AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarian.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • When Bradman made 100 in 22 balls

    REWIND — Impressed by Gayle’s achievements? Read about what Sir Donald did in 1931.


    “There was always been a sort of aura surrounding fast centuries,” once said the great Don Bradman, himself the owner of many unbelievably fast hundreds.

    Two days ago, Chris Gayle scored one in 30 balls in an IPL match against Pune Warriors. It is the fastest hundred on record in all forms of professional cricket. But Bradman being Bradman achieved something even more mind-boggling during the course of a village game on November 2, 1931.

    Up in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales is a village called Blackheath. On the fateful day, Bradman and his colleague from the New South Wales Sheffield Shield team, Oscar Wendell Bill, had been invited to a game against Lithgow. The game was meant for the inauguration of a new concrete pitch at their oval.

    “The Lithgow experiment was new to me in that I had never seen a pitch with a malthoid top,” Bradman said many years later. “I’m still not sure if it was laid on a bitumen base or on concrete but it was perfectly flat and very smooth.”

    Turf

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  • Bumrah makes a mark

    The young Mumbai seamer took three wickets against Bangalore on his IPL debut.

    Bumrah celebrates Kohli's wicket. The talking point ahead of the Bangalore-Mumbai game was Jasprit Bumrah, a 19-year-old seamer from Ahmedabad who was handpicked by the Mumbai Indians after a decent show in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

    ALSO SEE: RCB vs MI | Match Photos

    Bumrah, yet to play a First Class game, took 10 wickets for Gujarat in the tournament. His bowling action caught the eye today, as did his three wickets on IPL debut.

    He completes his short run-up with small steps a la Guy Whittal. He has a whippy arm action that reminds you of Sohail Tanvir, and his right-arm is so frighteningly straight during the release, you wonder how it manages to generate those speeds of 130-plus KMPH. The traces of grass on the Chinnaswamy Stadium wicket helped too.

    It’s the sort of strange action you’d spot in the maidaans or at club games where there are no coaches to meddle with young players. Kapil Dev commented that the awkwardness of the action reminded him of Colin Croft.

    Bumrah was handed his Mumbai cap today by

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  • Whither continuity of thought?

    India’s selectors are more inconsistent than the youths they so casually pick and drop.

    Remember Parwinder Awana?

    Anybody who has ever been a success at anything will tell you this: it helps to have a goal, and it helps to have a plan to reach that goal. In academics, business, sport, or any walk of life, setting goals is the first step towards success. But a shifting goalpost only produces scattershot results.

    This is why the Australian teams over the years have been so tough to beat. They clearly identify what they want to win, they identify the players who will help them win, and they don’t stop. After 1999, they planned on winning the 2003 World Cup, and then again in 2007. Even with a depleted side in 2011, they made the quarterfinals. And now, even with the retirements of their great players, it’s still tough to beat them as West Indies found out over the course of five ODIs.

    Despite the passage of generations — from Border to Taylor to Waugh and Ponting to Clarke — Australia’s cricketing ideology has been unwavering. In every era they have relentlessly pursued the same goal: of winning Read More »from Whither continuity of thought?
  • Amarnath, Srinivasan & the art of talking straight

    And why self-serving sound-bytes are not going to help Indian cricket.

    Facing Imran, Roberts and Holding was easy compared to fighting political battles. There’s a memorable passage in the cult 1976 film Network. In it, the chairman of a large American broadcast company gets angry with his deranged news anchor whose on-air rant has jeopardised the company’s impending sale to a Saudi conglomerate.

    The chairman vents his anger thus: “There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion — of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet.”

    So it is in Indian cricket. There are players and administrators, selectors and presidents, friends and foes. But the centre of their universe is the green-coloured bill. Dollars above all else. Cricketers are brands which need to be fully milked for

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  • The twilight saga

    India's best way forward is not going back to their jaded veterans, but moving ahead with youngsters.

    Players like Kohli, Pujara and Ashwin are India's best bet.

    Miss Wormwood: What state do you live in?

    Calvin: Denial.

    The apocalypse is truly upon us. Not the one the 2012 doomsayers have been predicting, but the one in the Indian cricket establishment that has hit a new low after the recent losses to England.

    There are embarrassments, and then there is this. It is the kind of moment where one starts entertaining thoughts of dumping the whole team to build a new one. To find a more thorough humiliation of a Test-playing country, you would have to go back to 1976 when England captain Tony Greig unwittingly announced to the world that he would make the visiting West Indians grovel.

    Clive Lloyd’s boys whipped England mercilessly through that summer, and now Alastair Cook has buried MS Dhoni’s side in the dustbowls laid for them. Buried with them is the shard of respectability that came from being heavyweights at home. The epitaph carries their last words: “We will show them at home.”

    Where do we start with India’s problems? There had been Read More »from The twilight saga
  • The law is an ass

    ICC’s recent rule changes favouring batsmen will make cricket dull.

    Kumble is the latest chairman of ICC's cricket committee that suggests changes to playing conditions. One of the earliest rules of cricket that needed amendment pertained to run-outs. Cricketers in the 16th and 17th century didn’t have the stumps and bails that we have now. They had actual stumps (of trees) and actual wickets (wooden gates). All runs had to be run because there were no fours and sixes for hits that travelled far. To complete a run, a batsman had to plonk his bat into a hole in the ground. But while doing so, if a fielder deposited the ball in the hole first, the batsman would be run-out.

    This led to situations where bowlers would reach for the hole only to find his hand being crushed by the batsman thrusting his willow into the same hole. Painful injuries resulted. Hence came the need to find a safer way to complete a run or effect a run-out. This was a natural, logical, need-based evolution of the game.

    Today, the job of modifying the laws of international cricket rests in the hands of ICC’s cricket committee. The committee – a group of cricketers and administrators –

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  • Runs speak louder than words

    And India’s opening partnership is woefully quiet at the moment.



    When all else fails, point to your achievements. Sourav Ganguly had done it at the peak of his troubles with Greg Chappell. Harbhajan Singh did it when he had forgotten how to take wickets. And now Gautam Gambhir, he of the ungainly off-side jab, has said that he and Virender Sehwag form the best opening pair in the country.

    It’s only when bat and ball fail to talk for them that players have to talk for themselves. And the talk doesn’t stand an instant’s scrutiny. “We still average 53 as an opening pair, which I think is one of the best when it comes to opening the batting in world cricket,” Gambhir said today.

    “There are not many opening pairs who have played for such a long time and have an average of 53 per innings. And if 53 is not good enough, I don't know what is good enough.”

    “As an opening pair, you average 50 per inning and if you are giving 50 runs start in every innings, you can’t do more and if people talk about not contributing, I will suggest them to look at the stats.”

    SoRead More »from Runs speak louder than words
  • Deciphering Malinga's unplayable yorker

    The magic ingredient is the dip

    Lasith Malinga

    What makes Lasith Malinga’s yorker so much deadlier than others? Sure, we know it’s the merciless pace, unrelenting accuracy and the sharp in-swing that works wonders. But there’s a small but significant event that sets Malinga’s yorker apart. It’s the late dip.

    The dip is practically invisible to those of us watching on TV. But the batsman who has been made to look foolish knows exactly what did him in.

    The batsman prepares to play the yorker when the ball is around knee-high in its trajectory. But at the last decisecond, the ball drops a few inches. The drop is sudden. At Malinga’s high pace, this minor deviation is enough to beat the bat and smash the stumps, or hit the pads for the LBW.

    Long story short, Malinga’s dipping yorker is practically unplayable for batsmen of lesser skill.

    Many great spinners have used the dip to great effect. They tease the batsman forward to drive a ball only for the batsman to find the ball dropping short of drivable length. The dip spoils his timing Read More »from Deciphering Malinga's unplayable yorker
  • India win, but Pakistan go through

    SA lose by one run, yet Pakistan qualify for semifinals with a better run rate.

    Scores | Action In Images | Results So Far | Fixtures | Full Coverage

    Four wins out of five, yet India will go home.

    Funny are the vagaries of cricket. It’s the second round of a World Cup and a team that lost today — Australia — is going to the semifinals. And the team that won later in the evening — India — is going home. It’s hard to think of another sport where such an oddity would occur at a World Cup.

    But that’s the Super Eights format for you – an ICC invention that allows one team to get away with a bad day, and another team to pay for it through its nose; one that makes calculators more important than bats and balls. India won four games out of five in the tournament, the same as Australia, but one bad spell of 10-odd overs against Australia did them in.

    Compare that to the West Indies: they are in the semifinals despite one win less than India, and only one outright win if you discount winning by a Super Over. This run-rate gobbledygook could have been avoided with the simple yet effective knockouts format which would Read More »from India win, but Pakistan go through
  • The real heroes of Indian cricket

    On Teacher's Day, a thank you to the gurus who can’t be thanked enough.

    It all started on the cramped back seat of a scooter. To Sushil Kapoor, a bank employee of modest means who would blow his monthly salary on a rag-tag bunch of cricketers in Chandigarh.

    At a time when sports as a career option was frowned upon, Kapoor would arrange matches for these kids, ferry them long distances and spend much money on feeding their ever-hungry mouths.

    Travelling long distances for cricket games was a problem. Kapoor had a two-seater scooter and four adolescent boys to carry. He would squeeze two on the back seat, ride a mile and then drop them. He would then go back to fetch the other two boys who would have jogged some of the distance. He would ride with them till the first two boys were in sight. This tedious process would go on till they had reached their destination.

    The riches of cricket — IPL, the multi-million salaries, the endorsements — were many decades away. Kapoor simply did it for the love of the game.

    ***

    To  A.N. Sharma, an aspiring footballer who was ill-treated by football coaches in Delhi and couldn’t

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