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Hitchhiker’s guide to the neverending series

November 19, 2008

The test series done, it’s business-as-usual in India as a seven-match ODI series kicks off and before you know it, the home-team is two-nil ahead. For as long as I remember, there have been two versions of the English team. One, that could be mistaken to be almost competitive against most teams except Australia, and the second version, that touches down in India every few years. This version gets rolled over by 2nd string domestic sides in warm-up games, has roughly a third of their squad down with a stomach bug by the second week and key batsmen successfully disguising themselves as walking wickets. They usually also have one name, never more, on their roster who proceeds to send down over after over of ramrod straight deliveries while having paid off the graphics department of the production house to put “Right-arm off spin”, “Left-arm orthodox” or similar designation against his name. They then proceed to make a couple of supremely lucky players look like Bradman, or better yet, Vinod Kambli.

Allowing for boredom, complacency and a few coin-tosses, the series should comfortably go India’s way, done by the 5th or 6th game followed by an inconsequential game or two to end the series 4-3. Now, I reckon cricket needs seven match ODI series much like a man lost in the middle of the desert and dying of thirst needs a lawnmower with a built-in space heater. But if I was a cocky South African with a reputation to maintain (some IPL sales pitches to be made) and an English team to lead, here are a few things I’d do:

1. Send in the enforcer: I have nothing against the likes of Bell, Shah, Patel or Bopara, but if there’s one guy who’s going to win you games on unhelpful tracks in hot weather against flat-track bullies, its Andrew Flintoff. Bowl him first, bat him at 4, the longer Freddie’s in the action, the better England’s chances

2. “Look ma, two feet!”: Excerpt from English coaching manual “…there are two ways to play spin, to either lunge forward with bat and pad together or run down the track with a yell of “Geronimo!” to hit it into orbit. Except if the bowler is a suspiciously thick-haired blond, plan for the shortest route back to the dressing room…” Be decisive with the feet, and know that the weird blond guy is probably only Sreesanth breakdancing on the boundary rope

3. It’s not the chicken tikka stupid! Don’t order baked beans for room service and then blame the morsel of Indian food you had a week ago for your gastroenteritis. We like to actually taste our food, so any cans the chef rummaged in the back of the freezer for were probably left behind by departing regiments of colonists

Tally Ho!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Moin permalink
    November 24, 2008 7:53 pm

    Funny but true. came across this blog from the comment in guardian blog.

    carry on good work

  2. November 25, 2008 9:43 am

    Thanks moin!

  3. November 25, 2008 1:31 pm

    very true about freddie. i also shared some similar views on the post “the problem with england” over at the flyslip.

    if there was a way freddie could cloned that would be ideal.

    bell is no odi material so he has to go. bopara opening is a positive move.

    and for the love of god find a decent keeper batsmen. is there no one in eng better than prior?

  4. November 25, 2008 1:39 pm

    damith, the problem is all of their batsmen, except for KP, fall into either the “solid-staid-turgid” category or the “swish-four-swish-out” category. The former won’t give their wicket away and the latter don’t expect to do more than hit a couple of big shots.

  5. vikram permalink
    November 26, 2008 6:14 am

    “but if there’s one guy who’s going to win you games on unhelpful tracks in hot weather against flat-track bullies, its Andrew Flintoff.”— who are flat track bullies? That was a thing of the past….This team won a test series in england last year and ran them close in ODI too…so where does flat track bullies come into the picture…the english batsman are not bullies on any kind of tracks…everytime they win one series they think they can win the Ashes like they did when they beat SA…The truth is all their ex cricketers Viz boycott,Athers,Pringle….bloat up the english Ego saying this team has grown up…its hilarious to read Boycotts comments now after england has lost the series…Bunch of loosers thats what english team was and will reamin in ODI…

  6. John Sekar permalink
    November 26, 2008 8:12 am


  7. November 26, 2008 4:15 pm

    thanks john.

    vikram: the composition of the sides winning those test series overseas is very different from the ones pillaging centuries at will in this series. let’s face it, we have more than a few batsmen who become run-machines on the flat tracks at home. as for the criticism of the english team, its not the first time a team is getting kicked when its down

  8. November 26, 2008 6:14 pm

    never ending series, too right
    its 4-0 – series decided yet 3 more matches to play

    good as practise matches but meaningless as ‘internationals’

  9. vikram permalink
    November 27, 2008 1:34 am

    donthaveaclue : What is the definition of a flat track bully? Guys who play well in the subcontinent…ok agreed some of our batsamn are…but who doesnt play well in home conditions?
    SL who are a high ranked ODI team struggle to win even a single match abroad.Australia is struggling now to win Overseas.I think SA has been the only team which has adjusted to all kinds of conditions although they are yet to win anything in australia they have run the aussies close on many occassions…..coming to India… our batsman in ODI & Tests did a great job in Australia.ODI team almost had the same composition as today.We won ODI in SL where pitches werent too flat…Even in England last year we ran them close…I am not saying we are the best team but i will not agree that we are flat track bullies anymore…Sehwag is the best opening bat in the game curently and has made runs in almost all conditions.Lot of people called him flat track bully viz boycott…now he says sehwag is very good…So flat track bully is a difficult thing to explain my friend.And if it is very easy scoring on flat tracks let the english batsman do a sehwag or a yuvi and prove it….

  10. November 27, 2008 3:56 pm

    vikram, a flat-track bully is one who does significantly better on featherbeds than on slightly bowler-friendly surfaces. let me illustrate, sehwag can dominate attacks irrespective of the surface (as long as he’s in form) while a raina or a yuvraj (i think),can do it only on belters. i totally agree that India are a far better team than they used to be and we have some true class, but there are a few who wouldn’t last an over on a juicy GABBA pitch

  11. December 2, 2008 12:03 pm

    just realised that i love your blog so much that i have added it twice to my blogroll.

  12. December 2, 2008 12:36 pm

    damiths: thanks, i shall take your oversight as a compliment 🙂

  13. vikram permalink
    December 6, 2008 10:57 am

    @donthaveaclue: mate all i can say is we watch different cricket matches…Saurav Ganguly belted a century at Brisbane when he was considered the weakest againt chin music…Sehwag was considered the same and now he is the best opening batsman in the world….its just a matter of time before Yuvraj or Raina prove you wrong…I am confident this will happen…

  14. Jomama permalink
    December 6, 2008 11:16 am

    nice to see such a healthy discussion……. but i must agree with Vikram. India Cricket team is no where close to even the word ftb…….. that may have been a few decades ago but people like Sehvag and Yuvster (ok yuv on a good day 😉 ) India Cricket team is proving its worth. gotta agree w/ saurav ganguly’s century in oz too when he made lot of skeptics jaws touch the ground.

    btw donthaveclue Ponting cant play spin doesnt mean he is not a good player 🙂 …

  15. December 8, 2008 9:55 am

    vikram and Jomama: firstly, i think your points are completely valid, i enjoy a good debate about the finer points. having said that i believe, its not purely technique but temperament that enable some performances. Ganguly’s 100 in Brisbane was one such inning. Also, aberrations will always show up. Yuvraj has been around long enough to have worked on his technique to get better against the moving ball. The fact that he hasn’t is probably more a reflection of the huge rewards up for grabs on the featherbeds and hence lack of motivation to put in the hard work than of his inability. I’m more than happy to be proved wrong on this debate because that’ll only mean a stronger Indian team but my fear is that the IPL and its consequences will erode the need to be good and encourage being flashy. I’ve written a 3-part post about the short and long-term impact of the T20 craze here. Would be interested to know your thoughts…
    Impact of the IPL – Part 1
    Impact of the IPL – Part 2
    Impact of the IPL – Part 3

  16. May 28, 2009 5:35 am

    It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place.


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