15 September 2010

Redbacks killing me

Mumbai Indians v Redbacks

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I don't know where to start. I am zombified. This was one of the most nervewrecking T20s I have ever seen in my whole life. Been wandering restlessly since last night already. Obviously this match would be the most crucial one for the Spider Boys, a huge mountain to climb, and at the toss we heard that Ryan McLaren had been replaced by Dwayne Bravo... Ultra fat batting power! Speaking of toss, Sachin Tendulkar won it and, who'd have thunk it, batted first... misery looming at the horizon!

No monster score for Statchin today.
Early wickets, early wickets was my mantra. Shaun Tait could have got the first one in the first over, but got dropped, but Gary Putland made heaps of amends for his medium rare performance in the first match and struck in the second over. Unfortunately it wasn't Statchin. Not much happening thereafter, but when Dan frickn Christian came on first change Tendulkar tore him to bloody shreds, literally... 14 off the over, DC really took a caning here.

Radical bowling change from the other end as Aaron O'Brien came on to bowl some spin, and he took Statchin on the horns! No mammoth score for the grande dame of the willow! Two overs later he claimed the scalp of JP Duminy, another big hitter gone. But those were only two out of about 300 in the Mumbai lineup. Cullen Bailey spun leg from the other end and it looked like a good plan, until Saurabh Tiwary lost his patience and started to hit out, clubbed both Bailey and O'Brien ruthlessly,  lost his partner but continued with Kieron bloody Pollard!

Saurabh grrrrr!
The 16th over was the worst, Aaron O'Brien's nice figures got messed up badly when he got taken for 25 by the rabid Saurabh. Absolutely insane. Klinger sent Tait back on and he removed Tiwary with his first ball. Dwayne Bravo in, for the Caribbean connection. Boundaries and maximums en masse, off all three; Putland, Tait and Christian. Two wickets in the last over but the score had already rocketed through the ceiling. Had JP Duminy still said in the 15th over that 150 would be par and anything above that a nice bonus, the Redbacks had conceded 180 bloody runs in the end.

At that stage I had zero, and I mean zero, hope that the Saussies would get past 150 at any point. The chase started off quietly... which is euphemistic for wobbly, chokely, snailishly. Both openers captain Michael Klinger and Daniel Harris looked absolutely clueless against Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga and missed more balls than they managed to hit. Mumbai's fielding was absolutely disgusting though, and it enabled the openers to somehow put their tents up at the crease and get to 100+ with no loss, especially feasting on the West Indian tandem of Pollard and Bravo.

Slow and steady wins the race!
I have not counted how many catches the Indians dropped, but those were vital, absolutely necessary contributions to the South Australian quest. Statchin led from the front with the first dropped dolly, and his team mates tried to imitate him enthusiastically. Alright I have counted them: four drops and a missed run-out. You can't help thinking of Pakistan here, and from there it is only a cat's leap to the bad m-f word. Which I will of course not pronounce here. But you have to admit that MI would have beaten the shit out of the Redbacks had it not been for the atrocious fielding.

But thanks to the help from the Indians Klinger and Harris marched into the 14th over undisturbed and had built a nice foundation of 112, before they fell in rapid succession. Graham Manou tried to continue but was out after two big hits. Again my heart descended into my pants and I lost any ability to move, speak or breathe. Frozen gawking eyes were staring at the screen. The only hope I still had was nourished by Callum Ferguson, but he got chopped soon after his entrance. But! Dan frickn Christian and Cameron Borgas at the crease! They seamlessly continued the work of their predecessors, don't slow down, don't stop was the motto, and they managed to keep the Redbacks worm on top of the Mumbai one.

New ball needed after Harris answers Pollard's question
Big hitting would be needed continuously as the asking rate was meandering around 12 all the time. Christian hammered Bravo, went out to Zaheer, but Borgas could simply not afford any feelings of intimidation and kept clubbing the Indian quickie, permanently working on getting the asking rate further down. At the opposite end of the crease the trumpets and fanfares had sounded: Enter Tom Cooper! He had struck a fearless final six in the first match and today it was again him to join the party at the death and to throw the sink at everything that couldn't run and hide in time, this time he clubbed a brutal 19 off just 5 balls,  and whacked Harbhajan Singh in the last over so hard that the Redbacks finished with three balls to spare!

Bloody... frickn hell!!!!!! Other teams would have folded after the departure of the first 3 or 4 batsmen... but the Redbacks only started to put the pedal to the metal then! Can't deny that I was quite surprised by this enormous lower order hitting potential, but I am unbelievably glad to have witnessed it. 

Nana Mouskouri learns that money can't buy attitude
Phewwww this match serves as a very good reply to all those who need the seemingly safe bandwagon of the star-studded favourites under their butts and spit bile and venom when it derails. The Redbacks have played fantastic, labour-intense underdog cricket so far and although a lot could have gone wrong during this match you will have to admit that in retrospective they have rightfully earned their status as the dark horses of their group.

I think this effort has to get rewarded with an extra special treat: watch Tom Cooper cuddle some lion cubs.. or lion cubs cuddle Tom Cooper! :D

Aaaaand... Daniel Harris sitting in the interview armchair and speaking about the victory that gets labeled by some as the best match of the tournament so far:

Dead but happy,


Mudassar @ CricketVibe said...

Feeling so much RED that can't even sleep!!

Mahek said...

You know why I hate this Mumbai team so much? Well one of the many reasons really. Throughout your post you kept using the word Indian to refer to their players. As an Indian it pisses me off that this team claims to "represent" Indians. I've had more than a decade of people saying the Indians got hammered and could do without hearing more of it thanks to the embarrassment that is this Mumbai team.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

Hello Maddy and Mahek, thank you for your visits!

I used the word Indians only twice in the entire post ("catches the Indians dropped", "help from the Indians"), and it wasn't my intention to express that they are representatives of India (which they aren't) but because it's a short form of their name, like Redbacks = West End Redbacks. Will refer to them as M'Indians from now on, if you insist, no problem. Didn't know that by calling themselves Mumbai Indians they claim to represent entire India, especially given their number of legionnaires. On the other hand it is really not a bad team, I mean you can't be *that* crap if you win the IPL! But I think maybe they were more motivated in the IPL, or the competition wasn't as intense... as written above, had it not been for the subterranean efforts in the field they would have won the match easily I think, so maybe that's an attitude problem here, but I'm not the one to tell,


Mahek said...

Oh no, I wasn't implying that you call them M'Indians. I was just pointing out that people will call them Indians because they named their team so. I have no problem with you or anyone saying they got hammered. What I have a problem with is Mukesh Ambani calling his team "Indians".

Oh and they're not the IPL champions. They lost the finals to Chennai who have been the most consistent IPL team over the three seasons. Mumbai topped the table but they had a huge advantage over the other teams. 6 of their first 8 games were at home and one of the other two was an "away" game played in Mumbai. They even had home advantage for the semis and finals and yet they lost. Their fielding has never been good, they dropped two sitters in the IPL final as well. And they have a terrible record in close games.

Mahek said...

Just heard Manjrekar say all Indians are Mumbai Indians fans because of Sachin. That's exactly the sort of douchy attitude that makes me hate them.

Shridhar Jaju said...

Mahek, I admit that I am one of those 'because-of-Sachin-Mumbai-Indian-fan'. But I'll try to give you an opinion from a neutral perspective.

Their bowling attack is pretty amazing. Zaheer has gotten a pasting in both matches at CLT20, but there is no denying that he is a very good bowler. Malinga is as good as it can get in T20s. Harbhajan does not know how to bowl in Tests, so he becomes fit for Twenty20 (though now it seems he has forgotten to bowl completely). In Bravo and Pollard, they have two more than decent all-rounders.

Their batting is sometimes too reliant of Sachin, but yesterday and numerous times in the IPL as well, they showed character with Sachin failing as well.

True, their record in close games is bad. But that is the lack of confidence in finishing games off... which may also be a reflection of Sachin's captaincy (I agree he's never been captaincy material). But I don't think all these factors combined should make a team 'hate-worthy'. Still if you hate them, then I think there is a bit of prejudice involved.

Mahek said...

I'm well aware that a lot of people root for Mumbai because of Sachin. But it's different from saying ALL Indians root for Mumbai, no?

Zaheer is a world class bowler in tests. He's been bitchslapped from pillar to post in LOIs for the past year and a half. Harbhajan is a shit bowler no matter what format you're talking about. Malinga is great, I'll give you that. Pollard and Bravo are allrounders alright, but how does that make them good bowlers? People call Ravindra Jadeja and Fluke Wright allrounders too. Doesn't mean a thing.

Their batting is actually fine. They've coped well when Tendulkar got out cheaply. I don't know why they have a bad record in close games but it makes me happy.

I'll tell you why I hate them:

1. Owner Mukesh Ambani.
2. They belong to Mumbai.
3. Douchy fans with a sense of entitlement.
4. Bollywood celebs pimping themselves at their games.
5. Their team name is Indians. I'm Indian and I don't identify myself with them. Never will.

Freehit said...

I couldn't agree more with Mahek.
Mumbai Indians is stupid name and they are not remotely indian in anyway.I somehow hate seeing them win.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

Hello Mahek, sorry I got that wrong with the IPL final. I remember now that Statchin had tinkered with the batting order (?) and waited too long to send Pollard in (but my memory is really hazy on this one, but I recall watching the second half or so)

Interesting discussion by you guys. Here on this blog I sometimes take the mickey out of Sachin. Sure he is one of the greatest cricketers of all time! But the way he gets worshipped to the point of fanaticism deserves the occasional bagging. In a way his MI captaincy and fielding make him look more human again, which makes it easier for sceptics of the cult (like me... I pay more attention to fringe players for some reason) to approach him. So maybe MI fulfil a purpose after all *g*

Pollard has had a fine county season and was useful with both bat and ball and also took the Redbacks to the Big Bash final, I think he is either hit or miss, but when he hits you better seek the bunkers. He is so young still... I am sure he'll become a lot more consistent in the next 5 years

Mahek said...

You're right, Pollard came in at number 8 with just 3 overs left. Spinners are the best option to him but also very risky, especially on the small grounds in South Africa and the ones where they bring the ropes in in India.

It's not Tendulkar's fault he gets worshipped the way he does. Someone like you who hasn't seen Indian cricket being absolute rubbish and Sachin being the only consistent player in the side would never imagine the amount of pressure he's had to handle. It's similar to how I may never comprehend just how good Gavaskar was in the 70s and 80s. That said, even his biggest fan will know he's never been a good captain. I like to keep the two separate.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

Hello Mahek, thank you for pointing that out, I do respect Sachin to full extent, the Statchin thing merely means that one should keep a healthy distance to everything, I usually also mock the things I like, no harm in that.

But what nobody understands is why a country as huuuge as India, and full of cricket obsessed people as well as equipped with a pretty commercialised (and thus probably also very professional) cricosphere finds it hard to produce consistent cricketers? One should think that the choice of players is so large that only the superhumans make it into the national side... I know that the selectors have to pay attention to regional interests but that should still not be a hindrance (?). I also know that Sachin is very special in terms of his personality and hardly anybody can match him but the sheer amount of cricket players should create tough competition and result in a choice of world class players? Sorry my clue of Indian cricket is limited to the big names (I did not even know the face of Gautam Gambhir), hence the questions.

Mahek said...

Wes, people here might be obsessed with cricket but it doesn't mean the interest will definitely translate into on-field performance. Pakistan and Bangladesh are similar in that regard.

The Indian cricket you see now is nothing like it was a few years ago. Domestic cricketers were paid peanuts and there was no IPL so the only way to make a living in cricket was by being in the Indian team. Imagine the odds for someone in India to make a squad of 15. Factor in nepotism and regional bias. Also factor in the fact that even now 40 percent of our population is below the poverty line. How do you think people can afford to buy a cricket kit? Remember this isn't football that you can make do with a ball and a pair of shoes or play barefooted.

I could go on with this but if you want a glimpse into Indian cricket you should read Indian Summers. It's written by John Wright who coached the Indian team for 5 years, a period which was the start of India's surge to where it is right now. I'll just mention a couple of incidents he's mentioned in the book. Anil Kumble used to travel over 24 hours in a general train compartment to play age-group matches. If you go to my wall photos on facebook you'll see pictures of how crowded trains can be. Another incident is about Harbhajan Singh nearly moving to America to drive cabs because his father had passed away and he was the only breadwinner in his family. For every Kumble and Harbhajan there are a hundred others who never got a chance to live their dream of playing for India.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

I see I see. But that also means that in a certain distance into the future India will have built up structures that support young upstriving players from early age on, like in other countries? Seeing that India is marching forward with mighty strides and I am absolutely confident that it will overcome its problems in the long term, we all have, it takes time but the country has so much potential and is open to innovation and improvement but also enjoys a healthy democracy from what I can tell, so that progress so should unavoidable. With general improvement of incomes and life standard even a local cricketer should be able to make a living (like in Aus/England etc... state professionals)
I did not know this about Harbh, crazy and sad :/

Mahek said...

That is the direction it should take ideally. However, it all comes down to how serious the board is to give players the best chance to succeed at the highest level.

The current president of the board got the curator at Nagpur to prepare a green top for a crucial Ind-Aus test because his mentor who is now the ICC President lost a BCCI election. We lost the test and Australia won their first series in India in 35 years. The current board secretary also owns one of the IPL teams and the chairman of selectors is the team's "brand ambassador". Only yesterday the apex court in the country ruled that there was a clear conflict of interest and that the board secretary should have given up his position before bidding for an IPL franchise.

Considering most of the cricket associations are run by politicians and live off the grants provided by the BCCI it's hard for me to see them getting their act together in the near future. The only silver lining is we've produced world class cricketers inspite of all this.

Mahek said...

Enough of this! Why are we letting this topic steal the Redbacks' thunder??? :)

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

Oh yes how could I forget! The involvement of politics in sport hampers the entire subcontinent I reckon. And usually this problem can only be solved via revolution, the only way to tear everything out by the root in order to be able to plant something new :/

Don't worry I find it very informative!

Mahek said...

I think the involvement of politics has hampered other countries as well. For example, can you explain why John Howard wanted Zimbabwe to be barred from international cricket because of Mugabe but had no problem in letting Australian companies do business there? How about him calling Mandela a terrorist and openly supporting South Africa's apartheid regime? You can see the hypocrisy in players like Ponting and Hayden all too clearly. Administrators like Giles Clarke have no problem getting into bed with Allen Stanford but will behave condescendingly with a teenager like Amir who wasn't charged with, let alone found guilty of fixing. People talk about the BCCI only caring about money, wonder what they have to say about the 151-game marathon that was the Friends Provident T20 or hurriedly scheduling a series against the West Indies last year because of their contract with Sky. So you see, there are skeletons in everyone's closet. Only difference is bringing out the ones in the subcontinent cupboard is just that bit more scandalous :)

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

The question was how India can get professional structures that help players to develop their game and give them financial security, like it is the case in other countries.

You said one problem in improving the current situation and providing improvement for the players is that change is made difficult by the involvement and interference of politics. I don't see how Howard's antics or the FPT20 schedule come in here, the structures in Australia and England are working for the cricketers and they do not only give them security but also create top players, and this should be the aim for India as well in some distant future, which makes it obvious that the dimensions of the problem are really not comparable, and apart from that, it doesn't matter in the first place. I think what you are doing here is called "strawmanning", redirecting the attention to something unrelated. Why? I was enjoying to hear something new about Indian cricket, not the old stereotypical moans.

Also generally, pointing at others saying "but he is evil as well" is not a foundation for progress and improvement, lateral orientation does not take anyone forward, resting oneself on the fact that others are bad will cause self-satisfaction and stagnation. Apart from that we have already discussed the Howard problem to the point of physical sickness I'm afraid. The blame game also makes the discussion frustrating and turns it from an enjoyable flow of information into a negative situation. I have encountered it too often that the "Howard Ponting Australia evil" tree must inevitably pop up at some point and the formerly productive discussion will crash into it.

Sorry Mahek but I am not feeling like that now. Maybe it is my mentality, Germans are not entitled to point the finger at others, we got grabbed by the head and they dipped our faces into our shit piles and forced us to look at ourselves. This is the only way to clean up one's own mess. This silly "but but.. you!!" game really doesn't yield anything for anyone.

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

And sorry for that outburst but this problem had been burning under my nails for a long time, it really hampers any free exchange of thoughts

Mahek said...

No problem. The reason I pointed it out had nothing to do with how Indian cricket is right now. I had moved on from that topic because like I said, domestic cricketers are paid well and the advent of IPL has meant players aren't at the mercy of national selectors while trying to make a living out of playing cricket.

I'm sure you've heard the saying "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas". Only yesterday I was talking to a friend about first class cricket in India and how there need to be less number of teams so that the quality of cricket is better. But it is unlikely to happen because the people who run the BCCI get to their positions through elections and you win elections based on the votes of state cricket associations. So how do you convince a state association to dismantle its first class side and strip it off the few games it hosts during the cricket season? The ECB faced a similar problem when it tried to come up with a 9-team T20 tournament and the smaller counties shot down the proposal. At the end of the day, everyone wants their pound of flesh.

I'll give you another example. This isn't related to cricket per se, it's more about fan comfort. People aren't allowed to carry mobile phones into the stadium because the authorities suspect someone will detonate a bomb using a mobile phone. As someone who's been to sporting events in 3 different countries I might find it unfair but I have to understand that security is tight only because we have a neighbouring country which has been waging a proxy war for decades.

I can talk about how they need to structure cricket in India but after so many years you realise some things just won't happen no matter how sensible they might be. What works in Germany may not work in India and vice-versa. That is why Gary Kirsten and John Wright got more out of players than Greg Chappell. I have immense respect for Chappell and I think we set ourselves back by being too delicate when he spoke the truth, but it is equally true that he didn't know how to manage players.

You have no idea how much worse other sports have it in India. A lot needs to be done and I'd be more than willing to work in that field. However, I've run into a brick wall trying to get into Indian sports because the people at the top itself aren't bothered about doing things right. And why would they when the team is doing well and fans are so crazy about it? What they don't realise is the current situation may not prevail a few years from now, but maybe they just don't care because they're not in this to improve Indian cricket. That is incidental, the most important thing for them is power and money.

Mahek said...

Goddamnit I wrote a long ass comment and I don't see it here but it says my comment was published. If it isn't I'm just going to sum it up by saying the people who run the game need to have their priorities right. It should be Cricket=Fans>Broadcasters/Sponsors>Officials

Mahek said...

I see that it was indeed published. Anyway, we could continue this conversation if you like. I'd much rather prefer it on MSN or something cus that way we can react to what the other says immediately. Besides I don't like making people read my lengthy rambling comments :)

Wes ~PFCNFS~ said...

Hello Mahek, sorry for the technical issues, the publishing of the comments can sometimes be a bit delayed when it is evening in the US (just my experience, the delay occurs always then), if you have subscribed to the replies via email I think (not sure) the reply should arrive in your inbox right away. Sorry that happens because the blog is hosted by a free service.

I have read your post with great interest. I have no answer to this problem except for the whole country entering the period of post-materialism (which is utopian) It sounds a very much like the relationship between the FIFA and its member countries.

I think we have slightly different views on the club matter. I think there cannot be "too many" clubs. Clubs that can't survive financially will vanish anyway. Clubs provide recreational means to the public and as such they fulfil a social cause. A large number of clubs ensures that everybody has the possibility to do sports with others. It also helps to introduce the kids to a healthy lifestyle and allows them to experience focus, application, team spirit and responsibility, and frankly said, it keeps them off the streets. This area wide work is only possible because a lot of dedicated volunteers are involved in providing the broad public with these opportunities, because the public funding is often not enough to pay all the required personnel for their work. This comprehensive approach makes sure that exceptional talents get spotted early, supported accordingly and get picked up by the clubs that play in professional leagues. A functioning transfer market ensures healthy competition among the players for the best contracts, and from the viewpoint of the clubs it forces them to compose a team as good as possible, and to drop the stinkers. I agree with you insofar that a smaller number of employers increases the pressure on the players and and filters the market, but as long as a club is able to re-finance itself it has, imho, the right to exist, as it gives more players the opportunity to play sports, and one major factor is that only a few players are really outstanding; the vast majority of the domestic players goes into the fringe/labourer category, they are the broad foundation and the heartbeat of the sport.

Mahek said...

The clubs you talked about are a bit different from state associations. I'm not against having too many clubs as their aim is to provide a means to keep the youth involved in constructive activities. State associations, however, are a level above these clubs. If I were to draw a parallel with football, I'd say it doesn't make sense to have 30 teams in the first division but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be any lower division(s) because ultimately players start in the lower rungs anyway.

State associations do not re-finance themselves. Like I mentioned, they live off the money provided by the BCCI. There is no accountability. Sehwag, Gambhir, Nehra and other Delhi cricketers threatened to walk out on the DDCA because of how corrupt it was. A compromise was reached and no one knows where things stand now. When there is an international match half the tickets are just given away to bureaucrats, dignitaries, politicians. None of the state associations have a marketing plan or a team that gets sponsorships. Everything is done by the BCCI, and it works because corporates would gladly fall over each other to be part of Indian cricket right now.