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Maxwell Gets Back His Match Winning Mojo Under Kohli

The continued success of Glenn Maxwell in Royal Challengers Bangalore colours is a big lesson in man management. Playing for his fourth IPL team, the expensive batting all-rounder got back his match-winning mojo only now under the leadership of Team India and RCB skipper Virat Kohli and the team management that have given the Aussie the mental space he needed to find his old form. As colleague AB de Villiers, the biggest 360 degree batting star of IPL, pointed out: “It’s about feeling backed and he feels that here, with Virat, myself and all the coaching staff, all his teammates back him. He knows he has extraordinary talent but for that to blossom he knows he must be happy, and I think he is just in a happy space at the moment.” To do well at sport, they speak of “good headspace” and that is what the enigmatic Aussie, bought for Rs 14.5 crore, seems to be in as he cracked his highest score since 2014. As the show pony in three previous IPL teams, he may have been put under enormous pressure. In RCB, where he is only the third musketeer after Kohli and ABD, Maxwell is flourishing

Rishabh Pant with coach Ricky Ponting

So Far, So Good For Rishabh As DC Captain At IPL

Rishabh Pant is learning the ropes of captaincy at Delhi Capitals in the IPL season 14 that began on April 9. The dashing left-hander, who has changed the template of batting across all formats of the game, got the leadership role at the misfortune of Shreyas Iyer, who hurt his left shoulder in the India-England ODI series in Pune and subsequently underwent surgery. After Pant’s appointment as captain, co-owner of the franchise Parth Jindal said: “Delhi Capitals plays passionate cricket, and Rishabh Pant embodies that best.” Pant has played 72 matches for the Delhi franchise in the old and new avatar of Daredevils and Capitals, but as captain four times this season. Barring a 32-ball 51 against Rajasthan Royals, he has not exactly set the league on fire, but he has led the team to victory in three of the four matches. “As a wicket-keeper, I keep on reading the game,” says Pant. “With seniors around and Ricky Ponting (Head Coach) around, it’s going great for me (as captain). We are not focusing on outside things like Covid. The BCCI is doing well to give us a good bubble and travelling arrangements. I also don’t think too much about individual match ups (facing Jasprit Bumrah against Mumbai Indians). Every day is a new day in cricket. One has to look at scenarios and not match ups, I guess.” Pant amassed 684 runs in 2018, his best in six seasons. He has to be in good nick right through, touch the 2018 form, if the Capitals have to win the title the first time in 14 seasons.

No Tax Exemption Could See BCCI Lose Rs 450 Crore

Guaranteeing tax exemption for the ICC events has been a long thorn in the BCCI’s flesh since 2016. Five years ago, the West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite pulled off a title-winning Herculean effort, clouting four sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over of the Twenty20 World Cup final at the Eden Gardens. Brathwaite’s big hits won the title for the Windies, but the BCCI lost $23.75 million because it did not furnish tax exemption to the ICC. As a consequence, Star India, as per law of the land, withheld 10% of the money it owed to the ICC, for the services it rendered. And the ICC adjusted the sizeable sum from the money it had to disburse to the BCCI. Five years later, in 2021, the BCCI looks at a potential drop in receipts between $50 and $60 million (Rs 375-450 crore) in the event of it not being able to guarantee tax exemption for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in India in October-November. The drop in receipts could rise to Rs 1,000-crore plus, if the script continues for the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 awarded to the BCCI. The BCCI’s tax exemption woes began in 2017 when the Finance Ministry — under Arun Jaitley — put a “no exemption” remark on the file!

Now, Sakshi To Manage Brand Dhoni

The former Indian skipper Mahendra ‘Mahi’ Singh Dhoni has been the most successful brand in the Indian market. And, he has been handled and managed quite well by none other than his childhood friend and former cricketer Arun Pandey.  Pandey, who used to chuck ball at the nets to Mahi, runs a brand management firm, Rhiti Group. He was the go-to man, if anybody wanted to sign up Mahi for ads or events. He was also the producer of the biopic, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Now, it is learnt that Pandey won’t be managing brand Dhoni anymore. Dhoni’s wife Sakshi has stepped into his shoes. As far as Sakshi’s credentials are concerned, she is the managing director of the Mumbai-based production house, Dhoni Entertainment, that’s into producing films and web series. The documentary web series, titled Roar of The Lion essaying the comeback of the Chennai Super Kings to lift the 2018 Indian Premier League starring MS Dhoni in the lead role was well received.  It has entered into a JV with Black White Orange Brands to create Captain 7 an animated fiction show based on Dhoni in a never-seen-before avatar. Close observers feel that the husband-wife team can work wonders for the business as she is extremely confident while Mahi is cool as cucumber. Good luck to Mahi and company!

India Is A Medal Prospect At Tokyo Olympics: Somaya

Three-time Olympian (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988), India captain and the gold medal winner at Moscow, MM Somaya is pleased as punch at the Indian team’s back-to-back wins against Rio Olympic gold medal winner, Argentina, in the FIH ProLeague in Buenos Aires. Somaya, who can articulate on hockey, retired as an Executive Director with oil major BPCL in 2017 after a 30-year service. He resides at Sportsfield, Worli in Mumbai and has spent the last year travelling to Coorg, Goa, Lucknow and Bhubaneswar to present the Sportstar Aces Award to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “India is certainly a medal prospect at the Tokyo Olympics in July–August. I saw both matches against Argentina. India played an all-round game. Earlier, one or two players would carry the burden or would be in focus. But this is a team wherein all 18 are good. There is strength across the field which the opposition finds difficult to contain. The team’s fitness levels are very high. And they are playing professional and correct hockey. Goalkeeping is critical in hockey and PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak are giving us the confidence,” says Somaya who keeps himself fit by walking 6 km a day.  

Prithvi Shaw's Super Run Rate Of 11.37 Sinks Dhoni's Kings

Prithvi Shaw went after the bowlers to notch a super strike rate of 11.37 runs an over in the IPL-14 rough night skirmish against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on April 10. Not long ago, the poster boy of Mumbai schools’ cricket, Shaw was used to scattering the ball at Mumbai’s Azad and Cross maidans. Nothing in attitude though has changed, even when turning out for Mumbai or in the IPL. His go-for-broke knock of a 38-ball 72 gave a rousing start to Parth Jindal’s baby in the league, which is the Delhi Capitals. Shaw’s international career, which got a roaring start against the West Indies in Rajkot in October 2018 (he smashed a 154-ball 134) has hit the wall a few times. The news on the grapevine is that his technique is inadequate to deal with top pacemen, and that’s why he was exposed in the Adelaide horror Test in which India was shot out for 36. Prithvi made 0 and 4 and was dropped like a hot potato a week before Christmas. His Test average with one century in Rajkot and scores of 70 and 54 is still good at 42.37, but Shaw will have to go through the real hard yards to win the national selectors’ nod again.

Has Money And Fame Rocked A Cricketer’s Marriage?

It is a heady combination – money and fame. If you don’t know how to handle it smartly, then it could destroy your personal and professional life. The latest news wafting from the dressing room is that the marriage of a leading cricketer from north India is on the rocks.  According to insiders, this flamboyant cricketer, known for his brilliant batting and fielding skills, was having a torrid affair and his wife caught him red-handed. Incensed by his philandering behaviour, she has decided to walk out of the marriage with her kids in tow. The divorce threat seems to have brought the cricketer to his senses, and he has gone on all fours asking his wife to give him another chance. Apparently, she is in no mood to relent, say people close to the cricketer. Earlier, we saw paceman Mohammed Shammi facing bouncers after bouncers from his wife Hasin Jahan – and that furious spell could have hurt his career too. They are still not divorced reportedly, and for the moment Shammi must be secretly swooning over his wife’s Instagram pictures that are breaking the internet, especially the one in aquamarine blue saree where she is sporting a chutki bhar sindoor. Her rhapsody – “Sabar ki ungli pakad kar ham itna chale ke raste hairan reh gaye – has indeed left us all ‘hairan’ (pleasantly stunned actually). Well, we are keeping fingers crossed, leaving both the marriages in the hands of God.
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MoS Kishan Reddy Bats For Telangana Cricket Association

While the BCCI-IPL, that gets off the ground today in Chennai — with an anticipated revenue in excess of Rs 4,000 crore — has been the talking point leading to the ‘D’ day, because it’s going to be played amid the vortex of the COVID-19, the cricketing community in Telangana is anxious to know its fate at the BCCI’s seventh Apex Council meeting (April 16) that will consider the Telangana’s application for associate membership. The Telangana Cricket Association’s (TCA) case is being pursued by Telangana Lok Sabha MPs, including Kishan Reddy, Deputy Minister to Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister. The TCA has applied for membership following the Supreme Court order, and the order of the Bombay High Court directing the BCCI to hear the TCA application before April 30, 2021. The irony of it all is that Telangana appears as Full Member in the BCCI constitution on its website. And Puducherry doesn’t appear as one. Experts hold that the BCCI, steered by its  Secretary Jay Shah should  take steps to update its constitution on the BCCI website. It should and not go by the Ostrich like attitude of people inimical to the progress of associations which have a greater passion for the game and are doing a lot in their region.

Sanmar Chief Sankar Giving A Helping Hand To Retired Cricketers

Recently, N Sankar, Chairman of the Chennai-headquartered Sanmar Group, demonstrated his affection to cricketers who represented the company-owned club, mainly the famous Jolly Rovers. Sankar, who turned 75 last November, reached out to former Club cricketers Najam Hussain and KR Rajagopal. After blogger Sampath Prabhu wrote that Hussain (played 23 Ranji Trophy matches for Madras and 18 for Mysore between 1961-70) was in financial need, Sankar, the good Samaritan, provided substantial monetary assistance to the troubled former cricketer. Afterwards, Sankar arranged for utility services assistance to Rajagopal (played 20 Ranji Trophy matches for Mysore and 22 for Mysore between 1961-70) living at his home in Banashankari in South Bengaluru. Both Hussain and Rajagopal are 80 years old, who have rendered yeoman service to their Club and States. The US-educated Sankar has been a great patron of sports, in particular, cricket, and was President of the TNCA. His family’s decision to promote cricket, especially the running of the Jolly Rovers in the 1960s, changed the ecosystem of the sport in Madras. Sankar was a talented tennis player, but after being affected by polio, he won doubles tournaments with cousin N Srinivasan (MD, India Cements), who became the President of TNCA, BCCI and Chairman of the ICC.

Boom Boom Bumrah Ready For IPL After Wedding Break

Five-time IPL winner, Mumbai Indians’ (MI) contribution to the development of Indian cricket has been immense. The Ambani-family owned franchise has been an enabler in spotting talent for the national selectors. A unique fast bowler, whose running to the crease was described “neither here, nor there” by Danny Morrison, Jasprit Bumrah is a fine example of MI’s objective to invest and reap rewards.  Spotted by MI talent scout, John Wright, during the Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 in Indore in March 2013, Bumrah has become India’s leading strike bowler taking 83 wickets in 19 Tests, 108 wickets in 67 ODIs and 59 wickets in 50 Twenty20. These are phenomenal numbers. And the credit goes to the Gujarat coaches, Vijay Patel and Hitesh Majumdar, and the MI coaching team, for nurturing Bumrah whose natural action has remained intact. Recently the workload management policy saw him being rested on and off. Bumrah, who recently got married to Star Sports anchor, Sanjana Ganesan — has taken 543 wickets for Gujarat right from the time the likes of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Jay Shah have been the GCA office bearers and Parthiv Patel, the team’s captain. Bumrah’s IPL bag is a collection of 109 wickets at 23.73 from 92 matches. He is set to return to competitive cricket soon!

Buttler, Bairstow, Kohli Heap Praises On Adhav’s Perfect Pune Pitch

Prakash Adhav, 54, received copious accolades from the England captain, Jos Buttler, and the Man of the Series, Jonathan Bairstow, for preparing three pitches that delivered 1,892 runs in six ODI innings at the MCA international Stadium at Gahunje, Pune. Indian captain, Virat Kohli, also had good words to say about the pitch after winning the series 2-1 on Sunday, March 28. Adhav is the West Zone representative in the BCCI Elite Panel of curators. He is a BSC Agriculture from the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, and he has been maintaining flowers and landscaping at the Cricket Club of India for over 20 years now. “Prakash is a good curator,” said Prof Ratnakar Shetty, former GM, Game Development of BCCI. Adhav, with assistance from local curator, Ramesh Borde and the MCA ground staff, scarified the pitches, kept 6-mm grass, watered it, and used the medium and heavy roller straight, diagonally and cross-wise to prepare a batting beauty. The match officials were delighted and so also the England coach, Chris Silverwood, who appreciated his work and said: “It’s a good pitch for ODIs.” Adhav was a neutral and additional curator before being inducted into the BCCI elite panel.

Riyaz Bagban, Secretary, Maharashtra Cricket Association

ODI: No Spectators Yet MCA Earns Rs 10 Crore

The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) international stadium, beneath the Ghoradeshwar Hill at Gahunje village in the outskirts of Pune, hosted three high-scoring ODI matches between India and the 2019 ICC World Cup winner England on March 23, 26, and 28. Some of the biggest hitters like Ben Stokes, Jonathan Bairstow, Jason Roy, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, featured in these matches. But the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the State Government, prevented the spectators from thronging one of the modern venues in India. The MCA officials were disappointed that the local faithful could not be present for the high-profile matches, culminating into the 50th match. The MCA has hosted 38 IPL matches, much of it featuring the Sahara-owned Pune Warriors, Sanjeev Goenka-owned Rising Pune Supergiant, CSK and Kings XI Punjab. The MCA has also hosted seven ODIs, three Twenty20 internationals and two Test matches. After the new stadium was constructed by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the MCA hosted the first Twenty20 match between India and England in December 2012. The MCA Secretary, Riyaz Bagban said: “With paying spectators the revenue from gate receipts would have been Rs 15 crore for three matches, but the MCA has earned around Rs 10 crore by way of in-stadia advertising.”

Kannada Commentary, A Cricket Conversation Between Friends: Venkatesh Prasad

Star Sports Kannada is going places! Thanks to its policy of promoting sports, and in particular cricket across the country and among the Indian diaspora scattered all over the world, Star Sports has been able to capture the niche audience in different languages, notably, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. This is apart from the two main language broadcasts in English and Hindi. The ongoing England tour is being broadcast in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. For the Kannada language, the broadcaster has a pool of commentators in Gundappa Viswanath, Venkatesh Prasad, Bharath Chipli, Srinivasa Murthy. B Akhil, GK Anil Kumar and Vijay Bharadwaj. Venkatesh Prasad was a skilful operator of the new and old ball, having outsmarted many a top batsman in the world. He says, “Kannada commentary is more like a cricket conversation between friends. We bring the nuances of the game from different perspectives in a simple colloquial language and with very minimal bookish words. It is casual, it is fun and highly informative, meant for viewers aged from 8 to 80. Kannada commentary is Nimminda haagu nimmagagi.”

Shishir Hattangadi Takes Fresh Guard

Shishir Hattangadi, a successful opening batsman for Bombay from 1981 to 1992, cracked brave front foot drives off good Australian speedsters Craig McDermott and Bruce Reid and scored 63 in a rare skirmish against international class bowlers at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium, Gwalior in September 1986. He was unlucky not to have played for India with 3,722 runs from 60 first-class matches and with 10 hundreds and 21 fifties. A keen student of the game, Hattangadi, who can be likened to a Bhadralok being born in Kolkata, and also familiar with khem cho world of Gujarat, is perhaps the first first-class player-turned-CEO of the Baroda Cricket Association. He was Director, Cricket with Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians. “A lot of it is common even as CEO. It’s policy making, HR and P&L. It’s also creating a strategy to build the Baroda brand. Now you are learning a lot other than cricket. I talk to the coaches and captains of different teams. It’s given me the learning of adaptability. The challenging part is adapting to the elected members,” said Hattangadi, who cut his teeth in the game at St Mary’s School and RA Podar College, Mumbai.


Hitting Out, Surya Style!

After the fourth scrap against England on March 18 at the NaMo stadium in Ahmedabad, Suryakumar Yadav talked about butterflies — in the stomach of course. All this after going after England fast bowlers, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood in his first outing with the bat. He had dumped Archer over the square leg picket of the first ball he faced, and former England captain Michael Atherton likened the shot to West Indian Gordon Greenidge like; rocking on his right leg to play the horizontal bat shot. Atherton’s colleague in The Times, UK, Simon Wilde, described the first ball pull shot as Calypso-like.  Yadav is 30, has played for Mumbai in the BCCI tournaments for 12 years. After the early promise, he appeared to have lost focus, but suddenly his adrenaline soared to positive levels, seen as he was in thundering form in IPL Season-2018 (512 runs), IPL-2019 (424 runs) and IPL-2020 (480 runs). He was picked in the India Twenty20 squad based on the runs he amassed in the IPL and he was in cracking form in his first hit in the national colours. “The passion for the game has kept me going. I knew my chance would come. And when it came, I grabbed it with both hands,” said Yadav.
diana edulji_001

Diana Happy Women In Blue Are In Action Again

A top class left arm spinner who bagged 109 Test and ODI wickets from 1976 to 1993, Diana Edulji is glad that the Women In Blue are in action in a white-ball series against South Africa at Lucknow. She retired from Western Railway five years ago but has been the torch bearer for women’s cricket right through after bidding adieu to the game. She was the only female member of the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators to oversee the BCCI functioning and she went out of her way to improve the women’s lot. They get almost all benefits now, including an annual contract and enhanced match fee etc. After India’s 1-3 loss, with one more ODI match to go, she wondered why Jhulan Goswami did not play the fourth match (March 14). “Jhulan was taking wickets and her absence was a big blow to the Indian team. The South African team has improved a lot. Our bowling has not clicked at all. We cannot go into a match with one seamer. But I am glad they have started playing international cricket as a preparation for next year’s ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. They had not played for 15 months,” said Diana.

Sachin Tendulkar With Debashish Dutta

Tendulkar, Sehwag Revive Golden Memories, Charm Raipur

Sachin Tendulkar, aka, master blaster of the Indian team has been somewhat subdued in the preliminary rounds of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series Twenty20 for retired cricketers at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium in Raipur. Opening the India Legends innings with the Prince of Najafgarh, Virender Sehwag, Sachin struck form against Bangladesh Legends and West Indies Legends, but in these matches Sehwag was in swashbuckling form scoring 80 off 35 balls against Bangladesh and 74 off 57 balls against the West Indies. According to Debashish Dutta, an itinerant cricket correspondent for Bengali Daily Aajkaal, and who is manager of the India Legends, the competition has been stiff and most of the legends are in great nick. He is hoping for Tendulkar to get into the battering ram mood soon. The Legends team of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies, England, Australia, and South Africa have been locking horns in the Chhattisgarh capital. The final is scheduled for March 21. “We are following all bio-secure restrictions at the Mayfair Lake Resort and at the match venue and follow the ICC guidelines. The Australian Kookaburra balls, each costing Rs 15,000 is used,” said Dutta before boarding the team bus with Tendulkar.
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Sandeep Patil: Cricket To Guitar To Painting

Sandeep Patil, the ’81 Adelaide Hero when he thrashed Dennis Lillee,  Len Pascoe and Rodney Hogg to make 174, and the 83 World Cup star, has been busy these days with the canvas, brush and acrylic.. After completing his stint as Chairman of the BCCI selection committee in 2016, Patil, now 64, chose to reside with wife Deepa at their Lavasa Villa and learn to play the guitar. Says the crowd puller of the 1980s and 1990s: “I like to play tunes, from Mackenna’s Gold, Godfather, James Bond films, Clint Eastwood and also Hindi songs, sab, sab, sab.” And he also got back to painting. “I am in a very happy stage of my life now. The Covid-19 gave me the chance to go back to my old hobby. I have drawn 200 paintings on 11x 16 inches canvas with acrylic. I draw on all subjects, but I need a reference. It’s a brilliant hobby. The advantage in acrylic is you make a mistake, and it can be corrected. I have used water colours also. I am an amateur and I am enjoying it,” revealed Patil who has been a player, captain, coach, selector and what not. Patil’s paintings have been applauded by his 1983 World Cup teammates in the Whatsapp Group ‘For Ever Champs’ created by Sunil Gavaskar.  

At 2.82 RPO, Ashwin Is The Best Among 300 Plus Wicket Takers

Ravichandran Ashwin completed the 400 plus wicket mark in the recently concluded four Test series against England. A back-related issue kept him out of the fourth Test against Australia at the ‘Gabba’, Brisbane. But he played all four Tests against England and his 32-wicket haul at a modicum average of 14.72 in the series took his overall tally to 409 in 78 Tests. This is a whistling distance away from Harbhajan Singh’s 417 from 103 Tests, Kapil Dev’s 434 (131 Tests) and Anil Kumble’s 619 (132 Tests).  Ishant Sharma has 303 scalps from 101 Tests and Zaheer Khan 311 from 92 matches. The easily excitable off-spinner from Chennai has evolved over the last decade, dismissing 84 openers (1/2), 42 Number #3 or one drop batsmen, 37 #4, 34 #5 and 49 #7 for a grand tally of 246, which says that he’s been successful against proper batsmen. The lower order numbers are: 28 (#7), 28 (#8), 36 (#9), 31 (#10) and 40 (#11, or last man, or tailender) for a total of 163. He averages 5.77 per batting position. His strike rate is 52.60 and he has conceded so far at 2.82 runs an over, which is the lowest among the 300 wicket plus wicket takers for India in Test. Howzat!

Yajurvindra’s Leg-Trap Lessons For Men In Blue

Virat Kohli’s team could do well to spend some time with Yajurvindra Singh in order to pick up hard, but useful lessons on leg-trap fielding and catching. Also, known as ‘Sunny’, Yajurvindra belonged to the royal family of Bilkha in Junagadh, and he played for Saurashtra and Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy. In the corporate world, he worked for Mahindra & Mahindra, Wisden India and Tata Consultancy Services. But Yajurvindra’s claim to global fame happened on his Test debut against England at Bengaluru. Positioned in the leg trap (forward and backward short leg) he snapped up seven catches (5 in the first innings and 2 in the second innings) and created a world record in January 1977. The leg trap came into the picture in the recent series against Australia and England and most fielders were found wanting. Yajurvindra who watched both the series said: “What is happening is both the players who are standing in the trap, they don’t regularly field there. Even at silly point. If you have not fielded there right through your career, suddenly you cannot develop skills that are required to field there. Remember it’s a scary position. One can get hit on the head and killed there instantly.”

Harmanpreet All Set For Her 100th ODI

Harmanpreet Kaur is all set to play her 100th one-day international at Lucknow’s Bharat Ratna Shree Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana International Stadium on March 7. The match will be against the Rainbow Nation, South Africa. The pandemic has delayed this memorable milestone in her ODI career that began in Bowral in a Women’s World Cup match against Pakistan in March 7, 2009. The 31-year old girl from Punjab will become the 44th woman cricketer in the world and the fifth Indian — the others being Mithali Raj (209 matches), Jhulan Goswami (182), Anjum Chopra (127) and Anjali Sharma (119) — to achieve this feat. While Harmanpreet is excited about the important event in her career, Head Coach of the Indian Women’s team W V Raman told “It’s a momentous occasion for any cricketer. It is also a milestone or reward for all the hard work and performances over a period of time. The thing about Harman is that she has been an impact player who has played some blinders in major tournaments. Like Sehwag did, she redefined batting in the Indian women’s circuit with her ability to dominate attacks. As a captain she has been great with the girls with whom she shares her experiences. All her positivity has made the other girls fearless. She is a top person to have in any team.”

“Murgers” Is Back On The Media Beat

Popularly known as “Murgers”, the Dubai-based Brian Murgatroyd has been with the touring England side from the second Test in Chennai.  The 53-year-old British national has been with cricket boards of Australia and England as media officer of their respective teams. He has also served the International Cricket Council for a number of years.  “This is my second stint with the England cricket team. I think the final Test of the India-England series in Ahmedabad is the 199th I have attended in a working capacity in 31 years,” said  Murgatroyd who, when in Mumbai, likes to have  a good fill of Sitafal ice cream (Custard Apple) at Rustomji’s on Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate.  Murgatroyd has been a broadcaster, writer and media manager of England and also Australia in the era of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. He has also written six books.  “It’s been a wonderful experience, making friends in the sport that have endured and given me memories that will last for the rest of my life.”  For the BCCI and Indian cricket teams, the media work is being carried out efficiently by Moulin Parikh and Anand Subramanian.

-- L To R: Axar, Amrish & Sanjay

Aapdo Axar Is Talk Of The Town!

Aapdo Axar Patel is the talk of the town. Gujaratis across the State, so much used to the cricketing exploits of the Rajkot-based Cheteshwar Pujara, and Jamnagar-based Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah (he is very much an Amdavadi), are rejoicing at the success of the six footer from Nadiad playing havoc in the England batting ranks. So far Axar has 18 scalps in the ongoing Test series against England. He is keen to add a many more to the kitty in the last Test at Motera.  It’s a complete Patel thing in Axar’s make-up. He may be operating under the watchful eyes of India team Head Coach, Ravi Shastri, a left arm spinner himself, but “Aapdo Axar” picked up the art of left of spin from Sanjay Patel, Amrish Patel and Swapnil Patel, all associated with Kheda Cricket Academy in Nadiad, famous for giving India its first Deputy PM, Vallabhai Patel. Sanjay and Amrish must get credit for urging Axar to give up left arm pace and become an artful dodger embracing left arm spin. “He had a faulty landing of his right foot when bowling pace, but everything was fine when he bowled spin. He agreed to become a spinner when he was a junior,” Sanjay and Amrish told this correspondent while visiting Axar’s residence in Nadiad. 
Jignesh R Bhatt

A BCCI Accredited Scorer Ready To Chuck Bank Job!

There are hundreds of BCCI accredited scorers who look forward to every season, not just to follow their passion of keeping ball-by-ball records of matches, but also to make some extra money. The BCCI pays Rs 10,000 per day. The experienced scorers are assigned 50 days in a season. Jignesh R Bhatt, who is employed with the State Bank of India in Ahmedabad, has two years of service left, but the 58-year-old is mulling over to resign. “I have lost Rs 5 to 6 lakh in the last two years and I want to fully dedicate myself to scoring. And so I may resign from my Bank job. Even the BCCI doesn’t engage persons who have reached the age of superannuation. I must have done 350 days of scoring but I had to take privilege leave,” says Bhatt. “The Bank gives special leave to umpires, referees, players, selectors and mangers, but the circular doesn’t mention scorers and hence I have not received the benefit,” adds Bhatt, the scorer in the Press Box for the India- England Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium. This is Bhatt’s 27th year in cricket scoring; he had received Rs 60 as match fee for the India-Australia Under-19 match in 1993.

Sardar Patel Gets A Makeover! Now it is Narendra Modi Stadium

The cricket media was taken around the swanky Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera on Tuesday (Feb 23) with Anil Patel, a former Ranji Trophy player of Gujarat, and currently Jt. Secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association, showing the salient features of the new facility including the media lounge and the Press Box positioned in the line of fine leg or long off to a right hander. A former manager of the Indian team, Patel gave all credit to BCCI Secretary and former GCA Joint Secretary Jay Shah for the development of the new stadium. “He paid attention to the nitty-gritty. He had seen many cricket grounds and its facilities and formed his own idea of the facilities that would come up at the 63 acre area. Even his father and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken a lot of interest. He spent five hours here on Sunday (Feb 21). He voted in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation election’s and came to Motera. Whenever he was in Ahmedabad, he would make it a point to spend time at the stadium and see the progress of its development,” said Patel.  The GCA will soon develop two more grounds at the campus. “We will develop these two so that the BCCI tournaments can be played there. The Gujarat State Tourism is going to make the Sardar Patel Stadium a tourist attraction,” said Patel.
ishant sharma

Will Ishant Sharma Deliver At His 100th Test?

There are people in the cricket fraternity who feel that the strapping 1.93 metre tall fast bowler Ishant Sharma did not keep up his early promise and deliver the goods right through his career that began on May 25, 2007 against Bangladesh in Mirpur. But the talented seamer had really worked hard, upping his game to become a top gun from 2018. One of the eight cricketers with surname Sharma to play Test cricket, he is now looking forward to notch his 100th Test match in Test cricket – a rare feat that only another home grown speedster Kapil Dev Nikhanj has achieved. The third Test against England at Motera from February 24 will be his 100th Test. The 32-year old, Sharma – described uncharitably by Sanjay Manjrekar as support bowler to Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami — missed the tour of Australia due to an abdominal muscle tear he sustained in the early part of the IPL13 in the UAE. He was playing for the Parth Jindal-owned Delhi Capitals. He missed the four-Test series in Australia that India won 2-1. Sharma’s career figures are: 99 Tests, 3,070 overs, 18,420 balls, 9,731 runs conceded, 302 wickets at 32.22 and from calendar year 2018 onwards his figures are: 20 Tests, 539 overs, 1,470 runs conceded, 7,666 wickets at 19.34. Superb!
chris morris

Lottery For Chris Morris

Morris said “give me Rs. 75 lakh”, but the Rajasthan Royals replied “we will pay you Rs.16.25 crore”. Out of the 70 matches he has turned out for Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils and Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers, Bangalore in the IPL, South Africa’s Chris Morris has batted only on 44 occasions. He has remained not out 21 times to score 551 runs. He has 80 wickets under his belt, 45 of which has contributed to winning matches.  Most selection committees in cricket  would not consider these numbers a great shake, but the Royals from Jaipur  bought him at the small auction in Chennai for Rs. 16.25 crore (a little over $ 2.24 million). The Royals itself paid a low $ 60 million to win the invitation to tender and own the Jaipur team.  After a moderate performance in the league in which he made his debut in 2013, the Royals targeted Morris who is closer to his 34th birthday. In the UAE leg of the league last year he made just 34 runs in five innings and picked up 11 wickets for the Capitals at 19.09. All things considered Morris himself put his minimum worth at Rs. 75 lakh. But the Rajasthan Royals chose to pay him princely sum! As a wag said Morris may a travelled to the Cape of Good Hope on Thursday.

The Motera Suspense; About The Pitch & Pink-Ball!

Just like intrigue surrounds a toss that sets the tone for a cricket match, the pink-ball day-night Test matches also stirs the imagination of the legion of followers of the game. That’s because the ball is supposed to wobble around the time the sun goes down and the lights are turned on. As a consequence even the most technically equipped batsmen come a cropper! All eyes — after the Indians turned the second Test match on its head in Chennai — are on the third Test at Motera, the rustic looking locality not far from the hustle and bustle of Ahmedabad city. A Test match is going to be played at the venue named after Sardar Patel, after eight years from February 24. Everyone has sung paeans about the modern ground that can seat about 1.10 lakh people and where one of the early VIP visitor was former USA President Donald Trump.  What’s of interest to the cricket aficionado and India and England would be the behaviour of the 22 yard pitch for the Test match, the result of which will pave the way for the second finalist for the ICC World Test Championship to be played in London in June. There is the pitch of red soil and black soil. The popular choice will be red.
rohit sharma_001

Rohit Sharma Second Only To The Great `Don’!

Rohit Sharma holds a unique record in Test match cricket. He is the nearest to Sir Don Bradman, regarded as the greatest batsman of all time. The Australian run-machine who wielded his bat with gay abandon for two decades from 1928 to 1948 scored 6996 runs in 52 Test matches for a phenomenal average of 99.94. The great `Don’ played 37 Test matches against England, and five each against India, West Indies and South Africa. He played 33 Test matches at home, amassed 4322 runs for an average of 98.23, which is fractionally lower than his career average.  It is here that India’s Rohit Sharma comes second best for those who have played 10 Tests and more. The stylish Mumbai right hander is elegance personified when he gets going; he had an aggregate of 1343 runs at 79 and innings for home Test matches before his sneak attack against the England seamers and spinners alike in the second Test at Chepauk, Chennai. The first Test failure at the same venue hurt him; he hit back with a vengeance in the first innings of the second Test with a splendid 161; he scattered 18 hits to the fence and clobbered two over the line. This stroke filled knock took his home average to over 80. Remarkable indeed!

Joe Root's tryst with GOAT rankings!

England captain Joe Root, tops the GOAT (Greatest player of all time against spin) rankings in the annals of cricket at the Old Blighty. Decorated with the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2020, Root’s scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka at Galle came against the spinners on a dry and breaking pitch. England hopped into Chennai for two Test matches that were supposed to be a  litmus test against the Indian tweakers. As it transpired in the first Test, Root (218 and 40) ruled the roost on a feathered of a pitch on which the home team deployed a seasoned campaigner Ravichandran Ashwin, and two tyros Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar. Demonstrating his consummate skill, powers of concentration and nimble footwork, Root has amassed 784 runs in his last six innings. He has turned out to be the master of all he purveyed, tallying as much as 842 runs in 14 Test innings on Indian soil at a remarkable average of 64.77. In other Asian countries Root has amassed 655 runs in 10 Test innings at 65.50 in Sri Lanka, 287 in five Test innings against Pakistan in the UAE. No wonder then that Root heads the GOAT index in English cricket!

Why Jadeja Was Missed In The Chennai Test

India is in a plight in the first Test in Chennai owing to the absence of slow left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in its ranks. Jadeja is still recuperating from a dislocated left thumb after he took a nasty blow there in the third Test against Australia in Sydney. Jadeja in combination with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin are the second most successful spin pair for India taking 166 wickets in 73 innings at an average of 24.41. They have taken 28 wickets in four innings at the Chepauk at 25.07.  Further more Jadeja had dismissed England captain Joe Root five times; he had outwitted Root in both innings of the 2016 Chennai Test for 88 and 6. India suffered in Jadeja’s absence and Root exhibited a masterclass innings of 218 before falling to left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.  Ashwin has dismissed Root three times. In all 13 Indian bowlers have dismissed Root, but clearly Jadeja was missed by Ashwin and India. They complement each other so well. In Jadeja’s absence Root had the last laugh taking heavy toll of the Indians. The England captain, playing his 100th Test, is one of the best players of spin in the world today.

Done Over 40 PCR Covid-19 Tests: Agarkar

It’s been one hell of a run of routine COVID 19 tests international cricket teams have had to take and enter bio-secure bubble life in order to play a Test, ODI or Twenty20 match. All this began from the England-West Indies series in the 2020 English summer. Not only the players, but people involved in the conduct of an international match, or even for that matter the IPL in UAE and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 held by the BCCI recently, have had to go through this short procedure called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.  Ajit Agarkar, the former India seamer, revealed that he has gone through close to 40 PCR tests starting from the pre-boarding flight to Abu Dhabi for the 13th IPL in the United Arab Emirates last year. Agarkar was part of the Star TV Network commentary team in the Emirates.  Agarkar, like all others who were part of the IPL, took regular PCR tests in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, was also part of the Sony Pictures Network for the India- Australia series.  And now he is holed up in his hotel room in Chennai for five days, all part of the bio secure bubble requirement, before the start of the first Test against England set to start on Friday, February 5. “I can leave my room only on Friday,” he said.

BCCI To Rake Rs 900 Cr From Ind-Eng Series

The full tour of England — starting with the first Test at the Chepauk in Chennai on February 5 — is expected to augment the BCCI’s revenue for 2020-21 fiscal by around Rs. 900 crore. The BCCI’s broadcaster, Star TV Network would pay around Rs. 60 crore for each of the 12 matches (Four Test matches, five Twenty20 matches and three ODIs). That’s a whopping Rs. 720 crore.  The BCCI will also receive money for the title and team sponsorship from Paytm and BYJU’s and also from others sponsors like Dream11, Ambuja Cement and Hyundai. The BCCI thus will a make neat package around Rs. 900 crore. The first two Tests will be played in Chennai, and the next two in Ahmedabad which will also play host to five Twenty20 matches. From Ahmedabad, the teams will travel to Pune for three one-day internationals.  Though the COVID 19 pandemic forced the BCCI to relocate the 13th IPL to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it earned over Rs 4000 crore, a big part of it coming from Star TV network.  The happiest in the BCCI are its members who are likely to get a big share of the revenue generated in 2020-21.

Anderson & Broad: Cricket’s Greatest Hunters With The New Ball

The fast bowlers hunt in pairs. And nobody does it better than the English new ball pair – James Anderson and Stuart Broad – who have taken 746 wickets in 96 Tests. Though they made their England debut at different times, it was against India at the Mohali (Punjab) Test of December 2008 that they became the new ball pair for the first time under Captain Kevin Pietersen. Individually, Anderson has taken 600 wickets and Broad 517. Anderson and Broad have not been successful on the benign Indian pitches. Anderson has toured India for four Test series since 2005-06 and has taken 26 wickets at 33.46 in 10 Tests while Broad, who has toured India from the 2008-09 series, has a paltry collection of 10 wickets from six Tests at an expensive 53.90. England which will play 17 Tests in 2021 has decided to rotate its players in order to preserve them. Anderson did not play the first Test of the recent series against Sri Lanka at Galle and Broad did not play the second Test at Galle. Will the Joe Root led team play this super pair in the first Test at Chepauk, Chennai from February 5?

For The Faithful The Brisbane Tied Test Is Still The Best

When one reminisces about Test matches played at the ‘Gabba’ in Brisbane, the good old faithful always picks the first ever Tied Test between the redoubtable Australians led by the brilliant Richie Benaud and the great super star of the yesteryear in Frank Worrell in the 1960-61 series. The followers of the noble game still remember the smart seventh ball run out fashioned by square leg fielder Joe Solomon of Ian Meckiff that gave a remarkable finish to the thrilling match and a spectacular start to the five-Test rubber. Australia won the series 2-1, but Worrell’s team won the hearts of the Australian fans who gave them a ticker tape send off. That was sixty years ago. In all, 63 Test matches have been played at the Gabba; Australia has won 40, lost 9, drawn 13 and Tied one. The home team had won 24 in a row and drew seven from December 1989, having lost to the West Indies in November 1988. India dented Australia’s unconquered, 32-year record at the Gabba and much of the credit goes to the young guns of the Indian cricket very well marshalled by the calm and unruffled Ajinkya Rahane. But for those Australians who loved watching cricket, the 1960 Tied Test remains a memorable one. Interestingly, Bobby Simpson featured in the 1960 Test as a player and in the 1986 Tied Test against India in Chennai as a coach.

Bouncers Bowled At BCCI’s Jay Shah

The news that BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, is likely to become India’s representative on the ICC Board was met with lots of cynicism. The Modi-Amit hate brigade trolled on social media. Author and columnist Saba Naqvi tweeted: “His qualification is that he’s a terrific cricketer known for papa smashing ball into boundary.” Print & Broadcast journalist Swati Chaturvedi’s tweet was even more charitable: “So deserving. So proud of Jay Shah & such an honour that he will represent India at the ICC Board. No dynasty exists in BJP at all.” These tongue-in-cheek tweets met with almost proportionate reactions. Said one Twitterati: “How about Sharad Pawar, Jagmohan Dalmia, N Srinivasan etc and worst of all Mr Manohar (Shashank)? Never saw her question when Kalmadi (Suresh) was of head of the IOC for time unlimited.” There is never a dull moment on social media.
bhushan singh bedi_001

Bishen Singh Bedi Bowls A Straight Ball

Bishen Singh Bedi, India’s former cricket captain, seems to have set cat among the pigeons, by asking the Delhi & District Cricket Association to remove his name from the spectator’s stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium and cancel his membership. This move follows the decision of DDCA to erect statue of the late Arun Jaitely, the former president of DDCA. In a scathing letter to Jaitley’s son Rohan, who is currently the president of DDCA, Bedi said: “The late Arun Jaitley, I’m told, was an able politician. So it’s the Parliament & not a cricket stadium which needs to remember him for posterity… I can’t be part of a stadium which has got its priorities so grossly wrong & where administrators get precedence over the cricketers. Please bring down my name from the stand with immediate effect.” Bedi seems to have got support from unknown quarters. All Modi-baiters have endorsed Bedi’s decision on social media. Now, some folks are also asking why Bedi did not raise a similar concern when Hyderabad stadium was named after Rajiv Gandhi.

The Shy Skipper Who Lets His Performance Speak

Ajinkya Rahane is synonymous with a simple and humble personality. Sports scribes tracking Rahane for years know how he must be feeling after an incredible 2-1 series win in Australia. Rahane became the stand-in captain for the Test series after Virat Kohli returned to India to be with his wife, Anushka Sharma, for the birth of their first child. The shy skipper led from the front, marshalling young debutants who joined as replacement for injury-hit star players. Their fearless cricket gave India a stunning series win – after a humiliating 36-all-out debacle in the first test in Adelaide. The red-carpet reception at his Matunga, Mumbai home – with crowds cheering ‘Aala re aala, Ajinkya aala’ – may have only made Rahane uncomfortable. But the grace he showed once again like he does on field. He did not let it out in open and was seen enjoying with his daughter in tow and wife by his side as he soaked up warmth. The interesting part of the reception was the banner marked with W54 3210. W-World class captain, 5-Matches as captain, 4-Matches won as captain. 3-Tests won against Australia, 2-Test wins in the series (Melbourne & Brisbane), 1-Match drawn (Sydney), 0-Test lost.

From Lords 1932 to Gabba 2021, India Has Come A Long Way!

Time was when India’s cricketers in flannels did not make the big splash overseas, especially in England, Australia and the West Indies. They were far from crowd pullers, they just filled in the domestic home international season’s calendar. India has been playing Test cricket since the inaugural one at London’s Lord Cricket Ground in 1932. India led by Col. CK Nayudu lost the one-off Test to the Douglas Jardine led England side by 158 runs. Fast bowlers Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh made a terrific impression bagging wickets and Captain Nayudu also, scoring 40 in the first innings. But it was not until 1971 that the great cricketing nation with a legion of followers created history by winning Test series for the first time in the West Indies and England. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar who was part of the Indian team led by Ajit Wadekar in 1971 said that India’s 2-1 triumph against Australia January 2021 would match the 1971 feat and even surpass it because of the circumstances — pandemic caused quarantine, team depleted by absence of Virat Kohli and injury to many players. The important aspect of this 4-test Border-Gavaskar series was that the Cricket Australia (CA) converted the tour involving Twenty20, ODI and Test series into the $300 million event, earning revenues from its broadcasters Foxtel and Channel 7. The CA has sent a thank you note to the BCCI.

Sports Astrologer Predicts Future Of Virat, Rohit

This Mumbai-based astrologer is different. He specializes in sports astrology. Author-columnist Greenstone Lobo, a Christian by birth, raised eyebrows within his community when he started charting and reading horoscopes the Hindu way. Interestingly, Lobo who has been in the business for the last 30 years has delivered a good strike rate. For instance, he rightly predicted that Sri Lanka led by Arunja Ranatunga would win the 1996 World Cup. Likewise his astrological research revealed that a 1981-born captain would win the 2011 World Cup. More research on all captains revealed that the planetary positions favoured MS Dhoni. Incidentally, Dhoni not only lifted the 2011 World Cup but rewrote India’s cricket history as predicted by Lobo. Other surprising thing his study threw up was that all captains — Brian Lara, Wasim Akram, Mohammad Azharuddin — playing for the 1991 World Cup were born on Full Moon Day. Now, he sticks his neck out, making a couple of bold predictions. First: Kohli will never beat Dhoni’s captaincy record. Second: Rohit Sharma is the best Indian captain ‘never had’. Well, his predictions don’t come in enigmatic puzzles. Now, only time will tell.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.