English County cricket: Is it reserved only for the greats?

+It certainly won’t be an overstatement to say that the Indian test side is at the very peak of its prowess. The Indians have had an emphatic home season, handing comprehensive defeats to the likes of New Zealand, England and Australia. The test side looks solid and stable with the top-order piling on the runs, the middle order adding significantly to the contributions made by the top-order. Of late, the Indian seamers have also been performing reasonably well. ‘What about the spinners?’, you’d be thinking. Ah, Ashwin’s contributions speak louder than words. Have to call him a contemporary great.

But hold on, most of these players have only delivered the goods while playing on home soil. These players haven’t really performed during overseas tours. In 2014, the Indians had gone down like a pack of cards when they toured England. They suffered a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of England. As the ‘red cherry’ swung in England, the Indians found it hard to tackle the swinging ‘red cherry’ on the seamer-friendly tracks of England.

The South Africans are scheduled to tour England in 2017. Of the proteas team, quite a few players have been a part of English county sides. JP Duminy has had a stint with Surrey, Vernon Philander has played for Middlesex, Faf du Plessis has represented Lancashire, Hashim Amla has had a stint with Essex. The list is never-ending.
On the contrary, only a handful of Indian players in the current test side have had the ‘privilege’ of representing English county sides. Cheteshwar Pujara had a stint with Yorkshire in 2015 after having failed to attract bidders during the IPL auction. His return to form can be credited to his time with Yorkshire.

When the Indians toured England back in 2007 and made the Englishmen bite the dust, almost all their squad member had enjoyed a stint in county cricket. Sachin Tendulkar (Yorkshire) Sourav Ganguly (Glamorgan), Rahul Dravid (Kent), VVS Laxman (Lancashire), Yuvraj Singh (Yorkshire), Zaheer Khan (Worcestershire) had spent a considerable amount of time playing for English Counties. All of them had enhanced their skills while sweating it out in England.

Playing in Ranji Trophy doesn’t allow Indian players to go out of their comfort zones and get access to those spicy and lively English batting strips. Another problem with the current generation of cricketers is that they’re too busy playing for their respective franchises. Earlier, the summer used to be reserved for playing county cricket in England. But with lucrative and cash-rich Twenty20 leagues coming into existence, playing for county sides seems to have taken a backseat. The charm and the glamour of the IPL are too formidable to be disrupted.

A stint in English county cricket would allow the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Murali Vijay to get accustomed to playing the short ball.

Raina, in particular, has struggled against short-pitched deliveries fired at him at steaming pace. It has been one of the foremost reasons behind his absence from international Test Match Cricket. Batting against short-pitch bowling can be a challenging experience at first, but it would allow Raina to learn from the mistakes he has committed is the past. Similar is the case with Rohit Sharma. He’s a formidable force when he bats on the slow Indian and spin-friendly tracks here in India, but turns into an ordinary batsman when it comes to performing overseas. A season or two in English domestic circuit would allow him to eliminate his weakness of getting beaten-up against out-swinging deliveries outside the Off-stump.

Then there is this duo of Jadeja and Ashwin. The moment the ball begins to grip and turn, they’re unplayable, but their prowess with the ball in hand can only be seen on Indian turfs. The variations they produce appear harmless on seaming wicket outside the sub-continent. A county season in England would act as an ideal training ground for them to learn the art of bowling spin in varied conditions.

If Virat Kohli wants a taste of victory outside the sub-continent, a pace bowling unit capable of taking 20 wickets in a match. Ishant has some serious pace but has under-performed for the most part of his career. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar can swing the ball both ways but lacks pace. Umesh Yadav is perhaps the best among them. He bowled with renewed vigour and firepower. India’s pace trio would get to learn quite a few skills if they plan to be a part of English counties.

This is something Zaheer Khan did really well. After hitting a rough patch in 2006, Zaheer Khan flew all the way to England to play white-sweater cricket for Worcestershire on the seaming, bouncing tracks of England. He honed his skills and came back all guns blazing into the Indian side.

Some tough calls are the need of the hour if the Indians want to fare well in seaming conditions. Of late, star Indian batsman Virat Kohli opened up and stated he’s keen to stretch is nerves in county cricket as he aims to prepare for his next outing in England in 2018.

So, to top it all, it won’t be wrong to say that county cricket would act as an ideal training ground for our ‘desi’ batsmen. But again, truth be told, they’re too busy flexing their muscles in cash-rich Twenty20 leagues. We need BCCI’s intervention here. If the overseas records are to be improved, we certainly need our players to swing it around for a season or two in county cricket.

‘Phillauri’ brings the ‘old-school romance’ back to life…

Anushka Sharma’s second venture as a producer is out. Expectations from the film were high, especially after the success of NH10. Phillauri, starring Anushka as a ‘good at heart’ ghost shines in patches. Diljit and Anushka have done complete justice to the characters they were portraying, but a loosely written script plays a spoilsport.

Overview:

An NRI named Kannan (Suraj Sharma) returns to India from Canada in order to marry her childhood friend Anu (Mehreen Kaur). His marriage with Anu turns into a roller-coaster ride after he is asked to marry a tree as he’s a ‘manglik’. The ghost of Shashi (Anushka) is bound to him as her spirit resides in that tree. The film narrates two parallel love stories, that of Kannan and of Shashi.

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Review: Beauty and the Beast is a beauty…

The world of fairytales is back. Emma Watson, the ‘Hermoine Granger’ of Hollywood is back and boy, hasn’t she done well? Recently, we had read that the girl had said no to Lala Land for Beauty and the Beast. She was called a fool. People literally laughed at her misfortune, but the girl has taken the box office by storm. The film is a visual treat and Emma Watson is undoubtedly the heart and soul of this tale. Continue reading “Review: Beauty and the Beast is a beauty…”

Revisiting ‘The Third Level’ by Jack Finney

Past is a good place to visit, but certainly not a good place to stay. The Third Level by Jack Finney is an engrossing story set in the 1950’s. The story is studded with numerous undertones of irony. It takes you back in time.  It was a world when people hadn’t seen two of the bloodiest wars in the history of mankind. The story brings to light the fact that figments of someone’s imagination can be used for shying away from reality, which in all fairness, is harsh enough. Let us take a closer look at the story. Continue reading “Revisiting ‘The Third Level’ by Jack Finney”

Logan goes all guns blazing…

Overview

Set in 2029, the film follows a largely dystopian plot. Dr. Charles Xavier’s school is in ruins. He and Logan (Wolverine) hide near the Mexican border. Logan does odd jobs in order to keep his body and soul together. Additionally, he seems to have aged greatly as his healing factor has begun faltering. Gabriela, a nurse, asks Logan to escort a girl named Laura to a place called ‘Eden’ in North Dakota. Things turn nasty when Reavers come into the picture. Would Logan be able to safely escort Laura to North Dakota? The answer isn’t that hard to find.

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Bangladesh, the game of cricket needs you…

They’ve been taking giant strides on the cricket field. They’ve been playing quality cricket over the past couple of years. The team from Bangladesh showed immense character and promise when it participated in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Successive victories in the bilateral series against the likes of Pakistan, South Africa and India reiterated the fact that the Bangladesh has transformed as a cricketing nation.

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IPL auction 2017: Of English flavours and Afghani spices

Ben Stokes, Bought by Hyderabad For Rs 14.5 Crore, Becomes IPL's Most Expensive Foreign Player Ever

Seeing more than 350 players going under the hammer is exciting. It really thrills me out when I see bids being placed and players from across the globe going under the hammer (the auction hammer, I mean). The auction for the 10th season of the cash-rich Indian Premiere League saw two different flavours.  On one hand, players from England attracted a lot of bids. The auction saw Ben Stokes, England’s star all-rounder in white-ball cricket, being sold for INR 14.5 crore to the Rising Pune Supergiants  (That’s insane). Stokes would certainly be the happiest person on earth right now. Everytime I look at his (Stokes) price tag, it baffles me.

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Tackling the bullies…

Student days are tough, not because of all those tests and assignments. Tests and assignments were the least of our worries. The tough time I’m talking about is the tough time kids sometimes give to other kids, something which we call bullying. A majority of us end up facing at least one such incident in our student life. A countless number of children are bullied in India every day, it’s never-ending.

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A state of intolerance…

 Film making is rightly considered as a profession which allows the creative juices to flow out of people. It provides people with the widest extent of unleashing their creativity. A director puts his creativity to use in an attempt to create a world of his own. A film maker takes all sorts of cinematic liberties (He’s bound to). Historical depictions are subject to a considerable amount of distortion. History is something which is always created. Distorting history can prove extremely fatal. The recent attack on director Sanjay Leela Bhansali comes as a wake-up call that Hindu extremism is no longer a myth, but a harsh reality.

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