NOVEMBER 10, 2011

Indian cricket

I don't want to complicate my head or my bowling - Ojha

ESPNcricinfo staff

Pragyan Ojha, who took a career-best 7 for 109 in the Delhi Test against West Indies, speaks to Sai Mohan in Mid-Day about making a successful comeback to Test cricket and his goal of becoming one of the leaders of India's bowling attack.

You've developed a slower version of your arm ball which has been getting you good rewards...
Yes, it is basically one of my biggest weapons now. I have to keep varying my pace, otherwise batsmen will get used to my bowling. I don't have too many major variations from the back-of-the-hand or fingers. I realised that you cannot experiment too much. I am a very simple bowler and person. Most of the great left-arm spinners, my heroes, were all simple left-arm spinners. If you see Bishanpa (Bedi)... he told me one day that the main things for a left-arm spinner are perseverance and accuracy. If you have these two things, only then you can try and bring in variations and do other things. I want to learn more about great left-arm spinners.

OCTOBER 27, 2011


I was successful as I had killer's instinct - Imran

Belinda Luscombe, from Time, has a brief chat with Imran Khan on his links with cricket and politics.

If political success meant getting into government, I could have done that 20 years ago, the first time I was offered ministership. But I want change in Pakistan. The whole idea was to fight the political mafias ... I was successful as a cricket captain because I had killer's instinct. I knew when the opposition was in my grasp. For the first time in 15 years, I feel that now. So my whole concentration is on politics.

OCTOBER 26, 2011


'Never felt I'm the greatest bowler'

Muttiah Muralitharan talks to Mihir Bose, writing for the London Evening Standard, about his career, who he thinks are the best batsmen, umpire Darrell Hair and, among other things, his fondness for Galle.

"Statistics-wise he [Sachin Tendulkar] may be but there are better players such as Ricky Pointing while Brian Lara is the best player that has ever been. When I bowled, I always found Brian Lara difficult." For Murali, no English batsman comes near Lara but he singles out Graham Thorpe, who retired from the international game in 2005 after scoring 6,744 runs in 100 Tests. "When I started, English batsmen did not play spin much, then they were not good enough. Nowadays English players play spinners better: reading spin from the hand, not playing off the pitch. Graham Thorpe was the best English batsman, he read my spin and played me well."

SEPTEMBER 18, 2011


'I tried to do an honest job'

Shahshank Manohar, who has been the President of the BCCI for the past three years, looks back at his tenure, as he prepares to step down from the post. He talks to Sumit Mukherjee in the Times of India.

It must have been tough to suspend Lalit Modi? What convinced you that he has to go?
It was a conscience call. The situation called for a corrective decision. There was no personal issue involved. Once I was convinced about the wrongdoings on part of Modi, it was a fairly simple decision. I sat in the BCCI office for four days (April 20-24, 2010) and examined each document pertaining to IPL contracts. What prompted me to check the documents was the dispute with regard to Kochi franchise and Modi’s refusal to sign the franchisee agreement days after their bid was accepted. Team Kochi owners had also called me to inform that they were being threatened to surrender their franchise rights. After poring over the documents I was convinced that it was time to act.

AUGUST 12, 2011


Amiss and administration

In the Indian newspaper DNA Vijay Tagore interviews former England opener Dennis Amiss, who also has plenty of experience as a cricket administrator - 12 years as Warwickshire chief executive and several as the ECB's deputy chairman.

You have to have some other skills to be a successful administrator. I was very lucky that I had both cricketing and business backgrounds. I could bring that into administration that I’ve done in Warwickshire and England and Wales Cricket Board.
It is not easy because here they are looking for business-oriented people to run the counties. There is so much pressure to make money in the game. If you don’t, your club is going to suffer. The chairman and chief executive have to have these backgrounds.

JULY 25, 2011


There's too much emphasis on dot balls - Bishan Bedi

Bishan Bedi talks to Spin magazine’s George Dobell about his concerns over the modern game and reveals his optimism for its future.

"Bowling should come from the shoulder and involve the fingers and wrists, but too many of today’s bowlers use their elbow. There’s also too much emphasis on dot balls. It seems to be they are the holy grail for spinners and the urge to bowl wicket-taking balls is dying. But a wicket-taking ball is a dot ball automatically."

JULY 19, 2011


'My career was hanging by a thread. That's motivation'

Bob Willis talks to the Independent about his devastating spell of 8 for 43 in the 1981 Ashes at Headingley that resurrected his career, and looks ahead to the England-India face-off this summer.

In the summer of 1981, with the nation racked by industrial unrest and inner-city riots, it seemed entirely if dispiritingly consistent that the England cricket team should also be mired in haplessness. After leading the team to defeat at Trent Bridge, and then bagging a highly publicised pair in a draw at Lord's, Ian Botham resigned the captaincy of which he was about to be relieved anyway. Mike Brearley was then persuaded out of Test cricket retirement to skipper the team at Headingley, but at the end of that third day, with England already a wicket down following on, Willis can hardly have expected, to put it mildly, to be dining out three decades later on the story of the match and the rest of the series.

JUNE 21, 2011


Marcus Trescothick on 'the beast' within

Marcus Trescothick talks to Donald McRae, in the Guardian, about the illness that ended his England career and his enduring determination to be the best.

No song, and no string of words pieced together in his head, can help Trescothick when "the shiver" returns with inexplicable force. Then, he feels himself being pulled towards that terrifying vortex which once left him sobbing on the floor of Dixons at Heathrow. Trescothick has long been open and brave in detailing the extent of his past traumas; and yet it is a shock to hear his response after he is asked when last he felt the "shiver".

"Last week," he says. In the midst of his imposing form, with Trescothick batting as impressively as he ever did in his 76 Tests for England, you might expect the beast within to be muzzled. But his answer is a jolting reminder of how vigilant he needs to remain ... "You're always only one step away from it and that's why you need to maintain the good things in your life."

JUNE 14, 2011


Pollard on fitness, discipline, family

Kieron Pollard tells John Sarkar, writing in Mail Today, about his fitness regime, and, among other things, how fatherhood has changed his approach to batting.

Pollard understands that in his business, the difference between success and failure is a fit body and mind. He is almost brutal in his training, spending an extra hour or two at the nets long after his team mates are back in the dressing room. He focuses on practical skills, not mirror muscles. “ Optimal fitness is not about sporting a six pack. They only look good on TV or the beach,” he says. “ I concentrate on what I need. A lot of sprints for speed, with timers. I try to improve on my times. For agility, I do shuttles with turning, staggered running and instant changes of directions.”

JUNE 13, 2011


My depression is an ongoing battle - Lou Vincent

"People say, 'Pull yourself together, move on'. I wish that it was that simple. You try and forget, but it [depression] takes over your whole life," Lou Vincent tells Will Hawkes in an interview in the Independent. It's a battle Vincent is winning at present, but something he has to keep working at, he says.

"Getting away from the game was the right thing at the time, but, to be honest, things got worse and worse," he says ... Vincent took on some building work, working on a friend's home, before he got a job tiling at the new BBC site in Salford ... "After the 160th apartment I did at the BBC, I felt like 'I'm not really sure this is fulfilling my life'," he says. "But I did some more building work, more small stuff: I was digging a hole about a metre deep, I was halfway through it in the pissing rain and I thought – 'I'll just jump in the hole myself, this is not that great'."

A friend arranged for Vincent to return to New Zealand and play in Auckland. It proved to be a turning point. "I was like 'no way', but I went," he says. "When I got there I had to borrow pads, a bat, the gloves, I had two left shoes! I went to the training session, and I kept missing the ball. I was in tears: 'What am I doing? This is so embarrassing.'

JUNE 10, 2011


Jamie Siddons on life after Bangladesh

Former Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons - who has been put in charge of New Zealand domestic side Wellington - talks to Mark Getty, writing in, about living the comfortable life in Bangladesh and taking the team forward, among other things.

Siddons always felt safe in the cricket-mad nation, even if the post of Bangladesh coach ranks somewhere just below prime minister. He was feted often, abused little. There was plenty of advice from the punters, but it was generally good natured.

His main annoyance was the sport's politics, where some in high places boasted zero cricketing knowledge. "Some of the decisions that get made aren't quite from a cricket viewpoint." On the field, losing was a habit, so Siddons was starting low. "I was with the team two weeks before we went to New Zealand and we got smashed in most games and embarrassed in a couple as well. Their skill level was nowhere near international standard. I had just come from the Australian team and I knew exactly the difference, which was huge ..."

DECEMBER 11, 2010


Balance needed between Tests and Twenty20s

On Imran Khan, Viv Richards and Arjuna Ranatunga speak to Gaurav Kalra about the state of cricket. They feel that while cricket is in great financial health, the lack of quality fast bowlers is worrying. The also weigh in on the impact of Twenty20 on traditional cricket, the roles of the ICC and the BCCI, the referral system, and more.

Imran: If a batsman plays a maiden over, how do you know he is taking money or not? That's my worry, that this could be quite widespread. It was the 'News of the World' sting operation, not some ICC investigation that caught them. So bear in mind that it was just by chance that it came out. Even Hansie Cronje's case was completely by fluke. It just happened that the phone got tapped and by chance he got caught. So therefore, I think measure need to be taken and they need to be drastic like bank accounts. All the players should submit their bank accounts. They should make it so transparent that how much money they have, how much tax they pay, assets declaration. It's got to be much more extensive, so that the deterrent factor is there, so that the people are scared that they can be caught. Otherwise, I don't know how you are going to catch spot-fixing.

OCTOBER 15, 2009


'It's a very good time to be a batsman'

Bob Simpson, the former Australian captain and coach, has never been one to hold back his thoughts. In an interview with Sportstar, Simpson talks about the Australia's current status, Ricky Ponting's captaincy, the future of the Test game, the current rage, Twenty20 cricket, and much more.

Commentators and players are talking about yorkers all the time. What is a yorker? It’s a full toss and a batsman’s mistake really if he gets out. It’s not a ball you can bowl at will. In the end it becomes an overpitched one. We should get back to the big boundary lines. If a batsman wants to hit a six, let him hit it on a proper field. I find the sixes in Twenty20 just as boring as the dot ball. The footwork for all forms of cricket should be similar, just judge the length of the ball properly and you have a shot for every ball.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2009


What makes Tendulkar tick?

It's almost 20 years since Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut, but he his passion for cricket and hunger for runs remains undimmed. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN-IBN he talks about staying motivated, his sporting idols outside of cricket, the massive book called the Sachin Tendulkar Opus, and not tinkering with Tests.

It was not difficult to stay motivated. It was difficult to keep scoring runs because every day is a different day, every bowling attack is different and every surface is different. Sometimes your footwork is good, sometimes your hands are going correctly towards the ball, sometimes you are thinking right but that's not how you will feel every day. But every day, you are motivated to do well for India. And that is why I care about cricket. If you care about cricket, the rest will follow.
At home, there is an unwritten law that if I do well and records are broken, we just distribute sweets at home and keep a box of sweets in front of God and move on. Let the others talk about what I have achieved and we focus on the next game. Right from my school days, we have followed that and that works even today.
I have always been able to keep things simple because my family has played a huge role. My wife, my brother Ajit, my mother, my other brother Nitin, his wife, my uncle and aunt whom I stayed with, my coach and everybody; it's a huge army that goes with me. I represent them in the middle but it is a huge team that works together. And last but not the least, my father who played a huge role in this.

AUGUST 12, 2009


Buchanan speaks his mind

Mike O'Connor, from Couriermail, talks to the former Australia coach about varied topics like his stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders, the failures he endured in his role as coach of Middlesex and his early days as an aspiring cricketer.

"There's always people out there who are wanting to make some comment. Once you're out there, then there are people who are supportive and people who have the knives poised all the time and they'll find a reason to plunge the knife."

Shane Warne is one who has wielded the knife on Buchanan and I ask if his stab wounds have healed.

"I think so," he says easily. "The thing about Warnie is that his agendas are pretty open. He just likes to be the centre of attention and be centre stage. He has a good way of managing that and finding his way there."

MARCH 17, 2009


"It was like – is this real?"

Darren Pattinson’s journey over the past year has gone from England Test bowler to Victorian club player. The roof tiler by trade, who was sensationally plucked from obscurity to make his Test debut for the land of his birth, England, against South Africa at Headingley, tells the Wisden Cricketer that returning to England for another season, this time as an established county player and main character of a remarkable chapter in English Test history, will not be different.

Excerpts: Are you still astonished by your Test appearance? [Big grin] Yeah, pretty much. It’s sunk in a bit now and looking back, it happened so quick I didn’t get to really enjoy the time. If it ever happened again I’d be a bit better prepared and be able to enjoy it more. What’s your most vivid memory of the Test? Just being told I was opening the bowling [Pattinson replaced the injured Ryan Sidebottom]. It was an hour before the game. I went up to Headingley and I didn’t get up there until 10.30 the night before, so I hadn’t met any of the guys and I went down to breakfast and met a few of the guys I didn’t know and then went straight to the ground. It was a bit of a whirlwind.

JANUARY 25, 2009


The voice of reason

Michael Holding is worried about the future of the game. The way the cricket world is going, as Holding sees it, is into smaller, consumable bites of Twenty20, with avaricious players and administrators feeding on the carcass like hyenas. Kevin Mitchell, of the Observer, met him in Miami and found a man saddened by what is happening.

"He [Allen Stanford] is not interested in West Indies cricket. As soon as he got in bed with ECB I knew he would walk away from West Indies cricket. He no longer needed it. It was a stepping stone to international cricket."

"The West Indies board and their affiliates are the people responsible for nurturing our game. If they don't put the infrastructure in place then nothing will happen. But the board can't even organise cricketers to go on tour. They landed at an airport in Pakistan and didn't have a visa to enter the country. How can they, when things like that happen, think they can run our game?"

JANUARY 25, 2009


On hindsight

Gary Kirsten, who will complete a year as India's coach in March, believes at the end of the day it is the team which comes foremost and not the coach, and that his job is to work behind the scenes, assisting the players in getting as good as they can become. In an interview to Lokendra Pratap Sahi in the Kolkata-based daily, the Telegraph, he says though it’s a challenge, he is comfortable knowing he’ll be judged by results.

Is it an advantage or a disadvantage that you played international cricket till as recently as 2003-04, when the Irfan Pathans made their debut?

It’s a good question... Difficult to say... I’ve tried to stay on the leading edge of coaching... I’ve been into coaching for only a few years... If I may add, somebody like (hand-picked mental conditioning expert) Paddy Upton is so important... It’s important to have him on board instead of getting a consultant to work for a few days every now and then.

Had Yuvraj Singh realised that it would take him eight years for to establish himself in Test cricket, he would have given up the idea. Back after a long struggle, he believes the task to establish himself in the Test team was due to the lack of opportunity as well as his own mistakes. Pradeep Magazine from the Hindustan Times caught up with the left-hand batsman.

Your expectations now?

I can't explain that, but I want to excel, want to be one of the best players to have played this game. It's not going to happen overnight, half my career is over but the other half is left.