left in him, one might say, and his presence in the remaining two Tests would’ve surely given Sri Lanka a better chance of winning the series 2-1 or better, thus becoming the number-one Test team. A lot of motivation to hang on.

But on the other hand, he knows his body best. Murali said he decided to depart after the first Test itself because he didn’t think his weak knees can take the load of two more five-day games. He has, time and again spoken about how he’s not getting any younger and has always been playing with a niggle since the last few months. But then again, he could definitely have extended his 133-Test career for two more games to see his team rule roost in Test cricket. After all, that’s perhaps the only thing Muttiah Muralitharan hasn’t achieved in his over 17-year career.

So, should the smiling assassin have sported that wide grin of his for a few more days on a Test field? Write in your views…

© Cricket Nirvana

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Has the PCB made a right decision in appointing Salman Butt as the Test captain?

Monday, July 19, 2021


So, Shahid Afridi has, for the second time, announced his Test retirement, after playing his first match in over four years and his first ever Test as the captain. This means, Salman Butt becomes the sixth man to lead the Pakistan cricket team in the last couple of years.

Butt is undoubtedly the best batsman in the Pakistani team at present. He is one man in the Test side who boasts of both experience (he’s played 28 Test matches) and form (he top scored for Pakistan in both innings of the Lord’s Test). Hence, one would say he was the obvious choice for the captaincy.

But would it be right to burden him with leading the most unpredictable cricket team of the most troubled country? Butt will have a Herculean task of being a good man manager, endearing all the pressure a Pakistan captain has to, from the board and make sure he gives the team a good start with the bat.

Rewind back to 2007 when Shoaib Malik, their most in-form and promising player was thrust with the leadership responsibility. Eventually the pressure got to him and since then, he’s never been the same player. Such has been the downslide for Malik that he lost his place in the side to a debutant during the first Test against Australia.

After Malik was sacked Younus Khan, their seasoned, prolific batsman took up the job reluctantly. A couple of bad series and his time too ended. Then came Mohammad Yousuf, another proven performer and a pillar of Pakistan’s batting. His reign ended with flop shows in Australia and New Zealand and now Pakistan’s two most experienced Test batsmen are out of the team.

The pattern clearly suggests Pakistan have lost some of their best players to captaincy. Will Butt meet with a similar fate? Is the PCB right in handing the team’s reins to him or should they have looked back to a former captain – say Malik, or even brought back Younus or Yousuf at the helm? Write in your views…
 

© Cricket Nirvana

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Have Sri Lankan selectors made a big mistake by leaving Ajantha Mendis out of the Test squad?

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


He was India’s nemesis on their 2008 tour to Sri Lanka. He was a mystery that left the masters of batting like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly bamboozled. His carom ball wrecked havoc in the celebrated Indian batting line-up and before they knew what had hit them, Anil Kumble’s men were drubbed 2-1 in the three-Test series, with Ajantha Mendis taking 26 wickets.

But quite inexplicably, Mendis hasn’t found a place in the Lankan Test squad for their forthcoming home series against the opponents he slaughtered the last time around. Mendis might have lost the initial awe that he generated amongst the batsmen with his numerous variations and unorthodox spin. But has his skill deteriorated to such an extent that led to the national selectors excluding him from the squad?

The mystery spinner has answered the question in style – by ripping through the same star-studded Indian batting line-up in the practice match ahead of the Test series beginning from July 18. He accounted for six of the visiting team’s batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir. This performance came as a strong reply to the snub he faced from the selectors.

With the spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan calling it quits after the first Test, the Lankans would need Mendis even more. It is possible that they will include him for the second and third Tests, but with such kind of sparkling form, wouldn’t his presence in the opening Test have made a huge impact on the rest of the series? Have the Sri Lankan selectors missed a huge trick in leaving Mendis out? Write in your views…

© Cricket Nirvana

 

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Will the latest injury spell the end of Sreesanth's Test career?

Monday, July 12, 2021


S Sreesanth has injured himself yet again. This time, he has torn a ligament of his knee, an injury that has ruled him out for 4-5 weeks. The Kerala speedster was supposed to lead the Indian pace attack during the three-Test series in Sri Lanka, in the absence of spearhead Zaheer Khan.

Since he made his international debut in 2005, the pacer has spent more time in the rehab than he has on the field. Add to this the various controversies he has courted due to his over-aggressiveness, and Sreesanth’s career has been far from a smooth ride.

When Sreesanth marked his return to Test cricket with a five-wicket haul in the 2009 Kanpur Test against Sri Lanka, it seemed a highly promising career had been revived. But he went down yet again – with a thigh strain – and went home after playing the first Test against Bangladesh, before sitting out the home Test series against South Africa.

The reason why he has been persisted with, despite a row of disciplinary issues and injuries, is his immense talent. Sreesanth is one of the very few bowlers in India who can swing the ball both ways. Skipper MS Dhoni has also described him as the bowler who boasts of the best seam position among the Indian bowlers. Everyone knows what he is capable of doing when he gets into his groove and focuses his energy on his bowling.

But it would be difficult for him to retain the faith and patience of the selectors and the team management after breaking down at the moment when the team was depending on him to lead the attack. Injuries are a part and parcel of a fast bowlers’ life but Sreesanth’s problem is far more persistent that normal.

So, what impact will this injury have on Sreeasnth’s future as an international cricketer? Is it the fatal blow on his career that will push him off the national selectors’ radar? Write in your views…

© Cricket Nirvana

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Will the young Sri Lankan spinners emerge from the shadow of Muralitharan?

Wednesday, July 07, 2021


Australian spin attack has never been the same after legendary Shane Warne hung up his boots. Now, Sri Lanka is entering the dreaded era as well – the post Murali era.

World’s highest wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, Muttiah Muralitharan has called time on his Test career after the first Test against India this month. Though the wily off-spinner has decided to quit all forms of international cricket, he has made himself available for the 2011 World Cup should the team need him.

Going by his recent form, which has been indifferent by his own standards, one might think the decision has come at the right time. But, the question to be asked is, will Sri Lankan cricket ever be the same post Muralitharan?

Sri Lanka do have exciting spinning prospects like mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis and off-spinner, Suraj Randiv. While Mendis has variations that can keep the best of batsmen guessing what’s coming in next, Randiv’s towering height helps him generate the extra bounce and give more flight to the ball. They also have the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who can bowl with a lot of guile that deceives the batsmen.

There might be a lot of young promising slow bowlers in the country’s domestic circuit apart form the above-mentioned names. Hence, the talent is abundant. But the sheer number of wickets that Murali has taken – 792 from 132 Tests and 515 scalps in 337 ODIs – makes it nearly impossible for anyone to emulate the old warhorse.

So, how will Sri Lankan cricket cope with the loss of their biggest match-winner? Do the current spinners on the horizon have it in them to collectively fill in the shoes of the master tweaker? Write in your views

© Cricket Nirvana

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Is the ICC right in not awarding any major tournament to Pakistan till 2015?

Saturday, July 03, 2021


The ICC has announced venues for all its major events till 2015, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh bagging the next two World Twenty20s respectively and India to host the 2013 Women’s World Cup. The Champions Trophy in 2013 will be held in England while Australia and New Zealand were declared the joint hosts of the 2015 ODI World Cup.

One country that felt left out was Pakistan, as sources close to the PCB revealed that they were hoping to get the 2013 Champions Trophy under their belt but couldn’t convince the apex cricket body that the country was safe for international cricket.

International cricket has come to a halt in Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in 2008 and teams are still completely averse to traveling the trouble-torn country.

While the snub may not come as a surprise to most people, given the security threats in the country due to rampant militant activities, the PCB feel they should have been awarded at least one major ICC event post 2013 – that is a good five years after the Lahore attack.

So, is it unfair to keep international cricket away from Pakistan for so long or has the attack on the Lankans done a permanent damage to the country’s cricket? For how long will this go on? Will Pakistan never host international cricket, leave alone a major ICC tournament in the future? Or is it just a long but temporary phase that will eventually pass and cricket will return to the nation? Tell us what you think...
 

© Cricket Nirvana

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