Thursday, 27 November 2008

Chaos in Mumbai

The situation in Mumbai at the moment is truly awful. The suffering family and friends of the injured and murdered must be going through is too extreme to imagine. My condolences to any readers who have lost someone or know someone in hospital and I hope all the Indian bloggers out there are safe.

It feels a bit silly, vacuous and shallow almost, to sit here typing about cricket but that is what I'm here to do. England have a choice - abandon the ODI series and stay for the test series, play the ODI and test series as planned or come home. While I understand that the players are scared about their own safety and their families must be worried as well, I think they should stay.

I have no problems with them pulling out of the ODI series and staying out in the East of the country but I would like them to play the Tests. Not for the sake of cricket as such but to show these terrorists that the world is stronger than they are and that mindless acts of violence will not scare us into stopping living our lives. The security forces in India that are currently guarding the England team in their hotel/fortress are brilliant at what they do - they look after foreign VIPs, politicians etc. If they feel confident that they can keep the players safe then I would take their advice.

India is unlike England - its size and diversity means events in one state can be completely unrelated to what may happen elsewhere. The location of the second test could even be moved from Mumbai if necessary. I don't think that's a great option but the possibility is there.

A truly cynical person would point out that Australia played in England two weeks after the London bombs in 2005 and that players from all over the world stayed in India for the IPL after the bombs in Rajasthan. I didn't want to be that person, nor finish on such a negative note so I'm stopping there.

Mumbai has experienced too many of these attacks for me to count and the city always rises up stronger, more united and braver. It would be nice for cricket to play its part in helping to heal a city that is currently hurt, confused and chaotic.

ETA: England have confirmed that they are playing the Test series which is good news I think. The second Test may be moved from Mumbai to southern India but discussions are ongoing.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Ponting loses the plot

WTF?!? India lose 6 wickets in a session due to Watson and Krejza, Australia are back in the game and the series finally becomes worth watching. The pressure was on India to try and set a decent score, while Australia knew that quick wickets after tea would increase their chances of winning the game and drawing the series.

Then Ponting comes out after tea and decides that over rates are more important than winning the game - White and Hussey bowling after tea so that Ponting could avoid getting a fine and/or suspension was one of the bizzarest things I have seen on a cricket field for a long time. India ended up with a partnership of over 100 between Dhoni and Harbhajan and the game is safe. Once the game was out of reach for Australia, Ponting decides to bring back his wicket takers, who surprisingly enough take wickets and finish off India.

If Australia lose the game and therefore the series, Cricket Australia should ban Ponting for a game just to punish him for being one of the daftest people on the planet.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Two down - three to go...

So Anil Kumble follows Sourav Ganguly into retirement. It cannot be long before Rahul David follows suit with VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar having a little longer left.

The five of them have shaped Indian cricket for over 15 years and have been responsible for some of the team's greatest performances such as the series win against Australia in 2001, the drawn series in Australia in 2008 and away series wins in the West Indies and England.

Kumble has chosen the perfect time to retire - his body has given up even though he is still mentally ready and willing to keep going. His final overs were typical of the man - not much spin but enough bounce and that unplayable straight one. He can retire happy in the knowledge that he gave everything he had to the game and always put the team first. He looked embarrassed by the attention he received but it was well deserved. If the BCCI have any sense (and I'm not holding my breath) he will be kept involved in the development of India's young players as his experience and sense of fair play are priceless.

MS Dhoni has inherited a team that are in transition and can still beat the best team in the world. The efforts of the Fab Five as they are known in India have seen the team develop over the past decade into world beaters. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are two of the players waiting to get into the team and have the talent to do very well. The next year will be an interesting and occasionally difficult time for India but they have the talent to keep challenging the best in the world and MS Dhoni appears to have the backing of everyone in the dressing room.