October 29, 2008

Ticket to Kotla

Aakash Chopra
Gautam Gambhir celebrates his third Test century, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 1st day, October 29, 2008
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Dear readers

How can I not write about my Delhi team-mate when he has got two consecutive centuries against Australia? Especially when the second one has come on our home ground, Feroz Shah Kotla. Gautam Gambhir has taken huge strides in the last one year. All of us in the Delhi team are proud of what he's achieved, and look to him for inspiration.

I could have gone to the Kotla to watch the game after my practice, but as it so often happens in Delhi the two tickets I'm entitled to - being an Indian player - still haven't reached my place. I've been told they're on their way, but day one has already passed, and with that the opportunity to watch a Delhi player excel. Mind you, I'm not the only one: none of us in the Delhi Ranji Trophy team has received a ticket - a first-class cricketer gets one in Delhi. Anyhow, that's the way our system works.

Another thing I wanted to write about is junior cricket. We've been keenly watching the results and performances at Under-22 and Under-19 levels. These kids are our immediate supply line, and as and when we need any replacements we'd be looking to them. Since we have not been able to watch the game ourselves, we go by what we hear from people at the ground, and read about it next day in the papers. Apparently these games are played with SG Tournament balls. For an outsider it might not make any difference as it's still a red ball, made of leather and weighing 5 ½ oz, but for cricketers it means a lot. The behaviour of the ball depends a lot on its quality.

The SG Test ball that is used in first-class and Test cricket in India is relatively soft (made with a soft cork inside and a finer quality of leather) with a very pronounced seam. The ball doesn't move too much, but once it gets a little old, if maintained properly, it swings throughout the day. The ball comes a bit slower off the surface unless it's been made to pitch on the seam. The only way to succeed with an SG Test ball is to land it on the seam, for otherwise you're doomed. On the contrary, the SG Tournament ball has a lot more glaze on it, and is made with hard cork and not-so-fine leather. The ball does a lot when it's new, and travels much quicker after pitching even when it is not pitched on the seam.

The figures we see at the end of the game could be quite misleading. You can't pick a fast bowler just because he wreaked havoc with that ball in the winters in north India. Spinners get less purchase, and hence shouldn't be condemned, and poor openers might not get big scores. The whole exercise of having an age-group tournament seems somewhat futile as it doesn't present a true picture of the talent available. Just to rub it in, the politicking at junior levels is beyond our comprehension. But one works within the system, and hopes that players like Gautam, Viru [Virender Sehwag] and Ishant [Sharma] keep coming good for Delhi and India despite these hurdles.

PS: I'm eagerly waiting for the tickets to come so that either I can go watch the match or pass it on to one of my nephews who have been crying to go to the ground all day.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by rohit on (October 30, 2009, 5:50 GMT)

i am very intrested in cricket match. in india & pakistan

Posted by Rajit on (November 19, 2008, 9:09 GMT)

A very interesting point on balls used for various tournaments from Aakash.I guess it's time BCCI starts using Kookabura balls for either Ranji or Duleep Trophy matches because thats what our bowlers get to use when we travel abroad (except England where they use Duke,I guess).But surely even in age groups tournaments BCCI must use SG Test if that is being used in Ranji Trophy.

Well Said Aakash and good luck for the season!!!

Posted by DOCSRI on (November 7, 2008, 3:04 GMT)

Hi Akash Nice insight into junior cricket, I'm sure bcci can afford to promote the junior cricket tournaments across the country with kookaburra balls, it would certainly help for the betterment of cricket in India. Akash do you see any promising allrounders in the kapil dev mould caught your attention in recent past, India truly misses an allrounder in a true sense.

Posted by varun suri on (November 2, 2008, 16:14 GMT)

Dear Aakash, What are your chances of replacing Gambhir if his ban is upheld?

Posted by Jaideep Desai on (October 31, 2008, 16:23 GMT)

Akash - great post, I am surprisedat all these wise cracks who suggest you buy the ticket for the match. All Indian test cricketers should just be able to walk to any stadium in the country and be able to watch the game, regardless of physical tickets but simply based on a valid i.d. That is the least they deserve for toiling in the sun and playing for the country. On the account of different cricket balls being used, it's a pity that the richest cricket board is so apathetic with regards to such details. There probably should be a greater encouragement at all levels to simulate exactly the same set of conditions to bring out the best in our budding talent. Thanks Akash for pointing out the inconcistencies in our domestice system.

Posted by Jerry on (October 31, 2008, 14:15 GMT)

Thanks for the insight Aakash. It isn't surprising to hear about the flaws in the system. Just wanted to comment about another young player in the Delhi ranks who reminds me a lot of Gambhir, and that is Shikar Dhawan. He does have a promising future and I hope he gets his break with the national squad. Cheers.

Posted by amita sharma on (October 31, 2008, 7:07 GMT)

dear akash thanks for posting your valable thought on the internetactually u dont want to share your feeling to indian people but u want to take sympathy from them,, this is really surprised that you have been a opner for india for so many year .. being a indian opner you have earn lots of amount for you .i think u shoul not ask for free tickets for kotla match this is not fair that delhi is the capital of india lots of cricket plyayer those represened india previous . lots of politiacians . neta sarkari babus living in delhi govt ot DDCA cant provide them free tickets for every body if u are good lover of cricket u must ready to pay for ticket.. actually this is our problem that we want every thing in our favour we dont want to pay anything .. u r from delhi freind od gautam but u r not paying anything for tickes..one more issue i think any celebrieis like u dont want to ago alone there they wnt 10-20 ticke t for theirs family member and freinds so dear akash for god sake dont do like

Posted by Manzar Khan on (October 30, 2008, 17:58 GMT)

Dear Akash , Thanks for posting this blog as we all got to know abt the misarangments by DDCA.Shame on DDCA.Shabash Gautam Gambhir it was amzing we enjoy cheering for him at our home ground.Keep it up

Posted by Gaurav on (October 30, 2008, 15:18 GMT)

I think Aakash's point was to highlight the painfully bad inner workings of the notorious DDCA and not the BCCI per se. The tickets are sent by the local association at whose ground the match is played. Sermonisers should take note before mounting soapboxes.

Posted by Indra Vikram Singh on (October 30, 2008, 15:00 GMT)

A lot more people would have been at the Kotla had the ticket sales been professional. A couple of days before the Test one had no clue where tickets were available, and what the denominations were. Unlike Mohali, tickets for the Delhi Test were not available on the internet. An option was to drive a long way, park far off, then queue up for the tickets, and maybe not get any. So the safer bet was to watch the game on the telly. Without tickets in hand it is silly to go to the ground in a large city like Delhi. Surely DDCA needs to get its act together finally. No one picks up the phone there, and even if somebody does it by chance, they are in no position to answer any query. Anyway, I am going to the Kotla tommorrow, hopefully there will be some tickets and one will be able to watch a good Indian performance in the field, and some gritty Aussie batting too. One delivery each from Kumble and Mishra turned and jumped this evening, and that tells me there is some exciting cricket ahead.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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