Thursday, September 13, 2007

Forget the fab four

It's not the fab four - Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman - that I miss as India start their T20 campaign. It's the bowlers Zaheer and Powar. I think Agarkar is cannon fodder, and I can only fathom that a Maharashtra clique of Pawar and Vengsarkar, Gavaskar and Tendulkar, facilitate his many inexplicable comebacks into the Indian team in spite of driving captains to distraction with his profligate bowling. Dravid caught the flak for giving that last over to Yuvraj in England which went for five sixes. But it was Agarkar's earlier spell of three overs for around 40 runs that prompted him to do so. I don't know how Harbhajan can be picked ahead of Powar, who has consistently bowled far more economically and taken more wickets over the last two years. It was Powar who won us the one-day series against England at home, and his reward for that was to be left out of the one-day World Cup. Now he's the guy who kept us competitive in the Natwest series by being the most economical bowler, and his reward is to sit out the T20 World Cup and watch Harbhajan get tonked. I don't know what Irfan Pathan has done to get back into the team, but the last I saw him he had lost his pace and movement and just couldn't bowl with any confidence. We should've rested Zaheer in a few one-day games in England and brought him to South Africa. Piyush Chawla is coming along very nicely as a bowler but he was not as economical as Powar in the Natwest series. In this form of the game, on these South African pitches, his loopy leg spin is liable to go for too many sixes. RP Singh is the best of the lot, but unfortunately Dravid did not give him sufficient exposure to international limited overs cricket in England, and he is still too inexperienced. He needs time to master the yorker and develop a slower ball. So it's the bowling that seems really too weak in this side that is supposed to represent India. In the batting, I'm not missing the fab four much because we have good hitters, especially on tracks with little sideways movement. Yuvraj is in good form, and Dhoni might rediscover on South African pitches the touch that he lost in England. Uthappa, you beauty! And Gambhir, whatever his other shortcomings, is no plodder. Rohit Sharma holds the record for the fastest century in domestic T20, and I'm looking forward to seeing him finally (and figure out why Dravid did not give him a single game in a seven-match series that we lost!) Irfan Pathan can certainly wield the willow even if his bowling has become club standard, and his brother is reputed to be a hard-hitting bat too. The only worry is whether they can handle the short stuff, because from the few matches we've seen it's clear a good pull shot is important, and only Yuvraj plays that with any authority in our team. But there's hope in the batting. The trouble is what happens to these blokes if they do well. Will they retain their places in the Indian team, or will they have to make way when the fab four (or terrific trio) choose to return in the one-days to come?


John said...

Sreesanth will get tonked around, but expect one beautiful, wicket-desrving delivery from him per-over. I think Sehwag's tight offspinners will be useful.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

yes, forgot all about sreesanth. he was very good on india's tour to SA, because his bowling style - wrist behind the ball and hitting the deck - is good on these hard tracks. sreesanth and rp will rock, agarkar and pathan will suck. sehwag - don't know, because it's just too easy hitting a spinner out of the park except a really good one like powar.

Anonymous said...

If yu take a look, then spinners have controlled the run flow. Yesterday Afridi, hafeez did it, today Bangladeshis did it, Zimbabweans did it, then we have the best spinner of all the teams in our team with a fabulous record (on paper) Harbhajan Singh.

I feel you are being overly critical of this team. This is a good team and if selected in good balance, then can go the distance.

Now if Bangladeshis are termed fav for 1 semifinal spot then why not us.

Wud suggest dont write off the indians man, you never know you might need to eat up your words..(and i wish you do, that means we win and get some thing to celebrate) :)

My team : Sehwag, Uthappa, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Sharma, Pathan I, Pathan Y, Sreesanth, RPSingh, Harbhajan SIngh

Homer said...

erm Sumit, Zaheer Khan and Ramesh Powar and Rohit Sharma happen to be a part of the Maharashtra (Mumbai) clique too..

And what is the Maharashtra clique anyways? Agarkar plays his cricket for Mumbai. As do Zaheer Khan and Ramesh Powar and Rohit Sharma.

And we (Mumbai) have done more for India's cricket than any other "clique" anywhere in the country.

Dispute Agarkar's selection on his performance, not on his origins.

Soulberry said...

Here's how India should see it...

Go with two Pathan's and bats right upto Harbhajan/Agarkar.

Just three regular bowlers...maybe two.

Sehwag, Y Pathan, Yuvraj (six master) and the rest can bowl 20 overs.

Powar has suffered due to his fielding and disinterest in batting which one has begun to notice. he was a good all-rounder for Mumbai but hasn't done it in the big league.

Little to choose between Harbhajan and he for this version.

Then, we are going to see more of this...more players coming in through the T20 ranks...the test and 50-50 players are not going to be the standard...for India at least...till all aspects of the game of such players are similar.

Homer suggested in a post that Sachin et al would be hard put to accomodate with the new T20 schedule drawn up between four countries...but that's precisely the point. This exercise isn't only for those in the test team unless they are also good fielders and multi faceted and have still the enthusiasm for it all.

India is using it to take its domestic cricket further beyond international boundaries than A tours could take it, so are the other three countries. Early exposure is now considered an essenttial mantra in development of a prospect and this is one way to go about it in addition to A tours.

We will see more of different players coming in...more players too. There will also be easy division of labor...everybody will physicall be unable to play all versions all the time as cricket is about to leap to its next giant leap in the theme of globalizing.

Soulberry said...

By the way, Dravid resigned today.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, thanks, you usually make me think. i agree the mistreatment of powar seems the bely the existence of a maharashtra clique. or is it just that he's not that close to the clique? i think to deny cliquism in indian cricket is to be an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. agarkar seemed a good example of it, with the key people currently at the helm being from his state (pawar, vengsarkar up front, and gavaskar behind the scenes), and his personal friendship with the gavaskars and tendulkars being well known. i think by selecting agarkar time and again, given his performance and the options to give new talent a break, they open themselves to speculation about favouritism. my intention was to expose the lack of professionalism in our cricket management where cliques, politics and contacts rule the roost - not to have a go at maharashtrians. on the other hand, your statement - "and we have done more for indian cricket..." - is a little parochial - don't you think? what's your point, that gavaskar's contribution to indian cricket should give immunity to things like agarkar's selection that indicate a regional bias? anyway, i do accept your view that it is better to stick to cricketing arguments.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

tubbyy, no i'm not writing off our team, and i'm going to enjoy watching them - but only when they're batting :)
soulberry, harbhajan gives the ball topspin which i think makes it easier to hit out of the park, and after his wrist injury just before the 2003 world cup, he has not been the same bowler, perhaps unable to give the ball a real tweak. powar gives the ball a rip, spins it more, and tends to cut it - and this kind of offbreak is harder to hit out of the park i think. let's see. maybe bhajji will prove me wrong.

Homer said...


My apologies for the rant but every time a Mumbaikar gets selected to the team and does not perform, there is a lot of noise about the Mumbai lobby and cliques and all that comes with it..

I have said this before and I repeat now - Agarkar has done everything to book his ticket out of the team based on his performance in England.


Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, the clique just got bigger - i hear tendulkar wiil take over from dravid. that will make board president, chief selector and captain from the same state. can u blame anybody for being suspicious?

Homer said...


Mumbai not same as Maharashtra.. We have won 37 Ranji titles to Maharashtra's 1.

Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ramesh Powar, Wasim Jaffer - all Mumbaikars and all playing for India.. A conspiracy surely!!!

Drop them all.. Have a cap on how many players from each Ranji team can play for India...

That should put conspiracy theories to rest.

Homer said...

by th by, speaking of Maharashtrians, add Rahul Dravid to that list too..

Definate conspiracy !!!!

Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, the fact remains nobody can explain how agarkar can make so many comebacks and keep sinking india. the fact is tendulkar does not deserve to make a comeback as captain. the fact is vengsarkar has not been held accountable for the poor shows by teams chosen by him. the fact is pawar's tenure has seen indian cricket hit new lows. it seems undeniable that politics and cliques have contributed to this sorry state of affairs.

Homer said...


and I dont disagree...but the same arguments could have been made for More as Chairman of selectors and Saurav Ganguly and Azharuddin and Dalmiya and Bindra.

Is Agarkar the smartest selection made by the BCCI? No. Is Agarkar on his way out ? Yes.

Is Irfan the answer? Maybe.. Is Raina the next big thing in Indian cricket? Does Kaif deserve being left out of the team after being the second highest scorer in the Windies? Did Mongia after top scoring against Australia?

Is MS Dhoni captaincy material? Does MS Dhoni deserve his place in the Indian team?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, you're right, the system sucks. so it's a question of degree. agarkar gets my goat because of the sheer number of times he has made undeserved comebacks. to pick him for the england series was bad, and to retain him for t20 was worse. no, i don't think irfan's the answer. nor is dhoni. and i've written with fervour in this blog about the poor deals that powar and rohit have got - so certainly there is no anti-maharashtra sentiment here. by maharashtra clique, i mean the current pawar-led administration which can't seem to see beyond borde or vengsarkar or gavaskar or tendulkar for key positions. it's natural to pick loyalists, but this is going too far, and it shows in the chaos surrounding our under-performing team. so should we just look away from this aspect of our cricket just because more and dalmiya and ganguly had their faults too?

Homer said...

you shouldn't, but favoritism does not automatically translate to slating an entire city does it?

And if it is the city we are slating, explaing to me why Balwinder Sandhu and Sandeep Patil were so driven to join the ICL?

Or why Amol Muzumdar cannot find a place in the Indian team. Or why there is no Mumbaikar in the "A" team playing South Africa.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

no, it's clear we're not trashing the city but the pawar clique which includes a bunch of maharashtrians and shows his mindset.

Anonymous said...

dont want to name myself, but i happen to be from shivaji park and seem to know ajit agarkar as we stay on the same street.

he has a lot of pull with ef CM Manohar Joshi and with the other cricketing lobbies in mumbai.

:-) just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

and btw sharad pawar becoming the president is a good thing..and the mumbai clique is also a good thing..becoz for so many years mumbai players havent been getting a chance into the indian side..just because of the quota system.

we know a lot of mumbai players who could have easily made it to the indian side..but at that time there used to be 3-4 mumbai players already in the indian side..and hence they kept languishing in the local ranji cricket.

37 ranji wins is proof enough that mumbai had so many good players over the years..and everytime after a team selection ppl and media used to complain ..whats the deal with indian cricket selectors and ppl from mumbai.

so now we are enjoying the so called mumbai clique...its good for us finally...screw u guys ! :P lol