Charu Sharma’s Firing: Accountability in Cricket?

Royal ChallengersThe firing of Charu Sharma the CEO of Royal Challengers is probably the first and quickest instance of action being taken against cricketing management. There is no question that thus far the Bangalore Royal Challengers have been a dismal flop on the field. None of the young local players have fired. Jacques Kallis who has been persisted with throughout seems completely unfit for T20. Dravid himself is struggling to find his feet in this form of the game. Sunil Joshi who has a history of being a good all rounder is way too over the hill. His sluggishness on the field makes him completely unfit for T20. Misbah, Cameroon White, and Boucher the leading T20 players among the lot haven’t been utilized to the best. In short, the Royal Challengers have been in complete disarray.

Based on the performance so far, it appears as though the basic theory that experienced players can adapt to T20 was flawed. Rahul Dravid and Martin Crowe are the proponents of this theory and ideally one of them should have been taken to task. Charu Sharma on the other hand was just a visible celebrity face to lead the management. Charu Sharma was fired perhaps to send a warning to the rest of the team that poor performance could have serious repercussions (or he might have been the easiest to get rid off given the nature of the contracts). Unfortunately, the Royal Challengers losing streak continues and appears unlikely to turn around despite coach Venkatesh Prasad’s claim that Bangalore should be among the top teams!

The best news about this recent move by Vijay Mallya to fire Charu Sharma is that Corporate India might be bringing in much needed accountability to the world of Indian cricket. Hopefully, some of it will rub off on the BCCI which is badly in need of some professional management.

Karts-N-Golf in Fremont

The Karts N Golf at the border of Fremont and Ardenwood is a nice place. If you are looking to host a birthday party for kids this place is worth considering. There is miniature golf, video games and the car rides. It does tend to get a little windy sometimes. The place is well-hidden unfortunately (just off of Ardenwood Blvd.,) so most people are not aware of its existence!

They also have have baseball batting cages. You can rent helmets and bats.

34805 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont, CA 94555

A Sad Day for Bay Area Cricket

Around 4.45 pm on Saturday 4/19/2008 Syed Faqeer Ali died while playing cricket in Fremont. He was representing a local team in the Northern California Cricket Association (NCCA) league. He is survived by his wife and 3-year old son.

I have never met or seen Faaqer but have had the privilege of interacting with his Dad, Abid Ali a former Indian Test cricket player. I have very fond memories having played in the same cricket league in the past and naturally I was deeply disturbed to hear this news. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

NCCA is raising funds for Syed’s family. See news report in the Mercury News.

Techie Takes Plunge Into Politics

Ravi Krishna Reddy, formerly bay area based techie has returned to India to take the plunge into politics in India. He is contesting from Jayanagar in Bangalore as an independent candidate. Considering the sorry state of Karnataka politics the entry of some fresh blood can’t do any harm. He has managed to garner some decent press and raise some money, most of it over the internet to support his campaign. As per his bio, he was the former President (2005) of the Kannada Koota of Northern California. If you wish to contribute to his run for office, go here. You can check out some youtube videos of his in Kannada.

IPL: Trends in T20

tactics and strategy

T20 is clearly a new format and the strategies and theories that apply to other forms of the game don’t really belong here. In other words, there are no experts. With the IPL well underway the initial set of matches has shown a number of trends. The jury is still out on whether these trends signify long term patterns, but here are a few observations on what seems to work/not work in this new form of cricket.

Prolonged Stay At The Wicket Without A Healthy Run-rate Doesn’t Help

In 50 over ODIs, staying at the wicket almost always helps because acceleration at the end is possible for several reasons – the field team tires out, the batsmen are well set and seeing the ball well, the mindset is to contain runs rather than to take wickets etc. In T20 on the other hand, staying at the wicket in the hope that a burst at the end would be possible almost never works. This is especially true when batting second. Staying at the crease builds the pressure until sooner or later the batsmen launches one into orbit only to be caught on the boundary. Rahul Dravid’s innings against Delhi and Saurav Ganguly’s innings against Punjab, both being perfect examples of this failed strategy. Sustained consistent scoring is the order of the hour for T20. From the batting teams perspective any thing less than 7 runs in any over at any stage is bad.

Big Hitters Are Key

This might seem obvious. But the true impact of big hitting in T20 hadn’t been fully recognized until the IPL got underway. Matthew Hayden, MS Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Andrew Symonds, Mark Boucher, Adam Gilchrist, Virender Sehwag are examples of explosive hitters who had impressive success. Clearly, T20 is the format most suited to big hitters. A quick 20 runs in a handful of deliveries can make all the difference. A big-hitter is a better bet than a stylish technically sound batsmen, all else being equal. Bangalore is struggling because it has no big hitters (barring Taylor and Boucher). Besides, abandoning ones natural style and adjusting to T20 is next to impossible .

Its Best to Lead With Your Best Strikers

The initial 10 overs (when the field restrictions are in place in the first 6) is the best time to launch the best stroke players. No team has batted at a slow run-rate in the first 10 overs and made a big score by making up for it in the second half. Based on the ODI legacy several teams have opened with Dravid, Jaffer, Ganguly, VVS and others and have met with little success. On the other hand Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, McCullum have at least one explosive match winning innings each all of which started right at top of the innings. In T20 there is no such thing as “later”. Its all about how much one can score now. Saving your best strikers for the end is unlikely to help. Even if they succeed it could end up as too little too late. Abhishek Nayar batting so low in the order might be one reason the Mumbai team has been struggling so badly. Likewise, Bangalore has three huge overheads upfront in the batting order in Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer and Jacque Kallis while Mark Boucher comes in often too late.

Spinners Can More Than Survive

Shane Warne’s has shown that a clever spinner can be a force in T20. Anil Kumble too did the same in his only outing. Muralitharan has put up a decent show as well. Piyush Chawla has shown shades of brilliance too. The more junior spinners have had limited success.

Without a doubt, experience counts when it comes to bowling in T20. The best bowling performances have come from the likes of McGrath, Warne, Murali Karthik and Jayasuriya. In a batsmen dominated game, bowlers can count, provided they have the experience to bowl with guile and control.

Experience and Traditional Good Batting Technique Doesn’t Really Help

Classical test players like Rahul Dravid, Jacque Kallis and Wasim Jaffer have no role in this form of the game. Likewise, Saurav Ganguly and VVS also fall into this category (not to mention their lack of agility as fielders). The short duration of these matches means that batsmen have to strike the ball from the get-go. There is no room to settle down. Observe how Matthew Hayden handled Pollock while Rahul Dravid almost gave him two maidens in a row. The ability to strike the ball fearlessly in the most unconventional ways and run hurriedly between wickets counts far more than traditional technique. In fact, traditional good technique almost always comes in the way of innovative stroke play. Not playing Misbah (who is known for his fighting spirit and creative stroke play) in the Bangalore team is a terrible mistake.

Cheer-leaders Just Don’t Fit In

Scantily clad women dancing to local filmy numbers simply doesn’t fit in to the T20. In fact, it makes a further mockery of an already highly packaged event. Delhi has already dumped this needless distraction. It won’t be in the least bit surprising of the other teams followed suit before the IPL winds to an end. I am surprised that women’s groups in India haven’t protested as yet.