Aakash Chopra

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is one of the best thinkers and writers on the game. Find out more at www.cricketaakash.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @cricketaakash

Blog Posts by Aakash Chopra

  • Time For Home Improvement

    India's domestic cricket is full
    of misplaced priorities and redundant ideas. The England defeat offers a chance to analyse its failings.

     

     

     

    Much has been spoken about India's terrible
    trounce in England - right from the lack of preparedness, poor planning to
    crammed schedule, everything has been meticulously discussed. But few have looked
    beyond the obvious and deliberated upon the fundamentals.

     

    MAK Pataudi, with his astute eye for
    cricket, hit the nail on its head by pointing out the importance of a robust
    first-class structure to strengthen Indian cricket. That India's poor show
    could be the result of a deteriorating domestic structure is an idea worth a
    thought. So, what is it that is marring the foundation of Indian cricket?
    Here's a look at the snags that need some urgent attention:

     

    Irani
    Trophy (October 1-5) -
    The most prestigious match
    of the season between the defending Ranji Champions and a team made up of the cream
    of Indian cricket marks the beginning of the new

    Read More »from Time For Home Improvement
  • IPL’s impact on Indian cricket

    "Now that India has lost so miserably in England, kids would listen to me when I tell them to get their forward defense right" said a visibly frustrated veteran cricket coach. When someone of his standing, having groomed nearly a dozen International and scores of first-class cricketers, says something like this, you ought to pay heed. He revealed that the younger generation is no longer interested in spending those extra hours to get their technique watertight, for the lure of hitting sixes and fours to get an IPL berth is blinding them.

     

     

    Not too long ago, in cricket academies around the country, one would come across kids practicing the forward defense with an innocuous tennis ball or playing the cover-drive along the ground.

     

     

    Post the IPL, the scenario has taken a 360 degree turn with most kids practicing the aerial shots and their coaches encouraging them to do so. That's the demand of the changing times, either you score quickly or you perish, they are heard mumbling.

     

     

    Read More »from IPL’s impact on Indian cricket
  • Preparation is a process that requires foresight

    The day we lost the first Test at Lord's, the knives had come out. Experts blamed the lack of preparation for India's poor start - we should have played at least a couple of warm-up games to get used to English conditions, they'd opined. Even as I echo their sentiments with regards to the benefits of playing more first-class matches prior to a tough tour in alien conditions, I'm wary of confusing acclimatization with preparation, for it can only be a part of the entire process. Or else, how would one explain India's poor show even in the following two Test matches? After all Team India, by now, has spent nearly a month in England and hence acclimatization can no longer be an issue.

     

     

    Preparation is a process that requires foresight and a definite roadmap to achieve the desirable. Earlier this year, when England won the Ashes in Australia, it wasn't just because they were a better side during those 5 Test matches but because they were better prepared. Their preparation started even

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  • Show Dravid Some Respect

     

    2003

     

    The Sourav Ganguly-led
    Indian team had opined that Dravid needed to push the envelope and contribute
    in two aspects of the game, as the team needed it dearly.

     

    He was asked to don the
    wicket-keeping gloves so that India could play an extra batsman. Keeping
    wickets is a specialized job that demands both a specific skill-set and special
    physical fitness. Since it's impossible to acquire both overnight, Dravid went
    that extra yard, on and off the field.

     

    Knowing Dravid and his
    penchant for excellence, it's easy to fathom the amount of work that must've
    gone into avoiding glaring mistakes through the World Cup. Not to mention that
    he needed to devote equal amounts of time, if not more, on his batting.

     

    Wicket-keeping is one
    of the most difficult tasks in cricket and if given a choice, most players
    would refuse to assume that role. And if the player happens to be the senior
    pro in the side, his refusal is only a formality. But not Dravid, for he would
    happily give his right

    Read More »from Show Dravid Some Respect
  • Zaheer’s possible replacements

    Zaheer missed the second Test match, not necessarily as a precautionary measure, but since it actually takes that long a time to heal the injured hamstring. An early induction into competitive sport could result in relapsing and making the injury worse. This may prompt Team India to ask the 'wise men' to provide cover for an injured Zaheer.

     

    Abhimanyu Mithun would be the most obvious choice, for he was a part of the Test team to the West Indies. But, it would be logical to browse through various other options (except Mithun) who could fit the bill. Thery're mostly two schools of thought at work while picking a player- 1. You go by a player's past experience, or 2. Be ruthless and go strictly by current form.
     

    We must identify the key areas we need to address while looking for a replacement. Should it be the swing, the pace, the ability to bowl longer spells, wicket-taking ability or something else? Keeping the English conditions and the current set of fast bowlers at our disposal,

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  • Gearing up for the Lord’s Test

    Team India's last net session on the eve of the first test match had an air of confidence, while at the same time the air was also thick with nervous energy. The happy-go-lucky attitude, which is synonymous with most net sessions, got abandoned for the time being. The net session didn't last too long either, for most batsmen would have preferred getting the feel rather than spending those extra few minutes to correct a folly. At this juncture, it isn't about the skill-set but more importantly the belief that brings one there. As for the skill, it is bound to show up when summoned, only if one believes in it, completely.

     

     

    Gautam went for the last set of throw-downs, Dravid shadow-practiced a few shots one last time, while Mukund spent a few minutes in getting the ducking and swaying away to bouncers right. And then one by one every batsman visited the square and inspected the pitch for the impending game. Each one of them would've then drawn an outline for their respective game

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  • Doping Part II – Need to spread awareness

    A Dope Test, irrespective of its eventual outcome, inevitably spells trouble for sportspersons playing at any level. I remember feeling a bit edgy when the first time anti-doping officers were to visit a club I was playing for in Holland. All kinds of questions started doing the rounds - will they test everyone? Is it okay if I had alcohol last night? So on and so forth. Even though some smarter cricketers tried their hand at answering these rather tricky questions, they too were way off the mark. Nobody really knew what the procedure of a drug test was and what the banned substances were. In fact, that was the first time I'd heard about this mandatory test and its damaging repercussions. I was 23 then, having played a few seasons of first-class cricket in India. But, never had any authority or coach cared to share the importance of a Dope Test with any of us.

     

     

    While the surprise visit by the officers did raise the alarm bells with regards to both the drug menace and my lack of

    Read More »from Doping Part II – Need to spread awareness
  • Doping Part I – The web

    Heidi Krieger of East Germany reached the pinnacle of her career by winning the Gold medal with a putt of 21.1 meters at the European Championship at Stuttgart in 1986. She was one of the many child prodigies who were given the golden opportunity to pursue a career in athletics at the Berlin Dynamo Club. At the tender age of 13, she was introduced to a stringent training program along with some medical assistance to enhance her skills, more importantly the muscles to better her scores. Little did she or many others like her know that they were being given anabolic steroids which were sure to improve their sporting statistics but also destroy their lives in the process.

     

    In East Germany over 10,000 athletes were given similar steroids over twenty years to ensure its claim as the sporting superpower in the World. In the 1972 Munich Olympics, a nation with a population of just 17 million had forced its way to the third spot behind Russia and USA. They even surpassed USA in the following

    Read More »from Doping Part I – The web
  • ICC recommendations – a review!

    The ICC's nod to measures that would refurbish world Cricket may have finally come, yet it would be interesting to note their impact and influence on the dynamics of the game. Let's probe further into each of the modifications made.

     

    DRS minus the Hawkeye

     

    All test matches, irrespective of who the competing teams are, would now be played under the same guidelines. Earlier, a batsman in a particular match could signal 'T' and get a reprieve, while his counterpart in another match would huff over the incapability of asking for a review. Mandatory use of DRS would avert any such disparity. It may not be foolproof yet, but adopting the system might well prove to be the first step in developing it further. Hot Spot is a wonderful technology, eliminating doubts and based on facts and not conjecture. Hence, its use has been welcomed by all.

     

    Unlike Hotspot, the use of Hawkeye has been the sticking point for certain players and boards. While it's believed that the projected path of the

    Read More »from ICC recommendations – a review!
  • Unadkat, Yadav – dumped too soon

    While Team India basks in the glory of the World Cup honour, we must certainly spare a thought and laud the Indian selectors for meticulously deciding on a team that brought us this ultimate glory. They are men who are often confronted with tough choices and their decisions prove crucial in deciding the country's chances at the International arena. So, one must give them credit in all certainty. While it's relatively easy to pick a squad and then the final XI if your best players are fit, available for selection and most importantly in-form, striking the right combination is still a challenge. Even though we cracked the code during the WC campaign, something seems to have gone completely awry in the first International series post the WC triumph posing questions of serious concern. While most key players made themselves unavailable, Zaheer and Sreesanth joining that list too, Praveen Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun got a look in. Mithun, the leading wicket-taker in 2009-10 domestic season,

    Read More »from Unadkat, Yadav – dumped too soon

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