Archive for the 'Cricket' Category

Looking for ” Go- to ” Bowlers

The other day I was waiting for my appointment with my doctor and the TV Screen in the waiting room was showing one of the India – New Zealand one day match in progress. Ross Taylor was batting . I could see the frustration in all the Indian bowlers both pace and spin in bowling to him. The rituals were going on forever with Ross Taylor and his partner hitting the ball all around the field with many hits to the fence. No wonder we finished the series with 0-4 in favor of New Zealand .

Not long ago, we got a thorough beating in the hands of South Africa and there too the bowlers were found wanting. The batting also except for Virat Kohli or Captain Dhoni and at times Rahane was below expectations. Both Shikhar Dhavan and Rohit Sharma disappointed in South Africa and later in New Zealand.

The Indian team now has new comers who have not yet been acclimatized abroad and have not mastered the game in foreign soil. We can give them that allowance but as a team we did not click in both these tours which came close on the heels of laurels at home. As Sunil Gavaskar stated recently in an interview , we cannot afford to let this team go for the World Cup . We need fresh talent urgently,according to him.

Rahul Dravid also stated that Dhoni does not have even a single ” go to ” bowler in his present team .It is therefore imperative the the selectors take note and do something to bring the team back on rails before it is too late .

Crossing the Chasm – Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th Century !

My son  Raghu called me at 4.45 PM yesterday while I was on my way back from a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador to India  to inform me that Sachin has scored his 100th Century against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup Cricket match . He was naturally happy that his hero whom he met personally at Indore in 1989  made his greatest record of his life time . Frankly , I was not expecting this news at all . Most of us who have been following Sachin Tendulkar ‘s recent  lack luster performance  in Australia and his previous match against Sri Lanka where he was the only Indian  player out scoring below 10 runs , were reconciled  to  rule this out altogether. Many of us even forgot the 99 centuries he scored during his career in test/one day matches . Some of us were prepared  for a long wait hoping he does not retire from 1st class cricket till he achieves this land mark.

Finally , when it came , it was a great relief not only for the little master but for all the cricket lovers all over the world. Sachin went through a year of pain and anxiety , silently facing severe criticism , and at times even experts indirectly suggesting he quit and redeem his honor . Recently , when Rahul Dravid announced his retirement , many people asked why not Sachin also follow him .

Sachin Tendulkar , a cult figure in cricket with no parallel to name , was rather lonely at the top for some time now . According to him , he never played for personal records but records just came to him . But , there was this CHASM , chasing him even in his dreams – the 100th 100 in cricket !  . I feel this even affected his style to some extent as evidenced by his body language in recent times .

No one will doubt Sachin Tendulkar’s commitment to the game and his priority for the nation’s glory above personal gains and individual records . His happiness knew no bounds when India won the World Cup under Dhoni’s leadership. It is therefore  rather ironical that India lost the same match to young Bangla Desh’s superior team work when Sachin created the world record !

Finally , I am personally happy for Sachin and he has set a world record which will be much above any cricketing mortal’s reach to breach for many many years to come ! . May be we will have to wait for a Sachin Tendulkar reincarnation to achieve this feat !

Pressure to Perform – the sorry state of Indian Cricket !

Day One at Perth today was a disaster for the struggling Indian cricket team and it was a painful experience to watch the recent world champions falling like nine pins unable to face some excellent fast bowling by the Australians . Chance of a  third defeat in succession looms large and the pressure to perform is very evident in the body language of all the players .

What is going wrong for Dhoni and his team ? . Infighting ? , Australian hostile crowds ? , fatigue from over exposure ? , a new coach not in sync with the team ? or a combination of all these aspects ? .

The selectors need to take a serious note and do some surgical operation to correct this situation if they want to redeem the losing standing and reputation of the Indian team – both in the short term and long term .

Test Cricket in Australia – The impact of Mind Games

India lost the first test at Melbourne today by 122 runs with more than a day to spare . Many of our star batsmen fell during both our innings like the proverbial nine pins. While our new bowlers did well in their maiden appearance in Australia and bagged prize wickets at crucial stages , the new fast bowlers from the Australian side were devastating ,to say the least. Batsmen from both sides at best were average except for Tendulkar and a few others like Ponting and Marsh.

The preparation leading to this series was full of media comments about the Indian weakness in certain departments and how they will face the Australian music and lose out all their past glories achieved to attain the global ranking . To top it all , the Indian coach Fletcher himself also came under severe criticism for not agreeing to the new DRS rule . Some of the Australian media quoted some Australian player saying that they will not let Sachin Tendulkar score his 100 th test century in their soil.

Mind Games  fraught with danger in itself in view of the glorious uncertainties of the game of cricket itself !

The sad demise of the one eyed Nawab of Cricket – Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

Tiger Pataudi – the swashbuckling , debonair , gentleman , prince of cricket is no more ! . During the sixties , we only used to read about cricket with occasional glimpse of the action in Indian News Reels. For a college boy in me , Pataudi, Jayasimha, Abbas Ali Baig ,Prasanna were all larger than life and I used to devour in all the news about their exploits on and off the field.

When Tiger Pataudi got his prize catch  during his tour of  Africa – Sharmila Tagore , who was shooting for a movie somewhere close to Tiger’s camp , the Indian public cheered all the way . Later on when their marriage gave us two charming young actors in Saif and Soha ,  the ” Gharana {lineage } ” took new meaning . I wonder why Saif did not take to cricket ? .

We sadly miss the “class” of Pataudi today in cricket field because of the commercialization of this otherwise leisurely game !  Long live the memories of Tiger Pataudi ! Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

The Winning Way

Anita and Harsha Bhogle have published a great book titled ” The Winning Way -Learnings from Sport for Managers” . I  really enjoyed reading through the pages especially the parallels through live examples from sports to corporate work.

Harsha has been working with cricket players and cricket for more than two decades  globally and his personal encounters helped him getting into the minds of some of the greatest among them  during his interactions both on the arena and in the dressing room. The insights coming out of such dialogue are invaluable to both sportsmen and corporate leaders.

The book is eminently readable and has captured the spirit of sportsmanship both during crisis and winning situations over the last 20 years or so.The chapters on the Winning Triangle – Ability , Attitude and Passion ,The Burden of Winning and  Team Building give invaluable lessons to Corporate Managers and Leaders.

I would strongly recommend this book to all our Leaders and Managers in the Corporate World .

Publisher -Westland Ltd , Chennai , ISBN 978-93-80658-32-2  . Cover Price Rs 200/-

England is Number One in Test Cricket from today .

England defeats India today with a 4-0 win and that too all Innings defeat to take over the baton of Number One in test cricket. They performed exceedingly well in both batting and bowling to humble the world champions comprehensively.

Throughout this series played in England , India never came anywhere near a win and the body language of the team said it all . They were not up to the mark ! . Harsha Bhogle , the commentator feels it was the wrong priorities that has done it for India. They were looking for profitability at the cost of performance during the last one year playing under tight schedules and neglecting the practice sessions.

Today , Sachin Tendulkar missed his chance to score the 100th century in test cricket by 9 runs when he was given run out to Bresnan’s bowling – Ironically that was the number of runs required by India to avoid an innings defeat !

But for Rahul Dravid , I do not feel any one else measured up to the challenge posed by the English bowlers and our own bowling fell quite short of making any dent in the English batting side.

A painful lesson for India . They may like to forget this series but to the rest of the world , it was cricket at its best as far as England is concerned .

God of Cricket at Lords , England

India has lost the first test at Lords today thanks to much superior bowling and batting by Strauss  and his team and a generally lack luster performance by the world champions .

This test match was for statisticians – 2000th test in test history , 100th between India and England and 100th century possibility by Sachin Tendulkar , the God of Cricket!. There were millions of Rupee or Pound Sterling bets on his test hundred before the match .

Rahul Dravid who topped the Indian performance in the first innings with an unbeaten 103 runs commented on Sachin being called a God before this test . He said ” there are many Gods in India and Sachin is one of them ! ” No one calls Rahul Dravid a God and he has already reached the second position in the world record on runs scored in test matches next only to Tendulkar . And no one put bets on him as well . Yes, he was not hitting his 100th test hundred but his performance brought some respectability to Indian side .

To be fair to Sachin Tendulkar , he does not promote or even like this cult status but we cricket fans have a habit of raising unreasonable demands on him all the time . In the instant case , a normal bad test for Sachin has now assumed scales of a national let down !

It is high time that we bring all such Gods to mother earth and treat them with sensitivity and sensibility !

Leadership Tips from The Indian Premier League [ IPL] 2011

IPL 2011 – Ten Teams , 70 business rounds to qualify and  four Play Off sessions to decide the winner . 45 days of cricket with great performances  and entertainment with new records being set .

Can we pick up   TEN useful tips on Leadership from this spectacular show of physical fitness and mind games played out in the vast expanse of day and night format  watched by millions of cricket lovers in the field in India and through live telecast off  the field through TV and Internet  globally ?

PEAK  PERFORMANCE AT THE RIGHT MOMENT – While Chennai Super Kings peaked at the right moment and clinched the trophy , Royal Challengers Bangalore  gave in meekly at the finals . Same thing happened with Mumbai Indians and Kings Eleven Punjab at crucial moments of the competition . Leaders need to train their teams to bring in their reserve energy and perform at their maximum potential when the situation demands.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM – A leader should believe in the capabilities and initiative of his team members and empower them to seize fleeting opportunities in the field and capitalize on them . A good example is Murali Vijay’s performance in the finals after repeated failures with the bat in earlier sessions . The leader in Dhoni had a lot to contribute in this feat as he still believed in his team mate and his potential and gave him the opening batting slot – Besides , the leader should believe in himself and own up the process instead of passing on the pressure to his team mates . Again , Dhoni and to some extent Gilchrist showed up well in this aspect.

DO NOT FOLLOW A PRE-DETERMINED GAME PLAN –  Business like cricket is full of glorious uncertainties and one needs to work equipped with a number of contingency plans and exploit success with mental mobility . Change of bowlers and batting order by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne frequently to meet the situation on the ground is a good example here.

FOLLOW UP ON RISK TAKEN WITH AUDACITY AND AGGRESSIVE SPIRIT –  In IPL , the first mover advantage can be at times with the team which wins the toss and decides to field  , even though batting first has its own advantages . It is your decision and you need to follow up the risk taken with audacious strategy once the opponent has revealed his game plan . This holds good greatly in the business scenario as well and the ” laid back ” strategy to watch the opponent reveal his hand first and then strike with full power to beat him in his game brings in great results .

PLAY MIND GAMES TO SUBVERT YOUR OPPONENT”S STRENGTH – Dhoni deciphered the strength quotient of Chris Gayle and used Aswin to bowl to him in the opening over and got him out with a duck !. A great winning strategy indeed !!. On more than two occasions , Tendulkar got out to the bowling of new unknown bowlers . In a business setting , we need to resort to mind games quite often to unravel the moves of our competitors and draw them in to battles of our own choosing for favorable outcomes .

THINK THROUGH THE WHOLE GAME  – A game of cricket especially the limited over editions is never over till the last ball is bowled . Look at how Mumbai Indians snatched the qualifier from under the nose of Kolkata Knight Riders during the last over from a seemingly impossible situation . A leader needs to react to each stage of the game and bring in fresh thought process to retain control . A well thought out run rate through out the game definitely helps in cricket and in real life business it translates into completed staff work and follow through on excellent execution .

ECONOMY OF EFFORTS – In IPL matches , missed catches , fielding lapses and extra runs from wides or no balls can cause enormous harm to your chances of victory . In real life , business leaders should make conscious efforts to eliminate waste and rework  and train their staff  to achieve SIX SIGMA like performance standards of quality and process maturity .

PROVIDE FEED BACK OFF THE GAME –  Do not admonish or constrain your team member while playing . Do post mortem after the act and let them watch their performance on recorded discs , mentor them . Compliment them for their achievements on the spot . Team members should also be encouraged to watch their potential opponents playing to learn useful strategies to deal with them later . Good leaders in business  simulate competitive scenarios and sensitize their team to meet various contingencies before the act .

PLAY TO WIN AND NOT TO SHOW OFF – In IPL , there is always a tendency or urge to show off  because you are playing to the large crowd in a limited over match – the urge to hit a sixer or try to bowl a bouncer is great when prudence demands otherwise  . Many good batsmen get out caught at mid field prematurely or bowlers get hit to the fence when they forget this lesson . Every one cannot be a Chris Gayle or Malinga . The same rule applies in business when you try to show off to your boss or team instead of working on tangible and enduring results .

MAKE YOURSELF REDUNDANT – Let the team survive even if  you get out early even if you are the star batsman . Have sufficient second string batsmen to continue the scoring . Also , develop the youngsters by assigning audacious tasks for them . Cricket and Business are team efforts  in harmony and there is no room for solo players.

And above all , ” LOVE THE PLAYERS , OR LOSE THE GAME “

ICC World Cup 2011 – Dhoni leading India from the edge for a fantastic victory

India makes history again by winning the ICC World Cup cricket trophy 2011 on 2nd April at Mumbai chasing a formidable total in a convincing manner by six wickets and eight balls to spare . While it is the result of great team work backed by expert coaching and training for last 18 months , what stood out on the ground was the superb captaincy and leadership by Mahinder Singh Dhoni -the Captain Cool against tremendous pressure of losing both Shewag and Tendulkar early during the run chase followed by the loss of Kohli’s wicket when the innings was shaping up well with Gautam playing a lead role  in a great partnership .

Everyone expected Yuvraj to come in and take control but Dhoni thought otherwise . In spite of his indifferent batting performance so far , he took the gamble of upgrading himself in the batting order and brought the innings to a winning streak in spite of losing Gambhir also mid way with Yuvraj joining him later and giving able support .

Dhoni’s decision showed real class in that he took the responsibility on his own shoulders , knowing fully well that he had to deal with the twin threats of Malinga and Muralidharan and above all prove himself right to his critics and all the spectators world wide watching this game  . This was a classic example of ” Leading from the edge ” with no safety net at all  if there is a free fall in the shape of wickets . Dhoni’s confidence in himself and his team payed off at the end to a glorious win for India .

It was a privilege to watch Dhoni leading India through three consecutive cliff hanger matches in the quarter , semi and finals of the world cup 2011 to clinch the coveted trophy . Great performance by Tendulkar , Yuvraj , Zahir and others during the run up to the finals.