Sledging is the practice in cricket of insulting opponents to break their concentration and cause them to make mistakes. Sledging is effective because the batsman stands within hearing range of the bowler and certain fielders. The aim is to intimidate or distract the batsman into making a fatal mistake and being dismissed. Sledging thus tries to “break the flow” of the batsman’s game. There is debate in the cricketing world over whether this is poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter.
I call this ‘Verbal Abuse’.
This is an art which the Australians are well-versed with. No sooner did they land in India for the Future Cup in 2007 than Ricky Ponting & Co. started lashing their tongues at us. The first one came from the captain himself when he said that the feat of winning the Twenty20 world cup a few weeks back was actually a history. Then during the ODIs Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Micheal Clarke went a little ahead by pointing their bats at the Indian bowlers.
I’m very much proud of the present generation of Indian cricketers namely, Bhajji, Sree and Robin. They subdued the kangaroos by matching them at sledging skills. Hats off to Sreesanth who showed the Australians their true class. If they want to play cricket like this then we know how to answer fire with fire.
Even before the start of Indo-Oz series 2007, Down Under, the former Australian coach, John Buchhanan, started verbal abuse by targeting Sachin Tendulkar. From the Indian camp Harbhajan retorted by saying that Brad Hogg is not good enough a spinner and stands nowhere in the likes of Warne and MacGill.
The generation of Indian cricketers has changed and along with answering the remarks thrown at them by the opponents with bat and ball, they return the same with verbal abuse as bonus.
Cricket Australia has come up with an idea to add more faces to the cricket consumer base. CA wants to play day-night test matches and believes that more people can enjoy the match after office. This will also enhance cricket’s profile among the working class, CA reckons. But I think this whole idea will only deteriorate the art of cricket. Here is how.
Cricket does not only put physical fitness to test but mental agility, as well. The fielding test captain has to be on his toes throughout the day and has to rotate his bowlers deftly and set the field according to the bowler’s speciality. One cue for the test captain to rotate bowlers is by judging the condition of the pitch and that of the ball. The older the ball, the more helpful it is for spinners and medium pace ballers, preferably those who can dexterously produce swing; and the newer the ball, the more useful it is for fast ballers who can extract bounce from the pitch combined with stinging pace.
The trend of hiring a foreign coach is quite prevalent in the sub-continent. The cricket boards of these nations do not show any interest in the cricketing greats from their respective countries. These foreign coaches are not able to gel well with the players because of cultural and traditional differences. What they bring along with them to the dressing room is nothing but confusion!
Moreover, the foreign coaches give more emphasis to workouts at the gymnasium. Weight training is OK to get in shape but not sufficient to achieve the fitness of batting for eight continuous hours. Weights swell the muscles and cramps accrue due to weight training and hence the injuries. The best way to achieve match fitness is to spend six hours in the nets everyday, instead of gym. Batting requires a different fitness level which can be achieved by batting, batting and only batting. Jogging and stretching exercises are much more useful for batsmen and bowlers alike, because these are natural forms of exercise and don’t exert the body too much.
The ‘Dada’ or ‘Big Brother’ of Indian cricket, Sourav Ganguly, has proved it once again that he still has enough fuel to be the best batsman in the world. His masterly knock of 239 and 91 in the third test at Bangalore has made him the only batsman after Jaques Kallis(1,125) to have scored more than 1,000 runs in a calendar year, i.e. 2007. He still has two more innings to go this season.
Had he completed his century in this test he would have become the seventh batsman in the world to have scored a double century in the first and a century in the second innings of the same test match.
I wish him all the very best for the tour Down Under. May he carry the same good form there, as well.
In the picture above, Mayor of Kolkata Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya presents a bouquet to Sourav Ganguly as State Industry Minister Nirupom Sen looks on during a programme to felicitate him for his stellar performance in the recently concluded India-Pakistan test series. (Photo courtesy: HT)
BCCI pulled another surprise when Viru Sehwag was included in the final 16 to tour Australia this December. Mind you, he was not in the 24 probables’ list. This is indeed a good decision as Viru is the master of backfoot and quite a genius at playing cuts. He has displayed equal finesse in playing on the bouncy pitches of Australia. This could also be a moral booster for Parthiv Patel and Aakash Chopra, who were not selected despite their terrific form in domestic cricket, that if they perform they may be back in the team.
A blunder has been committed by dropping Murali Karthik, though. India need specialist spinners on the pitches of Adelaide and Sydney. Kumble and Harbhajan are good but the captain can’t replace the ace left leggy with a part time bowler.
Dinesh Karthik has been lucky to have retained his place despite a below par series with Pakistan. His place was threatened by Parthiv Patel, who is an equally competent wicket-keeper and opener batsman. Had Viru been dropped, Aakash Chopra would have definitely donned the Test cap. Better luck next time Aakash and Parthiv.
Indian pace attack has regained it’s fitness. Zaheer Khan will lead the pack. RP Singh has passed the fitness test, as well. Ishant Sharma and VRV Singh will retain their spot. Another surprise entry in the test squad against Australia has been Pankaj Singh of Rajasthan. The 22 years old, 6’5″ pacer is well suited for Australian conditions. Because of his height and bowling action he can deduce extra pace and bounce from the wickets, Down Under.
The final 16 member squad for the Australian tour which starts in Perth from December 24, 2007 is as follows:
- Anil Kumble (C)
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni (VC)
- Rahul Dravid
- Sachin Tendulkar
- Sourav Ganguly
- VVS Laxman
- Yuvraj Singh
- Virendra Sehwag
- Dinesh Karthik
- Zaheer Khan
- RP Singh
- Ishant Sharma
- Pankaj Singh
- Irfan Pathan
- Harbhajan Singh
- VRV Singh
The final test between India and Pakistan at Bangalore witnessed a display of immense talent and sportsmanship. These guys turned the shape of the match. Man of the Day for:
Day 1: Yuvraj Singh made a sizzling statement with the bat which drew comparisons to West Indies batting genius Brian Lara.
Day 2: Sourav Ganguly broke a few barriers, some physical and some mental while carving a fluent knock that ranked high in tenacity.
Day 3: Younis Khan once again put his hands up when the chips were down. He loves a fight with India as his 1321 runs in 9 Tests suggests.
Day 4: Misbah-ul-Haq continued to be India’s nemesis as Kumble & Co found it impossible to dismiss him. As his wont, he batted with panache.
Day 5: He might have delayed the declaration, but Anil Kumble took it upon himself to unsettle the rivals for his fifth five-wicket(5/60) haul against Pakistan.
The efforts of Yasir Arafat and Ishant Sharma were also commendable. The former had a five wicket haul on debut and also played some courageous shots in the second innings. Ishant bowled brilliant line and length on the fourth day and bagged five wickets in only his second test. The comeback man Irfan Pathan also added 102 runs to the team’s total and this was his maiden test century.