|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Games||Mobile|
Sreesanth is currently in the headlines for all the wrong reasons - his shopping list, romantic gestures and dance moves - but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have zeroed in on an idea they think could bring him some goodwill.
"Star in a PETA ad promoting a different kind of 'fixing' - sterilising dogs and cats. No one would call you 'out' about that," said a statement from the organisation, who want Sreesanth - who was PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Alive in 2009 - and the other cricketers, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, to participate in a campaign against "unchecked breeding".
All three players are currently back in police custody, until May 26, after a Delhi court remanded them without bail on Tuesday. So they might just be a while answering.
In his column for Asian Age, Ashok Malik argues that the onus of keeping spot-fixing at bay lies with the players, even as the BCCI must deal with the lack of corporate governance in the IPL. He also states that the format of the game makes T20 cricket most vulnerable to such forms of fixing.
"Cricket journalists still remain remarkably innocent of the details of spot-fixing, spread betting and how online betting sites -- perfectly legitimate ones -- allow for very dynamic odds, entry and exit of the punter in real time and at strategic moments, and the analogue of what the stock market would call futures trading.
All of these parameters become that much more pertinent in a Twenty20 game rather than a Test match. If a team is chasing 270 in four sessions to win a Test match, two successive maiden overs or two successive expensive overs will make little difference. If a team is chasing 170 in a T20 game, two successive maiden overs or two successive expensive overs can mean a dramatic difference to the odds on offer before and after those two overs. This may happen without necessarily affecting the final result. It could make some people very rich in two overs."
The jeers from the Wankhede crowd may have hurt Virat Kohli and made him question the aspect of crowd loyalty in the IPL, but has suddenly highlighted the tournament's engagement with fans. In the Indian Express, Sandeep Dwivedi believes the incident is an indicator of the emerging fan loyalties
Kohli missed the point and had a pot-to-kettle kind of hypocritical exchange with the MI fans. Gambhir for him was a rival, not a Delhi or India team-mate. But when Mumbai treated him like a rival, he sulked. Wankhede, in the past, had booed Tendulkar, that too while he wore India's whites. Kohli should have known better.
In Wisden India, Shamya Dasgupta writes that Kohli should learn to the crowd reaction in his stride because it's the fans' right to cheer and jeer.
As far as I am concerned, a sport exists because of the people who watch it. The crowd is an unempowered entity that can only do two things during a match - cheer and jeer - and only one more thing afterwards, which is to talk about the game, on street corners and on Twitter. An international sportsperson must be able to take all reactions in his stride, and know that he is who he is because of his fans. The fans don't exist because of him.
Cricket writing is once again finding the diversity in its voice, after years of shying away from big stories. In his review of the best cricket books for the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (featured in the Guardian), John Crace profiles five books, including Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy, that reveal the best and worst of cricket.
Best of all, cricket writing is back on the money. Literally. There is no bigger story in cricket at the moment than its finances - particularly in regard to illegal betting. Predictably, the International Cricket Council is not that keen to investigate; its efforts limited to setting up any number of sub-committees that invariably seem to discover next to nothing. Cricket's writers have been far bolder and more successful on a fraction of the budget.
A pig, a stool and an irate fan... It's not the start of a joke you've never heard. Rather, it's the cast of unique characters who invaded the cricket pitch during matches in the 1980s. In the Guardian, Steven Pye looks back at some famous encroachments from beyond the boundary line.
On the verge of retiring from cricket, after having given the game nearly 53 years as a player and an administrator, Dennis Amiss has been reflecting on his career. In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, Amiss talks about how joining World Series Cricket, at a time when his Test form had faltered, effectively ended his carreer with England:
"Who knows, maybe, if I'd stayed, I would have gone on to play 70 Tests and perhaps get the monkey off the back and get a century against Australia? But you make what you see as the right decision at the time.
"Looking at it now, I might not go the same way again."
As a lifeskills coach, one of the things that Michael Jeh teaches young cricketers is knowing when to walk away from a provocation fuelled by alcohol or drugs - situations that can quickly spiral out of control and end tragically for the people involved. In the aftermath of the assault on Jesse Ryder, Jeh, writing in the Mid day, says that recognising these situations is also an instinct that is honed over time.
It is this life lesson that I try to imbue in the minds of these young athletes who are used to living on razor- sharp instincts because that is the source of their sporting genius. And yet sometimes, there is that fine line between acting instinctively, and knowing when to defy instinct. Depending on the circumstance, either option could be a life-saver but the hard part is to know which button to push in which situation.
That is where repeated practice comes into play. For cricketers who are used to hitting a thousand balls a day, they often rail at the notion of sitting through workshops that simulate real life at a pub or a nightclub. Their young brains, still in the formative stage where neurons are making permanent connections, cannot readily grasp why it is necessary to practice life itself.
Since its inception, the Indian Premier League has gained recognition not just for the talent on display but for the role it has played in sustaining the sport around the world. Given this stature, the recent controversy surrounding the participation of Sri Lankan players and the IPL's response to the issue may have done the game a disservice, writes Mini Kapoor in the Indian Express.
The roll call of names is important because this expedient measure is, in the end, about them. It is not based on some abstract principle of not playing cricket with another country, which, highly debatable though it may have been, would have moved the discussion away from the field of play. As the state of play currently stands, Sri Lankan players are very much part of the IPL, they will play at other venues, and it is only on account of presumed security concerns in Tamil Nadu that they will not be allowed to alight on the Chennai ground. This move is, then, clearly not about using sport as an element of coercive diplomacy to pressure the Sri Lankan government to deliver on devolution, reconciliation and rehabilitation. It is only targeted at a bunch of individuals to make some point -- which is what exactly?
Ravindra Jadeja, the India allrounder, has two first-class triple-centuries to his name in the 2012-13 season and is currently in the purplest patch of his career with the ball, having accounted for Australia captain Michael Clarke in five innings out of six in the ongoing Test series. Yet even those deeds paled in comparison to a recent insertion in his Wikipedia profile - it called him "a philanthropist, a Nobel Prize winner, a double Laureus sportsman of the year, and the nearest human to god."
Wikipedia - the free, online 'encyclopedia' that readers can edit - is known, or notorious, for the ease with which entries can be tweaked by the public, and the qualifications were as swiftly deleted. Who added it in? Could have been an admirer, could even have been those who doubt his Test credentials. It was a cricket fan for sure, because it stopped short of calling Jadeja god - that is reserved for only one cricketer.
In The Hindu, Greg Chappell states that the recent events within the Australian team reflect a bold attitude and the decision may have helped stem a decline in team attitudes.
One can argue that things should have been done differently, in days gone by it would have been handled man to man over a beer, but the world has changed so one has to assume that previous warnings or exhortations went unheeded. In that case the only recourse was to use selection as the blunt instrument to get the message across.
Thirty-two years ago, an Australian captain asked his brother to bowl an underam delivery to stop New Zealand from scoring a six off the last ball. In Mid Day, Clayton Murzello recollects the win-at-all-costs attitude of previous Australian teams and says the current side places more emphasis on discipline.
The discipline aspect is vital too, but Australia have not given themselves the best chance to win. Michael Clarke ought to realise that the last time Australia won a Test in India was when his career was just three Test matches old. He will play his 92nd today in Mohali.
Shane Warne, writing for The Telegraph, questions the way Mickey Arthur is functioning in the dressing room and expresses his unhappiness about the rotation policy the selectors are employing.
To me the coach of any international team is a facilitator - someone to be in the background. He is a sounding board, a confidante for the players. If a player is struggling with his technique it is up to the coach to help him. He prepares players for cricket matches. That is his role.
The team have gone through a lot of issues over the past 12 months and many of the problems have been caused by the selectors. All the players are uncertain about their place in the team because of the way teams and squads have been chosen.
In the Daily Mail, Lawrence Booth believes Mickey Arthur's decision to sack Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja hints at larger issues within the team.
It's been a fragile arrangement, and in India the second half of the equation has been rendered less potent by the pitches. This won't matter so much in England this summer, where Australia's seamers may just win them a Test. But the defeats in Chennai and Hyderabad have confirmed a long-standing hunch: Australia just ain't that good any more.
And there's the rub. A nation that for 20 years grew accustomed to winning Test matches, sometimes from ludicrous positions, has been obliged to look in the mirror. Understandably, it isn't enamoured with what it sees.
Chris Barrett in the Canberra Times believes the sacked players are guilty of failing to be accountable within the team set-up.
Requesting players to put together arguments about their selection and value might seem wacky to many. People might scoff at the wellness reports too. But whatever the case, this point is inescapable. The players in question have not done what they were told.
In the Indian Express, Aditya Iyer believes the move to sack players is simply a case of bad man-management and the team think-tank would have done better to simply help the team through a tough series.
All said and done, isn't it the captain's job, or the coach's, to be coming up with the answers when their players -- who just collectively happen to have near-zero experience of playing in the subcontinent -- are asked difficult questions by the conditions? If not breakthrough solutions, then shouldn't they at least do their bit to uplift the morale as a young team spirals through a harsh learning curve? Not in this Australian set-up.