AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarion.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • Dear Harbhajan...

    Dear Harbhajan Singh,

    A news agency reported today that you consider yourself the best off-spinner in India.

    Here’s your quote as reported by them:

    "I would not talk about anyone who is playing for India, but I do feel I am still the best in the business. I still have a lot to offer and see myself playing at the highest level for at least three to four years."

    Here's a list of the top wicket-takers in the last Ranji Trophy who are spinners:


    And here's the same list from the previous season:


    And here's the list of India's top Test spinners:


    Here's my question to you. When do you suppose we can see you stop talking and start performing?

    Sincerely,

    HemantRead More »from Dear Harbhajan...
  • McCullum 281*, Watling 124, Neesham 67*, India a big fat 0

    DAY 4 IN WELLINGTON—Toothless India watch as NZ stage monumental fightback.

    Scores | Action in images | Day 3 | Day 2 | Day 1 | Full coverage



    Brief Scores—New Zealand 192 and 571-6 lead India (438) by 325 runs.

    Through the course of Day 4 in the Wellington Test, the focus kept returning to Brendon McCullum as he passed milestone after milestone. A drive through the covers brought up his 150. A whip through square leg delivered his third 200, all of them against India. A powerful pull for six to the same area brought up his 250. But even as he passed these milestones in the course of a scarcely believable fight-back with BJ Watling, the predominant expression on his face was of pain.

    The pain in his back. The pain in his shoulders. The pain in his knee. And the pain of knowing that though he had braved it for 12 hours, he couldn’t savour the sweetness of his achievements till his team was secure. At stumps, the New Zealand captain could afford to smile a little. They are now 325 ahead with little chance of losing a game that seemed lost yesterday.

    Yesterday,

    Read More »from McCullum 281*, Watling 124, Neesham 67*, India a big fat 0
  • Tendulkar, Llong and Revisiting DRS

    A controversial LBW dents the master’s farewell.


    It’s too early to say so, but here’s hoping that Sachin Tendulkar’s LBW by Shane Shillingford today ends the chain of events that began five years ago. 

    On the 2008 tour of Sri Lanka, India’s introduction to the Decision Review System went horribly wrong. Anil Kumble’s side felt they had been robbed of a few wickets. Statistics tell their own story. Sri Lanka, smart and calculative with their reviews, got it right 11 times out of 27. India, bordering on the impulsive, got 20 wrong out of 21. And thus were sown the seeds of their discontent towards the system. (See the review—and Tendulkar's stern reaction to it—in the video above.)

    In a way, India’s opposition to DRS stems from Tendulkar and Kumble. He has held strong views about unreliable ball-tracking technologies and has favoured HotSpot. But later, even HotSpot was proven faulty.

    “I am not against DRS, but I feel it will be more effective with the support of the Snickometer and Hot Spot technology,” Tendulkar had said in 2011. Read More »from Tendulkar, Llong and Revisiting DRS
  • A bit of Sachin magic at the Eden

    1ST TEST—The maestro gets a wicket in the first over he bowls.


    The Eden Gardens’ seating capacity was pruned during its reconstruction for the 2011 World Cup. But it can still seat about 65,000 people easily. When all those people get behind an Indian bowler, the atmosphere starts to weigh heavily on visiting batsmen. And there descends an inevitability that a wicket is around the corner.

    This afternoon, MS Dhoni summoned Sachin Tendulkar to bowl the last over before tea. The West Indies were already doddering at 192-6. The crowd returned to life when it saw Tendulkar warming up for a bowl.

    After his many photo-ops, meetings, greetings and over-the-top celebrations of his career, Sachin Tendulkar just about made himself available for this match. Not that he was going to miss it.

    He spent the best part of the day in the cozy environs of the ropes where he had the attention of ball-boys and spectators alike. Not one to displease his fans, Tendulkar obliged the ball-boys with autographs and cell-phone photos they would cherish all their lives. But Read More »from A bit of Sachin magic at the Eden
  • Ajit Agarkar: ducks and glory

    What he was—and could have been.

    ALDELAIDE HEROES — Dravid and Agarkar in 2003.

    1997 was a year that drove Indian cricket fans to despair. The team had been bullied all over the world. The South Africa and Caribbean tours exposed their ineptitude against pace bowling. On the flatbeds of Colombo, Jayasuriya and Aravinda gave them nightmares not yet forgotten. From Chennai to Karachi to Sharjah, the Afridis and the Anwars flayed Tendulkar’s toothless bowlers.

    At home, they were struggling. Abroad, all was lost. What of India’s fielding and athleticism? A cola advertisement captured the nation’s mood perfectly at the time. In it, an upset fan urged his team: “Dive, baba, dive. I’ll wash your clothes, but dive!” India were like the Japanese who had brought swords to a nuclear fight.

    It was in the backdrop of these disappointments that Ajit Agarkar emerged as a refreshing change. Labelled the genuine Indian fast bowler, Agarkar came armed with a fast yorker and a stand-offish demeanour accentuated by a permanent scowl—a sharp contrast to his mild-mannered colleagues Read More »from Ajit Agarkar: ducks and glory
  • A prisoner of his own fame

    It’s sad to see Tendulkar’s great career limp towards a contrived end.

    Not the golden boy anymore.

    There’s a passage in the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous that’s a mirror image of Indian cricket today.

    The protagonist of that film, a young rock journalist named William Miller, is horrified when he realises that Stillwater, a band he idolises, have sold their most popular groupie (a girl William loves) to another band for fifty dollars and a case of Heineken.

    “Don’t worry” says Russell Hammond, the Stillwater front-man, to an upset William. “This is a party... everybody’s trying not to go home.”

    Like the never-ending rock and roll party Hammond refers to, the Indian cricket party that kicked off a couple of decades ago is in its final moments. No wonder some of us are in denial that it is ever going to end.

    Guess what? It’s already the morning after. Dravid and Kumble had their fun but left on time to report to work sober. Zaheer is throwing up on the carpet because he didn’t know when to stop. Sehwag and Yuvraj have passed out on the lawn. Ganguly, who continued partying till Read More »from A prisoner of his own fame
  • The moral ambiguity of Darren Lehmann

    ... and the bankruptcy of ideas in Australian cricket.


    Darren Lehmann’s astonishingly poor choice of words on a radio talk show reveals the poverty of Australian cricket at the moment.

    The show centred on the Stuart Broad incident in Trent Bridge. The show’s host sets the tone by calling Broad an “idiot”. Lehmann, the coach of the Australian team, has no problem lowering himself to that level of discourse.

    “Certainly our players haven't forgotten,” Lehmann tells us how the team has dealt with the incident. “They're calling [Broad] everything under the sun as they go past.”

    Australia are 0-3 down. They’ve just completed a hat-trick of Ashes losses, their first since the 1950s. They’ve lost seven of their last eight Tests, and it has more to do with their own rapidly-falling standards than Broad not walking.

    On the other hand, Broad has done his job brilliantly. His Andrew Flintoff-like hell-raising in Chester-le-Street, where he took 11 wickets, helped England win the series. If Australia have only abuses to offer Broad in return, it shows Read More »from The moral ambiguity of Darren Lehmann
  • 10 thoughts on making DRS better

    Demanding 100% honesty instead of 100% accuracy, and the concept of ‘buying’ a review.


    (1)    The most exasperating aspect of the debate around the Decision Review System is the number of people demanding “100% fool-proof technology.” Firstly, let’s get it out of our heads that there is no such thing as “fool-proof” technology. The ICC isn't NASA, and even NASA can't lay claim on an error-free record.   

    (2)    Joining the bandwagon of these stuck-up people is Jagmohan Dalmiya, who holds the single most important job in world cricket today yet devalues his office with this childish quote: “Let them come up with a system which is 100% correct.” He’d sooner see the Pope renouncing Catholicism. Mr. Dalmiya, please get the BCCI to stop making this infantile demand.

    (3)    There’s a rapidly-rising pile of DRS errors (from the Ashes alone), nearly all pointing to human — and not technological — failing. Yet there’s not one voice from the ICC, the BCCI or any other cricket board that has called for the umpires’ failings to be investigated. Clearly the need of the hour is Read More »from 10 thoughts on making DRS better
  • How much cricket is too much?

    The off-season is dead. Long live the off-season.

    Here's one person who's had enough.

    If you have followed Indian cricket over a considerable length of time, you would have to strain your memory to remember the romance of an off-season — periods when you would pine for some live cricket on your TV. Those yearnings would help us understand Miss Strickland’s views on the effects of absence on the heart.

    The last really long break from cricket in this writer’s memory was in 2004 when the triumphant Indian team returned from Pakistan in April. With no hot-weather action like the IPL to keep our boys going, we faithful had to wait till the middle of July when Sri Lanka were hosting the Asia Cup.

    And that wasn’t even the worst of it. Go back to 2000 and you’ll find an Indian calendar so bereft of action between May and October, we had to satisfy our thirst for cricket with exhibition games like World XI vs Asia XI. In fact, going without any action through the Indian summer was a given. It was thought insane to be playing when the temperature outside was touching 45 degrees Read More »from How much cricket is too much?
  • Time to review the reviewers

    Don’t blame the DRS. Blame the humans making a mess of it.

    If umpires can replay no-balls, why not contentious calls like the Broad one?

    Sample this incident from February.

    South Africa are playing Pakistan in the Cape Town Test. Jacques Kallis faces Saeed Ajmal. The ball pops to the short-leg fielder. Pakistan appeal for a catch. Steve Davis gives it out. But Kallis reckons he hasn’t hit it, so he calls for a decision review. TV umpire Billy Bowden looks at replays and concludes that Kallis is right. But then Bowden finds that there’s an LBW on here. The ball has pitched in line, hit Kallis in line and the HawkEye feed shows the ball brushing the leg-stump.

    Since the rulebook says that an appeal covers all modes of dismissals, Kallis is given his marching orders, much to his shock. Then, it gets curious.

    The ICC steps in to say the umpires have messed up in dismissing Kallis. They say: “The playing conditions state that when the third umpire observes that the batsman could be out by another mode of dismissal, the decision being reviewed using DRS should be as if the batsman had been originally given not out.  Read More »from Time to review the reviewers

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