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It's not far from the M Chinnaswamy Stadium to the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) Sports ground. But if you want to play for the Bangalore United Cricket Club, you'd have to make your way to the Old Airport Road for the game. It won't be televised or tweeted about, and billions won't live or die by the result. But there was Rahul Dravid, far from the Royal Rajasthan rampallions, just making a hundred in a Karnataka State Cricket Association Group 1, Division 2 match. Rumour has it, if you cut Rahul Dravid, he bleeds linseed oil.
With the amount of rain following Indian matches at the moment, Dravid's next match might be a sellout. Despite the last match being washed out, Dhoni's house was still stoned. Perhaps because throwing the stones at the clouds would have required an arm like Tom Moody. Australia lead 2-1 in that series, which should be cricket's dullest scoreline, but Bangladesh and New Zealand's 0-0 Test series was pretty dull. Especially when you include the fact that New Zealand's warm-up match was also abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Luckily, and always, Pakistan saved the day. It was enough that they rode the Misbah to the top of the mountain to cut the head off the lion in the first Test. Beating South Africa once should have been enough to at least get the Misbah haters and fickle Pakistan fans to shut up for a minute, but instead they played the next Test. That turned out to be a big mistake. Misbah failed once in the whole series (no, two Tests is not really a series), and Pakistan gave up any chance of winning the series with a total of 99 runs. In the end, they lost by an innings and 92 runs, despite Misbah and Asad Shafiq trying to save their team in the second innings.
But even Misbah couldn't steal the headlines in that innings (he became Dean Elgar's first, and probably only, Test wicket). But Faf du Plessis' zipper was the real star of the show. That is where du Plessis decided to "shine" the ball. The ball changed appearance, the umpires noticed, they replaced the ball, and a five-run penalty was imposed on South Africa, who were only a kabillion runs in front at that stage. Du Plessis has since pleaded guilty. GUILTY. And yet, all he received was a 50% fine of his match fee. That's all. He was not beaten with copies of Wisden, not sacrificed on the altar of Lord's, or even made to explain the spirit of cricket. He was given a 50% fine. The same fine Virat Kohli got for flipping the bird, Tamim Iqbal got for pushing Brendon McCullum, Stuart Broad got for showing dissent, and in the first Test of the series, Adnan Akmal and Robin Peterson got for gentle tussling.
Forget that, though, Harbhajan Singh was fined 15% (35% less, if that helps) by the ICC for having the wrong colour shoelaces. Other players have been suspended and vilified for tampering with a ball (despite the fact that every team in the world has done it one way or another). Du Plessis, GUILTY, received no ban, only a 50% fine, and a five-run penalty. He is being vilified on Youtube by the many videos of him "shining" the ball that the umpires had to replace. So far, no players have been suspended for having the wrong colour shoelaces.
If anyone was to be suspended for the wrong colour shoelaces, it would be Haroon Lorgat. General Haroon ended its current series with a bang when Cricket South Africa stood down/suspended/threw of a bridge (pick the one you prefer; CSA may not pick one) Haroon Lorgat at the wishes of the BCCI. Lorgat will not be representing CSA at the next ICC CEO meeting (the meeting where they suggest how to improve cricket before the chairmen disagree and do whatever they want anyway) and duties involving India's tour. The series was also shortened/slashed/tightened to have only two tests. Lorgat will also be the subject of an ethics inquiry into his behaviour.
Hopefully, for his sake, the ethics committee looks into his recent behaviour as thoroughly as it did when the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations asked why their players had to vote more than once to get their representative on the board. Which was when BCCI-contracted commentator and close personal acquaintance of BCCI president Mr N Srinivasan, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, was voted into that position. You probably already knew that, but it's fun to remember things like that in times like this.
Australian chairman Wally Edwards said this week that Australia made a mistake to discard Simon Katich. Edwards has said it just late enough for there to be nothing that can be done to save Katich's career. Edwards has been chairman since 2011. Katich played his last Test in 2010. Edwards also said that even if Australia lost 5-0 in the next Ashes, James Sutherland would not lose his job. Australia lost their first home series since Justin Bieber was alive in 2008-09, when they were the No. 1 ranked Test team on earth. Since then, they have won one Champions Trophy, lost three straight Ashes, have had no major Test series wins, exited the World Cup in the quarter-finals, failed to defend the Champions Trophy, or win any World Twenty20 titles, and have dropped to five in the Test rankings. Of course, if Australia do lose 5-0, and West Indies draw or win in a Test against India, Australia will be ranked sixth in the world in Tests. But, to repeat, Sutherland's position is safe. Katich averaged nearly 50 in his last three years in Test cricket. His position was not safe.
Part of Sutherland's success, and apparently bullet- and failure-proof exterior, is making Cricket Australia a lot of money, and that he takes big calls. For instance, when Cricket Australia decided not to run a slogan that the sponsor of the Western Australian Warriors wanted. The ad was to say, "Alcohol and sport don't mix'', but Cricket Australia worried about other sponsors and made them pick another slogan. Brilliantly, when Queensland played Western Australia in the Ryobi Cup, it was officially a match between XXXX GOLD Queensland Bulls v Alcohol. Think again, Western Warriors.
Someone whose position was never safe was former Sri Lanka team manager Charith Senanayake, who this week decided to show just how unprofessional Sri Lankan cricket was, if there was anyone left who didn't believe it was the case. On the Sri Lanka Cricket elections he was lovely and clear: "It's not free and fair, and it's politically influenced and manipulated. How can such a key position like the secretary's post go uncontested?" The whole interview, on Island Cricket, is nice. Nishantha Ranatunga, the man Senanayake believes had him fired, is the current secretary of SLC and the brother of World cup-winning Arjuna. He was also the secretary of the board at the same time he was CEO of the company Sri Lanka Cricket sold the TV rights to. I hope he didn't drive too hard a bargain with himself.
If you're too depressed to keep reading, watch the video of perhaps the most entertaining innings in the history of cricket .
According to this article, Che Pujara is the eighth-best sporting stock on earth. "The man who took Rahul Dravid's number three spot in the Indian order has already surpassed 200 runs in a single at-bat eight times in top-flight play, and soared over 300 thrice, an extraordinary feat (even if you don't know test cricket from Jiminy Cricket)". Don't read that twice. Somehow this piece made news in India, but the best part is that there are four comments on the piece, (weirdly, two from the same guy). Two saying Kohli should have got picked. It proves one thing, forget cricket, what India really dominate is the comments sections of websites.
Not that all Indians are doing well. Ishant Sharma was embarrassed by James Faulkner for 30 match-losing runs in an over. Then an Indian dairy company, I'm not going to name them because they seem like ambulance-chasing meanies, released an ad that said, "Ishant, sharm hai kya?", or for us English-only people, "Ishant, aren't you ashamed?" No, he feels fine. He just lost a game against one of his country's most hated rivals, live on TV, against a down-the-order slogger, where he was dacked (undies and all), in the cricket sense. No, he's fine. He wants to reinterpret the entirety of Rogers and Hammerstein for a kids audience and broadcast it to the world. I hope they sold a lot of their dairy products.
Dan Christian, who may or may not be a fan of dairy, made 117 off 90 balls for Victoria. It was his highest List A score of his career. In 56 matches for South Australia and New South Wales, Christian never scored more than 100. He took six matches to do so for Victoria.
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