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

  • Rotation of players a must to stay ahead

    The world seems to be getting increasingly polarized on the issue of whether a player should be permitted to choose his club over country, or should he not be given that prerogative at all. While some reckon that it's okay for a player to miss a series or two, especially if it isn't as crucial a series, some on the other end of the spectrum have begun to suggest radical measures like banning the player from International cricket, in case he chooses personal interest over national. One would expect the ICC to overhaul the FTP and create a window for the IPL, and simultaneously cut down the number of International games to prevent player exhaustion. But since we don't live in an ideal world, we may not see that happening anytime soon. On the contrary, the number of international games to be played will only see a rise. Gone are the days when Cricket was only a summer sport. Today's Neo-Cricket has undergone a paradigm shift which seems to believe more is good. The calendar is only going

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  • Why IPL-IV wasn’t a hit

    Didn't Cricket's T20 format advertise itself as one modelled to ensure a nail-biting finish with the climax stretching to the last ball/last over? Perhaps why, it has stuck to the script for the last three IPL editions and doled out quite a few exciting contests and helped in promoting both the league and the format. What worked in its interest was that the quality of players didn't seem to affect the outcome or more importantly the excitement of the game.

     

    Unfortunately though, that didn't seem to have been the case in the recently concluded fourth edition, which hasn't only quashed any such definite notions about the format, but has also thwarted most of the appeal that the previous seasons had gathered. It's alarming to note that for every one close encounter this season, there have been thrice as many one-sided affairs. This is simply anti-T20 policy. So, what has led to such a drastic change in IPL's basic character? The obvious reason seems to be the thinning of

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  • Fielding money issues

    Is the BCCI unfair in expecting its marquee players, who they've invested in so much, to represent the country in an International game? Or, are the broadcasters unreasonable in insisting that India plays its star players each time, since its revenues plummet the moment Sachin or Dhoni abstain? And more importantly, are the players selfish in asking for a well deserved breather after being on the road for the longest time possible? Logically, none of the grieved parties seem to be asking for more than their fair share. Yet, they seem to be have collided head-on.

     

    BCCI pays huge sums to its players via the retainer fee, the share of the profits and the match fees. They not only take care of the expenses incurred for medical treatment but also deduct nothing from the annual retainer fee if a player gets injured. Yes, the BCCI do make a lot of money from selling the broadcast rights, but simultaneously spend enormous sums to keep Indian cricket healthy by investing crores on domestic

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  • Captains have to get their strategy right in Twenty20

    With the IPL contest having entered its penultimate stage, the fight for the title also seems to be getting fierce. While for MSD, an IPL win would serve as the cherry on his coveted World Cup cake, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir would be hoping to turn around his team's fortunes and thereby consolidate his claims for captaincy. For first time captain in the IPL Vettori, it might be a golden chance to resurrect his team and become impregnable once again, while the Master would be looking to lift the cup he'd almost laid their hands on last year. Who would have the last laugh, is difficult to say, what is clear though is that a victory in this IPL won't just bring to fore a superior side, but also a Captain, a cut above the rest.

     

    So, what is it that would set a captain and his team apart from the others? Most certainly, good cricket, but more importantly, some smart cricket.

     

    Bowling changes
    Since every over is 5% of the innings, the skipper must tread cautiously and think twice before

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  • Time to redefine the role of a coach

    Imagine being mentored by the likes of Michael Bevan, Stephen Fleming, Shane Warne and Dav Whatmore - Isn't that an exciting prospect, especially for a rookie playing first class cricket and trying to get a look in for National duties. After all, it's not every day that one can grab an opportunity to network with say a Wasim Akram and pick up a trick or two to hone one's skill. The franchisees, on their part, just as they have meticulously picked up the playing line-up, seem to have gone all the way in ensuring that a stalwart tutor the team.

     

    Quite unfortunately though, this IPL, just as the past three editions, seems to be turning that noble intention right on its head. With over 50 days of non-stop cricket and a total of 14 matches to play, squeezed in between travelling and managing a few net sessions, where is the time for the coach to evaluate a player's skill and guide accordingly, or for the player to actually make the suggested changes. What it eventually boils down to is a

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  • Technology and no-balls

    Most of us watching the Delhi Daredevils take on the Deccan Chargers at Hyderabad, described the proceedings to be nothing short of being terribly bizarre. I, for one, had never witnessed something so awfully awkward, at least till this one – Delhi Daredevils spinner Yogesh Nagar got a wicket, the on-field umpire checked with the third-umpire if Yogesh had overstepped and he was spot on. Yogesh had indeed overstepped the line and hence it wasn't a legal delivery. The batsman got a reprieve. Of course, there's nothing out of the ordinary about this. But the same sequence was repeated after just a couple of deliveries—another wicket, another referral and another reprieve. Obviously the on-field umpire got it right on both occasions with regards to his suspicion that Yogesh may have overstepped. But that, for me, opened a can of worms.

     

    While it's always good to ask for assistance from the third-umpire to get an accurate decision, I'm a little wary about this particular incident. How

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  • Sachin and Kallis do it their way

    In the World Cup finals against Sri Lanka, I vividly remember Sachin delaying the square-cut by allowing Nuwan Kulasekra's short-pitched delivery to go past him before making contact. Result-a well placed, well timed boundary on the left of the fielder standing at point while beating the man at third-man. To cover that particular stroke, the point fielder went a lot finer, but this time Sachin decided to play the same delivery a fraction earlier to find the gap on the right of the fielder at point, resulting in another inevitable boundary. Now Sangakarra brought the cover fielder a lot squarer to plug that gap, unfortunately though to no avail. Sachin, this time, went a bit more across towards the off-stump to play the almost identical delivery with a straight bat to maximize the gap created by moving the fielders squarer, producing, yet again, a third meticulously executed boundary.

     

    Formats changed but Sachin continued to bat in the same vein. This time he dished out similar

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  • The Club Versus Country Conundrum

    Chris Gayle, the man with a whopping 14,000 runs in International Cricket, made up of no less than thirty-three colossal centuries, and a career spanning over a decade, may soon cease to be a West Indian Batsman. That's a terrible thing to happen to any batsmen worth his salt, for representing the country is by far the biggest honour that one can take pride in. It's a feeling unparalleled, and a dream that every sports person strives to fulfil. Gayle, am certain, is no less patriotic than any one of us. So why on earth did he choose a club, far less in standing, over a far more honoured National duty? Strangely, Sri Lanka's Malinga too has opted out of the upcoming SL–England Test series citing an injury, while he continues to swank his skill at the ongoing IPL. Do we see a dangerous trend building up, one that is forcing Cricketers from countries with not-so-rich boards to settle for the moneyed IPL? More importantly, would these Cricketers be reprimanded for choosing Club over

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  • Changing times for bowlers in IPL

    IPL-IV seems to be quashing all claims of twenty overs cricket being incredibly unpredictable and dreadfully volatile. Where is the unpredictability when 14 out of 18 games (at the time of writing this) have been won by teams chasing?

     

    Make no mistake by calling it an aberration, for the statistics are too overwhelming to ignore. While the IPL has and is living up to its reputation of setting off regular upsets, especially of underdogs winning a game on their own, this clear trend says a thing or two about IPL hitting its transitional phase.

     

    Most teams, right at the onset of this season, failed to identify the par score for the wicket and hence found themselves guilty of aiming too high and ending too low. This often happens in a T20 game, for you're never satisfied with what you've achieved and 10-15 runs more always look attainable.

     

    Most batsmen, at the start of this IPL, believed that since balls are at a premium in T20, it's blasphemous to consume a few deliveries to get their

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  • Clueless Captains

    What would you, as a skipper do, at a crucial point, when the game has gone down to the wire with just three overs remaining, and your best bowlers - RP Singh, Sreesanth & Vinay Kumar still left with an over each to bowl? Of course, you’d consider yourself blessed while making that rather unambiguous decision, of consuming the remaining three overs between those senior men, especially when your team is trying to defend a total. Bowling second and that too towards the end is as much about skills as it is about having the nerves of steel. You must be well equipped to bowl those impeccable yorkers and slower-ones and also have the experience to absorb the pressure. Quite tactlessly though, Mahela, in the opening match for Kochi, threw the ball to Gomez, a rookie and DeVilliers, sealed the match in 6 balls. Royal Challengers Bangalore needed 32 runs in last three overs but the target was reduced to run-a-ball off last two post Gomez's over.

     

    No, I'm not trying to run down the youngster

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