Who is killing Test cricket? T20 or the curators

With the rise of IPL and T20 cricket in general a lot of voices have showed concern that Test cricket might die out because the entertainment of T20 simply cannot be replicated by Test cricket. Some people are taking the middle path that Test cricket, ODIs and T20 all have their place. A lot of people watching cricket are younger people and hence they choose T20 over Test cricket.

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Is T20 really hurting Test Cricket?

Some might argue T20 cricket is making Test matches look boring and might even finish of the game. But I do not think Test cricket is losing it’s charm in India because of T20. I think it is because of the pitches Test matches are being played on.

Over the last 2 years India hosted 13 Test matches. 7 were drawn, 5 won by India and 1 lost. This includes 4 test series out of which India has won two and tied one. The 4th series is still continuing against Sri Lanka and guess what the first match is was drawn.

Now compare Test matches being played in Australia in the last two years. There were 9 Test matches held, 5 won by Australia while they lost 3. One match ended in a draw.

The stark comparison is there for everyone to see. When you play on sporting pitches of Australia there is a result 8 out of 9 times, where as in India there is a result 6 out of 13 times. Take for instance the Test match that just got over against Sri Lanka. 1598 runs were scored and only 21 wickets fell over 5 days. The worlds highest wicket-taker was bowling on a fifth day pitch leave alone taking wickets, he could hardly even trouble the batsmen. T20 is not the villain here, the pitch curator is the villain for making such feather beds.

Importance of Test Cricket

If you kill Test Cricket, you kill cricket. This will happen because the art of bowling is really polished and unrestricted only in Test matches. If a bowler picked up 2 wickets in 4 overs for 40 runs in a Test match, the bowler has bowled well. The scenario in T20 becomes different as 40 runs are too many. The focus is on runs rather than wickets for a bowler.

Test cricket is pure cricket. The batsman have to score runs, the bowlers have to take wickets. The simplicity of this concept brings about the skills in a cricketer out in its purest form. What do you think? Let me know with your comments.

Tendulkar the Great

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When Tendulkar walked out to bat in a Test match for the first time, Rajiv Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister, the Berlin wall stood and USSR still existed. The internet was nascent, mobiles phones were hardly used in US and never used in India. Most of us reading this article were probably less than 10 years old. The world has changed dramatically but Tendulkar remains the best in the world.

Tendulkar completed 20 years of international cricket on 15th November 2009. Out of the 21 men who played in his first test match he played in, all of them have retired over 5 years ago.

His technique, determination, brilliance, ability and talent all have been hailed over the years by everyone who has attempted to write about cricket. I do not want to write about it, it would be mere repeating of words. But hats off to a man who plays 20 years at the highest standard and has only let his bat do the talking.

I do not wonder at the ability to play for 20 years or the talent which scores the highest number of runs in Tests and ODIs. I wonder what goes on behind that cranium of Tendulkar. Does he feel the pressure at all? Does he feel tired of expectations and the criticisms? Does he think like we mortals do?

I reckon he is the perfect example of a person who feels comfortable with his own ability, does his best and puts on a invisible coat of something which makes him immune from all the pressure of expectations around him.

With a total of 12,773 runs in Test cricket and 17,178 runs in ODIs, Sachin Tendulkar has nothing to prove. He is already a legend and will remain so until Cricket is played. But he continues to play, as if he is not aware of his own achievements.

Some people have criticized Tendulkar at various times. Often the grouse being he doesn’t win India matches. Often people forget that Tendulkar has won India many matches but being a team sport he cannot win all matches. To all the critics of the great man and fans alike, I would like to remind that Tendulkar will someday retire and there will be a day when you wont ever get to see Tendulkar take his stance playing for India on live television or at your local city stadium. So sit back and enjoy the last few years of this great man’s career and appreciate anything that he has to offer because players like him don’t come along everyday and we are lucky to be around in the Tendulkar Era.

The African Boy in England

KP_crictalksWhen Pieterson made his debut in Test cricket he played against South-Africa in South-Africa. Only a few years before that trip Pieterson was South-African boy trying to make it into the local first divisions teams as an off-spinner.

In South-Africa the crowds jeered him and even called him a traitor but the debutant before the game told the media that crowd heckling him would only want him to do better.

The 5-Match ODI series started and Kevin Pieterson scored a 108 of 96 balls in the second game which was a tie. The third game he scored 75 runs and the in the fourth game he set a England record for fastest hundred with 69 ball century. The crowds had not let up until then, even booing or turning their backs on Pieterson whenever he acknowledged the crowds for his centuries.

In the final game at England was 32/3 when Pieterson walked to the crease and started to play his usually aggressive style of cricket and ended up scoring 116 runs. The series had ended with Pieterson  scoring 454 runs in five innings. The crowd from being downright hostile had become respectful and gave him a standing ovation at his final game of the series.

Pieterson is surely amongst the most exciting batsmen in the world. His 4647 Runs at an Average of 49.96 in Test cricket is surely testimony to his ability to be the best. His switch hits are still one amongst the most exciting yet risky shots invented this decade.

But the man has a heart of a lion, and most Indian fans won’t forget the how when England who were mulling not returning to India after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. Pieterson was the man who had lead the team back to India and kept the cricket tour alive.

India win Compaq Cup Tri-series.

compaq_cupThe Compaq Cup must have really given India a nice look into what they should and should not do when they are in South-Africa. With Gambhir injured on the eve of the Tournament Dinesh Karthik opened the innings for India along with Sachin Tendulkar for the first two games.

Rahul Dravid making his way back into the ODI side was also a important development and his solidity at the top must have made the selectors smile. He was not fluent but in South Africa where India take part in the Champions Trophy  which is going to be held on the fast and bouncy tracks of South Africa, Rahul Dravid’s solidity is a much needed asset.

The bowlers in the series came short except in the first match againt New Zealand where they bundled out the Kiwis for a mere 159. They came short allowing Sri Lanka a score of over 300 in the second game.

The final was again set up by India with a score of 319 led by Sachin Tendular scoring a imaginative 138. The game was set by a fifty by Yuvraj Singh and the bowlers even though found it hard to restrict the Sri Lankan batsmen managed to take regular wickets to allow India to win the final and the Compaq cup.

The workout must be nice and it has been a while since India had won a tri-series tournament. This must have helped the Indian team rest better until 22nd October when the Champions Trophy starts in South-Africa.

Image: tv.burrp.com

Gilchrist the Rocket-Man

AdamGilchrist1When you are coming up with a list of the best batsmen to play the game since 2000, there is hardly a way you can miss Adam Gilchrist.

If cricket was a battle field then Gilchirist was Australia’s tank brigade. He would cut through the enemy ranks fast and furiously, deflating them from the word go. If Adam Gilchrist arrived to the party be it a Test match or a ODI Australia would win easily and handsomely.

Still remember his fantastic hundred in the 2007 Worldcup finals. Sri-Lanka was looking for a repeat of their 1996 Final win against Australia and Australia were on a roll looking to win their 3rd World Cup in a row. Gilchrist has scored almost nothing right through the tournament. His place in the team was even being questioned. On the day of the final out walked Gilchrist like a street-fighter and scored A 149 runs of 104 balls. He hit a 13 boudaries and 8 sixes.

Gilchrist scored 5570 runs at an avg of 47.60 which is higher than most other accomplished test batsman. Often missed is the fact that he was a world class wicket keeper and took 379 catches 37 stumpings in Test cricket. If I had to come up with the perfect description of Adam Gilchrist it surely would be Rocket-man. He rocketed Australia to victory everytime he batted.

Another Brick in ‘the Wall’

rahul-dravid_cricnews.inRahul Dravid has not been called the Wall for nothing. Considered to have near perfect technique he broke into the Test arena scoring 95 and 84 in his first two games against England. He scored them solidly while Ganguly reaped the accolades for his style and class in the same series.

Rahul Dravid took his own time to score his first century. It was in his 12th Test match at Johanesburg. India was touring South Africa and had been completely outplayed on the fast and bouncy tracks of South Africa. Rahul Dravid was showing India how to bat against a battery of pace bowlers South Africa had unleashed against India. His 148 was epic and after than someone in South Africa gave him the nickname ‘The Wall’.

The nickname stuck and Dravid lived up to the nickname with a characteristic style scoring 10823 runs at an unbelievable average of 52.32. He has scored 26 centuries the most by an Indian if you omit Tendulkar.

In 2005 Dravid took over as India’s captain and often his success has been overlooked because of the 2007 World Cup debacle. He did not resign but went to England. Captained India to a series victory in England after 20 odd years and then on his returned he resigned from his captaincy.

Rahul Dravid still plays and has a year if not two left in him. It looks like he will still stand tall amongst other with his characteristic style. In the scenery that is Cricket, Rahul Dravid will stand tall and proud like a mountain often taken for granted but impossible to miss.

A Prince called Ganguly

9-1-2009 1-56-28 PMHe started his career way back in 1992 in Australia. It was a complete disaster and he went back into the oblivion of domestic Indian cricket. Then in 1996 when Vinod Kambli was dropped for a series in England and the selectors replaced one mercurial lefthander with another from Bengal was taken.

Considered to have weak footwork, not much of a power game and a questionable attitude Saurav Ganguly entered the Test arena with a lot of detractors and a lot of questions. He answered them all with a century on debut and then another in his second Test match. Over the years he rose to become one of the most stylish left-handers in Test cricket and the most profilic run getter in ODIs after Sachin Tendulkar.

After the match-fixing scandal hit world cricket Saurav Ganguly was made captain of the India team. In this role he came into his own. At times brash, agressive and sometimes almost as if he did not care he led a team where young players were brought in and the team was being rebuilt. He led from the front and often rubbed the opposition the wrong way.

One of the most famous encounters Ganguly had was when he made Steve Waugh wait at the centre of the pitch before the toss. This angered Waugh who was on a winning streak that stretched for 16 Tests and one more win would give Australia a series win in India which was dubbed the ‘final frontier’ by Waugh. The constantly unapologetic Ganguly fought back the Australian strategy of ‘seldging’ with an Indian brand of ‘sledging’. Ganguly did not personally have a great series as a batsman but as Captain he was the only second Captain in history to win a test match even after being told to follow-on. India won the series 2-1 and Ganguly won the respect of his opponents as a tough competitor.

Ganguly lead the team and is the most sucessful captain for India in the number of Test wins. Bouncers troubled his doubtful technique but he hung in with simple guts and got glory. The iconic image of him taking of his shirt and waving it aloft from the dressing room at Lord’s when India won the Natwest Series still brings a smile to any cricket enthusiast. He ended his career amassing 7212 runs at an Avg of  42.17 with 16 centuries in test matches and 11363 runs at an Avg of 41.02 with 22 centuries. The records are impressive but more than his records no one forget his style and class because of which he was aptly nicknamed as “God of the Off-Side” by his team mate Rahul Dravid.

Link: cricinfo