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Looking forward... and back.

by Homer

I seem to be in a majority of one for thinking that a rather barren 2010 is not such a bad thing for India. While everyone and their uncle seems to think that not playing enough tests in 2010 is going to negatively impact us, not least in the ICC standings, I actually think it is a blessing in disguise.

A cursory look at the ICC FTP indicates that India have a pretty busy lead in into the year, with tours to Bangladesh and the West Indies ( for the T20 World Cup) and playing hosts to South Africa and the IPL.

Following which, there is a lull till the Australians come a visiting (again!) for a 7 ODI set. Which kick starts what is possibly the most hectic year and a half India has, with away series in South Africa, England, West Indies and Australia, the World Cup at home, and playing hosts to New Zealand, England and Pakistan. I kid you not - between September 2010 and April 2012, India will be playing an incredible 21 Tests ( and this does not take into account any additional Tests the BCCI may host to ward of all the negative criticism)!

Which is why I think the break in the lead up is important. And so too the timing of the break.

India's break from International cricket happily coincides with the English County season, from start to finish. And given the benefits reaped by Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and Sreesanth from their stints with English Counties ( not to forget Piyush Chawla's abridged time with Sussex), it is an excellent opportunity for us to get our bowlers over there.

Or at the NCA. Or the MRF Pace Academy.

Blips in the rankings are not a real concern. What is more important for India as a cricketing entity is building a dynasty. And the most vital ingredient to building a dynasty is a potent bowling attack. One that has the ability to defend whatever score the batsmen put up. And I strongly believe that we have all the tools for just such an attack.

Consider the following list of bowlers

Munaf Patel
RP Singh
S Sreesanth

Ishant Sharma
Sudeep Tyagi
Irfan Pathan
Zaheer Khan
Ashish Nehra

Now consider the list again

Munaf Patel Current age 26 years 174 days
RP Singh Current age 24 years 27 days
S Sreesanth Current age 26 years 330 days

Ishant Sharma Current age 21 years 122 days

Sudeep Tyagi Current age 22 years 105 days
Irfan Pathan Current age 25 years 67 days
Zaheer Khan Current age 31 years 87 days
Ashish Nehra Current age 30 years 248 days

Add to the mix

Harbhajan Singh Current age 29 years 183 days
Pragyan Ojha Current age 23 years 119 days
Ravinder Jadeja Current age 21 years 27 days
Piyush Chawla Current age 21 years 9 days
Amit Mishra Current age 27 years 39 days

If handled well, we not only have age but also experience on our side - vital factors in building and then sustaining a dynasty.

The 2010/11 -2011/12 season will show us if we can handle our bowlers properly. The lead up to that is an opportunity to work the bowlers into form ( and fitness). Which is why the barren 2010 season ( or non season) isn't the worst thing to happen to Indian cricket.

Speaking of Indian cricket, the Ranji semi finals begin tomorrow. The marquee match is between two ordinary teams, the other between my pre tourney favorites and "the" red hot team of the tournament.Mumbai vs Delhi gets top billing because of the history between the two teams- for a time, especially in the 80s, it was almost inevitable that the two teams would contest the Ranji finals. Every single year.

This year is different. Two very ordinary teams, one with major leadership issues and the others with no bowling to call upon will try to recreate the magic of the Mumbai - Delhi contest. And the only thing worth looking out for is how Ishant fares with the ball.

The other match, between UP and Karnataka, is the money game. The best bowling line up in the country, led by the Future India Captain( I haven't given up hope yet) play the most dominant batting line up in the country, bar Tamil Nadu. And while UP will be without Sudeep Tyagi or Suresh Raina, this will be the ideal platform for Tanmay Srivastava to show why he was once regarded so highly in the U-19 setup. For Karnataka, Uthappa's captaincy and Manish Pandey's batting will be the keys. And the Chinnaswamy wicket.

Here's to a good game then..

Happy New Year.


Gaurav Sethi said...

Analyze this, analyze that - excellent analysis Homer.

In spite of our bowling riches, the probs are that of old - we still haven't figured who plays where; as also the bias to some bowlers - Ishant, RP.

In one single swoop a Mishra is felled from all forms, so too an Ojha. And then the swap between the two. If it goes on like this, you can knock these two off in 2010 - Chawla should be back, and then we can see how long he lasts.

And I haven't even got started on Bhajji.

It's a shame but the next IPL will decide who next year's bowling picks will be.

Reckon Ranji can be carried fwd to another comment

Homer said...


Bowlers play on form. And conditions. The challenge is to get the bowlers in to form and picking the right ones for the right conditions.

Having said that, given the names on the list ( and the names not on the list), we have both depth and variety in the bowling stocks. And more than enough injury cover should that happen. And for the season where we should emphatically seal our #1 spot, ICC ranking or not, the onus is on us to do whatever possible to get the bowlers in the best possible shape they can be.


Rohit said...

@ Homer...

Don't see the variety to be honest. No offence. They all seem to be medium pace trundlers to me. Given the fact that Ishant has selflessly decided to take over the mantle of becoming the latest talent to show a precipitous drop in form. Don't see too many ODI match winners in the lot, to be honest. Just referring to the pace attack here. Just hoping any three of them will peak at the world cup, like in 2003. Tyagi's looked decent but playing him now would be a major folly. According to India's traditional new exciting fast bowler timeline, he will start spewing garbage two days before WC 2011, according to my precise calculations.

Naresh said...

Homer - what about the batting? couple of 36+ guys and another around 35? With that much test cricket happening, there could just be a tipping point lurking out there.

And thanks for mentioning Ranji - another couple of matches to check out today, apart from the tests.

BTW - nice going in Sydney - 23/3 :)

Prabu said...


The batting, I think, is not of major concern. Here's the list of batsmen who are likely to be part of the Indian setup in the future.

1. Murali Vijay
2. Badrinath
3. Tiwary
4. KKD Karthik
5. Abhinav Mukund
6. Manish Pandey
7. Cheteshwar Pujara
8. Ajinkya Rahane
9. Suresh Raina
10. Rohit Sharma
11. Parthiv Patel
12. Virat Kohli

The list isn't extensive and has a slant towards TN players as I follow them more regularly than others and they have scored runs consistently for the last 3-4 years. It also does not contain players already in the test setup (as regulars). Except Badri, most others are in the early-20s to mid-20s band. The Indian team will be able to withstand the retirement of the fab-3, if they retire in a staggered fashion.

Naresh said...

"if they retire in a staggered fashion."

Yes Prabu - agreed that's the key.

One possibility is that Vijay and Gambhir open, with Viru coming in 1 down when one of the old guys goes (only saying that since Viru did make noises sometime back that he's "not an opener").

Homer said...


Ability and form are different things. There is no doubting what this core brings to the plate, the issue is one of form. Ishant was the biggest casualty of form ( and second season blues), Sreesanth showed what a bowelr in form can do.

Now, we can be cynical of the talent we have or we can work to ensure that this talent justifies our faith in it. For an example, this core has to look no further than Zak.


Homer said...


I think we will do more than okay in batting. We have plenty to choose from for a few spots in the lineup. And this time in the wilderness is when the next core of batsmen prove their pedigree.

And a fairly light cricketing calender means the 36+ year olds get the time off for the more grueling season that lies ahead.


Jonathan said...

Homer, it's true that it's good to have a break before a busy patch, but I think it is valid to point out such a lack of Test cricket - on the one hand, to ask whether it is wise to be so busy with the other forms, and more generally, because it would in many respects be better to have a better spread, with more Tests now and a less hectic schedule around next year.

Of course, the drought then flood cycle is not an Indian phenomenon - it is experienced by all Test teams with the exception of England, and is hard to avoid, given the relationships between the different cricket seasons. As you point out, the roundabout for this swing is time in the County season.

Having said that, there is some room for improvement in the scheduling and postponement that is done by various boards, including the BCCI.

Homer said...


We can only hope that the next FTP has a more balanced look to it.. As long as the FTP continues to be lop sided, this drought-flood-drought cycle will continue.


raj said...

Excellent Post Homer. On Ranji, I think Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the best teams this year. It is harsh that Mumbai and UP got the easier teams in QF but nevertheless, TN has to learn to step up in knockout matches - they lost the QF by their batsmen failing to cash in after getting settled.
Delhi and Mumbai lack the fizz of past. Delhi when in full strength would probably be the strongest team in the country as of now. Thank God Viru and Gauti are distracted by Intl Cricket often.

I'd like a Karnataka vs Delhi (Hopefully Kohli, Gauti and Viru will play in the final if thta happens) final although that looks the least possibiltiy among the 4 options.
I wish for Kar vs Del but I predict a Mum vs UP or Mum vs Kar final.

Homer said...

Not sure if Delhi would be the strongest team in the country at full strength Raj.

In their only Ranji win this decade, they were at full strength. And yet, it wasnt a cakewalk.

IMHO, at full strength, UP has the best all round side. Delhi and Mumbai are strong with the bat, but the bowling roster is thin - on a bowler friendly wicket, that will be a huge handicap.


nks said...

who is missing from UP team to make them full Streangth ?

Homer said...


Tyagi and Raina.


Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch World Cup 2010 - Semi-Finals: A, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

rootofall3vil said...

Excellent post, Homer.

I believe going forward at least till the time the big 4 are retired (Viru, Sachin, RD and Lax), We will need to take a CORE and Satellite approach for test selections - Viru, Gauti, Sachin, RD, Lax,Dhoni and Zak forming the CORE part, while Raina, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Mukund and Rahane, I.Sharma, PK, Munna, Mishra, Ojha and Bhajji forming the satellite part. Don't see the space for Vijay and R.Ashwin in this test 11 yet.

As the big four start to go (sooner or later), replace with the most impressive of the "satelliters".