Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: Test cricket

The Long Game

Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

— Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart

Shut up, William Wallace. You never played a Test series. You, Mr. Wallace, are playing Twenty20. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is playing a Test series. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is playing the long game. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Case For and Against the Abandoned Test

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, accused of the first-degree murder of Test Cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, accused of the first-degree murder of Test Cricket

India took a draw in the third test against West Indies, with less than a run a ball required and seven wickets in hand with 15 overs remaining. All hell broke lose.

For the defense: Kartikeya Date:

The World’s Number 1 Cricket fan did the math.

A 50 over old wicket V A 315 over old wicket,
A heavy outfield V The usual lightning quick ODI outfields,
The lack of any powerplays V The lack of a thirty yard circle,
Very strict interpretation of the wide V A standard Test match interpretation
Free hits for front foot no-balls V No Free hits for front foot no-balls

For the prosecution: Alternative Cricket:

It was cowardly from Dhoni, and showed that his tactical awareness still leaves a lot to be desired. As an aside, it is hard to reconcile this ‘First, Do Not Lose’ attitude from Dhoni with his perceived aura of ‘fearlessness’.

Defense: Subash Jayaraman:

I am not insinuating that the fans shouldn’t question the tactics of their teams but to fundamentally doubt the players’ characters that have brought us wins, trophies and covered us in vicarious glory, is a little extreme.

Prosecution: Samir Chopra:

To be a true champion it is not enough that one sit on top of a numerical ladder of rankings and points; it is necessary the putative champion show the desire and the ability to respond to challenges, to find a way to transcend limitations and rise to the top of the game. [..] As for Test cricket, in such dire times, you need better guardians.

Voice of reason, Homer:

What does dominance achieve anyways? Bragging rights for a few years, an inflated sense of worth, followed by years of scorn and talk of comeuppance. On the other hand, longevity creates a system of sustained excellence. Coupled with the knowledge that the team is fallible, it keeps the team honest. It also allows for constant regeneration – the ambition being simple – win more than you lose.

India’s aim has to be for creating a dynasty, not dominance.

Prosecution: Zaltzmann:

At a time when the five-day format is widely acknowledged to be fighting for its future under sustained assault from various angles, Test cricket has punched itself in the face. Again.

Kartikeya Date, on the attack:

An impulse to make character judgments on the spur of the moment says nothing about any passionate interest in cricket or even in a particular cricket team. It has nothing to do with being a fan. It is simply a lazy, mediocre unwillingness to be a sporting observer. And it will happen again, the next time India suffer a batting collapse or fail to win. We’ll continue to hear the same nonsense about “mindsets” and “attitude” and “courage” (or preening tails that are not between legs!) and “tenacity” and “respect for the fans”. We’ll continue to have armchair coaches and armchair psychotherapists and armchair motivational speakers who will repeatedly turn cricket into some silly testosterone fueled race. Committed peddlers of grievance are a contagious tribe. They peddle only because they care so much. Social networking has merely turbo charged all the concern.

And the last word goes to Jarrod Kimber:

As the Woody Allen of sports [cricket] is far too introspective, manic and more likely to sleep with an adopted daughter than most sports.

Most sports are less likely to declare a major format of theirs dead on a daily basis.

That’s part of cricket’s charm, the worrying mumbling sport in the corner of the room whilst the other sport try and pick up.

It’s not smooth or charming, it’s kind of accidentally vulgar and offensive, but in an intellectual way.

Cricket’s always been like this, the problem is everyone looking back looking for the golden era.

Kimber wins.

In Which We Visualize the Awesomeness of Dravid (and Tendulkar) in a Single Chart

Dravid played a Dravid-esque inning yesterday, and in his honor, I present a single chart to show you his awesomeness.

And Sachin Tendulkar’s even more awesomeness.

# of Centuries in Test Cricket

In which we demonstrate the awesomeness of Dravid, but mostly Tendulkar, in a single chart

The B Team Goes to the West Indies

Kartikeya is disappointed in the Indian seniors for choosing not to play the ODI series in West Indies:

I hope the West Indies teach India a lesson in the upcoming ODI games. I understand the need for rest, but to choose the IPL over International Cricket is unconscionable, especially when playing for India is high paying employment.

I empathize. But I also find it interesting that while the rest of the world frets over the health of Test cricket, the top Indian players choose to ignore meaningless ODI series.

Finally, a Test Match

Good morning. At long last, we have a test match.

Personally, I’m interested to see how Bishoo, Rampaul and Simmons fair in the longer game. That will tell us a lot about the future of West Indies cricket.

The Kirsten Era: In Numbers

The Duncan Fletcher era is upon us. The Gary Kirsten era in Indian cricket has been quite something to watch. Especially when coupled with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Here are some highlights, as I’ve been combing through the statistics of the past few years:

Test record:

  • India played 33 tests under Kirsten, won 16, lost 6, drawn 11.
  • In the previous 3 years, India won 11, lost 6 drawn 13.
  • Basically, India learned how to convert potential draws to wins. What Australia learned under Steve Waugh.
  • At home: 10 wins, 2 losses, 7 draws. Away: 6 wins, 4 losses, 4 draws.
  • Sri Lanka and South Africa are the only test teams to have beaten India in the Kirsten era.
  • Only 1 out of 12 series was lost (Sri Lanka in ’08). No test series have been lost under Dhoni.
  • In the previous 3 years, 3 out of 11 series were lost.

One Day record:

  • India played 93 ODIs under Kirsten, won 59, lost 29 and tied 1.
  • In the previous 3 years, India won 48 and lost 42. The win percentage has gone up dramatically.
  • India won 14 out of 21 ODI series, including the World Cup.
  • Home: 24 wins, 7 losses, 1 tied. Away: 35 wins, 22 losses.
  • In the previous 3 years, India lost more away ODIs than they won. This is where their improvement has been most obvious.
In a way, this is merely a continuation of the 21st century revolution.

ODIs Don’t Matter

King Cricket makes an honorable editorial decision:

Between squad rotation, experimentation, dead rubbers and lack of interest from fans and players, we no longer see the average ODI as being an international cricket fixture. Writing about them as such maintains the illusion and amounts to tacit acceptance of scheduling that we believe is wrong. [..]

It’s not that we’ll ignore ODIs. It’s just that they don’t matter. If there is a one-day series before a Test series, it helps build the narrative for the matches that do matter – the Tests. Those ODIs have merit in that they support the Tests, setting the scene, providing intrigue. They are like warm-up matches. That’s how we’ll treat them.

While I won’t go quite as far as them, I believe it’s an excellent rule-of-thumb. This coming from the guy who just wrote a few blog posts about the IPL. I’m sorry.

Look How Far We’ve Come

The 5th Test: South Africa v England at Durban, Mar 3-14, 1939:

The “Timeless Test” [was] 10 days long and finally called off because the Englishmen had to catch the boat home. At a rate of 2 runs every 6 balls, they scored over 1800 runs in 10 days.

Sounds like the current World Cup. Except no one has a boat to catch, so it just keeps going…

What if everyone could compete for the Ashes?

Nick Barlow asks (and answers) a fascinating question:

A thought struck me as I was looking at the Cricinfo archive yesterday – what if the Ashes hadn’t stayed as purely England vs Australia series, but – when other countries started playing Test cricket – had been seen as an accolade everyone could play for?

He then proceeds to track this “alternate” Ashes from 1891 to 2011, when India retain the Ashes by drawing the series against South Africa.

Not a bad idea for a a Test Championship– you could always have a reigning heavyweight champion of Test cricket, with contenders clamoring to knock them down.

Of course, in Barlow’s “alternate” Ashes, Zimbabwe held the Ashes from 1998/99 to 99/00 by beating India at home.

The Case Against Minnows in the One Day World Cup

Number ten

Ryan Ten Doeschate of The Netherlands (by imogenhardy via Flickr)

Haroon Lorgat, the Chief Executive of the ICC, on keeping the Associate member teams out of the next world cup:

“The 50-over format is more skill-based and suitable for the top teams.”

His argument is that Twenty20 is less skill-based, and so a better format for the less skill-based teams.

This is precisely the argument used to keep Sri Lanka out of Test cricket thirty years ago. I can imagine someone saying then: “Test cricket is a more skill-based format.”

Twenty20 is a better ambassador for the game. It’s a shorter format, faster paced, easier for the casual viewer and an easier sell to a world that is used to watching a game after work and having a result by dinner.

If a Twenty20 match is as one-sided as the Sri Lanka v. Canada game last week, at least it’s over much sooner. And there’s a better chance that a single inspired batting performance can even the scales. Ryan Ten Doeschate is an exciting player when chasing 200 in 20 overs, but is a tragic figure when surrounded by the rest of the Netherlands team for 50.

Lorgat’s point is trite, elitist and careless. Skill has nothing to do with it.

If, after all this, the only time Canada get to play a top team is every four years at a Twenty20 World Cup, then nothing has changed. A refocus to Twenty20 as the ambassador is acceptable only if it’s coupled with a clear path for promising teams like Afghanistan and Ireland to graduate to the big leagues.

Ordered by Lorgat’s mythical skill levels, we currently have six top teams, two close seconds (NZ, WI), two also rans (Zimbabwe, Bangladesh) and then a vast gulf before we get to the rest of the associates.

If the one-day World Cup pool is to be reduced, the single-minded focus of the ICC (besides making money for the BCCI) should be on closing that gulf.