Hardik Pandya and Test cricket? When the Indian selectors named him in the squad for the first two Tests against England, there were plenty of people puzzled by the development. But when the budding allrounder has been helped along the way by none other than Rahul Dravid, who are we to complain?
Meanwhile, MSK Prasad, the chairman of the selectors, said Gautam Gambhir was their first-choice opener even if the regulars are back, the England and Wales Cricket Board security chief questioned Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales’s decision to not tour Bangladesh, and Nathan Lyon had an eye-opening chat with Rangana Herath among other cricketing developments.
Test cricket: You can’t save it by killing it (Sydney Morning Herald)
Sure, Test cricket sometimes looks a bit naff, when there is no-one at the ground, for instance. That is embarrassing, like the old game has gone out forgetting to get dressed. But Test crowds always have been patchy, patchier still since other forms of the game emerged. Besides, we’re all a bit prone to over-romantacisation. Not so long ago, a retired English cricketer told me that he had always been certain the ground was full the day he made his debut. Then he came across it on YouTube and saw that it was barely half occupied.
‘Test cricket the most disciplined thing I will do’ – Pandya (ESPNCricinfo)
Prior to the India A tour, Pandya says he played every tournament riding on his talent. However, during the 55-day long tour of Australia in the company of India A coach Rahul Dravid, Pandya began to understand what makes a long-form player. Dravid narrated a lot of things during the Australia trip, but Pandya cannot forget one point the former India captain made. “We were talking about what is a natural game,” Pandya says. “He [Dravid] said that there is no such thing called a natural game. It is just that in cricket you play according to the situation, and you win the games.”
Second innings for Gautam Gambhir as he is back in the Indian fold (The Hindustan Times)
At first it looked Gambhir had benefitted only because KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan were unavailable due to injury. But chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad, declared he was always in the fray to partner Murali Vijay. “One thing I want to make very clear is that we are thinking 10 times before picking a player, but if we pick a player he should be given chances. Even if the regular openers would have come, we would have still given preference to Gambhir because we have considered him and he should be given a fair chance,” the former India stumper said on Wednesday.
Australia’s greatest off-spinner Nathan Lyon silencing the doubters (Sydney Morning Herald)
Lyon admits there is no great science in performing on subcontinent wickets – Australia have simply been outplayed. Following the Sri Lankan series Lyon sat down with Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath over a beer. “What’s the difference between me and you here in the subcontinent?,” Lyon asked.
“There’s no difference,” Herath said. “All I know I need to bowl five or six balls in one spot and you guys will stuff up.” In that moment it all became pretty simple for Lyon – “they don’t fear spin”.
England security chief bemused by Morgan and Hales’ refusal to tour Bangladesh (Express)
Dickason arranged for the Bangladeshi authorities to erect a ‘ring of steel’ around the squad that included thousands of armed guards, police, tanks, snipers and special forces battalions. Convoys from the team hotels to the grounds in Dhaka and Chittagong, the venues for the three one-day internationals and two Tests, involved up to 2,000 security personnel each time. England’s players were extensively briefed on all these arrangements in the weeks leading up to the tour by Dickason, a no-nonsense Australian ex-police officer who the majority of the squad literally trust with their lives. Yet Morgan and Hales still refused to travel.
Humiliation in Bangladesh might have prepped England for India series (The Hindustan Times)
In the good old days of Test cricket, when England used to pack their bags for long-haul tours of the subcontinent, the second series often proved to be better for them than the first. Take for example their 1973 tour of Pakistan. Having lost a five-match series against India 1-2 less than a month ago, England wouldn’t have been blamed for preparing for the worst when they landed in Pakistan. They left the country drawing the three-match series 0-0. England again toured both countries in 1984. This time they lost 0-1 to Pakistan but went on to win the series against India 2-1 a few months down the line.
England don’t need me to beat India insists Sam Billings after Michael Vaughan urges Test squad call-up (Mirror)
Sam Billings says he is flattered to be considered an answer to England’s batting woes, but believes the players on this trip to India are good enough to win without him. After a horror batting collapse led to defeat and a drawn series in Bangladesh, former captain Michael Vaughan called on the England selectors to add Billings to the squad for this second, more testing leg because of his excellence in playing spin. But Billings admits a maiden one-day 50 in the one-day series beforehand is not enough to warrant a Test call-up to help cope with India’s spin threat.
Why the WACA is the perfect home for the first cricket Test between Australia and South Africa (Sydney Morning Herald)
It’s almost six years since I made my first class debut in Perth and I bowled 66 overs in that Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia, taking away some valuable lessons. The most vital is to get your length right. There can be little margin for error bowling in Perth with such a true pitch and fast outfield. Shots through the field often race to the boundary, writes Nathan Lyon.
Rebuilding the culture of the Australian dressing room (Sydney Morning Herald)
Only Smith, Warner, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and probably Josh Hazlewood are guaranteed of featuring in all six Tests this summer, fitness permitting. Selection chairman Rod Marsh has made it clear to Mitch Marsh he needs a century, while Peter Nevill knows he is under pressure with the bat. Usman Khawaja has made light of Rod Marsh’s comments that he likes to sleep in, even joking he enjoys day-night Test cricket because it begins later in the day. But Khawaja, who always looks relaxed publicly, knows he needs a big score early. Friction – and pressure – within a team isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lehmann has likened the Australian dressing room to the movie Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich, because of its “dysfunctional and edgy environment”, and sports psychologist Dr Michael Lloyd is used to help keep this dynamic under control.
Australian selectors at odds with Victoria over Glenn Maxwell (Sydney Morning Herald)
Maxwell was controversially overlooked last week for the Bushrangers’ opening Sheffield Shield clash of the season, where he was consigned to 12th-man duties against Tasmania in what proved to be a big win for Victoria. Bushrangers selectors insisted Maxwell, 28, had not been included because of team balance, while his management denied there had been any off-field issues. National selector Mark Waugh, who had been on duty at the MCG, said Maxwell should have been picked.
Mukul Mudgal clears confusion over DDCA’s U-16 team trials (The Indian Express)
With the first match of the Vijay Merchant Trophy Under-16 less than a month away, confusion has gripped the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) after Hony. Joint Secretary (Sports) Anil Jain, who is not part of any selection panel for 2016-17 season, advertised for a ‘talent-search cricket tournament’ for the Under-16 category. The move comes after Siddharth Sahib Singh, co-convenor for the junior selection committee, had invited DDCA affiliated clubs to send four names each for the U-16 trials. DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan, after learning about Jain’s intention, wrote to Justice Mukul Mudgal and apprised him of the situation and the confusion it could lead to ahead of the trials for the upcoming tournament.
Why home is too much of an advantage in test game (New Zealand Herald)
While Bangladesh’s test win over England was a momentous result worth celebrating, cricket authorities should recognise it is more evidence that test cricket has become a game where home advantage has way, way, way too much sway. What you now have is ‘western’ teams – and I choose that word out of convenience rather than accuracy – travelling to the subcontinent and getting towelled, and subcontinent teams travelling to England, Australia, South Africa and even New Zealand and being similarly enfeebled.
Dennis Lillee sledges Perth Stadium cost (The West Australian)
Lillee painted a picture of the WACA board and management conspiring with Cricket Australia to move the game’s most significant matches, such as Ashes Tests, to Burswood. “I believe the originally stated billion-dollar cost for the new Perth Stadium will at least double by the time it is complete,” he said. “I also believe WA cricket cannot possibly keep the WACA and hire the new stadium as well as make the money necessary for grassroots cricket.”
BCCI hits a wall, no Lodha panel interaction till pledge to implement reforms (The Hindustan Times)
The Justice RM Lodha committee has decided not to communicate with the Indian cricket board until it pledges compliance with the Supreme Court’s October 21 order to follow the panel’s recommendations to usher in reforms.
The Apex Court has directed that the board cannot implement any major decision until it ends its opposition to implementing the Lodha panel recommendations. The state units must individually pledge their commitment to be allowed to use funds received from the BCCI.