Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Any more questions?

So we lost. What were we expecting ? Why ? Didn't we fight enough ? Is that not improvement(enough) for NOW? I know we have the talent to win, we were so close, we could have won etc....but then, isn't that the 'problem' we have been looking to solve ? Isn't this inconsistency of individuals the main issue that Chappel had talked about solving, but over a period of time? IN DUE TIME, as I also have been saying.

I am often labeled as die-hard Indian supporter. But sometimes I feel its the other way round. Throughout this series I had been looking at Indian results, pointing out those small improvements, elaborately making my point that this team will, step by step, reach the declared goal of being winners again. But the normal supporters, they suddenly get swept by the hype that "India has reached a final"...and "now we are ready to win" ! Why, what made us think that we should win? Have we improved that much already...overnight(from our last game against Zim?)

Oh, and btw, about individual problems...sure there were some tactical errors by Ganguly as pointed out by Prem during the course of the match, but then all captains make errors. Who are the brilliant captains around ? Watch their 5-10 matches in row, and you would find a flurry of common mistakes (Prem would find even more :-), he is more than an average cricketing brain :-) ). The problem is that firstly we are sitting here and analyzing their mistakes, not making our decisions in the 'heat of the battle' as they are, and secondly that those cricketers are normal humans. They are not intellectuals or even very smart people. They are very good players...and then we try to chose the relatively smart one amongst them to make him captain. Sometimes, only very few times, by coincidence, you get a good player(or decent enough to hold his place in the side) who is a really smart person from social standards.

And I'm sure some of those decisions would have had good cricketing sense behind them. We don't know both sides of the story do we? And atleast I don't judge too much before that. (even I could have figured out reasons for some of his criticized moves)

And yes, as I pointed earlier, there are problems of inconsistency in all aspects of our game. And that is what I see GC trying to iron out. With very hard work. Unfortunately I did not watch the final game to comment on specific aspects of it, but anyway it was one game(despite being the final) in the bigger scheme of things.

As GC himself pointed out before the series "We're not judging a team on outcomes such as winning the series," "We've judging them more on whether they're improving in critical areas.". I believe he(and the team) is working towards this, and have set my expectations based on this.

Now the questions is, what do you believe?


Blogger Tiger said...

Is there really some tangible visible improvement? Really? Isnt it reasonable to hope that after having played in so many finals, the seamers would stick to good line and length bowling? And what about the fielding? In one match u see them field ok, the next match - same old story. You know what, the small improvements that you think you are seeing, they are nothing but the normal variation in the performance prevelent even before GC. To label this normal deviation as improvement is incorrect. "improvement in critical areas" - wouldnt bowling a decent line and lenght constitute critical areas? How about fielding - ANY improvement at all? OK, Kaif and Yuvraj have improved, quite a bit actually.. But what about Sehwag and Ganguly and Dravid? Overall, the picture remains same as before. One or two fellows play average cricket, while the rest are way below par.

September 07, 2005 8:41 PM  
Blogger worma said...

tiger...its not as if the same team in same form has been playing so many finals in past few weeks. Look at this team...which was down after Pak series...slumped even further in SL....then started showing signs of recovery in this tour. Now, looking at this way, do YOU see any improvements ?

Its difficult to look at individual improvements, but still...dont you see improvement in ALL of them ? In their approach (Yuv, Kaif we know...what about Dhoni, Sehwag, you not see more applicatio...more hardwork...more 'effort'?). Dravid is a single case, but that kind of inidvidual form slump in a brilliant player is understandable...its not as if he is playing well (like Sehwag in SL) and then throwing it away.

I did not see the final, as you know, so cant comment too much on specifics there, but look at it as a single match. I saw all the other matches, and saw improved effort in the fielding (does not mean Nehra would dive like kaif :-) )..infact in all areas of game. Even if all of these areas went down in finals(which I dont think they did) still its one out of 5 games. So?

Some questions on individual areas in the last match, since I didnt see it:

...except for those drop catches in tense situations....were we showing lack of effort...not 'present' in the field ?

Batting...ganguly showed more effort..whatever you feel about him, atleast there was conscious effort to survive..and then score. Sehwag..what can I say...kaif same....Yuv was there...Dhoni..well his is a chancy game...we know that, but still he has tried in all other games....and JP, Rao are too new to judge that way...I dont even know whether they deserve a place in the long run or not.

Bowling..well ganguly said it in his comments after the match, and I believe 100%...."just like we need to learn how to bat in seaming conditions, we need to learn how to bowl in flat conditions"....something which I had been thinking for a long time...our ODI team has been doing well outside India(last year was anyway overall slump), but not so much in home/flat conditions...even when we were doing well in WC, and that one season before and after it...even at that time we were not doing that well in home ODIs..our pacers dont do that well. Bhajji is one factor that I'm not able to understand well. Sure Ganguly is using him defensively...but still...its a bit of a puzzle

September 07, 2005 8:55 PM  
Blogger Vijay said...

The big problem is that we are not able to get the key players to perform well at the same time. A bad batting performance, might be compensated somewhat by a reasonable performance on the field or vice versa. But very rarely, do we see our batting and bowling click at the same time. Even in the bowling arena- if one guy is hot, the other guys are having a totally off day. Performances where even the #1 and #2 bowlers perform well in the same game (e.g. the first game vs NZ) are rare.

September 07, 2005 9:07 PM  
Blogger Tiger said...

But the point is - isnt it just more of the same old? This tendency to throw away a good start.. how many times have we seen that? And whien bowling, you can bet your bottom dollar that the pacers will bowl short and both sides of the wicket. And fielders will misfield and drop catches. You still dont see fielders charging at the ball - just waiting for the ball to come to them. And why is it unreasonable to hope for improved fielding from Nehra? Or is like that only - hopeless case? Cant these blokes practise throwing at the stumps from 30 yards. OK, Agarkar made a couple of good run outs.. but what about the rest - why zero improvement in fielding.. Bhajji dropped an easy catch in his first over because he was more eager to break his fall than to catch the ball... And what about the field placements? SO unimaginative.. You dont need to be Einstien to figure out that Fleming is getting away with guiding the ball past gully and through 2nd slips. But same thing keeps happenning match after match..
What one looks for is GRADUAL PROGRESSIVE improvement.. and I dont see that..

September 07, 2005 9:10 PM  
Blogger worma said...

vijay I agree, consistency is the main problem. So when we get a good performance, it invariably ends up covering for some other bad performance in some other area (or sometimes in the same area). But thats why, if they all become more give 100% effort all the time...then they will do well, in terms of results, in atleast 60-70% of games..and that would mean that in any given game we would have a higher chance of enough good performers to take us through.

tiger, yeah same old if you look match by match. But thats not going to help, esp when team is down. When they do come up...and start doing well in all areas (reasonably well...I dont want us to wait till they all become champs)..then u start looking match by match (as I explained above to vijay's point). Did you think, going by their performance in past 4 games..that yes, now the Indian team has reached the high I can start expecting them to win most of the time? Although I was optimisitic...still even I did not think that way ! Did you ?

Sure fielding, throwing at stumps....Nehra stopping a simple ball....these are all tough things...these guys are not if GC has to be judged...give him time to convert them....remember its not their prime area of specialization (unlike in Aus etc where players specialize in batting/bowling AND fielding). For example...if you were a great batsmen, right now, and if I asked you to shoot down a single stump from 10-15 mts, regularily ?? Its the same cases with most of these guys. Its the problem with our cricket structure. Guys like GC, Wright etc are trying to teach them something from the scrath.

Looking for gradual progressive improvement....try looking at all our performances(wish we had those video files)..all the games..from SL onwards to here...and then tell me if you see anything ? Dont look at the past...I never meant that we are gradually improving from the past level. We are improving from the great depths at which we ended last season(and began this one)

September 07, 2005 9:22 PM  
Blogger Vijay said...

If Ganguly or Nehra were bad to average fielders, lets say three years ago- and that is still the case now- why do you think that is going to change now? Sometimes, it is a matter of whether you have the commitment in that area or not.
Do we really think that GC would make a difference, where Wright could not? My thinking is that the fielding will generally improve as newer guys replace the existing stars over time. The newer crop of players e.g. Yuvraj, Kaif, Raina are generally better fielders than lets say Ganguly and Laxman. Now, as far as whether both the batting and the bowling do well in the same match- that is more of an issue between the ears. If Pathan could bowl so well in the first two games vs NZ- he had the capability of doing the same in the final game. Likewise if Sehwag could excel in the final game, he certainly had the capability of doing the same thing in the previous games vs NZ. What gives? What would it take, for example to get Sehwag and Pathan to perform well in the SAME game. Is a guy playing for personal stats or is he playing in accordance with the demands of the game at that particular moment? Why do we bowl out of our minds when we are bundled out for 215, like we did against SL. But are totally inept in defending a respectable score of 276. There needs to be a way to evaluate players in terms of how they perform in specific game situations, rather than just raw averages. That would give one insight on how a player is between the ears. Not just the physical ability to play the short pitched ball etc.

September 08, 2005 12:18 AM  
Blogger worma said...

Ganguly and Nehra were average fielder during WC also, but I distinctly remember more 'effort' and purposeful dives from Ganguly atleast during that time. The area in which they dont specialise in, dont expect them to becomes 'good'. Expect themt to become 'hones triers'. Like McGrath in batting. And yes committment is the key.

I do know a good coach would make the diff, whether GC is a good coach or not, we have to wait and see. I am sure Wright made a difference, as I said, I remember seeing more commitment from the same bunch.

Its not a matter of new and old...Nehra is new. But yes most of the youngsters are learning the importance of fielding, mainly due to TV. But still, you cannot ignore the potential of Nehra if he is willing to give his 100% in fielding.

About why not perform well in all the games...well thats the consistency I'm talking about. Sure no-one does well in ALL the games...but if they give the same level of application in ALL the games...they will click in a majority of them(take any Aussie regular ODI player...calculate his success percentage...that is the rate we should aim at!!)

Well...the difference between 215 and 276 is, most of the time, about the pitch and playing conditions. Where we got 276 batting first, that pitch was suited to batting, then why do you expect opposition to behave as if we have made 215 ? They are also batting in same conditions.

The whole thing is not as complicated as we often make it out to be, with our analysis ! Sure, minute analsys helps in ironing out the small factors that make difference in crucial situations. But we have big gaping holes in our basics. So forget over analysis and solve simple things. We got 276, it was LESS. We should have got more. Read Bond here. Now that the match is over, I'm sure he is giving honest opinion and not playing mindgames. So we got less than what any AVERAGE team would have defended. Then we bowled slightly less than average (not much less, as you read Bond, he doesnt think it was our seamers fault, he thinks our batsmen should have also punished their seamers!!). Then we fielded, or rather caught, badly. Thats it. The three basic areas of cricket, and faults in three of them. In this game mainly in batting.

Then, if you go into 'why we failed in batting' that takes us to individual players analysis and we realise that it boils down to same 'consistency' issue again. The players who actually let us down in that area are yuvraj and dhoni. Dravid is in a slump, JP and Rao are we dont even know whether they are good or not(and whether that one innings from JP was enough proof of talent or not). This is what GC also talks about. Therefore I have a feeling he is good enough to identify the problem. Whether he can rectify it or not, dunno about that.

September 08, 2005 12:39 AM  
Blogger Vijay said...

I agree with you that we got less than what we should have, when we closed at 276. Before Bond, Ganguly said the same thing. A little bit of that can also be attributed to luck. For example, if Dhoni was not given out- chances are that we would have scored 20 odd runs more and got to say 300. Having said that, however,the way we bowled- I am not sure that we would have been successful defending a 300 score either. By the way, I do not buy that argument that because it was a batting wkt, the pacers got hammered. These guys are used to the dead wickets of the subcontinent- and know what it takes to bowl on those.

Look at how successful Pathan and Balaji were with the ball in Pakistan. It is a matter of the head. Pakistan's success in India is an example of how a less talented team could prevail against a better team (on paper) in the better team's home ground. This less than a year after losing to India at home. How is it that they were able to turn it around so quickly? While we are still "finding" our way- even though we have very experienced players in this line up.

I actually did expect India to beat NZ. On talent alone, once you go past Bond, the Indian bowling measures up well. And as far as the batting line up goes, man for man- the Indian line up is more talented. Unfortunately, games are not won on paper.

September 08, 2005 1:46 AM  
Blogger worma said...

Since I did not watch the game, so no comments on Dhoni. But we are not good at bowling on flat tracks (as Ganguly also said, we have to learn that, since we dont have raw pace). We win in subcontinent mainly due to 'out-batting' the opponents (and sometimes due to slow bowlers like kumble, sachin, bhajji). Remember the ODI series we had in Pak, and now also in India against Pak. All high scoring games...batsmen often vying to top each other...thats how most games go.

I mean on our tracks also, one of the team has to win, does that necessarily mean that team is bowling well? What if both were bowling badly, still one will have to win, right? And yes, I do think we would have defended a score of 300, I am sure.

Having said that, I am not defending our bowlers, we could still have run them close with a little more intelligence by our pacers, but as Bond was trying to say, the main fault does not lie there.

And why did you expect us to beat Nz ? We are not at top of our game. Nz is playing as good as they do. They are so high in world ranking despite missing Bond for 2 years. Bowlers like McMillan, Syris may not look good but they have made Nz good enough to give Aus ODI setup a run for their money, most of the time. They have perfected art of playing ODI. Why would you expect us to beat them, given all this? Yes sure, we could STILL have beaten them, but thats more unexpected for me, knowing all this.

The records on paper do count, but those are 'individual' records. There are team records also, on paper. These records also count. And they say Nz are better. Nz are a perfect example that the team is not the sum of its individuals.

September 08, 2005 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered this site by accident...good blog! Since I've found it, I'll make comments occasionally too :)

September 10, 2005 7:10 AM  

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