Poll- SOS to Shane Warne

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Can NZ pull off a whitewash?

Australia is used to tormenting other teams into total surrender but this time round NZ has the chance to return the favour.

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Chappell – A player to remember, a coach to forget

Kunal Diwan

When Greg Chappell walked off the Sydney Cricket Ground after playing his eighty-seventh and last test match in 1983, he would have thought he had seen it all. But over 7000 runs in Tests, a century on debut as well as in his last test match, and a fruitful captaincy stint with Australia which yielded 21 wins in 48 matches would not have prepared him for his latest job of coaching the Indian cricket team.

Born in 1948 in Adelaide , Chappell represented South Australia and Queensland in domestic cricket before donning the national whites. He stroked his way to a hundred on debut against England at Perth in 1970 and ended his career with 24 test centuries.

Chappell was the lynchpin around which the Australian middle order revolved. He was the Wisden Cricketer of Year in 1973. Continuing a spate of a hundreds he made a century in each innings of his captaincy debut but lost the Ashes to England in 1977. In the unofficial five-test “Super Series” against the West Indies in 1979, Chappell was in the best form of his career, plundering 621 runs at an average of 69 against an attack comprising of Wes Hall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall.

Chappell belongs to a family of cricketers; the other members of the Chappell clan who played for Australia were Greg’s grandfather Victor Richardson, and brothers Ian and Trevor. His corrosive approach to batting and his domineering personality made for interesting watching. Limited overs cricket was in its infancy about the time he quit the game in 1984, but 2000 runs scored at an average of 40 with a healthy strike-rate of 75 suggest that Chappell would have been a formidable presence in the shorter version of the game as well.

The highlight of Chappell’s one-day career though was an infamous incident wherein Greg asked his brother Trevor to bowl underarm in a match to ensure victory, a ploy which was universally lambasted and which led to the modification of certain bowling rules. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, the team which bore the brunt if Chappell’s unsportsmanlike conduct, said that the incident was – “the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket.”

Post-retirement forays into coaching led to Chappell’s association with the Pakistan Cricket Board as a consultant. In May 2005, Chappell was chosen over Tom Moody, Mohinder Amarnath, and Desmond Haynes to coach the Indian cricket team for a contractual term of two years at a salary of $1,75,000 per annum, making him the highest paid coach in international cricket. Chappell had come highly recommended with the backing of selection panel consisting of Sunil Gavaskar, Srinivas Venkatraghavan, and Ravi Shastri.

Thus began Chappell’s tryst with the great Indian cricket bazaar, a tumultuous journey part media hype and part an ego clash between two headstrong individuals. On his first tour as a coach to Zimbabwe , Chappell was accused by Saurav Ganguly of having asked the Indian captain step down from the team due to poor form. The bitter spat between captain and coach led to Ganguly’s expulsion from the side and turned public opinion against Chappell. At an airport recently, an irate fan slapped Chappell on his back to register his displeasure at the coach’s supposed policy of not including players from certain states in the playing eleven.

His innovative and experimental tinkering with match strategies and batting line-ups has caused much criticism from former players and cricket pundits. He has been chastised for stressing too much on fitness and weight-training at the expense of developing match skills.

Since Chappell took over India has won eight and lost five of the 21 tests it has played. In the same period it has won 31 out of 63 limited over internationals. These wins include an overseas series win in the Caribbean , which is only the fourth time that India has won a series outside the subcontinent. With his coaching contract expiring after the 2007 World Cup, Greg Chappell will be primarily known as one of the batting greats of his generation. Unless India turns out to be an unlikely winner of the sports premier prize, his dalliance with coaching the men in blue will be relegated to the footnotes.

Still no website for BCCI

Professional they call themselves. I think I even heard a senior official mutter transparency. Yet no website. Ya, www.bcci.tv exists, just like the Board does. Only if Pawar an Co. could set their own house in order before vying for the ICC job. After all it boils down to India in any case. Any takers for the Indian Cricket Council (ICC).

World Cup Schedule

WORLD CUP 2007 FINAL

Australia v/s Sri Lanka

Kensington Oval, Barbados.
April 28
19:00 IST
Live on DD-1, SET MAX (English) and SAB TV (Hindi).

Source: The Official Site of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

The perils of dropping Powar

The Indian selectors have done a fair job at selecting the squad for the World Cup. Not that there were tough choices to bemade anyways. The only flaw in this squad is the nod for Pathan instead of off-spinner Ramesh Powar.

Powar has hardly done any wrong as a bowler when given a chance in the squad. The West Indies has quite a few relaid tracks and they might be conducive to the spinners. Two spinners in the team could be an option. Kumble has of late never looked comfortable in the shorter version of the game, and Harbhajan on a good day seems to return with average figures. Those who feel that India should only play one spinner with three seamers since we have part-time spinners should take a look at today’s match. Sehwag and Sachin conceded 63 runs off their 10 overs, a good 20 runs more than the runs given by the regular bowlers.

This is why Powar comes in as a good backup for Kumble and Harbhajan, in case of injury or more likely, poor form. Irfan Pathan hardly looks convincing with the ball. Also, Zaheer and Agarkar have booked their places, with Munaf being the third seamer. Sreesanth adds as the backup seamer. Also, India might be better off playing two spinners, which might mean only two seamers in the XI if the team opts for an extra batsman.

Given Pathan’s recent performances, I would anyways choose a spinner ahead of him to replace a seamer. Thus Powar should have been on the flight to the West Indies.

What a final?

Can Ganguly lead Bengal to victory or will Indian pacers Agarkar and Khan see Mumbai through to yet another win?

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