Friday, September 24, 2010

Speechless moments

Watch some of the best moments captured on tape from the history of cricket, sure to leave you in awe, searching for breath!

Lets start with Shane Warne's Highway to jaffa' to Mike Gatting. This is more famously known as the "ball of the century".

Mike Gatting had no answer. Look at his expression. I have seen Warne bowl Strauss and Shiv Chanderpaul from around the wicket, bowled around the legs of the batsmen, but the Gatting ball is pure class - drift, turn, off bail!

Well, that was the 20th century. And we are in the 21st century. So, there must be a "ball of the century for the 21st century, right? I got one. Arguably the best spinner walking on earth presently, Graeme Swann, bowls an absolute beauty to get rid of Imran Farhat.

Same description that went in for Warne's delivery to Gatting. Farhat falls over searching for the ball, which he thought had defended well. Swann has this canny knack of picking up a wicket in his first over of an innings, test and ODIs alike. This one, was the best of all of his wickets in his wonderful wonderful career.

Now, you are a batsman, facing a paceman, who bowls more than 93 miles an hour, consistently. And guess what, he swings the ball. What do you play for? The pace? the swing? Look at this slow-mo replay of one ripping ball that left the batsman look like a novice.

Look at the gap between the ball and the bat!

Lets go progressively now.
What can turn the course of a session, match or series the other way? One answer is the ball that swerves the other way! In 2005, we were all witness to two wonderful wonderful deliveries. Have a look at them.

First - Freddy's ball to Katich. Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, stands almost 6'7" tall and is/was one of the two bowlers who can come around the wicket and swing the ball away from the left hander, the only one who could do so at 140+ kph (Andrew Hall, the other one, is not that good with the pace). So, you can see Katich expecting the ball to be moving away from him, or at least, not coming back at him. But, the well directed and well handles ball swerves in and sends the off stump for a walk.

Second - Jones. If at all England were wanting someone to be fit forever, it must've been Simon Jones, who just couldn't let the batsmen take control over him. Just watch the replay of the ball, look at the shine on the ball, look at the seam. Pause the frame! What do you think? Its a classic out swinger? Maybe, but the ball is pretty old, and the reverse swing strikes! Damien Martyn was awestruck, like everyone else watching it.

I wonder what Kallis was thinking about this ball?

A jolly to the crease run up, and then a bullet... Wet Irish conditions, the atmosphere helped a bit, but no one is going to be easy against a ball like that. That was a swinging, fast, new ball!

Another classic that became an instant hit :-

"Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its Jonty Rhodes" is what the newspaper read the next day!

Jonty took athleticism to a whole new level. People gave it more importance. Saving runs was gaining importance. It was around that time when Batsmen started to attack in the field restriction overs. My dad always reminds me - Kris Srikanth was the one who took the charge. So, fielding became another column on your CV, and you were graded on it! Jonty Rhodes was one man miles and miles ahead of hundreds others in that aspect. Once he calls for a catch, you can see the other teammates stop dead at their feet and just watch the ball come down into his pouch.

I love Matthew Hayden's batting. He is exceptional off his front foot and is good square of the wicket too. So, bowling to him is pretty difficult, because you are very likely to be outsmarted by his straigh drives, pulls and cuts. Unfortunately, he features in two of my favourite catches too.

Hayden thinks he has 4 on this ball...

Have you seen a better outfield catch in International cricket? Look at Hayden, he wants someone to come and tell him that it was a dream and he is not out.

One guy who has amazingly been fit for almost all throughout his career while on the field, gets rid of Matthew Hayden in this next video

Haydos...Haydos... Look at his plight!

What will you do to save 2 runs? Will you stick out your leg? Will you stretch? Will you dive? huh?

Will you fly?

Best ground fielding I've seen on tape!

One for "innovation" :-

No comments...

And, to finish the collection, here is a real beauty! Never seen a better catch from an Indian! This guy is one for the future, if his batting can get better and better. But this catch is the highlight reel of this fellow!

That is the commitment you will love to see on a cricket field. That's the spirit you need when you know that there is a prestigious title at stake! That's the spirit you need to keep the Ranji Trohpy as the best domestic tournament in the country. Manish Pandey, take a bow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Master, and his cards

Team's jersey...

Rs. 1500

Ticket to the Match

Rs. 400

Auto ride to the stadium

Rs. 50

Watching God in action


There are some things

money can't buy


For everything else,

There is


. MI+MasterCard =

(I do not own the rights to any photograph/logo)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shane Watson, lynchpin of Australian cricket team!

The burly all rounder of the Australian side, who is finally seeming to keep good health over larger period of time, Shane Watson is one of the most important player in the present Australian side. His bio data speaks of numerous occurrences of hip injuries, strains, ankle injuries, stress fractures etc, but his determination to fight into the side after every unfortunate injury is commendable.

When the Australian side needed an all rounder, he stepped up to the call and was finally chosen over Andrew Symonds, whose form was dipping, and losing touch, let alone other issues outside the cricketing field. Now, Watson had to show the world that he is capable of cementing his place in the XI on a regular basis, rather than “filling in” for someone else.

After a series of call-ups and drops, being made to play at almost all position in the top and middle order, Watson got a chance to play as an opener, along with Katich. Note, Australia were still looking for their perfect openers ever since the departure of Hayden-Langer combo a few years ago. And this time, Watson capitalised with good scores, and got the preference over Phil Hughes (who vented his anger on twitter...). His bowling improved, he was able to correct his action, so as to prevent any more hip injuries, or at least, reduce the chance of its occurrence. His speed was into the 140 kph marks, and had improved on the trajectory. So, there he was – an all rounder Australia needed. A batsman to get Aus a good start, and a bowler to share the load of the quickies.

Let me try to describe his place in the side. Watson, by nature is a hard hitting batsman. After he became a regular in the test side, he added a bit of calmness and composure to his attitude. He is good on the front foot. He reads the line of the ball early, and has the temperament to leave the swinging ball outside the body. He opens up sideways (chest facing cover/mid off) and meets the in-swinging ball on the front foot, bat in front of the pad when needed, thus reducing the chance for him to get out lbw. His tall nature allows him to come quite some distance outside the crease to meet the ball, hence the full, swinging ball are met before the ball can curve a lot. Having said that he is usually committed to the front foot, he is not troubled by a bouncer. His back-lift is perfect for him to just hang back, stand tall and pull the ball behind or in-front of the square leg as per the pace and height of the delivery. Not very likely to keep the ball down, but very likely to play the ball in the gaps. Suck is his control. He doesn’t play with a sense of urgency. Never seen him do that in tests. He does see off the new ball, and when it comes to spinners, he plays them with the full face of the bat. Strong on the leg side, he can “hoik” any long hop to the cow-corner, or long on. Also, he is good driver of the ball, thanks to his front-footed batting style. So, covers, mid off also come under is radar. Being able to transfer his weight back onto his back foot in time, he is again capable of cutting the ball behind or in-front of the crease, on either side of the pitch. So, now, if you look at the big picture, he can score on all sides. my favourite Watson-shot – straight drive. Clean as you like, and when he plays the shot, you can see the elbows straight over the bat, head behind the ball, bat perfectly straight, and the two fielders at mid on and mid off looking at each other, bowler staring in dismay... It all adds to the beauty of the shot! When someone drives you like that, and watches the ball race to the boundary from the place he played the stroke, bat held stationary in mid air, it calls for the photographer to take a snap of the bat... Its what’s called “Picture-perfect”.

Now, lets move on to his bowling. He is one of the very few bowlers who bowl with the straight seam. When the Lees and Johnsons are exhausted, in comes Watson at first or second change, with the relatively older ball, shine maintained on one side. So, while he can swing the ball even after 20 overs, he is even more dangerous than that because of his ability to get movement off the pitch, due to the ball pitching on the seam on most occasions. In India, he was one of the toughest bowlers to face because of this reason, being helped by the pronounced seam of the SG balls used in India. Lee is full of pace, but his advantage lies in the swing he generates with the new ball at that lethal pace. Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle are pretty much one-dimensional with their pace and unidirectional swing. Hilfenhaus is a la McGrath, Bollinger is more of “hit the deck hard” kind of person, and his bowling action doesn’t allow most deliveries to pitch on the seam. So, clearly, Watson distinguishes himself as a unique threat in that line up. His bowling action is steady, smooth, close chested at the stride of the deliver, and high arm action. This allows the ball to be well directed, controlled, seam and bounce. A minute change in the grip allows him to intentionally move the ball in either direction. He has been a disciplined bowler, and hence, scoring off him in the limited over format is not easy, unless you try to take some risks on your own.

Here is Watson’s bowling action for you

To complete the activities of a cricketer on the field, another important factor is – fielding. Watson has accomplished himself as a good slip-fielder after his resurrection into the side a couple of years ago. He takes the place of Warne/Hayden in that zone, and is usually accompanied by Clarke and/or Ponting. And, sometimes, he would be at gully. As compared to the yester-years , this formation shows that Aus is more athletic in the slip cordon and gully (usually manned by Mike Hussey). Earlier, with Hayden, Warne, Ponting standing behind the crease, you cannot make many changes in the field and expect the move to work. Hayden was flat footed, and he had a tough time when posted at gully region. Batsmen used to tuck the ball near the crease and scamper for a single before Hayden could collect the ball. Now, with guys like Watson, Clarke and Hussey, the cordon is more electric than before, and choices are ample when Ponting wants to alter his field for a fresh bowling tactic (like, having a leg slip and silly mid on for Johnson to bowl at a batsman’s ribs). Having been in the business for quite some-time, Watson is a safe catcher, with large palms helping the cause.

All in all, I feel I have illustrated the one player in the Australian team who means the most to the performance of the team, as he is sure to contribute in two ways (at least) in every match he plays. Him not being in the team would mean the loss of a safe-cum-attacking option at the top of the order, and a hostile wicket taking bowler you can always turn to!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BagraTRIVIA 16

X was born in the country of A, where his father was a first class level cricketer. When X was 8, his family moved to the country B. X was an extremely talented leg spinner, and was coached by his father (who actually wanted X to become a batsman). X made it to the side of junior level cricket at every age-level, and at the age of 12, was the youngest to represent his club in an u-15 match. But by the time he was 15, his growth of nearly 1 foot made him lose touch with his bowling, and he had to give it up, and turn to batting as his day job. At the age of 22, he made his debut against WI, but was dropped from the side after the series. 3 years later, he was recalled again, and dropped. 3 years later, he was recalled again to join the side that was to tour A. And he proved his selectors right, by posting good numbers, bagging a man of the match, and the eventual man of the series award. 3 years later, he became the first captain of mixed-origin. He had the 3rd most number of tests as a captain, and was one of the most revolutionary of all to have captained B. After 8 years of captaincy, he stepped down himself, for a poor show in the world cup, and retired within a year. This famous man is still associated with cricket, even after his retirement from all forms of the game. Who is X ?