January 30, 2010

Duleep Trophy, 2009-10

Runs galore, but at what cost?

Aakash Chopra


Think again: how good was Abhishek Nayar's double-century? © Cricinfo Ltd
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The recently concluded semi-final between North and West Zone vindicated my point of curtailing the maximum number of overs at a team’s disposal for the knock-out matches. It was, as usual, a batting paradise in Rajkot and both teams knew that the toss might just decide the fate of the match. And boy it did…that too with style.

West scored nearly 800 runs, perhaps the highest in the season, and batted North out of the game. Yes, North could have fought harder and got closer to the total but overhauling it was a forgone conclusion. But what followed after West got a mammoth 465-run lead devalues the importance of a first-class century. West opted for some batting practice instead of going for an outright win which was perhaps there for the taking. But since a first-innings lead was enough to see them through to the finals, they can’t be blamed for not forcing the issue.

Both Pujara and Rohit scored centuries in the second innings. While you can’t blame them for using the opportunity, you can argue the quality of bowling that was thrown at them. Two-thirds of the total overs were bowled by part-time bowlers who would not trouble a front-line batsman, especially on a batting beauty in Rajkot.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking anything away from them because it’s not their fault that part-time bowlers were bowling at them. I have also helped myself to a couple of such centuries in my first-class career. The point that I’m trying to make is that does it serve any purpose? All these runs and centuries adds up to the final tally of runs scored in a season which in turn are kept in mind while selecting a player for the next level. But is it fair to count these tons scored in a game of only academic interest and against a not so good bowling attack? I don’t think so.

There are a lot of such games in a season where both teams are playing for the end of the match fully aware that there would be no result. In these matches captains preserve their main bowlers and hence runs are not at a premium.

My suggestion is that the umpires, in consultation with the referee and both the captains, should have the right to call off such games. There may be three sessions left in the game but if both teams are not going to force a result, it’s better to call it off than go through the motions. Till we limit the number of overs or add batting and bowling points in the system, it’s better to do away with such meaningless innings.

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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 Anonymous on (February 6, 2010, 18:42 GMT)

True i agree its useless scoring runs against toothless attacks and gaining false sense of security. I wonder how these batsman will far against consistent sharp bowling around 150 kmph when they only face upto speed limits of 110-120. Really the wickets are to blame...

Posted by Mohan on (February 5, 2010, 13:10 GMT)

True The matches are played for only first innings lead in this season.But when the innings lead is small then the teams go for a win.Also it has to do with the teams strengths and weaknesses plus the teams' attitude.Karnataka,Punjab,and to some extent Tamil Nadu has good bowling units.But West Zone the main culprit for so many draws has a weak bowling unit.So blame it on administration not the players.

Posted by Atul Bhogle on (February 1, 2010, 12:09 GMT)

Would the problem of draws not be solved if we have result oriented pitches?

That said, West's decision to bat a second time was an utter disgrace. They should be kicked out the competition solely for that! Bombay players have always had this irritating habit.

Posted by Nick on (February 1, 2010, 7:14 GMT)

Give 10 points for a win instead of 5- then a win will be worth substantially more. Or, quit awarding meaningless milestones in a match- a first innings lead isn't a result. If you have a knockout match, the only way to try to settle it would be to give them two chances to get a result- if they have two draws, let one team advance on combined run-rate, if necessary, but don't just settle for something other than a result and call it one.

Posted by Parthiv Mehta on (February 1, 2010, 5:07 GMT)

Why dont we just get rid of the idea of first innings leads? Just make it equal points unless a team wins. That will mean that needless draws are averted and a winning instinct is developed. No team will have the guts to waste time scoring 769, effectively making it a one-innings game. If this also means that 4 day games has to become 5 day matches, then so be it.

Posted by anubhav sarathy on (January 31, 2010, 10:52 GMT)

thank god neo sports telecast the south vs central match..... it wld really have been painful to watch the match u r talking abt,.. akash i really hope someone in the BCCI is reading ur blog... cld do wid some change in the domestic format

Posted by Ashwath on (January 31, 2010, 6:15 GMT)

reduce the number of limited over games, Make wickets more bowler friendly and award points for performance like county cricket and cancel the rule for first innings lead.

Posted by sudzz on (January 31, 2010, 5:58 GMT)

They would do well to dock points for not forcing a win when possible. But its easier said than done.

I think as suggested by the author, limiting overs is the simplest and easiest to implement solution.

The second would also be to leave the pitches open and probably unprepared for the last couple of days of the game thereby introducing uncertainty and variable bounce which will inhibit batting practice...

Posted by Chetan Suryawanshi on (January 30, 2010, 22:12 GMT)

Indian first class batsmen aren't as good as their stats suggest. Indian first class bowlers aren't as bad as their stats suggest. Just a sorry state of affairs. The respective states cricket associations have to be held accountable

Posted by Varun on (January 30, 2010, 21:51 GMT)

Well the article does not makes sense, how can on a batting paradise one team can get out for less than 300 against an attack which is just okay(Mind you their attack consist of few Indian team probables but still they are not potent enough). And we are not even talking about a fifth day wearing track. I suppose its more than just blaming the pitch, and north zone batting and bowling was extremely poor (or the west were leagues above the north).

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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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