DECEMBER 01, 2014

Indian cricket

Indian cricket on a downward spiral

Psychologist Shiv Visvanathan explains his journey as a cricket fan in Deccan Chronicle and says the game has become highly politicised in recent times, with money gaining far too much say. He is also unimpressed with the silence of reputed voices in the wake of the IPL scandal and the media's part in going along with the charade.

Yet, cricket was changing. It was becoming corporate. Many a politician from Modi, Jaitley, Pawar saw in cricket a parallel politics, with cricket coffers surfeit with currency. Money and power were temptations and when cricket became an extension of matka and the betting industry, I realised the tail was controlling the dog. Sadly media betrayed it. True there were the Tehelka investigations and yet one realised that the Shastris, the Boria Majumdars, the Harsha Bhogles were adding smartness without reflexivity.

One just had to read Sachin Tendulkar's autobiography, to comprehend the inanity of the new cricketing mind. One also discovered that greats like Kumble, Dravid, Dhoni, were merely overpaid vassals of cricket-hungry corporations.

NOVEMBER 21, 2014

West Indies cricket

Lara's outback adventures

In an interview with Andrew Webster of the Sydney Morning Herald, Brian Lara recalls his earliest memories of cricket and the aggressive on-field encounters he had with the Australian side. While he refuses to name specific players, he admits that handling Glenn McGrath was particularly difficult.

"Yes, I can identify [Glenn] McGrath as being my nemesis. He got me out however many times. Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Steve Waugh, Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist … None of them let up. I think I have a lot of respect for their teamwork. I was envious to see how they operated as a team and how they demolished teams I was involved with. It would be wrong to single out any player."

NOVEMBER 19, 2014

New Zealand cricket

The end of the road for Ryder?

Any chance of Jesse Ryder making a last-ditch claim to be in New Zealand's World Cup squad has all-but ended after his withdrawal from the A-team's tour of UAE due to "personal reasons". It is the latest chapter in the controversial, troubled and occasionally thrilling career of Ryder whose recent form in English and New Zealand domestic cricket had increased the talk of a potential recall. In the Dominion Post, Mark Geenty says that this latest development is little surprise and NZC should have seen it coming.

Not many people know Ryder well but those who do saw his Friday drinking and Saturday no-show at Dunedin airport coming a mile off. He was five days out from leaving for Dubai with New Zealand A in a trial run for selection in the World Cup 30. The spotlight was intensifying. He gave a half-hearted press conference in Hamilton three weeks ago which hardly suggested a man desperate to play on the biggest stage of all.

OCTOBER 30, 2014

Pakistan cricket

Explaining Pakistan cricket

Pakistan's unpredictability is renowned. They scale unbelievable highs and slump to inexplicable lows. They haven't played at home in five years, but produce cricketers of rare talent. Their cricket board is in a mess and there is never a shortage of controversy, but their performance on the field is always an event. Andy Bull simply loves them and he says why in the Guardian

What a curious affliction it must be to be a full-time Pakistan fan, to follow a side who go through such giddy swings of form. Does anyone in cricket suffer so much? And is anyone in cricket rewarded for their suffering with such exquisite performances, such paroxysmic peaks of pleasure? In the last week the world watched, ever-more slack jawed, as they destroyed Australia in the first Test at Dubai. The result gave just as much pleasure to cricket-lovers in this corner of the world as Pakistan's 3-0 demolition of England in 2011 must have done to those Down Under. And yet it was only a fortnight ago that Pakistan lost two wickets for no runs at all in the final over of an ODI when they only needed two to win. Off Glenn Maxwell's bowling.

OCTOBER 09, 2014

England cricket

Will ECB take control of the Pietersen mess?

Kevin Pietersen's book has thrown up some damning claims against the England team. He has alleged that Andy Flower ruled by fear and that there was a clique of senior players who practiced in bullying. While Greame Swann has called KP the autobiography a "work of fiction", Pietersen has not been short of support either, especially on twitter. The situation is degenerating fast, but would the ECB take control of it soon? Ted Corbett, in his blog, thinks not

In the third of my life devoted to studying the habits of the men who control this game I long ago ceased to expect quick and decisive action. Frankly, they are responsible for the mess that is the England dressing room but I do not think they will either summon KP for talks, listen to what he has to say and then make the urgent changes that are needed. Urgent! Bah! A snail will win the Derby long before the ECB will get off their underworked backsides and lead the way to a better world.

OCTOBER 06, 2014

English cricket

The KP files

In an explosive interview with the Daily Telegraph on the eve of the release of his autobiography, Kevin Pietersen lashes out at former England coach Andy Flower for "ruling by fear", and alleges that wicketkeeper Matt Prior - who, along with the bowlers, was a bully - orchestrated a campaign against him.

"I could give you telephone numbers of international players around the world. You ring them and ask them about the way the England team conducted themselves through the last three, four years. Listen to them. Ask the Sri Lankans, ask the Australians. Ask the West Indians, ask the Indians. I got messages from Indians and stuff when they played against them saying: 'I can't believe you could play with these guys.' "

In the Guardian, Barney Ronay tells us about the flotsam in the decaying cricket universe, and why Kevin Pietersen is "such an obvious lightning rod for English cricket's transformation anxieties".

AUGUST 15, 2014

The spirit of cricket and the 15-degree rule

Kamran Abbasi: The phrase means nothing in this day and age; only the laws and playing regulations are of any importance
AUGUST 04, 2014

Are the big three's bonds in danger of fraying?

Michael Jeh: If Australia come after India on the field the way James Anderson allegedly did, will the triumvirate be able to hold together?
JULY 10, 2014

The value of a cricketer's brand

Michael Jeh: Andrew Strauss will recover from the indiscreet remark he made about Kevin Pietersen, but his image won't be entirely as it was
JULY 02, 2014

Corruption in cricket

'That's when my life changed'

In a five-part interview with NewstalkZB, Lou Vincent details how bookies offered him an initial US$15,000 during the Indian Cricket League, how his "hero" was furious after Vincent couldn't carry out a fix as planned, and whether he thinks a life ban is a severe enough punishment.

JULY 02, 2014

McCullum's triumph and Vincent's shame

Paul Ford: For New Zealand's cricketers - and cricket fans - it seems the highs are destined to never last long
JUNE 27, 2014

ICC annual conference 2014

Cricket makes 'a fool of itself'

The doubts over N Srinivasan's status in the BCCI and the investigations against his IPL franchise and son-in-law for allegations of corruption did not hinder his appointment as the ICC's first chairman after a restructure of the world governing body. Chloe Saltau, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, says the support Srinivasan has received from other ICC members does not help improve the game's image when it comes to fighting corruption.

Even if, as Srinivasan says, he is proven to have done nothing wrong, the fact that other members of the ICC endorsed him for the chairmanship hardly inspires confidence in their collective desire to stamp out corruption from the sport.

JUNE 09, 2014

India cricket

'All investigations till now are independent silos'

In an interview with the Week, former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar shares his views on the fixing scandal of IPL 2013 and the ongoing probe led by Justice Mukul Mudgal. Kumar stresses the need for further investigation and says the focus should be on pursuing all loose ends across different cities.

"The committee should look at the bigger picture. All investigations till now are independent silos. One module each in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi. They have to be put together. All leads related to the names in the sealed envelope should be followed."

JUNE 08, 2014

Sri Lanka in England 2014

The morals of mankading

A blog post on the Economist website explores how the recent mankading controversy in the ODI between England and Sri Lanka has brought to the fore the issue of guarding ethical norms in sport. The writer suggests that abiding by the rules - which allow mankading - may not necessarily be the same as behaving in a correct manner.

There might be an argument for moral relativism; that given the pressures they face, professionals should play to different standards than the rest. But this, it seems, is just a way of saying that professionals' conduct can be less ethical than others'. And there is a difference between what has become accepted and what is right.

JUNE 04, 2014

Sri Lanka in England 2014

England should apologise for mankading, not SL

An editorial in the Guardian says Sri Lanka's mankading of Jos Buttler was well within the rule books, and so it should be England who apologise for the incident, not the visitors.

In the words of Sir Donald Bradman: "If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage." If it's good enough for the Don, it should be good enough for Alastair Cook. It's England who should apologise.

JUNE 02, 2014

England cricket

Broad's Brisbane trial

Stuart Broad has a endured winter riddled with disappointment, in Australia and then in the World T20. He was likely to receive a sour welcome on the return Ashes series after choosing not to walk when he nicked to first slip. He had sought psychiatric help, but in an interview with Donald McRae for Guardian, Broad recounts how the events of the first day of the Brisbane Test were beyond what he expected.

Broad looks almost shocked again. How did he feel amid such raw animosity? "I just went 'Wow - that's 50,000 people properly booing me'. It ruffled me and I bowled a no-ball with my first delivery. I also slung one down leg side in that over. So I must admit I was shaken by it.

"But I got a wicket with my first ball next over and I felt fine. I went down to deep square and the whole crowd stood up and shouted and I had a singalong with them and just relaxed. There was a moment when I found myself whistling along to 'Broady is a wanker' and I thought: 'What am I doing here?' It was a hell of an experience for a 27-year-old to go through. I'll never face anything that tough again."

MAY 23, 2014

Spot-fixing

BCCI should do better to restore fans' faith - Bhogle

Harsha Bhogle, in his column for Indian Express, a long tournament like the IPL can fall prey to spot-fixing. Unfavourable sources could take advantage of an event where one match is forgot in the wake of the next. This heightens the need to be more vigilant, if the fan's support is to be safeguarded.

With power comes this responsibility and at the first whiff of impropriety, they need to come down hard. The BCCI can argue they did precisely that by banning Sreesanth and the others almost immediately but by their opposition to the Mudgal Commission they have got the public concerned. Like all organisations they must feel the pulse of the consumers, the fans, and while the public enjoy watching the IPL, as indeed I do, there is a growing feeling that the BCCI isn't trying hard enough to convince them that they are watching a fair contest everytime. And as more revelations, like those from Vincent and others that gave testimony, tumble out, the need to reach out to the public must grow even stronger.

MAY 11, 2014

Why can't broadcasters clean up Indian cricket?

Subash Jayaraman: It's in sports television's long-term interest to ensure that the game is run well and free of scandal
MAY 03, 2014

Indian cricket

Mudgal panel a welcome change

Pradeep Magazine recalls an investigation into Indian cricketers over a similar kind of scandal that is presently cloaked over the IPL. In Hindustan Times, he highlights the efficacy of Justice Mukul Mudgal's committee by contrasting the ongoing probe with proceedings from 17 years ago when he had to depose in front of a former Chief Justice.

Even today, much wiser and aware of the dodgy ways of the world, I recoil in dismay and horror at the experience I had that day at Mumbai's Cricket Club of India. Chandrachud was not interested in knowing anything about the veracity of my encounter with the bookie. Instead, he was keener on talking in generalities and looking at the game through the prism of the romantic British elite worldview, where cricket meant fair play and high moral values! When I did make an attempt to tell him about my encounter with the bookie, he just uttered "leave it" to signal the conclusion of our meeting.

APRIL 23, 2014

Indian cricket

To thwart BCCI stalling

The BCCI-suggested three-man probe panel was at least two-thirds fair until the far-reaching influence of the BCCI made it obsolete. With the Supreme Court rejecting them, Suresh Menon, in Wisden India believes it is high time the proper authorities are given greater control of the investigation into alleged corruption in the IPL.

But professional investigators have to come into it too: the CBI, the police forces in Delhi, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. In another month, it will be a year since television pictures of a player with a towel tucked into his trousers shocked a nation. In all that time, the BCCI has merely stonewalled the investigation. Many wasted meetings, air fares, hotel accommodations and daily allowances later, it has nothing to show for its efforts to clean up the game. Neither the spirit nor the flesh is willing.

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