• MS Dhoni's candid confession that the Indian team was still looking for an all-rounder to fill in the No 7 slot has not come a moment too soon. As the ODI team prepares for the World Cup in real earnest it is imperative that the crucial slot is filled. The value of an all-rounder as different from a utility or bits and pieces cricketer cannot be overemphasized.

     

    In four successive campaigns from 1979 to 1992 the team had no worries, thanks to the presence of the peerless Kapil Dev. For good measure in a couple of those campaigns he had Ravi Shastri and Manoj Prabhakar for company.

     

    In 1996, Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja were assigned the double duties while three years later Ajit Agarkar and Robin Singh were picked for the dual roles. None of the four really did a commendable job with the result that in 2003, with no ubiquitous player around, the team generally took the field with seven batsmen and four bowlers with a couple of batsmen sharing the ten overs. It worked like a dream. 

     

    Read More »from The value of an all-rounder
  • It was somewhere around December 2008 that there was a gradual realization within sections of the Australian media that their national Test side was on the wane, that an empire had crumbled - an empire that in its heyday rewrote the rules by which Test cricket was, and still is, played; an empire whose core values of aggression and intimidation as the template for Test success have been adopted by most Test-playing nations today.

     

    India's part in the story of that decline is well known and extensively documented. And then there was Graeme Smith and his men, who outthought and outperformed their traditional nemesis and exposed Australia's post-2006 transition plans as a pipe dream, and thus helped push Australian cricket into an acute identity crisis, which was exacerbated by Andrew Strauss and his England side which regained the Ashes in the most convincing fashion later in 2009.

     

    Add to this the more recent whitewash of Ricky Ponting and his men at India's hands in a truncated Test

    Read More »from The end of an era, the start of another
  • Oh, for a Roger Binny or a Madan Lal. Or an Anil Kumble. Without someone emulating their feats next February and March, Indian dreams of World Cup glory are likely to get a cold-water reality check long before the final on April 2. If history has taught us anything, it's that the team with the best bowlers wins the competition. It may have evolved from a two-week sprint in 1975 to a six-week marathon these days, but the formula for success has changed little. Teams that bowl the opposition out win trophies. Those that bowl waist-high full tosses and concede 84 runs in the final five overs, as India did during the victory in Vishakapatnam, usually end up watching the final stages on television.

     

    Back in '75, not one West Indian batsman made more than 200 runs. But with Bernard Julien and Keith Boyce taking 10 wickets and Andy Roberts eight, the men from the Caribbean weren't handicapped by the inconsistency of the batsmen. It was a slightly different story four years later, with Gordon

    Read More »from Not a fine balance

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