Tuesday January 28, 2020
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Day-Night Cricket, A Great Initiative

Most of the grounds in India do not have adequate roof covering and so the heat becomes a major factor, especially while watching the slower format

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Cricket, Initiative, President
The Day-Night match will give the spectators a better chance to come to watch the game, as not only will some of them be able to see it after a day's work. Wikimedia Commons

The new President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly has truly ignited and lit a fire for Test Cricket in India. The first Day-Night Test match to be played in India at one of the most famous cricket venues, Eden Gardens Kolkata, will begin from November 22. This has brought about an interest and excitement, which itself is wonderful for Test cricket.

The old conservative and traditional form of the game, in the fast moving world of today, requires every bit of innovation to get the dwindling crowds back into the stadium. The Day-Night match will give the spectators a better chance to come to watch the game, as not only will some of them be able to see it after a day’s work but also two sessions of the match will be seen in cooler comfort. Most of the grounds in India do not have adequate roof covering and so the heat becomes a major factor, especially while watching the slower format of the game, Test cricket.

One is extremely happy that India, who were reluctant to play a Day-Night Test, have finally accepted to do so. A similar tale of apprehension from India was also seen when the ODI night cricket was being introduced as well as the now most popular cricket format, the T20. India and Indian crowds took to the latter forms

of the limited-overs version, like duck to water and one hopes that the Day-Night Test matches are also followed with the same enthusiasm.

Cricket, Initiative, President
The old conservative and traditional form of the game, in the fast moving world of today, requires every bit of innovation to get the dwindling crowds back into the stadium. Wikimedia Commons

The idea of night cricket is a very progressive one, however, one of the concerns of a spectator is the lack of facilities and comfort in the stadiums in India. The ordeal starts from the very outset when one is enters the stadium. At most venues the lack of parking and the uncaring attitude at the entrance, whether in the queue or through the security check can be the first of ones disappointments. Unlike abroad where one can enter and also exit whenever one desires to, is another no-no where India is concerned.

At most venues in India, if one goes out of the gate, one is not allowed entry again. A ridiculous rule that makes it impossible for one to enter and exit the stadium at will. The seating and seats are another hardship that one has to encounter. A numbered seat has no relevance to the Indian cricket watcher.

An uncomfortable seat is another matter but to get to it and actually sit on it is a challenge not only at the initial stage but even when one needs to go for a stroll or a break during the match. The idea of a clean and hygienic toilet at the stadium is a dream yet to materialize at most Indian venues. The food and snacks apart from the inferior quality are sold at horrendous prices. Water becomes a luxury rather than a necessity. Those good old days of watching cricket, sharing home cooked delicious snacks and meals was what Test cricket was all about during the match. The companionship of the players on the field and the spectators off it was what made Test matches interesting. The Day-Night match may be a novel way of getting spectators to the ground, but comfort, good seating, affordable tickets and food, good treatment and facilities will be the only way to sustain it in the long run.

England and Australia are good examples of how Test cricket can still be an enjoyable viewing sport and India needs to follow their success structure. Indian cricket seems to have taken the plunge into the Day-Night Test match in a state of great euphoria for all concerned. However, this is an untested area that Indian cricket is venturing into and that too at the highest level of the game without adequate knowledge and trial.

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There is uncertainty in the most essential ingredient of the game, ‘the cricket ball’. India, two years ago, played a Duleep Trophy final match with the pink ball which did not prove successful. Players were not happy as to how the ball became soft and dirty in our conditions and the ball used then was a tested Australian ‘Kookaburra’. Sighting the ball was an issue and with additional lacquer and shine on the pink ball, the variables in playing conditions were quite a lot during the period of the match. One feels that although Virat Kohli and his team have accepted to play an important Test match, that has a significant impact on the points in the World Test Championship, that India should have played many more matches in domestic cricket before venturing into that area of uncertainty.

The curator, with minimum experience in the preparation of the wicket for such a game, will be as much at sea as the bowlers and the batsmen, who have just a few days to acclimatize themselves. India, are planning to use an ‘SG Ball’, which is a novelty in itself, as it has never been used in a match of any significance. How that pink ball will behave in a five day encounter is anyone’s guess.

India may have felt that with a side that has all the ingredients to counter any conditions, victory will still prevail against a weaker opposition such as Bangladesh. On paper that looks correct but Test cricket has brought many such predictions to its knees. One only hopes that the uncertainties of the game with the added uncertainties of the playing conditions do favour India.

The Day-Night cricket may be a great initiative but till thousands of balls with the right specifications and knowledge of the playing surface and its preparation, are not fully understood and most importantly, the spectators comfort improved, this could remain an event to ponder on for time to come. (IANS)

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2019 is One of India’s Best Years in Cricket: Virat Kohli

Indian cricket in 2019 - A moment to remember

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Virat Kohli Cricket
Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli feels that 2019 was the best year for Indian cricket. Wikimedia Commons

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

Captain Virat Kohli’s final statement on Indian cricket at the end of the year was so true. He said, “2019 is one of India’s best years in cricket barring those 30 minutes at the World Cup.” If one reflects on the performance of Indian cricket in 2019 which started with a bang by beating Australia in a Test match series, for the first time, in Australia. This truly remarkable achievement by the Indian side not only gave it that much needed boost to their morale and confidence but also established them as the best Test side in the world.

There were a few defeats during the year but most of them were account of experimenting, resting senior players and giving opportunities to Indian players sitting on the bench.

The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. The Indian team had played extraordinarily well to head their group in the preliminary stage, losing only to the ultimate winners, England. Chasing a moderate total of 239 runs for victory, India’s formidable top order collapsed in just 30 minutes and were tottering at 24 for 4 even before the first 10 overs were bowled. India never recovered from that blow and their dream of winning another World Cup faded in the horizon.

India Cricket
The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. Wikimedia Commons

Looking back at the curtains now drawn for the year, this was perhaps the only blemish that tarnished the significant performances of the India side. The great West Indian side had a similar moment in the 1983 final when they lost to India in the World Cup. To them then, it looked like a total that they would normally chase without blinking an eyelid, but, it turned out to be their nemesis.

Cricket has these uncertain moments and the song, “one moment in time” sung by the wonderful singer Whitney Huston for the summer Olympics in 1988 held in Seoul, is so appropriate, not only for an individual but also for a team. These precious moments are all that one hopes and prays for, in the life of a sportsman. This is what finally establishes them and the team of being a winner or an also ran.

The South African cricket side is a good example of how mental pressure of failure could even affect future teams. They have on many occasions looked like a winning side in an ICC tournament and have failed to deliver due to several different reasons. The side is now branded in world cricket as “chokers” and this tag, unfortunately, has remained every time their side plays in another ICC World Cup tournament. They have in the last two decades produced some outstanding cricketers, but somehow lady-luck has never blessed them when they most need it to break out of the barriers of the past.

The year 2020 has the World T20 later in the year in Australia. India will be one of the likely tournament favourites, especially as they have two of the best T20 batsmen in Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as well as three of the top pace bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At present, the likely Indian T20 team will comprise of a majority of the players who were part of their World Cup 2019 side.

Indian cricket team
The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian cricket team are well known. Wikimedia Commons

This is a major factor that concerns one. For India to be successful, they will need to forget those disastrous 30 minutes of their moment in time of the year 2019. The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian side are well known to one and all, but the team will be tested more on their mental rather than on their cricketing capabilities.

This is where the BCCI will need to play a significant part in ensuring that a mental coaching and strengthening is also an important part in the preparation of the side for the World Cup T20.

International cricket is played more in the mind than on the field. For them to be at the world stage, already makes them players who have the potential and skill to be there. With less than a dozen T20I games left in the Indian calendar before their first World T20 match on October 24, 2020, they not only require to fill the million dollar question that still prevails about the middle order batters, but also, about their mental preparation for the task ahead.

The IPL (Indian Premier League) will play an important part in the final composition of the Indian T20 side, but playing for a franchise is completely different from when one wears the Indian colours.

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With more than a billion people following every step of the teams’ progress and the added responsibility of playing for the nation, the pressures are as different as chalk and cheese.

One wishes the Indian team a super 2020, with victory over New Zealand and Australia in order to qualify for the final of the ongoing World Test Championship, as well as for them to bring the World T20 trophy home — a cup that they won in the inaugural year of 2007. (IANS)