APRIL 19, 2015

The other Ajmal

Satish Acharya
APRIL 19, 2015

Indian cricket

'Players watch videos to find mistakes, I watch to enjoy my boundaries'

Virender Sehwag speaks to Sandeep Dwivedi in the Indian Express, elaborating on the challenges he faced because of his deteriorating eyesight, how he got used to batting with glasses, and the effort it took to get his hand-eye co-ordination back and be successful.

After you hit a century against CSK during the last IPL season, you stated that your hands were going really well. What does that imply? Some time back, I was batting well but I wasn't converting 20s into 50s or into big ones. I had a problem when I was on the England tour and the Australia tour (both 2011). Because of my eyesight, I had headaches and a lot of eye pain. I was seeing a lot of doctors also. In England and Australia, after every Test match I was going to eye-specialists and every time they were telling me that my eyes are absolutely fine. The doctors would say, "You are getting headaches because of migraine". After the Australia series in India, I saw my family doctor, Dr Harsh Kumar. He told me that I don't have an eye problem but I have power of minus 0.5. 'Mujhe door ka problem hai'. Then he gave me glasses and it took almost a year to adjust to them. And now I am batting well, scoring runs. Everybody wants to play for India. Hopefully I will get a chance to play for India again and retire gracefully. I'll try my best.

APRIL 18, 2015

11/2 for England West Indies stalemate

ESPNcricinfo staff: England were relatively comfortably held at bay in the first Test in Antigua and with conditions set to be similar in the remaining rubbers of the series, 0-0 series correct score looks inviting at 11/2.
APRIL 17, 2015

Offbeat

An Italian documentary to inspire unity

E. Nina Rothe of the Huffington Post speaks to filmmaker Jacopo de Bertoldi about his documentary titled This Is Not Cricket, which sheds light on the bond between two boys - one Italian and one Indian. The documentary also portrays how sport can break barriers and inspire an united Italy.

This is Not Cricket tells the story of two friends, an Italian boy and an Indian one teaming up together to rebuild their club, which used to be the strongest youth team in Italy before its collapse due to social and cultural issues. The Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club had strong political visions. They sympathized with anarchy and fought fascism of all sorts. I believe Fernando and Shince [the leading characters in the documentary] will hold the same political spirit and show everybody how sport can change life and, why not, society.

APRIL 17, 2015

Mumbai Indians fans seek net run rate neutrality

James Marsh: #SaveTheIndians is trending, IPL boss inundated with mails
APRIL 17, 2015

Turn down the telly, turn up the radio

Samir Chopra: There was a time when cricket fans felt TV commentary wasn't descriptive enough. Now its verbosity makes us turn back to the radio
APRIL 16, 2015

Kapila Wijegunawardene: the man who bowled Viv Richards

Nirgunan Tiruchelvam: Kapila Wijegunawardene, Sri Lanka's new chairman of selectors, was an unsung cricketer. Not many know that he bowled Viv Richards and played a key role in Sri Lanka's first ODI win over West Indies
APRIL 15, 2015

Offbeat

Gambhir's generosity rescues Indian ice hockey

His team might have been temporarily frozen by a Gayle-storm on Saturday, but Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir's warmth and kindness has not wavered even the slightest.

Not many are aware that India even has a Ice Hockey team, but Gambhir is, and he has taken it as a "moral responsibility" to support the sport. The Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI) had made a desperate call for support to fund the national team's participation in the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup in Kuwait from April 18, and Gambhir immediately obliged, donating Rs 4 lakh to help the cash-stripped federation.

"It's the last thing to happen for a sportsperson that he cannot represent his country for the lack of funds. It's the worst thing. After all, they will be called Team India irrespective of the sport they represent," Gambhir told PTI before handing over a cheque to India's Ice Hockey captain Tsewang Gyaltson.

"For any sportsman, it's a great privilege to support any other sport, especially ice hockey which is not really popular in India. Hope they do well with this support and bring laurels to the country.

"I always wanted to support a fellow sportsman, whichever sport it is. I always felt supporting a small sport is always good. You need people to support small sports so that it becomes popular in future as well. I hope ice hockey can become really popular as well. It's a great sport, it's the quickest sport. We don't know much about it because it's winter-oriented sport. But it's great fun. It's so fast."

APRIL 15, 2015

Richie Benaud 1930-2015

Benaud in the wires

John Coomber of the AAP shares a Richie Benaud anecdote from 1977 when the Australians were playing Gloucestershire in Bristol. The story is personal yet portrays Benaud, a BBC commentator at the time, as a humble man, keen to lend a helping hand to a fellow media person.

APRIL 15, 2015

The James Anderson style of excuse

Andrew Hughes: No swearing, no wickets, says the fast bowler
APRIL 15, 2015

The wrecking ball and the subtle knife

Jon Hotten: Ian Botham will soon be overtaken by James Anderson as England's leading Test leading wicket-taker. The two couldn't be more different from each other
APRIL 14, 2015

My Richie era

Ric Finlay: How Richie Benaud's passion for work and attention to detail precipitated a relationship with me that lasted until his death
APRIL 14, 2015

Kohli to buy out stadium for Anushka

R Rajkumar: It's IPL time, so there's plenty of news you may have missed while staring at the cheerleaders
APRIL 13, 2015

The voice of summer reason

Jon Cocks: A poem for Richie Benaud, who enthralled the cricket world for decades
APRIL 13, 2015

Wanted: Faulkner the Test allrounder

Russell Jackson: He has played very little first-class cricket of late to prove his worth despite showing an aptitude for the longer format during earlier seasons
APRIL 12, 2015

Picking a Derbyshire XI no longer an easy business

Steve Dolman: For the first time in many years Derbyshire have a squad with enough depth to encourage optimism
APRIL 12, 2015

Why Leicestershire can rediscover winning habit

Richard Padgett: Leicestershire are the team that has forgotten how to win, but their memory might be on the mend in 2015
APRIL 12, 2015

The silence

Satish Acharya
APRIL 12, 2015

The panache of Benaud

HL Cadambi: Richie Benaud's style and innovative bowling turned him into an idol for a little boy in India during the 1950s
APRIL 11, 2015

Richie Benaud 1930-2015

'Vale the Maestro'

Writing for the Guardian, Greg Chappell explains the influence of his boyhood hero Richie Benaud.

Even to a 10-year-old Benaud had an air about him. He was cool and aloof, but when I approached him cautiously to collect my first ever autograph he couldn't have been kinder and warmer. I was a fan from that day and followed his career closely, even modelling myself on him by becoming a leg-spin bowling all-rounder!

Michael Clarke writes in the Daily Telegraph that Richie Benaud "loved seeing Australia have success, but more importantly he wanted the game played the right way."

Even in recent times, Richie was very close to the current group of players and I was fortunate enough to spend some time over the years with him to just talk cricket. Regularly we would sit together and chat at the Allan Border Medal about attacking captaincy, spin bowling and many topics in between.

What an amazing man he was. Richie is an idol to so many people because of the way he handled himself both on and off the field. He was an enormous presence for those who play and love the game.

Benaud spoke as little as needed, was as meticulous as he was warm, and his desire to complement the game endeared him to fans and fellow commentators alike. Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, writes how even the occasional embellishment could be easily forgiven.

There was always mild amusement when he talked about a bowler sending down a "leg-cudder" and "rolling his fingers across the seam" to do so, when we knew the ball had just gone off the seam in the first place. He was investing in them a skill they did not possess, but in so doing was adding mystique. There were times, too, when he could enter the world of hyperbole and invention, but even then it merely seemed to add gravitas and deep knowledge.

As a captain, Benaud was precise and approachable and as a commentator he became an institution and an icon writes Geoffrey Boycott, in the Telegraph

I remember once, when England had been beaten very badly by Australia at Lord's. The next day there was a Natwest match televised at Edgbaston, and at teatime someone thought about Tony Lewis interviewing Richie to get an Australian view, to fill 15 minutes of the interval, which is a long time on TV. Tony Lewis said to Richie, 'What do England have to do to improve?' Richie replied, 'They have to practise their batting, their bowling and their fielding'. Tony said, 'Anything else?' Richie said, 'No, that's enough to be going on with'. Then there were 13 minutes left to fill!

In his piece for the Telegraph, Henry Blofeld writes that Benaud was a world champion both on the field and in the commentary box

When Benaud, the leg spinner, brought up another close fielder it was the product of as much perception and preparation as when Benaud, the commentator, paused for a purposeful 10 seconds. Less gifted colleagues would have rambled on without adding anything very much.

No one can have understood the game as well or have appreciated better what was required at any given moment of a player or a commentator. Indeed, the two roles required many common qualities to carry off, of which humour, patience, unflappability, persistence and, of course, ability were the most important.

Greg Baum writes in the Sydney Morning Herald how Benaud the commentator was more famous than Benaud the player, and how he has silently influenced cricket broadcasters and fans alike.

But Benaud never was a sycophant. Of this, there was a recent reminder. In the lead-up to the Australia-New Zealand World Cup final, the media default was to revisit the infamous underarm incident of 1981. That night, Benaud was unsparing. "I think it was a disgraceful performance from a captain who got his sums wrong today," he said. "I think ... it was one of the worst things I have ever seen done on a cricket field."

Benaud the cricketer was as Benaud the commentator, a little apart from and above the rest. For an appreciation of his cricket, we must turn to that oldest form of technology, the written word. Benaud blossomed slowly, as leg-spinners did then, but always with a clear idea about how the game should be played. He took a poorly performing Australian side and made it successful again, and took a game that had fallen into stasis and made it vibrant again.

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