APRIL 05, 2014

Indian cricket

Wadekar's shoes and a Karnataka triumph

ESPNcricinfo staff

In the Telegraph, historian Ramachandra Guha reminisces about Karnataka's semi-final against Bombay in March 1974, en route to their first Ranji Trophy title. Guha writes that Karnataka beat Bombay in that game (on first-innings basis) due to two human errors - the first an umpiring decision that went in favour of Gundappa Viswanath off the first ball he faced; and Ajit Wadekar's slip, which resulted in his run-out and allowed Karnataka to take a lead.

Some 20 years after I watched Karnataka defeat Bombay for the first time, I met Ajit Wadekar at a reception in New Delhi. I reminded him about the match and how he had got out, adding that had he not slipped he would still be batting at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. His answer, offered with a laconic shrug of the shoulders, was: "New shoes."

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

India cricket

Memories of a jolly raconteur

In his column for Wisden India, Saurabh Somani pays tribute to former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele, who died on Thursday, and recounts an evening spent with one of Indian cricket's most colourful characters, listening to anecdotes.

Over the course of conversation with Lele, it struck me that his yarns would best be enjoyed with a glass of whiskey, rum or whatever else your chosen poison was, sitting around a fire, and listening. He was a mine of information, he was enthralling, even occasionally amusing, and he forced you to be a good journalist, not reporting verbatim but sifting fact from fiction and getting dates and names right.

APRIL 09, 2013

India cricket

Balwinder Sandhu: the offspinner with an inswinger

There are few Indian cricketers who have given back to the game as richly as Balwinder Singh Sandhu. Sandhu, who played an important role in India's 1983 World Cup win by dismissing Gordon Greenidge, turned to coaching after retirement and has coached teams at different levels in the domestic set-up. In the Times of India, Makarand Waingankar traces Sandhu's development as a cricketer and a coach.

The story of Ballu becoming a medium pacer is amazing to say the least. He was playing in 'D' division of a Mumbai Cricket Association tournament for Sind sports club. One day their main medium-pacer didn't turn up. The captain GT Punjabi threw the new ball to Ballu, who then was an off spinner! From that day, Ballu always bowled with a new ball.

APRIL 03, 2013

Cricket history

CLR's wife remembers Beyond a Boundary

There are few books on cricket that have had as powerful and as lasting an impact as CLR James' Beyond a Boundary. Fifty years after its publication, it is still regarded by many as the greatest book on the game. Writing in the Guardian, Selma James, wife of CLR, shares her insights into a book that her husband "had to write".

Establishing early the interconnection between cricket and race and class divisions opens the way for Beyond a Boundary to fulfil its author's full purpose: to draw out other startling connections - cricket and art, life in ancient Greece, even rewriting English social history with cricket's great WG Grace as a crucial figure. As startling as his connections is the light he sheds on each - not only cricket but every subject benefits from shattering boundaries. We are invited to reject the fragmenting of reality, and to see its diverse interconnections without which we are prevented from ever knowing anything fully - including our own reality. What do they know of cricket, or anything, if it is walled off from every other aspect of life and struggle?

MARCH 15, 2013

English cricket

An appreciation of Graeme Swann

Graeme Swann's elbow surgery has drawn attention to his importance in the English side and also set people thinking about the big Swann-sized hole in English cricket that will appear once he retires. In the Guardian, Barney Ronay pens an appreciation of a talent that is uniquely orthodox in a rapidly changing game.

A Test debutant aged 28 he has become England's defining off-spinner of the modern era, able to attack or defend, contain or destroy, to dismiss with both rip and bluff. Plus there is the paradox of his glorious orthodoxy as a bowler. Elsewhere, finger-spin has become a poutingly sexed-up business, a mille-feuille of intermingled variations, from the zinging, waddling, slingshot conjury of Saeed Ajmal to the princely, short-form poker player Sunil Narine. Swann, though, is something else, a bowler who, for all his dad-rock hipster slouch, is essentially old-fashioned, his method diligently refined over many years in county cricket.

MARCH 05, 2013


The life and times of the extraordinary Bob Crisp

The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack perhaps put it most succinctly: "Statistics are absurd for such a man." For Robert Crisp, had a remarkable life that went beyond the nine Tests he played for South Africa - from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to surviving attacks on battle tanks during the Second World War and beating cancer later in life. In the The Spin, Andy Bull looks at one of cricket's great adventurers.

Jonathan Crisp says he has it on "very good authority from a lot of different people" that his father was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but Field Marshal Montgomery refused to allow it because Crisp was so ill-disciplined. He was demoted three times. But then he was also mentioned in despatches four times. Crisp was awarded the Military Cross instead. He was presented with it by King George VI, who asked him if his cricket career would be affected by the wound. "No sire," Crisp replied. "I was only hit in the head."