Calm before the storm ?
Yes, these are relatively calm days in world cricket. Probably indication of the thunderous storm that lies in store for the cricket fans around the world with the start of the Indian-Zimbabwe test series.
Ok, I'm kidding. I mean when the action resumes in the Ashes :-)
SO, meanwhile, here are some snippets of update.
A lot has been said about Zimbabwe's poor form and the need for revoking their test status. But here is some words of sanity from probably the most intelligent cricket captain in business today **"It took us so long to win a Test ourselves, and I don't feel qualified to make a statement on their cricket"
Stephen Fleming remembers New Zealand cricket's dark ages when asked to comment on the current Zimbabwe side**
I personally think Zim has been a good team, and now struggling due to various internal reasons. Its not fair to over-criticize them or talk of taking away their match status. Also, Zim case is a bit different from B'desh. They are in the middle of a slump, after having reached decent levels in test cricket. And its not correct to strip the test status of a side as a punishment for slump, whatever may be the reasons for that low period. Their current results are almost as bad as what some of the better test playing nations had during their bad periods. Its just that there is a 'visible' reason in Zim, that of the departure of their top players, that we are reacting more. As for the cheap runs that likes of Vettori (and Hayden with that triple ton) are accumulating against them, I think that has existed in all generations. All generations of cricketers have had their share of Zimbabawes and Bangladeshes to get some cheap runs. Some of those countries went on to becomes big names later on, but that should not hide the fact.
Harsha Bhogle here talks about the team combination that India should have, and makes it sound so simple ! He puts in one paragraph, what we struggle to articulate over pages ! **Ideally a team would like to play five batsmen, a wicket keeper, an all-rounder and four bowlers. More specifically, three of those should be seam bowlers, it would help if the all-rounder can too and one of the five batsmen should be a decent slow bowler.**
He's also hopeful that this is a good team selected for the ODIs and should serve India well **In the end though, the rules are the same for both sides. It is the spark that will count and this team has a better chance than some others in recent times. Or so it seems!** - I personally don't want to be that hopeful. I do agree that more or less, this is the team we all hoped for (give or take an in-form Zaheer) but I'm not so sure about the kind of form some of these players are in. For example, Sehwag has been failing at the top for a long time. He averages 27 in his last 25 innings, and around 32 in his career. If you take away the odd centuries he scores once in every 10-12 innings, it would be much worse. Its not good enough to have an ODI opener who gives you a century in every 12 games, and around 20-25 runs in rest of the games. Today ODI opening is a 'privileged' position, and therefore candidates need to be judged (as compared to other batting positions) with a certain weightage against them.
Elsewhere Ganguly says that this is the best possible team picked, and not necessarily with World Cup in mind. What he is trying to say is that Kumble and Laxman have been dropped on performance basis, and not because some feel that they are too old to carry-on till the World Cup. Perfect response, and this is how it should be. If Kumble and Laxman start performing exceptionally well in test matches, and are in prime form around the World Cup, would we ignore them just because of age ?