The Roar
The Roar

Gurlivleen Grewal

Roar Pro

Joined January 2015







Supporting a team is a sacrilege I try my best to avert. We are perishing for want of wonder, not want of wonders. Akin to the amount of cricket we are having. Bad beats only happen to good players.



Their cricket fortunes are mirroring the economy – just floating above junk. A dominant political party with a proud legacy doing the developing country routine. They can put Smith, Kallis, Boucher at the helm but unless the financial incentives align, the near-term situation is bleak.

The number of players of color will become dominant – not saying it is a good or a bad thing. With the present financial situation, only players who don’t have much to lose will stay in the system. So if somehow SA stay competitive for the next 5-7 years and don’t go to the lows of Srl, WI, they will still come back up.

Retirements leading South Africa into grim cricket era

Nobody torments anybody in ODIs, on flat pitches.

Indian rookies ready to take on Australia

Feedback on expectations from these young players – Whatever I have seen of Dube, doesn’t justify the hype as yet, yes he can murder mediocre spinners but doing the same to Zampa would be a lot different. Also, his batting against pace doesn’t inspire much confidence. The bowling is mediocre too. Pandya also took time in developing into the player he was a year ago (hopefully the injuries won’t bring down his pace). And Ind could miss him big time in NZ (5 bowlers with a fast-bowling allrounder a must). So unless Dube adds pace to his bowling and more range to his batting, he just keeping the seat warm for Pandya.

I would like Manish Pandey to get opportunities along with Shreyas. There are enough good players in India (Gill, and many others) that they can sort out the middle order problems – but the stubborn thinking of Shastri-Kohli does come in the way. This is why Dhoni is still in the frame, Jadhav is still playing (his bowling has outlived the welcome) and Jadeja is being preferred over the spin duo, and Dhawan is playing T20s.

The spin section is where India has fallen behind, the very reason they had become a huge force in the first place. The top order was getting wickets while the opposition were losing 3/4 in the middle overs. Chahal and Kuldeep have definitely found it harder to excel since teams have started to take them on. The plan A was befuddling opposition who are scared to come down the track, but Plan B for those who are more than willing to do has not been there. It is also partly due to the lack of faith by Kohli who instead of giving them match experience to develop such skills is instead backing a sub-optimal option in Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, W-Sundar – while all provide a lot of utility with the bat – they key in ODIs is picking wickets.

Saini should be fast tracked into the team, And should also be part of the test setup. Thakur is backup for a backup. His bowling is not going to threaten quality teams and India has been found wanting in the crunch moments time and again, under Kohli – not unlike SA at its peak.

Indian rookies ready to take on Australia

While the lack of prep is not going to hurt them this time, NZ are pretty good at outthinking opponents and in being more patient -the only reason they could take as many wickets as they did with bowlers bowling in the 130s and a non-spinning option.
Southee with his 6th stump boring line, Wagner with his bouncers, skill of Boult – this will test them.
Barring injuries, NZ will be facing one of the best attacks on their shores. So advantage India, but not as clearcut as a 2-nil.

Another spanking on the way, with New Zealand set to slide further down Test rankings

This is a strong squad with punts on Agar and Turner. Won’t be surprised if they beat India.

Kohli and Shastri are carrying on with their blunders in the middle order, back-up fast bowlers, treatment of their quality spinners and of course call on Dhoni. Apart from the top 3 and Bumrah, rest of the squad is always in the flux, players getting swapped around from one match to another without any roadmap.

A remarkable changing of Australia's ODI guard

The huge cracks give too much of an advantage to batting first? Batting last chasing even 180 would be a nightmare. While it is the nature of many of the pitches around, and making a pitch is not always precise, minor adjustments as per the weather would help.

Channelling the spirit of the WACA, Perth Stadium is now Australia's best Test venue

To be honest, I am not worried about their batting. Batting units with similar attitude and skills have done well against this trio – patience and to make them bowl with the second new ball with only 4-5 wickets down will test their resolve. And if history is any prediction – Starc especially struggles. One bowler down in a 4 man attack will take its toll with back to back tests like it did vs India.

But all that comes to naught if the bowlers don’t back it up. If a team is fielding 130+ overs on average then the batsmen will also struggle. Here I think will face their sternest test.

Australia to face the best Kiwi XI ever to tour the country

The Australian conditions are not conducive for reverse swing. The Indians have all-round tools and different types of seamers for varied conditions. I don’t think Australia can outbowl this Indian attack in any conditions, but those that are very quick and offer steep bounce – a rarity even in Aus.

The sooner you get out of the mindset of belittling the local officials of conspiring against the national team but developing conditions for the Indians, the better perspective you would have of the world. These guys have devoted their life to Aussie cricket and sometimes you can only do that much to alter the conditions – it isn’t mathematics.

Lockie Ferguson has the x-factor NZ need in Australia

I would be surprised if NZ bowling is up to snuff in Australia. Boult is down on pace. Southee has been on a decline for past 4 years – expect him to travel the journey, even more so in day tests.

Wagner is a worthy 3rd seamer, Henry and Fergurson are worthy backups but Aussie tracks are very punishing for quicks. Overall I am not convinced with Boult+Southee.

Then is the question of Santner, will he be able to provide the frugal economy he provides on slower, lower tracks in NZ. I very much doubt that. He doesn’t pose a wicket-taking threat otherwise. Good that there is Gandhomee to supplement the 4th bowler.

Opening with Raval is like gifting a wicket early – perhaps! But no alternatives. Should not move Williamson to open either – he is NZ’s best bet. Would love this series to live up to the billing.

Australia to face the best Kiwi XI ever to tour the country

Ben, bit of feedback. Having read your previous pieces, I knew it would be a satire but somehow the tone wasn’t there in this one. It seemed well argued without contraindications.

Tim Paine must go

I think the problem with Root is his emphasis on white-ball cricket vs Red ball. He should be taking a break from T20s and use it to recharge himself. Instead, he vehemently opposes any suggestion of not being part of England T20 setup. He wants to play the hundred too ofc. Smith would gleefully give up T20s – he likes to bat which gets a plenty of in tests. Williamson has taken the criticism in stride and has the work ethic that if he doesn’t fit in the team, he would sit out. Kohli knows he has the game so he sits out of T20s regularly.

There is no dearth of T20 players in England who are much better than him in the format. This kind of starts a quid pro quo where he is backed for white-ball cricket and he backs his clique of friends in tests. All a happy bunch (don’t seem to be faking it, have a good dressing room, have respect) they don’t have the transferrable skills for different formats.

Foakes should be an automatic pick given his performances and should be batting at 6. Instead they use Butler to thwack a 30-40 at 7. Root should be setting up the agenda by batting time as he talked before the game, but he played a typical guide to the third man shot, twice. As a captain of the side, better is expected of him.

England enters a new phase of Test cricket

Time and again, we have seen even good starts go awry. I just want to make a distinction between talent and test-match success. So I differ on your point about getting wickets early. They might get them and yet struggle.

Dropping Abbas for the first test – that doesn’t seem right either! Misbah was expected to bring the unPakistan patience, resolve and nuance – the first few matches are quickly eating away at that assumption.

Pakistan’s inexperienced bowling will struggle in Australia

I think it would be like the last 3 Indian tours of Aus before the last one or when Pakistan had a formidable attack – early 2000s. Even one makes the inroads early, the 3/4/5th bowlers have to still back it up on relatively flat pitches, under heat. Expecting a few sparks but nothing of substance, win wise.

If they go all-out attack (unlikely with Misbah at the realm) – the bowlers are quite green, will go for runs.
If they play the game of patience – are they fit enough? They certainly lack the FC experience.

Pakistan’s inexperienced bowling will struggle in Australia

Stephen, thanks for the post. You have covered the selection bit eloquently. But while there is a definite error from Ed Smith and co, it has been like this for years now and has brought them success.

England has been successful at home because they stack their team with bats up to 9/10. What didn’t work this time was that the pitches were balanced and weren’t lopsided entirely towards bowlers. Anderson said that the home advantage went missing this series like say vs India – which were a lottery, with tosses dictating the outcomes. On such pitches, bowlers like Sam Curran turn into pretty good bowlers, and anyone who can wield the willow at 8/9 against tired/in-experienced parts of a bowling attack can give a decisive edge.

The pitches this series dictated that they didn’t even play Curran, the Man of the series from the 4-1 win over India. So while the personnel are the same, the underlying conditions – the pitch and this new batch of balls ( going soft, doing less in the air) has changed.

The tradition of not picking promising test players has been an old one and since Bayliss has taken over, it has been a constant. They also waste a decent system of picking England Lions from the best county players with poor management and limited opportunities at the top level. Add to that the decay of 4 day cricket at the league level with more prominence given to the hundred, T20s, ODI cricket.

England has a mentality problem too. While Aus stood up and counted their mistakes in the third test, acknowledging them head-on as they did with their traditional bowling plans of just bowling fast, the English were still stuck at 120/8 in the first test. Even now they claim that there were moments and the series could be 3-1 and that Root’s captaincy is all good. They truly wasted a 2-1 defeat to Windies as a wake-up call. They will continue to blame the pitches and “ill-fortune”.

More than the Aussie selection, I commend the methods of patience, line and length over pace, magic deliveries and that gave then the decisive edge. While batting, all batters were looking to be patient. So the selection which worked against an inexperienced Indian attack, an equally flawed batting lineup didn’t work against a well-rounded, methodical and well-rotated Aussie one and the one with Smith being twice as good as Kohli.

We won the Ashes because our terrible selectors were less terrible than England's

The last series vs WI – which Eng lost 2-1 – losing the first 2 bitterly. Apart from usual suspects (Stokes, Broad, Anderson) – rest didn’t put up much of a fight. Don’t expect them to make much of an impact now.

Root was pleading the players to stay in it after Leach’s no ball but I would be very surprised if they don’t roll over. Looking at 140 all out today, esp if Starc mops the tail. All they can cry over is the pitch!

Australia dominate as England fall apart at Old Trafford

Thanks for reminding me of the AbD and Mendis innings. Both looked in so much control – a cliche – playing on different wickets altogether!

The five best Test innings versus Australia

He has been bowling faster as the games have gone – not sure if he thought the conditions demanded it? It certainly wasn’t because the English were coming down the track to him – not that they are good enough players to do that anyway. Expect him to rectify and improve. No team has enough quality to be confident against quality spin, under pressure, on tracks which have worn out. This bunch of English bats – far from it.

Now the other side of the equation – Lyon, he has enough quality, I hope he has enough gumption to make a come back from what transpired in the final few minutes. He certainly talks about ending careers of the opposition – can he walk the big talk? Looking at the progression on his career – he certainly should.

GOAT cheese: Have England worked Lyon out?

The DRS should be in the hands of the support staff and not players. They get more footage from the ground and have a better understanding of what transpired. Also, they can be given unedited real-time production footage from certain cameras.

One might also look at removing ball tracking altogether and just use it to see where the ball pitched. To use ball tracking – we have to get rid of the umpire’s call nonsense. May be the evolution to using ball tracking only for LBWs. The sytem will get refined with data but I am not sure if marchine learning is being used or the algorithms are being trained! Why? For that one has to acknowledge when a dubious decision was made, what doesn’t seem right etc but the ICC is more inclidned to put a good face on this sham and unless you train the algorithm right – you will get sham outcomes.

The 3rd umpire should take care of no balls.

The ball tracker should come in first – too much time is wasted on figuring out if the batter edged something only to find that it was missing the stumps altogether.

Umpires need to retrained on what a murmur on snicko means when it is not towards the center of graph. And other dubious scenarios. Right now a lot of work goes into covering their tracks rather than plain acknowledgement of mistakes. A comittee should review all decisions of match day – not from the lens of umpires calls but whether the calls made sense and only then the evalutation will go away from this sham 95% decisions are correct etc.

Is technology helping or hindering umpiring?

Overhead conditions are generally less dangerous than ball seaming off the pitch – the latter happens later and the batsman gets lesser chance to adjust for it. Day 2 had identical pitch conditions but the lack of overhead conditions made the deliveries more playable and thus more edge-able. Seemed so watching the match and also from cricviz analysis.

The batting conditions with better light etc were, of course, less challenging on day 2 but not by a huge factor. Nearly all players in the Australian line up put a price on their wickets and don’t mind scoring ugly, traditional test match runs. With England – you have Burns, Stokes (who again resorted to attacking first old mindset of his, due to the score) and that’s it! Root is neither here, nor there.

The big difference between the teams was of course, that Eng didn’t last enough to use the 4th bowler – a spinner and their backup bowlers bowled absolute trash for about 14 overs with Aus 30/2.

Australia's new 'Big Three' demolish England

Yes, that’s true but such foresight at the cost of personal gain (easy runs, averages) is missing.

Is there an obvious solution to India's No.4 merry-go-round?

Understand your point. That is why I think Jack Leach or tailenders should open the batting for England in tests. But the problem is they win a good number of games due to the top 3. Will Kohli win enough games as a finisher? It is a radical thought but Kohli is more likely to hold one end rather than say he coming at 6 with the team not many for 3/4 wickets down!

Is there an obvious solution to India's No.4 merry-go-round?

That would, in essence, cost the team a lot of strength. Kohli could be ranked as the top 3 odi players of all time – so utilizing him at 4 is what I think could be best. Batting at 3 in ODIs does seem to be a simpler role than say batting at 5! Move a promising youngster at 3, another at 5 with Kohli sandwiched in between as they grow into that role.

The T20 influence is pertinent for all teams but the demands of the position dictate that only a very few will qualify to succeed. It has always been that way. I think teams like Aus, Ind, SA have such talent but generally lack the long term planning ala Eng. The influence of T20s would be / is being felt more in tests imo. Lack of quality, patient spinners, consistent pacers, batters who know how to bide time, wicket-keeping talent focussed on just that role, etc.

Is there an obvious solution to India's No.4 merry-go-round?

Sahil, an insightful post. Paul also makes a good point that any team would also like a finisher like Dhoni of the old. To add to that a good team also needs 6 bowling options and not 5 which India is presently playing with – none of the other batters bowl at all! Jadhav should be shelved (he will be 38/39 by the next WC) and they ought to try other allrounders now.
There are youngsters who can perform at 3 and Kohli should move to 4 to help them get into the role while also playing with those in the lower order. But that kind of leadership and thought is lacking from the Kohli-Shastri duo.
I would like Iyer/Gill to bat 3. Pant at 5 followed by players of the mold of Jadhav/Raina (Like Jalaj Saxena, Nitish Rana, Suryakumar Yadav), followed by Pandya and Jadeja/Krunal Pandya/S.Gopal and the other bowlers. With the next WC in India, it would be prudent to get someone who bowls decent spin and groomed into the demanding batting role. Manish Pandey could be the other back up for the batting slot. Also if a couple of players are performing decently at 3, they become an automatic backup opener. I’ll come to the question of Rahul later.
The present strategy seems to be – just continue with the same set of players, let Dhoni take the call on his career and then lo and behold – let the history repeat itself. Till 2018, they were trying to fit Raina again into the team, till 2017 Yuvi was playing despite being an objective failure since 2011 by all parameters. Expecting same treatment with Rahul now, I think he should be looked more as an alternative to Pant or in a wicketkeeping role – his batting otherwise leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t matter if he is a decent nick or not – he never seems to kick on in crunch games.

Is there an obvious solution to India's No.4 merry-go-round?

Some sense here. Way too many players are hyped up to end up as just good. Making a call on once-a-generation talent on the basis of limited outings, a season, good temperament, etc doesn’t seem genuine.

Steyn was pretty ordinary barring one or two magic balls for the first few tests, hadn’t played much of first-class either but he improved so much so quickly and became the only once a generation player we have had since the early 2000 stars. While bowlers like Johnson, Bond promised a lot but didn’t amount to that much.

I for one won’t begrudge England a decent quick (and for that matter the world, good bowlers are rare) – God knows they need it, pushing Anderson and Broad, berating the curators to prepare pitches that suit them to the tee, storing balls for Ashes that worked before, crying over tosses.

Archer can have a big impact on the Ashes

It will take a lot more than the wounded England to turn things around – for starters Eng want a tailor made pitch – seam, swing but slow, no spin! Then they want the balls which worked against India – the batch which they thought they will use against Aus has apparently gone soft. Then, of course, they have to win the tosses. If you track their success and failures for the past 3 years – you would find this to be the theme!

They aren’t going to back players like Foakes – isn’t flashy enough for their style and he will be replacing one of the other 2 keepers. Bairstow technical issues which work in short form are a liability in tests. Burns might have utilized all his luck in that one inning! Root at 3 – don’t think he will survive there. He was pretty ordinary opening the bat and yes he has matured a lot since but in the fab 4, his game is way too flashy for it to bring success on bowler-friendly pitches. Stokes and Woakes – the standouts. Aus just have to be patient and get Hazlewood into rhythm and replace Siddle?

The Ashes are alive: Beware a wounded England