• If India are to win more home Test matches - which they must, as they have begun winning overseas - then the team needs to have the right balance according to the prevailing pitch and weather conditions. And, this implies that the team has to do away with the additional specialist batsman, at present a sort of safety clause from possible defeat.

    The replacement has to be a bowling all-rounder or a specialist bowler, pace or spin.

    The thought must have already crossed the minds of the national selectors headed by Dilip Vengsarkar and the captain, Anil Kumble. To see a visiting team like South Africa - whose batsmen are quite unfamiliar against quality spin bowling - hold their own and walk out of the first Test in Chennai with heads held high, and even look to surprise the home outfit in the subsequent two Tests, is not really within the script that has been written. Kumble's problem, as far as one can see, is to bell the cat and that is to tell one of the specialist batsmen that he has

    Read More »from To win, one cannot always play safe
  • My preoccupation with history is at times looked upon as unnecessary and, probably, even a measure of one-upmanship. Not that it has ever concerned me in the least. One of cricket's premier historians, H.S. Altham, did ask, "Can they do without us?" The historian and the statistician are essential in any field of human activity and cricket is privileged that it has always had more than its fair share of such invaluable contributors. Like Altham, let us in the same breath bless the admirable statistician, Bill Frindall.

    In the middle of the first Test between India and South Africa at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, the record-breaking opening duo of South African skipper Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie might be interested in seeing a slice of history which concerns it. It is always possible that these players might or might not come back to Chennai, so there can be nothing better than getting things over and done with. Even a photograph or two might help, though is little evidence these

    Read More »from Chennai history must not escape SA openers
  • In describing new wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose's maiden Test century the former England captain and columnist Mike Atherton made the interesting point of how short batsmen have been world beaters.

    Of the 10 highest Test run makers, as many as five are below 5'9 while Allan Border at 5' 9 is a borderline case, perhaps belonging to the short class among batsmen.

    The four comparatively taller men among those with the highest Test aggregate are Steve Waugh (4), Rahul Dravid (6), Jacques Kallis (8) and Graham Gooch (9).

    The gigantic figure of Inzamam-ul-Haq comes up at 11 and the barrel-chested Viv Richards is 12th on the all time list.

    It is fascinating that the world's finest Test batsman ever was Sir Donald Bradman who at 5'7 would have been as welcome in a club of jockeys. Even shorter than the Don are Sachin Tendulkar at 5'5 and Sunil Gavaskar at 5' 4 while Brian Lara would tip the gymnasium height scale at a modest 5'7.

    While history records that some of the finest batsmen have been short

    Read More »from Short men stand tall at the crease

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