ESPNCricinfo: Ross Taylor

I am a fan of Ross Taylor. He was an adopted son of Bangalore during the heady early days of  IPL, where there was still some innocence left in the spectacle.

Before betting, before Sreesanth and company, and before two-feet no-balls on the second-last ball of the over.

Taylor. He had lost his way somewhat, for a while. Mouthed off too often, about too many things in the setup. .. Well, this is no transformation, yet. But a reminder that he can still do things which few others can. Read this piece. Click here.

Anil Kumble at the IPL

I wish one of the Cricinfo guys writes about Anil Kumble the IPL player. At 40+, he is still India’s best bowler at T20 cricket. He rejuvenated the RCB IPL team, and seems like the one man who understands the T20 game the most.

Also, the funny thing is that right now, as the president of KSCA, he is RCB’s landlord and first employee, as the M Chinnaswamy stadium is KSCA’s responsibility.

IPL 2011 – 4 Indians / 3 Foreigners to be retained: RCB and KKR

Inspired by this post (here) from the Daredevilblogger.

As many of you know, Delhi Daredevils is my third team. And I tend to agree with Daredevilblogger’s selection, apart from Gambhir. Gambhir must stay. However, my team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and my second team Kolkata Knight Riders, are ripe for the picking, as they say 🙂

NOTE:
Before trying this I would just like to add a caveat. The problem with retaining a long-in-the-tooth big name is not there with Delhi, as during the days of the Fab-5, Delhi did not have a major representation in the national team. Probably the oldest iconic player (as opposed to an icon player) for Delhi is Sehwag, who still has at least 5 to 6 more IPLs in him. However with both RCB and KKR, there is this problem with these iconic players, namely Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. And I will explain.
We all know and understand that Ganguly and Kumble have probably one more IPL outing in them, and Dravid probably two. However, Warne is, in all probability, not coming back. And that means there are three teams, namely Kochi, Pune and Rajasthan, who are in the need of a big name to lead them and provide credibility to their IPL effort, the way Warne did it for RR for such a long while. Even a par performance in the IPL requires a strong captain.
After all, what stops Kochi to bid for Kumble (remember, his ancestral village is in the Karnataka-Kerala border); or for Pune (whose owner is Bong, and friendly to Ganguly), to bid for Ganguly as player-coach? Or even for Dravid, who is, after all, of Maharashtrian origin. Both Ganguly and Dravid have reasonable acceptability in Pune and Maharashtra in general, neither scenario would be a potential disaster like, say, Yuvraj leading Kochi.
It’s an important caveat to remember.

Let me try RCB first:

Commentary:
The advantage with RCB is that the core of this team is excellent. However, as important as getting new players should be giving chances to the new breed, guys like Abhimanyu Mithun, Ganesh Sathish and Amit Verma, all of whom had performed creditably at the Ranji trophy, and can emulate Pandey.

Foreign Slots: The three foreign players retained should be

Jacques Kallis – Did you see Eoin Morgan bat? An absolute delight and a sensation! And young. Morgan can change the way the game is played, and if you have someone like him, you keep him. Yes, even over Jacques Kallis. ………. eh? Isn’t there a mistake here? No, that’s exactly how I wanted it to be. The only reason Morgan should be put on the shop window, is that there will be crazy bidding if Morgan is put on the shop window, but there will be absolute carnage if Kallis is put there. And Dr. M is a businessman, he will know how to save a few bucks.

Ross Taylor – The first honorary Bangalorean amongst the foreign recruits, you should hear the roar at the Chinnaswami when Taylor comes in to bat. And there’s also the minor detail of him being, potentially, the best T20 player in the world.

Dale Steyn – Well, if you have the world’s premier fast bowler to keep or get rid from your team, you know which of those two to choose, correct?

(As for the bidding –
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, Dr. M should show the world the strength of his pelf, and get Morgan back in the team.
RCB should re-bid for Roelof Van Der Merwe and Jesse Ryder; Also re-bid for Cameron White; and ignore KP.
A backup to Steyn, maybe Ryan Sidebottom? Darren Sammy? Ian Butler? Juan Theron?)

Indian Slots: The four Indian players retained should be

Rahul Dravid – Yes. Local boy, sensational cricketer and has two more years left in him, maybe three.

Robin Uthappa and Virat Kohli – are sensational young players, who will serve the BRC team for years and years to come. If the choice is available, you would never put either on the shop window.

Manish Pandey – Here’s my talentwatch. And he is a Bangalore boy. However, choosing between him and Vinay Kumar was difficult. And Dr. M and his bid managers would need to take a call here. Both RVK and Pandey need to be retained… now for whom would the bidding war be more rabid? Take a call, and put the other person on the shop window.

(Bidding –
Retaining Kumble is a priority. He is the captain, he has one season left in him, and the team works best with him at the helm. And the only reason that Kumble, and not Dravid should be put on the shop window, is that it is obvious that Kumble has only one year left in him, and other teams might hesitate in getting a player for only one year. Dravid should last longer, and might be the icon for, say, Rajasthan or Pune.
Get another spinner who can be a long term prospect… is KP Appanna good enough? I believe Bangalore should bet the house on Ravindra Jadeja.
Ensure Vinay Kumar is retained. Get a middle order jack-of-all-trades sort like Rajat Bhatia or Laxmi Rattan Shukla.
Either of Amit Mishra and Gautam Gambhir, and either of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary will be made available. That’s up for grabs)

What would happen:
Kallis. Steyn. Taylor. Uthappa. Kohli. Dravid. RVK/Pandey. the KF man is no fool.

Now to KKR

foreign Players: The three foreign players retained should be

Angelo Mathews – The team can be built around this guy. It would be a straight pick between him and David Hussey, and from the long term perspective, Angelo is a better pick.

Chris Gayle – the bedrock of the team. No questions. It was a straight pick between him and McCullum.

Shane Bond – You have to retain your quick bowler. Although I would understand the rationale if KKR decide to let go of Bond, retain Angelo and McCullum and then try to outbid everyone for someone like Ryan Harris or Kemar Roach or Morne Morkel, for example. However, that is a rare shot. You do not flush out so much money for a player just to see him go after one year. And Bond is a fine, fine player.

Edit: This post was written before Shane Bond’s retirement. Will be sorely missed by all cricket fans. For the context of the piece, however, I’d suggest
Brendan McCullum – Because McCullum can win matches on his own. And is on his day the best T20 player in the world.

(Bidding – The following two player types, should be at the top of the agenda for KKR. I also include the first and second preferences:
A quality spinner – Daniel Vettori / Graeme Swann; because KKR’s biggest problem is the lack of quality spinners. Also, and this might be a little controversial, Vettori would be the best guy to take over from Ganguly in 2012.
A lower order hitter/ finisher – Luke Wright / Roelof Van Der Merwe / Mark Boucher.
Also, try to retain David Hussey and McCullum via bidding. Will be extremely difficult of course…..
A backup quick as foil to Bond might be useful, someone like Ryan Sidebottom (of course only because Stuart Broad seems disinterested in T20) or Juan Theron)

Indian Players: The four Indian players retained

Sourav Ganguly – Because KKR without Ganguly would just not work. Very few outside Bengal understand the concept of Dada and the Bengali psyche. After years of being force-fed by the political powers-that-be of a historical neglect by the center and by the rest of India (I have a lot to say on this, but no further discussion here. I will keep the politics at bay in this blog, email me if you will), Ganguly was the first ray of hope, the first pan-Indian Bengali…. You would not want that guy to go to Pune. And Sahara will bid for him if he is available, mind. And moreover, Shahrukh and his celebrity parade is not really very popular in Kolkata, especially for the undermining of Dada by Buchanan at IPL2. And yes, Kolkata can never not support Dada… what will happen to the Pune vs KKR match at Eden then? Also, KKR is a middling team by IPL standards, and with all teams playing to potential, should be around 6th, giving the semis a shot, but fail eventually. And that’s about the level they reached with Ganguly at the helm in IPL1 and IPL3. IPL2, however…

Manoj Tiwary – A fine player from Bengal. You need a core which understands the pulse of the place, and Tiwary is a fine talent.

Murali Kartik – Kartik is very fine, but KKR always needed more quality spinners. Retaining him is essential, providing him with support even more so.

Jaydev Unadkat – Because Ishant has, after 4 years of International cricket, developed no variations at all, and is a useless T20 bowler at the current state. Unadkat is already better at the T20 format. And maybe moving to Delhi (and playing with Veeru) will give Ishant another shot at improving himself, and that might still be a positive for Indian cricket.

(Bidding –
Kolkata’s problem is that it will not be a heavy bidder like Mumbai, Pune, RCB or Chennai. So the Gambhir / Amit Mishra slot will never be snapped up by them. So it’s about creating a good enough team, picking players from the next level.
Dhawal Kulkarni is a priority. Getting Abhishek Jhunjhunwala back home to Kolkata should be a priority as well. Manpreet Gony if available. Maybe a cheeky bid for Vinay Kumar? I would hate to see that happen, RVK is the quintessential son of the soil. That slot, with one of Saurabh Tiwary / Ambati Rayudu being made available, is attractive. Cheteshwar Pujara is good to keep. He is a real talent, and can do the Ganguly/Kallis job of keeping the innings together very well.)

What will happen:
McCullum. Gayle. Bond. Angelo. Dada. Ishant. Kartik. Agarkar. Alas.

Talentwatch 1 – Manish Pandey

Another of my promised but undelivered (and promising but underperforming) irregular columns, alongwith the rushmore and petered-out talents, would be talentwatch. It should be a lot more low-maintenance: just see a good young player, and suggest him / her to the world. Let me see if I can maintain this.

And now to this week’s talent.
Player – Manish Pandey.
Country – India.
Short Summary – A compact, extremely aggressive player who can nonetheless build innings, he plays for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy and for Bangalore Royal Challengers in the IPL. While most of you would remember him as the first Indian to score an IPL century, he has now developed into quite a player. Pandey was one of the stars of Karnataka’s march to the Ranji finals for the 2009-10 season, and sometimes even put the illustrious Rahul Dravid in the shadows with his performances. The 194 against Uttar Pradesh, one of the best Ranji teams in recent times, was a highlight. Has continued his performances into the IPL 2010, and has developed a fine opening partnership for the BRC with Jacques Kallis.
Strengths – All shots in the book. Very little fear. Agile, athletic fielding.
Prediction – Will play for India within the next two years.