Technology will never be perfect

UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) was introduced by ICC in 2009 as a measure to improve the umpiring decisions at the international level. There has been call for the use of technology for ages in cricket and the ICC haven’t done anything for ages since “Third Umpire” came in to play for run outs and stumping’s. That was way back in early 90’s. The ICC has been always reluctant to introduce new technology for the most part of last 2 decades.

The UDRS primarily consists of 3 major technologies combined into one, the Hot Spot, the Snickometer and the Hawk-eye. Of all the three technologies Hawk-eye is the most debated and the most controversial one. There are various theories on the same and obviously like all technologies Hawk-eye isn’t perfect. The ICC needs to make sure that there is research constantly going on and they don’t get fixated on these three technologies for ever. Things need to evolve and improve and I hope that is taken into account as well.

But I am not going to talk about that at the moment. The BCCI has constantly opposed the use to UDRS since its inception but the problem is that the rest of the cricketing world has no problems with it. The fact is that no technology is going to be perfect and if we are looking for 100% stable technology we may never have one. The Hawk-eye isn’t a perfect technology and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The bottom line is that it will for sure bring down certain howlers in cricket at the moment. The Hawk-eye should at least be used to check if the ball pitched within the stumps or if the impact was outside off-stump for LBW decisions.

The Snickometer and hotspot aren’t that controversial but the recent test between SA and Pakistan has raised a few questions about Hot Spot too. The other concern for the BCCI has been the cost involved in implementing UDRS. The ICC doesn’t take care of the same which is the reason for the technology not being made mandatory. The ICC obviously needs to step in and possibly cover a part of the cost. This is probably a valid concern from the BCCI.

Even though there are some valid concerns over the technology, the use of it should be made mandatory. The ICC needs to step in to achieve the same even if it means that they cover part of the cost. No technology has ever been perfect and it will be very hard to implement one which will please everyone. The BCCI should bite the bullet and try the technology out for a while before opposing it completely.

Can Umesh and Aaron break the trend?

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will have their tasks cut off when the grueling Indian season begins in a month’s time

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were like a breath of fresh air when they took the new ball against the touring West Indies side at home. Both bowled with extreme pace troubling the West Indies batters on pretty flat wickets in India. Both bowlers capable of bowling in the excess of 150 will now have to concentrate on cementing their place in the Indian squad. The Indian fast bowling cupboard has not been fuller than the last decade or so. We had fast bowlers appearing left right and center only to disappear after a year.

We have had bowlers with enormous talent making their debuts, only to lose their way within a year. The reason to the same has never been analyzed. Talented bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and RP Singh etc… All had a great beginning to their career only to lose their way and finally disappear from the radar. When Umesh Yadav came on to the scene, I was little skeptic. India plays a lot of cricket throughout the year including the IPL and champions League. For a bowler to remain fit through this grueling schedule requires meticulous planning from the team management as well the bowler himself. It is not an easy task.

But after almost a year, Umesh has done quite well to withstand the pressure and has still maintained his speed. This shows that the boy has great work ethic and tremendous fitness. Aaron though wasn’t that lucky, he missed the Australia tour due to injury but made a good comeback bowling at 150 k’s even after his return in the IPL. These two have for sure have for now broken the trend of Indian bowlers losing their pace.

The next hurdle to cross will be to pass the grade from promising to good. This will be something which will separate them from the rest of the pack. Umesh Yadav had a great start to his test career and was very impressive in Australia. Aaron too had a decent debut test against the West Indies. Fast bowlers need to be looked after. There are only a hand full currently in international cricket who can bowl 90+ mph consistently. The Indian think tank needs to understand that. Aaron and Umesh are the future of Indian bowling and I hope the rigorous schedule of the Indian team does not consume them too.

It will be interesting to see how these to shape up in the coming year or two. It will be interesting to see if the Indian think tank has the courage to play both these players together in the test team. India has finally found genuine pace bowlers and my hope is that we don’t lose them to mismanagement and greed once again.

Where are the Bowlers

It is funny how time remains static in Indian cricket. This was my post in 2009 and still remains relevant. I know that Ravi Ashwin, Pujara, Tyagi Chawla have been tried since I wrote this article but still we are in the hunt for good bowlers. The emergence of Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav has for sure spiced up the attack, but will they sustain? We need to wait and see.

My Thoughts

India is almost out of the champions Trophy and barring a miracle, they will pack their bags and head home tomorrow. As I wrote earlier India’s bowling problem hurt their chances in the Champions Trophy. The Indian bowlers were pathetic against Pakistan in their first game allowed them to escape from a precarious 65/3 to 302 which in the end proved too much for the depleted Indian batting lineup. This has been the problem with the Indian team for the past 1 year or so.

The batting strength was able to shield this weakness but with the absence of couple of key players it was exposed even further against the Pakistanis in the Champions Trophy. So the perennial question is where are the bowlers? So much of domestic cricket being played, so much of talent but why do we keep hearing the same names again and again? Are the selectors…

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Ridiculous scheduling by BCCI

The Indian team has had non-stop cricket since the World Cup 2011. If IPL after 7 days of World Cup was ridiculous the 1 off T20 in South Africa beats that hands down. South Africa themselves are coming back after playing New Zealand and they have to get ready to play a one-off game against the Indians. I agree that both teams have rested some of their key players but this is an absolute overkill.

I would have understood if India is travelling to SA for a decent length tour probably for few T20 games, followed by an ODI series or something but just for one game defies logic. This seems like a shameless money making venture by both the boards. Not only do these players have to travel for this ridiculous 1 off game but they have to get ready to begin the 5th season of IPL within few days of returning back. The India team have been playing non-stop cricket since the IPL 2011 (Tour to WI, England tour, Home series against England, Home series against WI, Australian tour, Asia Cup) and they could have very well used these few days as a break.

The BCCI should be more concerned about player fitness and regarding their availability for important games. The one-off T20 does not make any sense to anyone except for the two boards involved. The grueling IPL is about to begin next month and I sincerely hope that we don’t see any injuries ahead of the ICC World T20 later this year. The ICC needs for sure step in here and stop these mindless and meaningless games. They can play as many T20’s as they want when the teams are on a full tour. This particular game does not serve any purpose and cannot be good for either team. The ICC has been always quiet about scheduling issues and I hope that at some point they will stop these stupid money generating games which does not solve any purpose.

Is it lack of fitness, attitude or Lack of hard work?

Recently while lecturing at the cricket club of India, India’s legendary fast bowler Kapil Dev said that Indian fast bowlers lack the attitude and fitness. It’s an age old debate which has been going on forever and in spite of having a steady supply of bowlers in the recent years we haven’t found a single decent partner for Zaheer in the test team. There have been various debates and discussions over this matter in the past and none of them have conclusively come up with any plausible explanation for this scenario.

Whenever a bowler makes his debut for India, it seems like he comes with an expiration date. He bowls fast and is fit for a year and then his speed drops and his accuracy deserts him and finally loses his spot in the team. What causes this decline? Is it fitness and attitude, like Kapil said in his lecture or is it general unwillingness to do hard work. I feel that it’s the combination of all three. There has been a cry over too much cricket all the time but even then we see cricketers hardly missing the Champions League and IPL unless they are unfit to play.

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Eden’s loss is Bangalore’s gain but what about the fans?

Historic Eden Garderns will not host an Indian game this world cup

Another major event in India and we have yet another controversy. This time it is the cricket world cup. ICC recently conducted their review of the stadiums hosting world cup games and found that Eden Gardens, Kolkata was not up to the mark. They snatched the India-England game which was scheduled to take place there on the 27th of this month and are contemplating taking away the other games too. This is really a shame on the part of both the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) and BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India).

All the stadiums had ample time to prepare for the world cup. It’s not as if the venues were decided at the last minute. The tier 1 test grounds in India hardly get international games, so there is no reason for them to fall behind the schedule. Apart from the IPL, the only International game I can think of last year was the test match between India and South Africa in Feb 2010. Surely money cannot be the issue either considering the wealth the BCCI has at their disposal. So what can be the reason for this debacle? It’s for sure the mismanagement of the Indian administrators. I am not sure when the administrators will realize that such mismanagement affects the pride of the country overall.

When ICC (International Cricket Council) said that Eden was not up to scratch, BCCI was immediate in washing their hands of the matter. The BCCI said that they should not be blamed for this scenario. It’s very strange that the cricket board of a country in which a mega event is about to take place make such a statement. But BCCI for sure had the guts to ask ICC to provide an extension, why would they do so? The World Cup was about to begin in 2 weeks and if the stadium wasn’t ready, it deserved to be pulled out.

Bangalore was finally announced as the venue for the India-England game and the decision is still pending on the rest of the games. I just feel sad for the cricket fans of Bengal as they would be really disappointed to miss out on a high profile clash. The cricket fans of Bengal are one of the most passionate followers of the game. Eden Gardens might not be the best stadium in India but is a very historic and high profile venue and it is a shame that they would not be hosting the games if the ICC decides to pull out the rest of the games too. The CAB and the BCCI are to be blamed collectively for this oversight. Even though the games will go on and the ICC or the BCCI would not lose their sleep over the change of venue, the only loss will be of the fans. I don’t think the BCCI or the CAB cares about them anyways.

It’s great for Bangalore though as they have gotten another big game in their kitty but again, the only people to suffer as always are the fans.

Cricket World Cup and Formula 1 – Big year for Sports in India

Team Force India will be in the focus when the first F1 Grand Prix kicks on in India later this year

If 2010 was big for India, 2011 will be even bigger. The 2010 had India host the Commonwealth Games and in spite of being in the news for all the wrong reasons the games was a success. The games were also made memorable by India’s second place finish on the medals tally just behind Australia. Now in 2011 we have the Cricket world cup followed by India’s first Formula 1 race later this year. For a cricket fan it can’t get bigger than a cricket world cup.The kind of euphoria cricket generates in India cannot be matched by any other sporting event.

This will be the third time India will be hosting the world cup and it is a great honor for the country as well as the people to stage the event. India have had pretty good success rate with the world cups hosted in the subcontinent as they made the semis on all the three occasions. They will be hoping that they do better than that this time. As with CWG 2010, the cricket world cup preparation has also started on a wrong note when Eden Gardens was deemed unfit to host the India-England game by the ICC review committee. This has raised questions over the ability of CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) to get the stadium ready soon enough to at least host the rest of the games. The fans for sure will be disappointed with this effort by the administrators involved as losing a high profile game will be a big loss to them. The game was finally moved to Bangalore, so everything is fine now with the schedule. The ICC though will take a call as to whether Eden is ready enough to host the rest of the games in the coming days.

The other major sporting event in India is the Formula 1. India for the first time this year will host their first Formula 1 race in Noida, Delhi. This has been in the pipeline for a long time now but has finally become a reality. The preparations are at full swing and this will give an opportunity for Delhi to repair their image after the controversies over the CWG2010 arrangements. If reports are to be believed, the Delhi track is well ahead of schedule and will be ready before the D-day. The race is scheduled to take place on the 30th of October, so the administrators have ample time to get the track ready.

The F1 race is also made special by having our own F1 team Force India on the grid and also having Narain Karthikeyan racing for HRT this year. It will be fantastic if Force India can get a podium finish in their debut race in India. So 2011 will be great year for Indian sports, with India being the hosts for two major sporting events. The Formula 1 enthusiasts in the country will be really excited with the prospect of having the first F1 race in India. I hope that the organizers of this event leave no stone unturned and make sure that the track is up and running well before the deadline. It will be great if at least the F1 preparations stay away from any major controversies.

The cricket world cup is just couple of weeks away and with India touted as one of the favorites to claim the title; it will be really interesting to see how they respond. In spite of the slight blip with the Eden Gardens, I hope that BCCI pull this off with flying colours.