Harsha Bhogle

  • Like

Blog Posts by Harsha Bhogle

  • Australia were caught in the headlights

    Teams play bad cricket and teams lose, indeed Australia have lost too,
    even from winning positions as they did at Eden Gardens in 2001 and from strong
    positions like at Adelaide in 2003-04. But with good teams the losses become
    events and that is why Australia
    were such a good cricketing nation. They had good players because they had a
    good system and they played tough. Beneath that excellent winning record lie a
    number of matches that could have gone the other way had it not been for bold,
    decisive cricket.



    And Australia
    never admitted they were down because that would have made the opposition
    strong. They always talked a good game, said the right things and hardly, if
    ever, revealed chinks in the armour. And that is why I am a little baffled at
    some of the recent statements coming out of their camp.



    "There was panic" one of the players said while the now infamous and, for
    many in the opposition all these years, memorable collapse was underway. You
    wondered, and you hardly

    Read More »from Australia were caught in the headlights
  • Proteas Must Look To A New Peak


    While the world has cast its attention towards England and Australia and, inevitably, India, one country has quietly enjoyed a break (one of those things we thought cricket hadn’t heard of!). South Africa have stayed below the radar and that is not surprising because that is the way they tend to do things. Hashim Amla embodies that. Quietly he scores his runs, quietly he creeps up on records and he does it without a fuss.


    South Africa win more matches than most and it is very difficult to go over there and win. But now they must look to a new peak. The next ICC tournament is about ten months away and even though it is only over 2 overs, they must convert what looks like an excellent squad on paper into one that poses with a trophy. And they must ascend to number one in the world in Test cricket. They have the team to do it, certainly as long as Jacques Kallis allows them to play with five bowlers.


    The world, or certainly those that like to see South Africa play well, would like

    Read More »from Proteas Must Look To A New Peak
  • Must stamp out verbal abuse in cricket

    England were deplorable in India and while it had been apparent in England that they would struggle here, the capitulation came as a surprise. I had expected better only because I rate this England side, but to be honest I felt let down by a couple of things.

    One was the disinclination to use their feet and hit the ball in the gaps. While much has been talked about the need to clear the boundaries on the sub-continent, much of it valid, there is also a great need to rotate the strike. England's DNA has always been to sweep and it is a dangerous shot in India if you don’t sweep for length. Their batting coach Graham Gooch and their coach Andy Flower were extraordinary players of the shot but that doesn’t mean everyone can do it as well.

    The other aspect I was disappointed by was the assumption that a verbal confrontation can upset a player. It is one of the more disagreeable aspects of our game, which, at its best, is a contest between bat and ball across different conditions. Teams

    Read More »from Must stamp out verbal abuse in cricket
  • Real Joy in Seeing Lesser-Knowns Shine

    There is a reason I like the Champions League very much and it has very little to do with the IPL (which I am quite happy to say I enjoy) or indeed the fact that it airs on ESPN-Star sports (with whom I have had a very long relationship). I like the Champions League because it gives the simple, hardworking cricketer a platform to showcase himself. Bombarded as we are by international cricket, those that play just below the stars, and are actually pretty good themselves, play in anonymity, before small crowds; they become a statistic in First Class records that only their relatives will see.



    These are people who must make the most of the opportunity they get and so you get to see a fantastic range of emotions. You felt for the Auckland Aces, you rejoiced with Somerset and as always, you get carried away by the energy and joy that Trinidad and Tobago bring to their cricket. There is a charm in seeing them play on the big stage, giving the fancied teams a run for their money,

    Read More »from Real Joy in Seeing Lesser-Knowns Shine
  • Farewell, England and the summer of despair

    With six overs to go in the last game of what will go down as India's summer of despair, Mahendra Singh Dhoni looked around the field for a bowler and threw the ball to Virat Kohli. None of his bowlers had bowled out but his favoured death bowler Munaf Patel - and that is a story in itself - had been carried off the field. There can be no more telling statement on the poverty of Indian bowling.

    At Cardiff, India scored what looked like enough, as they did at Lord's and Southampton, indeed even more so. But in neither case was it enough and another man might have made his frustration apparent. India's best bowler on this tour, Zaheer Khan, lasted a few overs and the next best, Praveen Kumar, wasn't playing. Dhoni might have looked at Ravichandran Ashwin, might have worried about whether the ball was too wet, but that doesn't take away from the fact that there was no one on the park the batsmen would have felt discomfort towards.

    In this form of the game, I don't think India need worry

    Read More »from Farewell, England and the summer of despair
  • Too much cricket risks player burnout

    So MS Dhoni thinks India need a rotation policy for players in the national team. He is right, of course, for either you play less cricket or have more cricketers. It is not that difficult to follow. And since it is unlikely that India will play less cricket - nobody does these days - you need to rest players occasionally to ensure they are fit for the biggest contests.


    But at the heart of a rotation policy lies trust. A player will never agree to be rested if he is insecure; if he worries that his absence would give someone else the opportunity that could ultimately unseat him, he will never take a break. And for that trust to be established, while there must be complete honesty and openness in selection, there must also be a plan for each cricketer.


    The two players who need rest more than anyone else are Dhoni himself and Suresh Raina. At least Dhoni asks for rest, and he knows his place is secure, but Raina is like one of those Energizer bunnies...just going on and on and on.

    Read More »from Too much cricket risks player burnout
  • More time in domestic cricket will benefit young Indians

    Ajinkya Rahane's success so far, and it is important to remember that it has only been two innings as I write this, is an interesting development for both young cricketers and selectors.


    For those who think that getting your front foot out of the way, tonking a few and eyeing an IPL contract is the way ahead, the news is that the longer you bat the better you seem to get. Rahane has an outstanding first class record, has seen success and frustration and has shown the right attitude towards playing cricket. And 17 first class hundreds means he doesn't only know how to bat but also how to get runs. And those are two rather different things! He's shown himself to be quite capable in the T20I and the rained-out ODI against England as well.


    He was India's top performer with the bat according to the Castrol Index in the T20I and contributed with a helpful 40 runs in the one-day match, too. The former was in a losing cause, but the ODI looked promising for India until the weather spoiled

    Read More »from More time in domestic cricket will benefit young Indians
  • World Cup champs in English challenge

    India may have relinquished their world No.1 status in Tests, or maybe just handed over tenancy, but they now have the World Cup-winners tag to carry. There is little doubt that India are better in the shorter form and though some might argue that anything would be better than what they have just seen, there are a couple of issues they need to resolve.


    India have picked nine batsmen and seven bowlers which isn't unusual in itself except that none of the batsmen really bowl and none of the bowlers really bat. There isn't a Sourav Ganguly anymore to bowl seam up, neither is there a Yuvraj Singh to give MS Dhoni seven or eight overs consistently.


    And so, if you choose to play five bowlers, which has never really been the Indian way, somebody has to bat number seven. After the revelation from Amit Mishra at the Oval, maybe he could be that person, though Ravichandran Ashwin probably has greater credentials at this stage.


    It is more likely, though, that India will play seven batsmen

    Read More »from World Cup champs in English challenge
  • The Spin Kings struggle in England

    In the late 70s and 80s batsmen were judged by how good they were against the West Indies. It was as if a formal seal of approval on your ability had been stamped if you got runs against them. Then it was Australia and some batsmen almost tried too hard against the men from Down Under. You could be a very good player, but if you hadn't done very well against those two it tended to come out in most arguments!



    It's been much the same with spinners against India. Sri Lanka and Pakistan have produced wonderful players of spin, too, but India has always been seen as the final frontier in that regard, some even holding it against the great Shane Warne. I remember seeing Muralidaran bowl in the 1994 series and conceding a lot of runs for his wickets. The doosra changed all that and that was the weapon Saqlain Mushtaq had when he took five wickets in each of four Test innings in 1999 against India in Chennai and Delhi.



    So where does that leave Graeme Swann? He's in the midst of one

    Read More »from The Spin Kings struggle in England
  • Inexperienced bowlers must shine for India

    India take one of their most inexperienced bowling attacks into a crucial Test match and yet it is something they cannot afford to think about. Too often, when you miss out on a star, you focus on what you don't have and there will be moments when England's batsmen get set that that thought will return. But it doesn't count for much and India must focus on what they do have.


    For a start, they must hope they have four bowlers at any one point on the ground during the match. It has been a much-ignored fact amidst all the criticism that at almost all times during this series MS Dhoni has been a bowler short. Everytime he has looked for a fresh pair of legs he has found nobody. At Edgbaston India will at least take the field with four bowlers.


    With Zaheer Khan out of the series a lot will depend on the other seamers. RP Singh has been included in the squad, but he hasn't played for India in a good long while. Zaheer, critically, also had experience. With 79 Tests to his name, he equals

    Read More »from Inexperienced bowlers must shine for India


(19 Stories)