Thursday, November 29, 2012

The end is nigh

When Ricky Ponting announced his retirement yesterday he did so with refreshing candor and honesty.

Can you even imagine any Indian player ever saying the following things about the state of his game?

"It's a decision I thought long and hard about, put in long consideration about the decision, at the end of the day it was about my results and my output in this series so far," Ponting said. "It hasn't been to the level required for batsmen and players in the Australian team. My level of performance hasn't been good enough."

"I want to be a consistent performer, and if you look back over the last 12 or 18 months I haven't been able to perform consistently. I've had moments of really good stuff, and prolonged moments of cricket that's been below my expectations and below a par level for me, so there hasn't been one dismissal or one moment, it's just been in my own eyes reasonably consistent failure. That's why I believe the time is right now to be making this decision."


I feel like crying when I read that, not because I will miss Ponting (more on that in a second) but because I have become too used to hearing our folks talk about the 15,000 runs they have scored, the 50+ they average as an opening pair with Sehwag, or hark back to the 400+ wickets they have taken.  The first step to dealing with a problem is to admit that there is one.  The reason the members of the Indian team continue to flounder is because they insist that all is well and keep repeating the same mistake even as the opposition players have wizened up to their bag of skills.

But I digress.  This is about Ponting.  For much of the last decade Ponting's was the wicket I most looked forward to being dismissed.  Even when he was playing someone other than India.  One of my happiest moments ever was when I saw Ponting getting out for 99.

In the prime of his prime, when he was making centuries at a rate bested only by Bradman, I hated the fellow.  In the evening of his prime, as he became more expansive with his time and interviews, I came to grudgingly admire him for his honesty and *shock* graciousness in defeat.

Yet, it did not stop me from exulting when Jacques Kallis cleaned him up in the first inning of the recent Adelaide Test.  Seeing Ponting on all fours by the time he finished his shuffle brought me joy.  Today, I am a little sad that I was so gleeful.

If Imran Khan and Malcolm Marshall are the two bowlers I feared the most as an Indian fan, then Ponting is the batsman to match them in my mind.

However, when the Perth Test starts later today, for the first time in my life, I will be rooting for Ponting to score a century.  In fact, I hope he scores two of them.  Years ago, I exulted when he came one run short of being the first person to score twin centuries in a Test 4 times.  This time I hope he gets to three figures.  And beyond.

(Getty images, 2012, via CricInfo)
It took him 15 years to make me change my mind about him.  But in the end, he did.  Nostalgia does strange things to the best of minds, so what chance did I really have?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Casting stones

Harbhajan Singh is back in the Indian team after a spell on the sidelines.  Once his selection was confirmed he lashed out at his critics telling them that a player should not be judged more than just the number of wickets he takes.  (It's a different matter altogether that Economy Singh has done diddly-squat in the time that he was out of the squad and no sound reason exists for him returning to it).

By the way, about a year ago, the very-same Harbhajan Singh was not beyond throwing around the fact that taking 400-plus Test wickets was justification enough for keeping his place in the Indian team.

Like Gautam Gambhir a few days ago, Harbhajan Singh needs to figure out exactly what it is that he wants to peg his hat on.  Self-reflection of an honest kind is seriously lacking among the current Indian players, it seems.

Harbhajan, read Ricky Ponting's incredibly candid self-assessment and learn something.  Please.
Ponting was trapped lbw three times in four innings in the South African series, twice dismissed for a duck, as Steyn and Vernon Philander made him their batting bunny.
Only a fighting 62 in the second Test saved Ponting's career and the 37-year-old now concedes he had huge technical problems and was almost falling over at the crease, in what were some of the lowest moments of his career.
“There is no doubt it was a lowlight. At that stage we needed me to be getting runs if the team was going to win games,'' Ponting said.
“Whenever you fail it is not just about you, it is feeling like you've let your teammates down.
“It was technical - you don't go from playing the way I was playing to getting hit on the pad as often as I was without something being wrong.
“My pre-ball movements were just a little bit earlier than what they should have been. I was trying to move early to give myself more time but it was actually having a detrimental affect. I was moving too early and locking off and not being able to move again after that.
“It took a long time to break the habit I was in and the cycle I was in.”

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hi NYC, I'm Sandy...

I'm a sucker for time-lapse I cannot pass up a chance to show you this one, taken during the past couple of days while Hurricane Sandy made it's way through the Big Apple.