• Life After 400

    In KR Guruprasad’s delightful book Going Places which profiles India's small-towners turned-superstars, Harbhajan Singh's mentor Devender Arora describes a memorable incident from an Under-16 match — one, which would underline Harbhajan's bowling prowess.

    Arora coached the Jalandhar side in an inter-district match in Patiala. Arora noticed something on the good length outside off-stump. It was an ant mound. The ball would misbehave upon landing on this soft, sandy patch.

    Arora called Harbhajan and asked him if he could see this spot from the bowling end. Harbhajan could. Arora told him to land the ball on the spot. He could.

    The 13-year-old spinner took 15 wickets in that match just by landing the ball on that spot.

    "Even at that age," said Arora, "Harbhajan was so accurate that he could land the ball wherever he wanted to. It was a God’s gift. I was very sure from there on that he would be a great bowler."

    It's been 18 years since the incident. Harbhajan is 31. He sits on a pretty

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  • Things Cricket Commentators Say [And What They Mean]

    'He’s no mug with the bat.'

    Venkatpathy Raju: No mug with the bat, not. Venkatpathy Raju: No mug with the bat, not.

    Venkatpathy Raju: Definitely a mug with the bat.

    Used for: Just about every No. 8 batsman in history.

    What it means: I’m just being polite. He has little chance of scoring runs today.

    'He's a gritty customer'

    Used for: Sanjay Bangar.

    What it means: He's going to annoy the bowlers all afternoon and score 12 runs.

    'He mixes it up nicely'

    Used for: Venkatesh Prasad, whose angry comeback ball after getting hit for a six was — you guessed right — a loopy leg-cutter.

    What it means: He can't bowl a fast ball even if his life depended on it.

    '… in fact …'

    Used for: Covering up an on-air gaffe. Example: "That's gone for a six! In fact... he's bowled!"

    What it means: God, how could I be so blind? Let me just correct myself with a clever turn of phrase and pretend nobody noticed.

    'He has huge powers of concentration'

    Used for: A batsman who has batted an unusually long period of time.

    What it means: He's going to block bowlers all day without hitting a four.

    'He's

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  • Darren Sammy: Wearing boots too big for him?Darren Sammy: Wearing boots too big for him?

    Darren Sammy: Wearing boots too big for him?

    First, their ego problems kept the in-form Chris Gayle out of the team. Then, they tried to beat the No. 1 Test team with three-and-a-half bowler — the half being captain Darren Sammy himself. Had situations in Caribbean cricket not been so contrived, Sammy would struggle to break into the team, forget leading it. Having to keep out express pacer Kemar Roach for his captain will haunt coach Ottis Gibson till he finds the cure to quieten the frustrated voices of Caribbean fans.

    "Our history has been built on fast bowling but we do not have the kind of fast bowlers that we had in the past. Therefore we have to find the right combination," Gibson clarified when asked if the West Indies skipper deserved a place in the team. It's unfair on Sammy. He wants to win. But he doesn't know how to. He's earnest, gives it his all, and takes questions about his inadequacies head-on. "My family sends up prayers and the blessings come down," he says. "The

    Read More »from How To Lose A Test Match, West Indies Style

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