Tag Archives: IPL

India Pale Ale – Commentary from an Empire Chaise

Congratulations to Test Match Sofa on being picked up by one of the big outlets.  Third Man has always valued irreverence and he hopes that they gain the wider audience that their cosy cheek merits.  If only he too were 29 and lived in Crouch End.

Congratulations also to Sportskeeda whose hits, according to the sports entrepreneur Porush Jain, exceeded 50,000 a day for the first time yesterday. Feel that width.

The other afternoon, while taking his ease in the Empire Room and casting a weary eye and a pulverized ear over an IPL encounter, the Squire wondered whether there was a niche market for a lower key commentary covering the tournament.

“A kind of IPL Ordinary, Third Man.”

He quickly summoned the village smith to put together the technology by which a rota of staff at the Great House could provide a languid and, frankly, muted alternative to the so-called commentary of those roustabouts making a crore bigging up IPL Entertainments Inc..

The Squire considered that he could make a quite decent Head Summariser, in the manner of a youthful David Gascoyne.

“It would be as laid back as this couch, TM.  Hardly a murmur. A sedative for the soul. We would utilize the Benaud Principle – silence is all that is necessary.”

“Your Grace, perhaps the mill could grind a lens to cover the screen and tone down some of the colouring”

“A serious option TM:  IPL Light.”

Chris Dillow, that radical left arm around the wicket bowler whose front-on and off-the -wrong-foot action delivers very late away swing – a sort of Proctor Through the  Looking Glass – has an interesting piece on the Media vs Bloggers.

Chris, a seasoned blogger, ‘can remember when mainstream journalists looked down upon bloggers as ‘socially inadequate’ angry ranters who were no replacement for serious journalism. But I’m starting to think that the opposite is increasingly the case. It is mainstream journalism that comprises linkbait (Samantha Brick), trolls (“Rod” Liddle, A.A Gill, The Mail’s nastiness towards female celebs) and shallow self-absorbed diarists, whilst many bloggers are serious, intellectual and high-minded.’

For those who enjoy reading good writing about cricket there is wondrous enjoyment to be had at Different Shades of Green,  or by calling in on Backwatersman  or seeing cricket with the excited, born again perspective of  Pencil Cricket  to name but three that echo the quality of Dillow’s examples.

Chris argues that ‘there’s the tendency for people to specialize in what they are best at. Mainstream journalists have an advantage over bloggers in some things – such as celebrity and Westminster gossip – but a disadvantage in other respects; such as their excessive deference and ignorance of statistics.’

Not something for which you could ever criticize Idle Summers .  

‘This,’ writes Chris, ‘creates a space for intelligent blogging.’ [And the quirky, don’t forget the quirky – TM]

In cricket the mainstream journalist can too easily be dependent upon sources to speak truth unto power. Or to have been picked for their celebrity rather than their prose or perspective.

The mainstream are forced to chase eyeballs with brashness.  From this tyranny the blogger is free.

And the Dillow conclusion?

‘I suspect blogs are a little like the BBC. There’s a lot of rubbish, but the structure of incentives is such as to facilitate a minority of great work to a greater extent than is the case for the capitalist sector.’

“Third Man, find out if Dillow is free for the Whitsun Bank holiday fixture against Quill and Pen C.C.”

“Now are we on air? Good.  ‘Coming in from the Venkatashwera End, arms pumping like the 8.25 out of Thurminster Newton …’”


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Test Cricket’s Damaged DNA: Nurture and Nature After IPL exposure

Beneath a hole in the ozone layer created by excessive use of CFCsIPLs and the carcenogenic consequences of exposure to intense T20 radiation, India were bowled out cheaply again in Test match conditions outside the sub-continent. 

A cancer has set in leaving India all out for 191 in 59.3 overs at the Sydney Cricket Ground today.  More importantly, it lays bare the realization that, with much of Test cricket’s DNA  now damaged and mutated, this failure surprises very few.

The big matches over the last couple of months in South Africa and now in Australia  had already brought into the light of day the damage done to the genetic code of almost all of the Test playing nations.

Those batsmen with greatest exposure to T20 and the least experience of Test cricket to fall back on are looking woeful.  Add a lack of Test match practice and some drop in form among the old guard and the batting of these teams is looking sick.

Bravo to The Bowlers’ Club of Australia whose morale is sky high and still mounting. 

Today the new boy Pattinson followed up his ‘fifer’ at the MCG with the wickets of four of present game’s top batsmen: Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulka and Laxman.   But his generous praise for Siddle and Hilfenhaus, when accepting MOTM in Melbourne, inspired his partners to three wickets each – a perfect outcome for the unit.  

Then Zaheer Khan put Australia’s youngsters under the microscope, cruelly exposing first the specialized DNA of Warner – over and out for 8 in the first six balls with a strike rate of 133.33 and plenty of time ahead of him in the dressing room to give his mind a rest; secondly Marsh – first ball ‘nough said, and thirdly Cowan lbw for 16.

Then, Ponting and Clark, who learnt their game BT20 (Before Twenty20), took the score on from a sunburned 37 for 3 to a sunscreened 116 for 3.

Practice, practice, practice. Get it right and the best behaviour is engrained. But practice makes permanent – mistakes and mutations.

The following are all-too-easy questions to answer: What happens when the life-form is exposed to two very different environments?  What happens if nurture alters nature, accelerating the adaptive process? And why should cricket worry about that?

England, the reigning champs of  Test cricket, may have already become the fortunate beneficiaries of their northern niche which is less suited to exposure on the sun blest beaches of the IPL. 

Excluded Pakistan, if they, their administrators and their politicians can rid themselves of their addiction to nefarious practices on and off the field, could become world beaters thanks to their life in the shadows.

In cricket, as in life, evolution produces specialization. And when nurture infects nature, the process is accelerated.   Specialisation is a huge gamble. 

After winning the toss, India 191 all out; Australia 116/ 3

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What IPL really stands for

Now Brett Lee and the Rest of the World know what IPL stands for, the paceman having bowled probably the worst over of his cricketing life in the Punjab Stadium, yesterday.

The King’s XI Punjab had scored 181 in their twenty overs to set the Royal Challengers Bangalore a demanding target of 1.5 runs per ball.

The Challenger’s hundred came up in 76 balls, the King’s accomplished spin bowlers increasing the pressure on the batsmen ball by frugal ball. Yuvraj was unlucky not to have Pietersen lbw with a full toss that would have struck the bottom of leg stump.

It was at around this point that Dominic Cork in the commentary box suggested that Sangakkara was ‘setting this match up beautifully for his fast bowlers.’

Did Third Man hear that right?  The spinners were chocking the life out of Pietersen and the very fine Kohli.  Pietersen’s record against left arm finger spinners is the talk of every cricket club bar. The King’s spinners had overs to spare, including two from Yuvraj, Pietersen’s personal bugbear.

Cork commentates like he plays cricket, always searching for the extravagant pronouncement; the bouncer, the dashing offensive, the bold assertion; delivered, struck or uttered with consummate conviction but with fatally flawed performance. Self belief is not his problem. Execution is.

But it was as if Sangakkara had heard the siren Cork, because Yuvraj was immediately taken off and pace called up.  Pace to Pietersen is like an aqualung to a drowning man and yesterday it allowed him to splash in doggy paddle fashion to the relief of calmer waters.

The Challengers had reached 134 for 3 at the end of the 16th over, with the belligerent Uthappa coming in at the fall of Kohli, when Sangakkara called up the willing horse that is Brett Lee.

What followed was the sad destruction of a famous fast bowler in front of the many millions who watch the IPL.

Rather than use his considerable cricketing experience to surprise and disconcert with varying pace, the slow bouncer, the back of the hand ball, the knuckle delivery and then, only then, his trade mark yorker, Lee opted for familiarity (the long hop of Twenty20) and delivered the good length ball at pace which Uthappa lifted with ease for six over long off.

Like a disturbed wasp Lee then unleashed another fast full length ball and was this time slapped one bounce into the sight screen.   Ball three was the yorker which Uthappa squeezed to Third Man.  

With Pietersen on strike, another yorker was deflected to TM.  Control seemed to be being restored but Lee proved an unreformed character.  Uthappa hoisted another quick delivery way back over midwicket as if he  was flicking that wasp from his presence.

Surely nothing could be worse that these five balls?  Ball six was again delivered with pace this time on the full down the leg side for five wides.  The extra ball, again over pitched, was hit powerfully straight down the ground for two.

The 25 runs from the over took the Challengers to 159 for 3 and into a comfortable endgame.  It looks over for the Kings and surely it is over for the King of Pace who has yet to take a wicket in IPL3.  The film ‘They shoot horses don’t they?’ comes to mind.

Jeremy Snape, who advises the South African Test Squad, suggests that players now see themselves not as persons, but as economic concerns, small firms that they should grow into big businesses.

With this characterisation, however, needs to come the familiar financial warnings that stock values can go down as well as up and that the higher the rewards, the greater the risks. 

At whatever level in cricket, from the park to the Punjab Stadium, every player knows that what is truly at stake is their personality, that most fragile human construction. 

For the player-as-plc, liquidation is one bad personal decision, one humiliating shot, one injudicious comment, one atrocious over away.

IPL – the tournament and the cash – is intoxicating.  But players beware. IPL stands for Impending Personal Liquidation.

Last night, Brett Lee PLC cratered.

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And just who is Mavinder Bisla?

Chasing the Rajasthan Royal’s demanding 183, yesterday (Cricinfo match report here), the Kings XI Punjab got off to a good start through their international openers Ravi Bopara and Kumar Sangakkara. 

When on the last ball of the third over Sangakkara was out cutting high to third man to take the score to 41 – 1, Mavinder Bisla walked to the wicket.  The batsmen had crossed and Bisla prepared to face the first ball of the fourth over to be bowled by Munaf Patel.

Blocking the first ball, Bisla proceeded to tear into Patel, taking 18 off the remaining five balls with beautifully executed and aggressive shots to all parts of the ground.  FOUR lofted over midwicket, SIX straight back over the bowler’s head, dot ball, FOUR cramped for room but still able to punch the ball off the back foot through extra cover, FOUR stepping out and lofting the bowler over wide mid-on.

Cricinfo tells us that Bisla aged 25 has played just 35 first class matches averaging just short of thirty runs, 29 List A, averaging 21 and 15 T20s averaging 25. Oh, and he keeps wicket.

In the next over he faced Warne; DOT, WIDE, FOUR square on the on side, SIX straight into the sightscreen, ONE pushed down to long off.  Two overs later Warne, who seems to be dying his teeth now as well as his hair, has him caught slog-sweeping to cow corner from wide outside off stump for 35 off 18 balls (4×4 2×6) with a strike rate of 194.44.

Bisla, so Third Man learns, earlier caught everyone’s attention when ‘blazing’ 75 against Bangalore.  One shot here

Australia revolutionised the approach to cricket development by introducing its Academy.  Has India taken the next step?  By bringing world class players to their country and putting their own players along side them in the same dressing rooms or in competition against them in high pressure situations are they preparing the next generation of their Test stars?

Can England afford to be left behind?

There is four minutes of film .

UPDATE:  In this morning’s match between Delhi and Bangalore, the Daredevil’s No 5, KM Jadhav, helped set a matching winning total with a contribution of 50 not out.  Cricinfo shows Jadhav as 25 tomorrow with just 19 first class appearances, 13 List A and 9 T20

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Has Old Father Time Finally Handed Over the Family Business?

Third Man was sitting on the sofa watching England v Bangladesh just after five o’clock this morning and mulling that great metaphysical problem, Time.

He was in a typical early morning trance with only a mild buzz coming from his on board computer as he attempted to picture what weather vane would be most appropriate for Lord’s when it holds its first IPL match, whilst simultaneously a deeper, older part of the brain was watching England creep along at less than three an over against Bangladesh. (Or as we might once have said, “42 an hour”.)

Has Old Father Time finally handed over the family business?

This is how Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball Live Scorecard covered the moments Third Man was watching:

90.1 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, FOUR, well, it doesn’t help if you bowl like that. Gentle full toss on the legs, and Prior says thanks a lot and clips the ball easily through midwicket.

(N.B. not 5:10 am, but 90.1 )

According to Bob Willis on Sky this takes England to ‘three-an-over’ for the first time in their innings.

90.2 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, FOUR, and again. This one, if anything, was an even filthier full toss from Shakib and is put away emphatically by Prior.

To Third Man’s befuddled pre-dawn mind it is not a certainty that this second shot is not yet another TV replay of the first.  Because every four is such a cherished event for the broadcaster each is repeated three or four times in the interval before the batsman takes guard again.  It can be confusing to the serial mind when, as in this case, a similar shot to a similar ball receives similar treatment.

90.3 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, no run, pushed back to the bowler.

At which moment of time Third Man is asking himself The Great Question facing cricket lovers at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century:

“Which would you choose if you could watch England live from Dhaka batting against this club bowling OR  (by time shifting) yesterday afternoon’s ITV4 coverage of the Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab T20 match stored on your Sky Plus machine?”

90.4    Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, OUT, Prior goes, bowled by Shakib as he charged down the wicket and swiped towards midwicket! Was he a little overconfident after the lollipops served up earlier in the over? He ran down the pitch and swung wildly at that, and was comprehensively beaten in the flight. There was a touch of turn, too, as the ball pitched well wide of leg but went on to hit the stumps. Is that the moment of inspiration Bangladesh have been searching for?

But The Great Question is no longer metaphysical.  To borrow from Obama, “Yes we can.”  We can cheat time and watch the Super Over climax that took place yesterday afternoon four thousand miles distance away and a million light years from our sitting rooms.  The Plus Box remote controller is in our hands.

We should not blame poor Matt Prior for his injudicious slog but, more than his wicket, he may have lost his audience.  And, in the world of cricketainment where so much depends on the revenues from Sky, the Director of Cricket will tell you, “That, young man, is a sackable offence.  You’re out … of the game.”

Old Father Time has replaced his scythe with a time shifting remote.

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