AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarian.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • 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 –

    Read More »from The law is an ass
  • 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

    Read More »from The real heroes of Indian cricket
  • Don’t start the party yet

    India’s 2-0 win masks their Test inadequacies. Here are 4 issues they must fix

    Indian cricket had a happy fortnight. The youth team won the World Cup. The senior team crushed New Zealand, thanks to a long-awaited revival of its spin department. Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha combined to take 31 out of the 40 Kiwi wickets in the series. It was a nod to the last decade when Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would decimate visiting sides.

    Runs for Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara also brought relief. It was also heartening to see them trying to be their own persons, expressing themselves in their own style instead of being pigeon-holed into the roles played by the recently-retired greats. 

    But don’t let the 2-0 score-line fool you into believing that all’s well with the Indian squad. Beating a depleted team on the dry wickets at home is one thing; being ready for tougher challengers like South Africa and Australia quite another.

    The new selection committee will be named in a few days. We have a list of issues we hope they can take head-on instead of the Read More »from Don’t start the party yet
  • Spiritual hogwash

    The spirit of cricket should stop interfering with its laws.

    Kartik's mankading this week raises questions about the relevance of aged notions. Exhibit A

    Pepsi knows a thing or two about the zeitgeist. Their latest television commercial shows youth icon Ranbir Kapoor harassing MS Dhoni. Ranbir instructs the India captain to lose his good manners at the World Twenty20. “Yeh T20 hai, boss*,” he says. “Yeh na tameez se khela jata hai, na tameez se dekha jaata hai.”

    It’s unclear if Pepsi formed this cringeworthy opinion by watching only those games that Munaf Patel has played. But they are probably right in suggesting that the game has changed since the time the old fogies at Marylebone Cricket Club defined the Spirit of Cricket. Which brings us to...

    Exhibit B

    At the U-19 World Cup recently, Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar mankaded Australia’s Jimmy Pierson. Australia asked Bangladesh to reconsider their appeal. Bangladesh didn’t budge. They had a quarterfinal to win. Australia's coach Stuart Law showed his progressive outlook by not whinging about cricket’s spirit being violated by the run-out. “It is in the laws of cricket... it is

    Read More »from Spiritual hogwash
  • Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad

    Highlights of Day 3 in the Hyderabad Test

    Dark clouds over Uppal.


    There’s a reason why there had never been a Test match in India in August. It rains in August! Sadly, this didn’t occur to the wise men running cricket in India and New Zealand. After a rain-free first day in Hyderabad, the monsoonal downpours have interrupted proceedings thrice. Day 2 got off to a delayed start and so did Day 3. The day ended prematurely with heavy downpours in the evening session. Showers are expected in Hyderabad the next two days. In Bangalore, the venue of the second Test, has had heavy showers this week too. One hopes the cricket board doesn’t repeat this organisational buffoonery.


    It means doing something ridiculously easy. Discovery Channel recently decided to put this idiom to test. They put some fish in a barrel and shot them. They discovered they didn’t even need to hit the fish. The bullets entering the water created shockwaves that made the fish belly-upRead More »from Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad
  • Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes

    Highlights of the first day's play between India and New Zealand

    It's that shot again. Scores | Images | Day 1 Report


    When was the last time a Test match was played in August in India? You’d have to go back to 1933 searching for this elusive fixture and you still won’t find it because the short answer to that question is ‘never’. When it was announced, this series tweening India’s two trips to Sri Lanka seemed odd. After all this is the rainy season.

    The Indian cricket season typically begins with the monsoon waning towards September. The earliest a Test match has been played in India was in 1979 when Australia played in Chennai on September 11. To find the last instance of a September Test series in India, you’d have to go to the tied Test of 1986. But at the moment there’s a drought-like situation in India, and the southern parts of India (which are hosting these fixtures) tend not to receive heavy rains at this time of the year. The clouds may give these games a miss after all.


    The toss was a blow to Ross Taylor. He’s playing four

    Read More »from Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes


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