Naakh Kata In Nagpur

One of the defining trends of the last ten years of cricket has been a perceptible decline in the quality of world bowling, a fact that has not only led to inflated reputations of many an ordinary batsmen but has also contributed to faster rates of scoring. I would not know exactly why we have had this dip but abridged forms of the game might be a major reason. As an example, one has to only look at Pakistan to see how they have gone from a country that produced the most explosive of bowlers (Wasim, Waqar, Safraz, Imran and even to an extent Aaqib) to one that cranks out ball-hurlers who can at best be called restrictive (Naved-ul-Hasan, Umar Gul).

In this context, the South African bowling line-up is a blast from the past—-a “no-weak-link” attack that can sustain high quality bowling over sessions, even on bowling surfaces not tailor-made for them. Watching their ceaseless barrage, I was reminded of the West Indian attack of the early 80s, especially the one that came to India in 1983 which included Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Davis and Daniels  (that attack was of course far better) never more so when Dale Steyn exquisitely set-up Sachin in the first innings through a ball outside off-stump which he hits for four and then the clever follow-up which is tossed slightly further out and swinging away inducing a nick, nearly identical to the way Michael Holding outwitted Sunil Gavaskar in the second innings of the Eden Test (Sunny describes this dismissal in some detail in Runs N Ruins)

Needless to say, against this quality of bowling, the batsmen of the world’s “No 1 Test side” came unstuck. While the sight of batsman after batsman raising arms and having their stumps taken out against brilliantly directed in-dippers delivered at searing pace was predictable though embarassing what was doubly galling was to see Indian batsmen, supposedly some of the best players of spin, having trouble coping with Paul Harris’s outside-leg line. There was deja-vu here too, except that it reminded me how English and New Zealand and West Indian batsmen used to play our spinners and how they would get out not playing a shot to one that turns and bounces, bound to the crease, scratching around for overs waiting for the end to come. Paul Harris is a very good bowler but he is no Warne. Against Warne many years ago and against a similar line of attack, batsman after Indian batsman would come out of their creases and go inside-out or use their feet to “work the angles” with spectacular results. No not no more (only exception: Harbhajan in the second innings).

For the debacle of Nagpur, there is enough blame to go around. From the selectors to Gambhir to Dhoni (world’s No 1 something who I would say is lucky that he plays now, ten years ago his  ‘old man poking with a stick’ technique would have been exposed much more dramatically and much more often) to even Sehwag and Sachin (neither of whom could anchor the innings in the face of a crisis). Unfortunately a lot of the vitriol will be directed at the new players (“We have seen the future and it’s not good” type denouncements) forgetting the fact that the Fab four also took some time in becoming who they ultimately became. For me the mujrims of the match were Indian bowlers who let South Africa, on a pitch on which there was enough assistance throughout, amass such a total.  That South Africa would beat us in a pace faceoff is not surprising. That South Africa would have, by far, the best spinner in the game is the true shocker for those of us who love Indian cricket and this alone should put in proper perspective India’s crisis of talent.

Of course all this is just a passing cloud. Very soon we will have the Premier Mujra League getting underway in which Dhoni will hit the mickey out of Steyn, Morkel wont be able to get in a game and Harbhajan Singh will slap all and sundry with bat, ball and hand while strutting around like the super-stud that he thinks he is. “All iz well” will be the mantra once again since we wont have Test engagements for most of the year and IPL and an assortment of meaningless muqablas and mahayuddhs would have wiped the lessons of Nagpur clean from our minds.

55 thoughts on “Naakh Kata In Nagpur

  1. U write your best articles when India lose.

  2. Back Off Ruby, Out of curiosity, did you ever read this? ( )

  3. “Poking with a stick”….HA HA HA
    Well GB I wud have loved u to comment on the Puja ka “Prasad” we have received in form of our great pacers such as Ishant, Ashant (or is his name Sreeshanth) and the “came in for a game-u didnt even notice” ones. I mean where’s the Indian Pace battery which rocked the 2003 World Cup, England, South AFrica tours and even last Aussie tour not so long ago. Now the whole bowling line up seems not only pedestrian but also inept. Only Zaheer seems to sting at times with the new ball or some reverse swing. Its high time Bhajji ji realizes tht “Ball e Ball e wicket” is better thab Balle balle…SWomehow I think a complete revamp is needed as in bringing in pacers like Mithun, Tyagi, Dinda and also some new spinners and giving these fat asses some time to find their feet….ABout batting, this seems such a perfect situation to start the never ending debate “Bengalis are Dada fanatics”…But somehow this debacle does remind me of the last Indo SAF duel at Nagpur….As some wise man said OLD IS GOLD!!!

  4. SORRY INDO SAF duel at Kanpur it wud be 😀 😛

  5. So true. After the IPL tournament all the lessons learned will be buried. then there will be tour to kenya, bermuda or holland. Our weakness is definitely bowling. Ishant sharma should be rested for next 10 years. Harbhajan indefinitely. Yuvraj, Dhoni and Shehwag should be asked to knock off 50 pounds.

  6. You gave me some nostalgic memories of the pre- and post 1983 world cup days. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Malcolm “Fastest Bowler” Marshall, Andy “Old Man” Roberts, Michael “Sly Fox” Holding, Winston “Skinny” Davis and Wayne “Muscular” Daniels were indeed the Pancha Pandavas of West Indian attack bowlers.

    I think Joel “Big Bird” Garner and Patrick “Pigeon Feet” Patterson proved to be the Dhristadyumna and Satyaki of the Windies at other times.

  7. “Of course all this is just a passing cloud. Very soon we will have the Premier Mujra League getting underway in which Dhoni will hit the mickey out of Steyn, Morkel wont be able to get in a game and Harbhajan Singh will slap all and sundry with bat, ball and hand while strutting around like the super-stud that he thinks he is. “All iz well” will be the mantra once again since we wont have Test engagements for most of the year and IPL and an assortment of meaningless muqablas and mahayuddhs would have wiped the lessons of Nagpur clean from our minds.”

    This para is fckin BRILLIANT!! rest is too crius yaar.

  8. The problem of lack of bowlers is a social problem. Right from the childhood, one wants to bat and not ball. In the galli cricket, a bappa would do his batting and run off for a fictitious tuition when his turn to bowl comes. In India at least, not many people want to be bowlers. (Like not many people want to be software tester – everyone wants to be a developer).

    So, when there is no bowling culture in India at the grass-root level, it is bound to show higher up there.

  9. GB, though Dravid,Laxman(alas not Ganguly) will be back soon, makes me worry, not because it weakens the middle order but the sheer grace that these players bring to Indian Test Cricket. Over the last decade and a bit more, of all the forms of the game I have enjoyed a gripping test match more than any other form. While yo ualready said the new players will take time to grow as a test player, just wanted to know do u agree with what I say, besides my office shut down for a snow storm, so nothing best than reading your posts, eben some of the old ones.

  10. I will never understand that why on a pitch on which Mishra was turning the bowl so much on the first day that he was missing LBWs due to so much turn , Harbhajan opted to bowl a lot of his pea shoots round the wicket.Either he has lost faith in his ability to turn the bowl, or he thinks that he has got a doosra which turns bigger than one of Muralidharan. And what does Mishra do when he sees the ball turning big- he starts thinking that he is Warne and starts pitching the ball way outside leg stump eventually to be hit out of attack. And before we start to raise the cry of ” make or break for Badri or Vijay”, please remember the way VVS was flogged and kicked around even after that 167 in Sydney before we got “Fab Four.”

  11. True. The real reason we lost the test was because of our spinners’ inability to do anything on a track that turned from Day 1, against a lineup not the best in tackling good slow bowling.
    That said, it will be interesting to see the pitch at Eden Garden and the way our ‘Short Form Specialist’ Bhajji bowl. And seriously, it is a good opportunity to get rid of Yuvraj from the Test lineup when we have people like Badrinath, Kohli and M Vijay in the sidelines. One can only imagine the fun that would have ensued if Yuvraj had faced a smoking hot Steyn at Nagpur.

  12. Sumit,

    Of course nothing beats a Test match. I actually enjoyed this Test too just because of the high quality of pace bowling and Smith’s smart field placings. And true. Laxman was pushed around before the 167 in Sydney and even after that…right upto the Australia series of 2001.

  13. IPL may be Mujra league but its fun to see bowlers being smashed around, and not spend (I would say waste) 5 days to get a results. I am no cricket purist, but 5 days for a result is for a different era, not now. I think we should accept the change. (I hope i don’t get too much abuse for the preceding statements)

  14. The test showed how important Dravid is to the team. We can win without Sachin but without Dravid it becomes extremely difficult.
    Bowling, what can I say. Even Zaheer isnt world class. Ian Chappell was right in his assessment. Since Kumble we dont a match winning player in our team.
    Regarding Test vs T-20, I feel both are important. Test is intense and has a appeal to it. T-20 is more like a movie. Its fun too. I dont see a place for ODI in the future. Its serves neither. All ODI tend to become T-20 in the last 20 overs anyway.

  15. No mention of Saha. I wonder why????????????

  16. You are spot on once again. Most people forget that winning a Test Match is always a TEAM effort, the most important component of which is the ability to take twenty wickets. While Rahul Dravid was outstanding in Adelaide 2003, the match could not have been won without Ajit Agarkar’s once in a lifetime performance (and also Sachin’s wickets of Steve Waugh and Damien Martyn). Laxman’s magnificent 281 would also have led only to an honourable draw if Bhajji had not taken all those wickets in the final session. It is high time followers of cricket realize the importance of having a potent bowling attack. Also love your comments on the IPL nonsense and tamasha.

  17. Capitalism and Fairness don’t go together.

    Increasing commerce is inversely proportional to the quality of cricket.

    People keep churning out batting pitches, and you will never get a good bowler.

    The sport itself is batsman obsessed…even more so in India.

    Ishant,Munaf, Irfan,Zak, all capable of bowling at 145k’s – but wont.

    They think bowling fast shortens their careers. Playing more matches earns

    more money, and they get away with mediocre bowling blaming batsmen friendly


    But does BCCI care ? Lalit Modi care ? Hell No. Cricket is a cash cow in

    India – and they are out to cut it open very soon.

  18. Cricket has lost a lot of its charm thanks to the IPL. The nineties saw superstars in each team, every match had possibilities. Now its all the same. I don’t think we got better. Rather the rest lost their touch and became more mediocre.

  19. Don’t quite agree that this South African attack can bowl sustained quality throughout. Essentially Dale Steyn is the one outstanding bowler they have, while the rest are a good support cast. Without Steyn, England managed to hang on for draws against them not too long ago, so I’d say that they are average without him at full fitness, but world class when he’s there.
    and GB, no word on the atrocious selection that first saw Rohit Sharma (who should never have got in ahead of Kohli/Pandey/Pujara/even Raina) first come in and then the team reduced to a position of having to play Saha?

  20. Why no blame on Gary Kirsten this time around? When India went to SA in Greg Chappell’s time, you had a lot of scorn to pour upon Chappell’s coaching and his proteges like Raina.

  21. Also, it’s probably unfair to criticise Dhoni for playing in an era that does not have Marshall, Holding or Akram et al.

  22. At least Dhoni did the clever thing in not getting the better wicketkeeper to keep.

    Poor Saha’s career is completely over, without even been given the chance to do what he is trained for – all because he turned out not to be an adequate batting replacement for VVS Laxman! Ha!

  23. @Deep3rdMan

    The reason being Gary Kirsten was not behaving as an ass-wipe as Greg Chappell

  24. Ass-wipe or not, the result is the same, India got massacred, and that too in India, and not on the bouncy tracks of SA. So because Kirsten is not in the media limelight, or because he doesn’t rub people the wrong way, his coaching techniques are above blame, never mind the result?

  25. If there’s something strange
    in your neighborhood
    Who ya gonna call?
    APPAM C*****A

    If there’s something weird
    and it don’t look good
    Who ya gonna call?

    I ain’t afraid of no Steyn

    I think Vijay and Badri showed that given time and patience they can carry
    forward the anchor role in future test teams.

    Saha was the unfortunate one. It was almost a ’13 Tzameti’ that happened to him.

    Yuvraj was the lucky one. He escaped.

    Bhajji… must have been given a very long rope. He is trying his best but the rope is like Draupadi’s saree. But then he is a clever bloke.

    The more sympathetic press wallahs are saying law of averages. Team India was due for failure, Gambhir was due for failure… why doesn’t Law of Averages work with Ishant Sharma and Bhajji the other way round and bring them some success. And of course they are blaming the selectors too.

    Well, over to Eden Gardens…

  26. GB, BTW the last para was priceless…:)

  27. BalalSangh Parivar February 11, 2010 — 6:33 am

    What cricket-shmicket, hain ji? All is maya only.
    But where’s that post on The King autographing his graphic scans in Heathrow?

  28. You hit the nail on the head. Its the bowlers who need immediate looking into, than anything else. Its easy to blame the batsmen with they being dismissed twice over. Zaheer is often overrated, he is close to world class, but not consistently there with the top fast bowlers. Ishant and Bhajji are nowhere near Zaheers class and need a immediate remainder.

    As for the batting, it reinforced what I have believed for a long time. This bunch is no match for top class fast bowling on good pitches, and this wasnt Perth either anyways. After Ganguly and Dravid debuted with a bang, I dont think we have seen a batsman of the same class, barring Sehwag, albeit unexpectedly. The likes of Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni are going to be disasters with thier techniques, I still hope Rohit Sharma scales up, he seems to have the basic goods. Saha, Vijay and Badri did well for thier experience. Saha looks very gritty, Vijay looks alll grace and class, while Badri seems to be dedciated and ready to slug it out. I think Manish Pandey is one to look out for, again, not high on technique, but seems to have a method arond his madness, a la, Sehwag.

  29. Sarfaraz or Safraz ?!

    But I guess it was a blend of too many things that made it a total landslide victory. Indian batting lineup is seriously depleted of genuine test match batters. After Dravid ,Laxman and Tendulkar we are now facing a void with answers like the one who played the last match. We need to rotate players and create a substantial bench that can any time step in and take the charge. Secondly we still haven’t done enough to change the orthodox we-dont-have genuine pace attack situation.
    To be at the no1 spot requires hard work but to sustain yourself at that spot we need to excel in all parts of the game.

  30. Saha was sold a copper… that guy has talent, and though his best chance is to be the 2nd wicketkeeper for India for the next 10 years to come…he must get that chance at least. Dinesh Karthik has got too many chnces to prove his worth, blown them all, and a 180 and a 150 in the Duleep finals doesnt suddenly make him a brilliant batsman at international level.

  31. You used to write well, you know…

  32. The Biggest and largest culprit IMHO is Bhajji. harbhajan enjoyed his success when Kumble was keeping things tidy at other end…
    after kumble’s departure he just become an ordinary bolwer who cannot even beat 11th batsman..pathatic show by indian spinners

  33. “…Dhoni (world’s No 1 something who I would say is lucky that he plays now, ten years ago his ‘old man poking with a stick’ technique…”

    Is GB about to bring back the good old ‘Mahendrilocks’ kind of monikers. At least that was funny. As some other commenters have already said, the GB zing is missing.

    There were some shadows of greatbong past in the last para but this read like a straight match report 😦


  34. Why no Saha-mention ? He deserves sympathies, since he was called in to replace Rohit Sharma(who simply refuses to do the class act at the sight of the Indian cap)..poor chap tried his best.

    Proved what Dravid-VVS are to the highest level of the game..mainly Dravid,bcoz he didn give a chance to be pushed around right from the beginning of his career. We win and draw with them , but without them..tough luck..regardless of the presence of Danav Dhoni with his toothpick pokin act or any of the Bikini cricket generation. Uggg! what do we do when the Fab 4-1 call it a day!

  35. Dinesh Karthik should never have been dropped in the first place. I don’t he’s ‘blown all his chances’, plus he would have been a better choice as a batsman. Just shows how confused selectors are at the moment, that they now bring him back. And how about Dhoni’s captaincy – his field placements in the first session of the game, when SA were struggling, made no sense; there was no urgency and he just let things drift. Pathetic performance. Steyn and Morkel are very very good, but in these conditions Steyn shouldn’t be allowed to have the figures he did.

  36. Hey GB, did you hear Darryl Cullinan mention his favorite Bollywood hero was Mithun? I think the Indian team heard him say that and were too shocked to play for the rest of the match. This could become another “Hand of God” incident.

  37. @ Nand Kishor

    Mark Boucher with 31.13,Brad Haddin with 38.78,Kamran Akmal with 33.55,Matt Prior with 42.12, Mccullum with 32.12,I wont mention Sangakkara, and only Ramdin and Rahim are the two keepers having a lower batting average than Karthik in test cricket, Karthik standing at 28 point sumthing.
    He drops catches like he is catching a fireball, latest example, 1st test match against Bangladesh.
    You would still say he should get another chance?

  38. Simple, YOu can’t have M Vijay, Badri and Karthik in the same team ……. good old zonal “sharing” too much TN.

    Our bowling future looks bleak….. no spinners,
    no pacers …… boy ….wish Rajinder Goel and Shivalkar were playing now and not in the 60s/70s

  39. We never looked like we could take 20 wickets, Our batting reminded me of how Donald castled us in Durban. Now they’ve taken it further, and paced us out on our turf.

  40. OK, forget cricket. GB, put your review of MNIK. I won’t watch the movie for sure, though. Times of India has given it 5 stars and rated SRK miles ahead of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. Not that I think all Hollywood actors are better than Indian actors. Calling Kamal, Naseer or Pankaj Kapoor better than Tom Hanks is fine, but SRK… sigh…

  41. Saha or no Saha, Laxman or no Laxman, Sharma or no Sharma, I do not see any one batsman who could have said with conviction that he would have played Dale Steyn well if he bowled like he did on Day 2. Remember the ball he bowled to Dravid on the last tour? The pressure was always on India after Sehwag got out after that brilliant 100. You cannot really blame Gambhir. He has had such a good past few matches. It is only natural that he failed. So the bottomline is that the team which batted so well, in partnerships, and bowled so much better, deservedly won.

    Both Vijay and Badrinath I thought played really well. These players are adequate enough replacements. The problem is Sehwag- the 800 ton gorilla in the room. When he plays well, the rest seem to play well. When he gets out cheap, the pressure is automatically on India, such is his impact. Harris was successful with that strategy in Cape Town too. We simply do not have players anymore who could play spin while sleeping- like Sidhu or M. Azhar. Also, a left hander would have handled his line better. Gambhir got out cheap in both innings. The batting will somehow hold up. But what about the bowling? It is a shame that the South Aricans used reverse swing almost as good as Pakistan did in the 90s after 40-50 overs, while we could not use it to that devastating effect. On a better day, Mishra would have got a fifer on day 1. But Amla had so many plays and misses. The unsung hero as always is Kallis- what a 100! Just slowly and methodically choked the bowling. And yet, you would not remember him. Such is the bane of being a great batsman without flourish. I however, have always enjoyed watching Kallis bat. Great great batsman.

    India may well come back in Calcutta. But to really see who are the good players, is Bhajji finished or not, who are the good bolwers, Mishra or Ojha, how good is Badri etc., you needed more tests. I do not think India will ever a 3+ test series again. Sighs.

    The thing with Saha is he is a good batsman, of the little that I have seen him. But he is more Ian Healy than a Boucher/Gilchrist. Hence, unless he adds some shots in his arsenal, he cannot be picked as backup keeper in T20 or ODIs. And in tests, a backup keeper is rarely picked. He is a very good keeper, but suffers from the same problem that P. Jaya of SL faces with the captain being a keeper too. But he is young, and IPL etc should help him develop into a good keeper-batsman. Or it can ensure him a steady paycheque from the best IPL team. That should be good enough. It is a mystery to me as to why Dhoni didnt play as specialist bat in the match given the circumstances. And if the bowling continues like this, they will need to think of a 5th bowler, if they want to win matches. Shows you just how good Kumble was.

  42. Australia, as much as I hate them, seem to have found a cracking ODI bowling combo, which therefore, makes them, a favorite, again, for the WC next year.

    We need some new upcoming bowlers, who need to be tested out there, and who will compete for places. That is the only sign of health in the bowling department. The selectors should not hesitate to try new players. Otherwise, how will we know who can step up to the plate? An untested player in the 15 adds a null value to the competition roster.

  43. i was also surprised with the way our batsman has responded to Harris in second innings. before harbhajan came into bat his stats were 28-x-36-3. i think Sachin/Badri did not handle him properly. they should have blasted him out of attack. his bowling kept one end tight (he got wckets as well), giving smith opportunity to rotate other bowers at other end. if we would have forced styne/morkel to bowl more, who knows they also would have leaked run after getting tired.

  44. wow yourfan2 you need to start your own blog .. or are you great bong’s alter ego??

  45. and bong why have you written naakh!! naak man man naak

  46. IPL is ‘chaddi cricket’ in every sense of the term where ordinary players churn out extraordinary performances. Remember Asnodkar who was a star performer in the first edition and in the second one in South Africa simply could not put the bat to the ball.

  47. Agree with whatever you’ve written but even you’ll admit that it isn’t written very well. Don’t ask me whats missing but something definitely is.

  48. For someone who intersperses so many hindi words in his writing, your spelling of hindi words is irritatingly atrocious. It is “naak”, without an h.

  49. For someone who intersperses so many hindi words in his writing, your spelling of hindi words is irritatingly atrocious. It is “naak”, without an h.

  50. MNIK Review please..watched it yesterday-to borrow an expression I read somewhere-maybe on this blog-Its the cinematic equivalent of a root canal without anaesthesia

  51. ha ha ha @ GB – who tried to take a dig at dhoni as a batsman!!

    sooo expected you to diss Dhoni – u hopelessly predictable loser

    now just like u had to take out daggers for one bad match of his, for one good one – u should eat sht and die.

    people who have a more open mind – laud the extraordinary mettle he brings to the front, for having the poorest and the ugliest of technique and still managing the job better than most players out there.

    and you say – being the best in ODI is coz he’s lucky no good baller is playing. while that might actually be true to an extent, harping on it – and ignoring the fact that it is true for every batsmen out there – just shows how pathetic and lowly you really are.

    i think dhoni is like a thorn in a ganguly lover’s flesh. not sure why. but he sure is.

  52. @ yourDad : Dissing Dhoni is quite in the offing…. He had a golden run alright … He also managed his team admirably… But I also think that his technique is somewhat faulty… or as GB puts it “old man poking with stick”… He even abandoned his swashbuckling style which was atleast entertaining to watch

    @ GB : Your dissing Gambhir was absolutely uncalled for … That guy had contributed in most of the wins apart from Sehwag … His match saving performance in NZ made us win the series in their home ground … and combined with Sehwag … I think they are the most destructive opening pair…

  53. Naakh restored in Kolkata. That is what makes us the numero uno. The ability to stitch together sliced naakhs. Thousand salaams MSD and the gang.

  54. The ease with which SA decimated the Indian batting line up does not augur well for the coming times. anyways we did well to retain the no 1 test ranking (despite the heroics of WB cricket chief to not to make a spinner friendly track reminiscent of dry lands in Rajasthan). In the light of the victory in 2nd test, the failure at Nagpur will be easily forgotten. The Mujra league (funny name though you are genius with words) will only bring to prominence the mediocre domestic league Indian players(Kohli,nayar and what have you).

    it will be interesting to see if the selection panel is bold enough to take steps to ensure that we put a commendable performance in the coming world cup in 2011 (we should be looking for winning it as it is a very good chance).

    The pace bowling is dismal its below par and for some reason it brings back the memories of Thiru Kumaran, Tinu yohannan, Kuruvilla, Mohanty, harvinder Singh and so many. Spin is another major concern it again goes back to the same era where we were playing with sairaj bahutule, ashish kapoor, nilesh kulkarni, (offspin chucker rajesh forgot his name though) etc with above mentioned legendary fast bowlers.
    God save the team india.

    Arnab/AKA Greatbong: Manoj Kumar’s Clerk review please or atleast an article on great Joginder shelly ( Lota dance etc..)

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