Historical T20 XI

Last few months, since the preparation to World T20 cup began with India’s T20 series down under. We have had too much of T20 cricket to be able to actually digest and when you can’t digest properly, you either shit or vomit, me I hope do a little better in the following lines… This underlying is the result of me having too much of T20. A list of players, who played before T20 age but could have been more than a handful in the shortest version. We can only think, fantasise and romanticise but watching this team play a T20 would have been a mouth-watering, eye blinding sight.

I restricted the list taking the God standard, only the people who started and mostly (finished) their careers before Sachin were considered for the compilation.

  1. DG Bradman – He would score daddy hundreds, he would score them at as fast a clip to with the usual shots and he would score them in every innings. The fact that Kohli’s IPL run could be as close as anything we could have seen to the Don, makes you wish. If Only we could have seen his scores in IPL!
  2. Barry Richards – It’s almost impossible to find a cricket ‘What if’ XI with his name not being in a serious contention, all that for a Total of 508 Test runs could seem weird and unfair on some accounts but then Barry was magic cricketified. He once played an entire innings off the outside edge of the bat just for the fun of it. 9 centuries before lunch on day 1 do no harm to his T20 credentials.
  3. IVA Richards – The Universe Boss might be left scurrying if the real swag ever came into play in the T20 cricket. The original blaster could make the huge Australian grounds look like Chinnaswamy with his power hitting if he would have ever come to it. He bullied, brutalised, lorded and owned the bowlers all around the globe. The fact that his record of fastest century in Test Cricket stood the test until Jayasuriya bettered it in ODIs make him the most demanded player for T20s
  4. Graeme Pollock – Judging by the Bradman Gold Standard, he is statistically the Silver of World Cricket, an average of 60.97 puts him next only to the Don in Test Cricket. His batting seems to be an amazing perfection of batting style of the two modern left handed boundary hitters, Yuvraj’s timing and Warner’s power and placement and yet more than the sum of both.
  5. Garry Sobers – Bradman might be the best batsmen ever and forever, but a bigger cricketer is yet to set foot on cricket grounds across the globe than Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers. He held the record for highest individual innings for 40 years, most career runs for almost 10 years at an average higher than anyone who has scored in excess of 7500 a full 400bps higher than the God, he bowled left arm medium pace, left arm orthodox, left arm chinaman and was the 6th highest wicket taker when he retired. Variety is perhaps the biggest call in T20 cricket and this guy defined variety.
  6. Ian Botham – He was the ultimate prototype for a T20 bowler. Play hard, Party hard, he would have been the ultimate mercenary T20 player plying his trade in different parts of the world. Bowling fast and hitting far without any concern for reputation or situation, he would turn a test match by virtue of his batting or bowling alone, taking a T20 by the cuff of its throat would have been child’s play for Botham.
  7. Imran Khan -Batting average of 40, Bowling average of 19 in the later parts of his career. His reverse swing would have been the biggest asset in the slam bang fest. With Imran Khan also comes the charismatic, Inspring, Uniting leader that any team of such amazingly talented individuals would need.
  8. Alan Knott –  By almost all records, Alan Knott is considered arguably the best wicketkeeper in International Cricket.  5 Test centuries and 30 Half centuries don’t do much harm to the batting reputation of a keeper who played in the 60s n 70s. Best wicketkeeper might be an arguable opinion but best Wicketkeeper-batsmen before the date of 5 November 1999 might not be as easy to find.
  9. Erapalli Prasanna – The off spinner and leg spinner is the one thing you’d desire when you have such talent pool. The very few times when spin had such major an influence before the arrival of flummoxing the batsmen with spin and drift as in T20 was when the Indian Quartet brought teams down with the help of Sunil Gavaskar to take the shine off. Prasanna as the Off Spinner is as canny as any representative you’ll get from the group.
  10. Sydney Barnes – He was fast, he was nasty, he didn’t like giving runs, he liked collecting scalps in heaps. Sydney Barnes was a leg cutter more than a spinner, making cricinfo term him as medium pace. He could be better understood as a mix of Warne and Kumble with the pace of Shahid Afridi. His fast pace might make him an easier target in some views. But you didn’t target Barnes, he devoured you!
  11. Malcolm Marshall   – A fast bowler who can snare wickets at the top with his mean fast bowling is as much an asset for you in T20s as it is desired in Test Match Cricket. Malcolm Marshall is perhaps the best of the WI fast bowling battery. He possessed a mean bouncer which could shock people not attempting to hoick every delivery out of the ground. In T20 cricket, he would have felled many a batsmen trying to smash him out of the ground.
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The Fiery Rebel

Virat-Kohli_2 

Indian story in most fields is of a rebel coming over, changing the ways for the masses and bringing about some changes, good or bad. From Buddha to Gandhi, Pataudi to Ganguly and Dhoni the leadership has mostly succeeded only when the things are done out of ordinary, shouldered by someone extra ordinarily determined and different. Talking about cricket, I was obviously not born to be able to comment much on Pataudi.

Ganguly was the first time Indian cricket got an arrogant, in-your-face “Prince” to give back to the cricketing world what was recieved, mostly along with interest. Indian cricketers, just like the Indians were supposed to be spiritual, calm and composed, and sure we did have many such legends over the years. But the first major international success was achieved under a Haryanavi, while a phase of global respect came only under a person ready to antagonise anyone to serve his purpose.. So Not Indian, so many noses quivered and too many questions were raised over Ganguly, he just haughtily shooed them away. Until ofcourse age caught up.

Dhoni was the other rebel, coming from a small town, a wicketkeeper who was the example of crude and power… Sooo Not Indian, where went the wrists and blades and glances, the powers of Indian batsmen, we all sighed. And yet did he come and conquer all, the Captain Cool with his calmness won over most of the critics and earned grudging respect from the critics who still couldn’t accept him. Until, of course, time caught up.

Cometh Kohli then, DTC (Delhi ka Typical Chutiya) sala, bursting into 5 min abusathon at the flutter of a bird or the flying of a fly. The violent, the aggressive, the wild. The one we all dont want to be in our lives, the one about whom our parents have warned us all our lives. The one who was supposed to fail sooner or later due to his anger and violence.

I never really liked Ganguly much since the beginning, he was a puny batsmen compared to the other legends. Dhoni and his batting or his keeping I never liked. Kohli, the brash DTC , I never liked his attitude. Another reason for disliking Kohli was the fact that my then girlfriend had a crush on him when he was rising. 😛

None of the three I liked much in the beginning. Yet, two of them have proved me all wrong, writing their names in the pantheons of Indian cricket legends. Proved me all wrong and earned the grudging respect. Kohli as a batsmen has done all he couldve done to prove me wrong. As a captain, I can only hope to again shower grudging respect on another player who wants to do things his own way and yet succeed belying all and sundry.

His captaincy at Bangalore has never inspired much hope but we all know IPL is his undoing and its the national cap which brings out the best in the fiery lad.. I still don’t appreciate such a player but in the end, what we want is runs and wins from him.
Here is wishing the New Crown Holder a glorious reign.

Music & Cricket : The Deadly Combo

The Gods

If in Cricket there is only one God among many highly ranked mortals, then even in music, there has only been one band which could lay claim to the status of being Greater than Jesus. You already know the 2 people I am talking about, Sachin Tendulkar and The Beatles. The similarities dont only end here, lonetivity of their art is another common factor joining them. If Sachin is being nominated for the Cricketer of the Year in his 22nd year of playing, then a look at the playing stats of last.fm would give an idea as to the Numero Uno status of Beatles almost 50 years since their beginning.
If Sachin’s word was considered as final in the Sydneygate, then there’s an incident related by Pattie Boyd, about a party hosted by Rolling Stones which she and George Harrison were attending and (as expected) there were drugs going on, but it was only after the two left the party that the Police raided the venue, signifying the respect even the police had for the “Tops of the Pop”

The Trouble Children

The man who flaunted his bare chest in the Lords pavillion, who got under the nose of even the hard headed Australians, who was the first Indian to have the eye for eye attitude for anything thrown at him, the guy who is perhaps the most hated and loved one in recent indian cricket history could find no other comparison in music world other than The Rolling Stones. You wouldnt be hard pressed to find occasions when Saurav  Ganguly crossed the line, similarly instances abound when The Stones were presented before the court for their unruly behaviour.

The Ones who Changed it all

Kumble came with his flipper and the bounce and pace, weapons unknown for a leg spinner and flummoxed batsmen all around, forming the holy trinity of  bowling with Murali & Shane Warne. While Dylan came along with his baritone voice, the acoustic guitar, the harmonica and became the spokesman of people in the most eventful decade of the century again forming the Holy Trinity of Classic Rock with Beatles & The Stones. Both of them lacked the usual talents required in their field of choice(Spin/turn for Kumble, Good voice & music for Dylan) yet no one can deny the fact that Kumble is the man who won India most no of test matches and at times can only be considered second to just Sachin in stature while most of the music magazines put Dylan at the second pedestal just after the Beatles.

The Closest to Gods

Led Zeppelin are at times called the Beatles of 70s, their effect on the music scene of 70s and thereafter if not greater than Beatles, is almost as good as them, while the only regret The Wall would ever have is, had Sachin not been his contemporary, he might have a shot at being considered the best India ever produced.

The Special Ones

While Clapton was the one who defeated Harrison in a guitar duel, Very Very Special Laxman is the only batsman of the current generation whose batting can at times overshadow Sachin’s when it comes to the sheer beauty with hardly any people ever coming close to the celebrated duo. While Layla will forever be remembered as the only song to chart in 3 different decades and as perhaps the best example of romantic ballad in Rock History. The epic 281 in Kolkata will forever be remembered in annals of Indian Cricket as perhaps the best Innings ever played by an Indian. The beauty with which a ball way outside outside off is flicked through midwicket can only be matched by the enthralling solos which Clapton has managed to produce over time.


Honourable Mention:
The Golden Oldies

While Elvis’s shot to fame was the fact that he was a white man producing the kind of music only associated with blacks (Blues were the preferred genre of white musicians back then), Kapil Dev was the one who brought fast bowling into India a land known primarily for its stylist batsmen and menacing spinners. If Kapil Dev had both the boxes ticked in form of Batting and Bowling, then The King of Rock & Roll, was almost as famous for his movies as for his music. If the King, with Hips that swivelled from Africa to America made performing sexy, then the Haryana Hurricane with his power hitting was the one who brought excitement into a country filled with technically sound yet somewhat dull batsmen(read Gavaskar and likes).


Parting Shot
Geniuses on fire

You never knew what Hendrix would do with a guitar in his hand, and the same goes for Sehwag with a bat in his hands. They just blow everything away in a storm of their show

We are the champions

We have generally been a nation of mediocres with no special achievements to show for on an international arena. We might have given the world its 0 and the Kama Sutra  but that was in a time so prehistoric, that I dont even know what and who they were. Talking of recent achievements except a few Nobels by NRIs and a very rare Nobel once in ages could be the only thing we could talk of! In sports, too, nothing to boast of except may be the hockey prowess of people who arent even alive.

So now when the Indian team has become the No. 1 test playing team in the world. I guess its high time all of us take a pause and raise a toast to these bunch of individuals, who although may not be the best in the world, not even the best India has produced. They have gone and done what has never been done in around 80 years of Indian Cricket. For the first time, India is at the top somewhere (not even in things like Population, COrruption and Pollution are we No.1! how disheartening).

Most of the people around me have been brought up in the disappointing decades of 90s when overseas tours were synonymous with white washes. So coming to the naughties, its always been a great pleasure to get up at some odd hour, checking the score of a match being played in Australia or WI and to your surprise finding a score favourably loaded in India’s favour, which ofcourse over the time became more of a habit than a rare surprise as the later years of the decade started rolling over, and the ending of the decade being capped with gaining the Numero Uno status.

Indian team might not be the undisputed champion, they are not heads and shoulders above the opponents as WI or Aus used to be, but they have definitely been consistent and provided results and just for that, lets stop brooding over, if this team really deserves to be No. 1 or how long will we remain atop.

Instead let us all remember all those moments passed by, teary and jubilant, dominating and defiant,of Glory and of Disappointment which all brought us here, and raise a toast to the great Game of Cricket and the Team of ’09 which finally did it! Because thats what they deserve 🙂

Presribed Readings for the cricket fans:
Steps to the summit
It’s been a long Road

A long time ago

Yet Not in a Galaxy Far Far Away

The world didn’t know much about a boy named Sachin Tendulkar. He hadnt assaulted a million bowlers, even his test debut was one and half years ahead, even Ranji Trophy wasnt graced by his presence yet.

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The Little Master

And that’s when our favorite Commentator Harsha Bhogle wrote this piece about the young boy

Season 1987-88 was a purple patch that never ended. Playing in the Vijay Merchant tournament he scored 130 and 107 and then at the Inter-Zonal stage he made 117 against the champions, East Zone. Then in the Vijay Hazare tournament (for Under-17s) he scored 175 for West Zone against champions East Zone.

Then came the avalanche. A 178* in the Giles Shield and a sequence in the Harris Shield of 21*, 125, 207*, 329* and 346*! A small matter of 1028 runs in five innings! And in the course of that innings of 329* he set the much talked-about record of 664 for the third wicket with Vinod Kambli, who, it is not always realised, scored 348*. Perhaps the most fascinating of them all was the innings of 346*. Coming immediately, as it did, in the shadow of the world record, a lot of people were curious to see him bat. Sachin ended the first day on 122, batted through the second to finish with 286, and when the innings closed around lunch on the third day, he was 346*. And then came back to bowl the first ball. In April’s Bombay summer.

Can  read more of the article here

Another interesting piece about the famous Sachin-Kambli partnership is here.

And the day…

…shall always be remembered with happiness, sadness, ecstasy, disapointment. Every person in India was glued to the tv screen or cricinfo if the Tv wasn’t available. It was a day when all the cricketing noobs around the world got a taste of Godness of a particular person, besides getting to know the fundes of Powerplay, free hit amongst others. It was a day when a mere mortal took it upon himself to perform a deed which even the Gods couldn’t think of. This was the day when this particular person transcended the boundaries which the Gods have defined for humans, a performance which would be marked as scintillating even by those who observe us from skies above. Had such a feat been accomplished in Mahabharata or Ramayana, the associated imagery by the authors would have been of Gods coming down to Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Hyderabad and garlanding the master or showering him with flowers from the skies above.

20 years have passed, many moments, many memories have passed, there are matches which almost every fan has by heart. It all started with Karachi in 1989, when the world saw the youngster for the first time, there was that mastery in Old Trafford in 1990, Sydney 1992 (arguably his best innings), Hero Cup 1993 where he showed the first signs of his magical side, 1996 WC where he started to take serious strides towards becoming the best in business (which btw was the time I started watching cricket), 1998 Sharjah aka the time when we knew that we werent witnessing some ordinary mortal, instead it was the God of cricket who was charming us, Chennai ’99, the epitome of disappointment, 2003 WC, where he again stamped his authority on the spot of the Best, that 186 against the Kiwis in Hyd. Almost any other player would be content to have one such match associated with him like the 281 by Laxman or the Adelaide test which belonged to Dravid and yet this man has been doing it for the  past 20 years. He set a benchmark in 1998 and now 11 years later, he comes up with something which could be termed as spectacular if not better than that one.

Everybody knows that there have been 2 Sachins who have played international cricket, one who was a youngster back in 90s whose name was synonymous with terror for bowlers, Shane Warne, arguably the best spinner to have graced the game would definitely agree with that. His innings used to be flashy, commanding,  flamboyant, he was jumping out of crease, he was slapping the bowlers for sixes, the pulls that he played were audacious, the last thing on mind when playing a drive was whether its in air or not…

And then came the Tendulkar of 2000s, a guy who in his late 20s was supposedly the senior most member in the side, a guy who was held responsible for every defeat although similarly cheered for every victory. A guy who didn’t have the cushion of someone like Azhar who was his senior to fall back upon. One who had to effective instead of attractive, his injuries also playing a role in this transformation. The whole of India was flummoxed at this transformation, where was that cherubic boy we loved and adored, instead he was replaced by some sincere statesman of the game. We slowly got used to this new avatar. After all we Indians are used to listening stories of 9 avatars of Lord Vishnu, this God had took just a single new form. Slowly we begin to love him, because although the stepping out to spinners wouldn’t be there, but the gorgeous cover drives were still there with cheeky shots behind the wicket replacing those straight sixes and he was Great as ever and more effective than earlier, when there was always a risk factor associated with his innings. We started thinking its ok, we don’t miss the previous avatar that much now.

BUT, deep within our hearts there is always a collective desire to see him back in 90s mould. We always loved sights of him traumatizing the bowlers, him stepping out of the crease to play that shot straight over the bowler’s head or that pull which would deposit the ball on the roof of the stadium. Although admitting something like this would be a sin, but deep within our hearts and minds, the greed is still there, the lust factor always prevails, each time he comes to bat… there is a secret desire… a wish in our minds and a prayer on our lips that we will get to see the first avatar of the God today and not the latest one.

5th Novemeber 2009 was one such night, you could sense that something speical was in store when he threw the ball on ground in disgust after the last ball of Australia’s innings, after all how many of us have seen him displaying his emotions. I have never seen such a mad rush of people on twitter, FB, Gtalk Statuses. I was always of the view that  I must be a bit different to be such a big fan of this person but last night was the night when he dispelled all those notions, guys n girls (yeah girls), cricket fans as well as amateurs, all of them were reciting just one name and there was only one number which people were concerned about i.e 200!

I have always wondered what it must be to be The Beatles but I guess this guy’s life must be more extraordinary than those of those 4 individuals combined. In my living memory, i havnt seen a real life scene as dramatic, awe-inspiring as this one. This is one of the nights I will always remember for the rest of my life , and even though all of India can still feel the pain of last night, but such is the quality of the man, that some years later, this match wouldn’t be remembered as a failure of India, instead it would be seen as the triumph of a man over all things earthly. When Sachin plays in the manner he did last night, the results are mostly inconsequential ( although they definitely count).

Its just a sense of respect for the man which lingers in your mind, a sense of previlige on having witnessed something as Godly as this from a man, who walks the earth and devours the grains just like we do. Frankly speaking I consider myself ill-equipped to be the narrator of events such as this..

Would just end the story here with a line by Rohit(a college batchmate FYI) which describes almost everything which happened last night.

I think God doesnt want Sachin to be God, so he keeps doing such things to him

Is this Indian Cricket?

I seriously refuse to accept the current Indian cricket team as one from our own country, in any sense of word, they can never be termed as Indians. We, the Indians have always been brilliant and yet unprofessional, thats why you see the Indian intellect going to US univs and doing wonders there while not doing even an iota of work here. We are just not supposed to be professionals or the champs in any field specially when it comes to the collective effort.

Indian teams of past always had brilliant and talented individuals who could blow anybody away anyday but the teams always followed a set pattern. They will charm, enthral you for some time, they will beat the strongest team at times but more than often there would be a memorable  performance to show for such a victory! Specially when it came to big victories, it was almost always the result of some utter brilliance, a long innings of special value or a bowling spell which could dazzle you.

I dont rmr the last time I saw an Indian team lose from a winning position and more often than not situation has been the reverse, many times I close the tab in which cricinfo is open after a disappointing phase of the match only to realise that there are exited voices coming from the TV room indicating that something good is happening. Even Ganguly’s team, which can be said to be the harbinger of the (supposedly) golden era of Indian cricket was just a beginner in this field, sure they finished some good matches and won some almost lost matches but even that team was only “Indian” after all and had its share of failures under pressure. 

lack of Killer Instinct“, a phrase which has been the nemesis of every Indian cricket fan for the last few years, you could oft hear the phrase being used after almost evey match that the team lost, you always heard the commentators cribbing about the lack of, killer instinct and the tendency to attck, required while fielding and we all got accustomed to it. It was just a part and parcel of life.

BUT this team seems to be quite unconcerned with a thing such as pressure, the expressions of team always remain whether they are chasing 15 in 3 overs or it be 50 in 7 overs and defending 50 runs in 10 overs is done with same composure as the task of denying the other team victory when the ask is 10 RPO. They just dont seem to cringe. A term which I like very much while describing the recent performances of India is “Clinical“, the other team alwayss finds India atleast a bit better than them! Whatever they might do, its just not enough. The team knows how and when to raise the bar of performance. The best part is, very rarely does it happen that a particular person outshines rest of the team, even if there are scintillating  like the ones by Yuvraj and Sehwag, you can almost always name a few others in the same match like the ones by Yusuf Pathan and Ojha in this match.Or whether it be the win against English chasing 387, if it was Sehwag who gave a blitzkrieg of a start then we had Sachin composing one of his better centuries and guiding India home while being ably supported by Yuraj.Its generally quite difficult to chose the MOM these days, its always a team effort.

I am sure things wont remain as rosy as this and there will be hardships and failures ahead and that time, I might be the one criticising the team for being slack or lousy losers but lemme congratulate the team for tasks well done while they are being done.

And all this has been achieved just because of the change in the mind set of the team, I wont for any moment consider the current crop more talented than the Dravids, Gangulys or the Laxmans who are not playing now but it is in the minds of these men. They know how the things need to be done.I consider this as an overhaul of the system which was Indian cricket AND this very fact gives me hope that someday, we will also see an overhaul in the political system of India, all we can do is just wait for the day when we have politicians who have KILLER INSTINCT and who know how to win (and not only the votes and money but also respect and hearts!)

Till then wait is the name of the game

Song of the Day:- Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

PS1:- 3 movies in the last 3 days, a sort of record for me!! 🙂
PS2:- Of the 3 movies I saw, Just Luvvvvd Gandhi, Dil Kabaddi was okayish, a time pass flick and Luck by Chance was intolerable!! 😦
PS3:- Hoping to start swimming from tomorrow
PS4:- Gotta wake up in 3 hours for that, dumbass of a guy wont register in the eve. 😦
PS5:- Listened to Beatles, Janis Joplin and John Denver after long!! 🙂