Partab Ramchand

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Blog Posts by Partab Ramchand

  • Indian cricket faces a new reality

    I have been a professional cricket journalist for 40 years taking pride in writing about and analyzing various aspects of the favourite game in the country by far. Suddenly, writing on cricket has faded into triviality. In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attack a cricket-crazy nation has been numbed into silence.

     

    Hopefully, cricket will now not be regarded as a war or a disease or an addictive but just a game. Hopefully, the cricket mad followers while continuing to display enthusiasm will from now on be more controlled in their behaviour. For a start slogans like 'Cricket is religion, Sachin is God' can be dispensed with.

     

    Indeed, suddenly it seems impertinent to think of cricket, or any sport at all. Life, brutal, bloodstained, uncertain life, the very lottery of everyday life often shows up sport for what it really is: a trivial pursuit of hardly any consequence in the larger scheme of things. And should the England players choose not to return to fulfil the two Test

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  • Zaheer is at the peak of his powers

    If there is one Indian cricketer who today symbolizes what determination, dedication and aggressiveness can achieve it is Zaheer Khan. The manner in which he is bowling these days marks him out as the finest left-arm fast bowler in the country's cricketing history.

     

    The variety he brings into his bowling, the pace and the hostility and the right dose of competitiveness have all combined to make him India's spearhead in the face of stiff competition from a number of younger bowlers. If his bowling in the recent Test series against Australia and the on going limited overs contest against England is any indication, he is at the peak of his powers.    

     

    Zaheer has had his share of ups and downs. At the dawn of the new millennium he was the new pin-up boy of Indian cricket. Broad shouldered, compactly built and good looking, he played his cricket with a lot of 'josh.' He burst upon the scene during the ICC Champions Trophy tournament in Nairobi in 2000 and was quickly hailed as the

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  • Kirsten’s approach has yielded dividends

    Anyone would have been an improvement over the megalomaniacal Greg Chappell, but in Gary Kirsten the Indians have unearthed a major bonus. Deliberately low key, but quietly efficient, the Indian coach has rightly received his share of plaudits as the team under him continues its winning ways. 

     

    From the time he took over about a year ago, the 41-year-old former South African opening batsman has made the right moves. Ironically, his first assignment was to see that the Indians got the better of a South African squad led by Graeme Smith. That did not bother the imperturbable Kirsten. "I want the Indian team to put in a convincing performance against the South Africans," he said in all earnestness making it clear that his heart was now with India.

     

    Whenever a new person takes over at the helm in any field the mood is generally one of guarded optimism, that results will hopefully be better under his tenure. This is exactly the feeling as Kirsten took over. He was under no illusion

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  • An all-rounder is the answer to Indian cricket’s dilemma

    For sometime now, the Indian team in the absence of an all-rounder has adopted either of the two options open to them in ODIs – seven batsmen and four bowlers or six batsmen and five bowlers. More often than not they have played to their main strength – batting – by adopting the former policy and letting players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly to share the fifth bowler's quota of ten overs.

     

    Both theories have their loopholes. A bowler short has frequently meant the side conceding too many runs while a batsman short has also led to the side being dismissed cheaply. An all-rounder is the answer to Indian cricket's dilemma for then the combination becomes six plus one plus four and this could well be the winning equation.

     

    The value of an all-rounder cannot be overemphasized. Kapil Dev's dynamic qualities were one reason why India had such a splendid record in one day cricket during his heyday in the 80s, including two major triumphs – the

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  • Indian cricket has deep wells of strength

    The transition process has commenced in real earnest. First Anil Kumble and then Sourav Ganguly left the international stage that they had adorned for so many years. Going by recent events it should be Rahul Dravid's turn next. And then, perhaps, it will be some more time before Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman ride off into the sunset. 

     

    How does one replace such giants who have been pillars of strength to Indian cricket and played an integral role in shaping arguably the greatest phase in the game's history in this country? One notable victory followed another, the Indians acquired the happy habit of winning abroad on a regular basis and the team has risen to joint No 2 in the Test rankings. Will the departure of these all time greats lead to a slump in the cricketing fortunes?

     

    One remembers Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh all calling it a day after the Sydney Test against Pakistan in January 1984. How Australia struggled for years following this triple blow! They

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  • Ishant is a stayer and not a sprinter

    Over the years I have seen innumerable young cricketers hailed as messiahs only for them to falter early in their careers and fall by the wayside after being unable to handle the pressures of high expectations. Under the circumstances I am always wary of handing out plaudits aplenty to an up and coming cricketer. I am no cynic but prefer to wait and watch before passing judgment.

     

    These days it appears that former cricketers, his contemporaries and the media are all going gaga over Ishant Sharma. Is he worth all the attention, the heady praise and the lofty adjectives that have been used to describe the young man and his bowling skills? You bet he is. He can safely be recommended as a long term prospect.

     

    In fact, former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming has already spoken of Ishant in the same breath as Glenn McGrath and is of the view that he could end up with 500 wickets like the great Aussie paceman.

     

    In racing parlance, Ishant is a stayer and not a sprinter. It is not

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  • MS Dhoni – man with the Midas touch

    The result of the India – Australia series only served to confirm what has been known for many years now – that at home India are almost impossible to beat. Since the South Africans in February – March 2000 became the first team to win a Test series here since Pakistan in 1987, the Indians have lost one contest – against the Australians four years ago.

     

    However, spotted their record may be away from home the Indians in their own backyard are a formidable outfit and for any team coming here to win a Test series the campaign can straightaway be termed as Mission Impossible. Simply put if the world's top ranking team loses a four-match series 2-0 then does any other team stand a chance? It is another matter that Ricky Ponting's Aussie squad is one in decline following the retirements of many greats. Still, if they did not have the bowling they had the batting line-up required to combat the Indians.

     

    From their viewpoint, it must be galling to be bowled out twice in the series. Then

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  • Tendulkar set to break another barrier

    What's the average lifespan of an international cricketer? Well, it really varies due to various factors. How good you are, how consistent your performances are, how fit you are and in Indian cricket how you are able to withstand the merciless pressures of high expectations.

     

    The longest lifespan of an international cricketer is – would you believe it – 30 years and 315 days. That was the legendary Wilfred Rhodes who played his first Test in 1899 and his last in 1930. At the age of 52 years and 165 days, he remains the world's oldest Test cricketer. It may be hard to come to terms with certain facts but there are cricketers who have lasted more than a quarter of a century on the international stage. And in case readers think that all these would probably be in the early years of the 20th century like Rhodes it is not necessarily true.

     

    A cricketer of what can be loosely called the modern era had a 27-year gap between his first Test and his last and I am referring to former England

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  • Tendulkar is still ambitious

    Every time Sachin Tendulkar is among the runs or gets a hundred my mind always goes back to the headline in a leading national daily in January 2006 and I allow myself a wry smile. It seemed unbelievable but no one could doubt that it was very much there in black and white and in almost blasphemously large type on the front page.

     

    ENDULKAR? screamed the headline just because the great man had failed in three successive innings in the Tests in Pakistan. The now infamous headline can now be brushed aside as sensationalism or a vulgarly irresponsible job by a deskman who tried to be too clever but was made to eat humble and distasteful pie.

     

    At the time, Tendulkar had scored a little over 10,000 runs with 35 hundreds at an average of just over 56. Now, almost three years later, the little big man is still very much around having scored about 2000 runs more, having hit five more centuries and the average is just over 55. Moreover, after breaking one barrier – 12,000 runs - he has

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  • Kumble – a spinner with a fast bowler’s attitude

    Indian cricket has thrown up the most fascinating variety of spin bowlers the world has known but even in a line-up of illustrious tweakers Anil Kumble can more than hold his own. It is not just his tally of 619 Test wickets the third highest in cricketing history or his perfect ten at the Kotla or his standing as the match winner supreme.

     

    The enduring image of Kumble will I suspect be that of the great trier, a cricketer who never gave up however insurmountable the odds, however flat the pitch and however formidable the opposition, one who took adverse conditions and situations in his stride. He was almost obstinate in his never-say-die attitude. Throw him a challenge and he rose to the occasion gloriously.

     

    Kumble was always known as the spinner with a fast bowler's attitude. Probably, this came about because he started his career as a medium pacer in schools cricket. Being tall and energetic he did a passable job but when he was 15 his elder brother Dinesh persuaded him to

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