Posted by: nestaquin | April 22, 2008

Do Catches Still Win Matches?

There’s an old adage in cricketing parlance that wisely states that catches win matches. However, it would seem that in the hurly-burly of the IPL the inverse is also true, dropped catches do not lose matches.

In last night’s Rajasthan v Punjab encounter there were nine spilled chances in the first 20 overs alone, including a Darren Lehmann howler when Punjabi top-scorer and captain Yuvraj Singh was in his teens. The unfortunate bowler Shane Warne was in the middle of a remarkable spell and had already dismissed Sangakkara and Hopes before Yuvraj was given a reprieve.

To Warne’s credit he did not drop his head or try to lay blame when catches were spilled regularly and his captaincy throughout was patient, creative and attacking. Watching twin leg-spinners is always a joy and Dinesh Salunkhe, runner-up in the bizarre television reality show Cricket Star, and yet to play a First-Class match, bowled in tandem with Warne and his delivery that claimed Jayawardene was a jaffa.

Salunkhe must be pinching himself. A virtual unknown 12 months ago, he is now mentored by the greatest leg-spinner to roll his arm over, playing in front of packed audiences and claiming scalps of Test captains. He completely fooled Mahela Jayawardene with a ball that dipped late and spun sharply allowing Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal the easiest of stumpings.

After setting a modest total in the conditions of 166/8, Punjabi international quicks Brett Lee and Sreesanth both bowled urgently and aggressively but once again Yuvraj Singh’s lack of leadership let his team down.

Lee asked during his first over for a second slip only to be refused and predictably the next delivery was edged waist high through the vacant area. The incredulous and disdainful look on Lee’s face said all that was needed. He neither trusts or respects his skipper.

Sreesanth, after having a caught behind appeal rejected by Aleem Dar, reacted immaturely, first abusing batsman Kamran Akmal, then the umpire, who appealed to Yuvraj to calm his bowler. When Sreesanth first ignored and then turned his anger toward his skipper, Yuvraj shrugged his shoulders and nonchalantly strolled back to the covers. Unsurprisingly, the next two deliveries were leg-side wides and to top off the over Irfan Pathan stationed at mid-on dropped a simple chance from his brother’s bat.

It didn’t get any better for the Punjabis. Once Shane Watson was set he flayed the bowling at will and in partnership with veteran Lehmann and dashing teenager Ravindrasinh Jadeja Watson showed his finishing skill as a limited overs batsman, pacing the innings beautifully to finish 74 not out in Rajasthan’s relatively easy six wicket victory at the jumping Sawai Man Singh Stadium.

It’s not often a team can drop nine chances and win a cricket match easily. Either the old cricketing wisdom is no longer relevant in the brave new world of T20 or the Punjabi XI, despite its apparent strength on paper, is massively underperforming. History and logic suggests it is the latter.


  1. The old wisdom is still valid. Had it not been for that tricky zooter which took care of Yuvraj, the dropped catches would have been hugely expensive.

    You are right to observe the shoddy approach to the basics of most of the Indian youngsters. When Greg was appointed coach, he was appalled by the lackadaisical attitude of Indian greats towards training. The system encourages mega stars who when they become one cannot be questioned on any issue. The youngsters are still through the same system where few of them get through because of the influential position of the family. Those who get through from non cricket towns / states are poorly trained anyway on the basics. A close look at Dhoni in wicket keeping and batting will tell you of various flaws.

    Pakistan is a better example of what happens when talented cricketers are poorly trained and allowed to behave unprofessional. Their cricket has thrown up some of the outstanding talent in world cricket in almost every decade the sport has been alive. If that country had the professionalism of AUSSIE cricket, they would have dominated world cricket between 1987 and 1998. In that context at least the Indian cricket has never been hugely talented save for few batsmen and spinners. It has never been a balanced side.

    Recently the hype took over because of the money. The critics from outside the country follow the dictum of “Emperors clothes”!! On the positive note, I am terribly impressed about the performance of Shane and Glen. Can’t these guys bowl like retired cricketers? They are still a top draw.

  2. Fly, as usual some very enlightening points and as for Warne and McGrath we have a saying for their performances too.

    Form is temporary but class is permanent.

  3. Yeah.. Completely agree that team spirit is lacking in Punjab XI Kings.. and Yuvraj may be a great batsman but he surely does not possess captain’s genes.. They lost the match to Warne’s side though they had much more talent in their team.. Hope Punjab Kings changes the captain if they want to provide some competition to other teams..

  4. “If that country had the professionalism of AUSSIE cricket, they would have dominated world cricket between 1987 and 1998.”

    I would push that forward by 5 years – it would have dominated till 2003. Do u remember the 2003 WC team? It was an All Star Outfit.

    Discipline and commitment has been Pakistan’s problem. If you ever visit there, try and watch a club game. The amount and kind of talent available is overwhelming.

    But no one to nurture them.

  5. I think Yuvraj and Laxman are examples of insipid leaders undermining talented teams.

    Laxman, for all his sublime batting skills, looks like a fish out of water in the T20 format. Though I belive a that a great cricketer can adapt to any format, Laxman lacks the necessary fitness level to do so. Nor does he have the big-hitting ability that may be a crutch for Sourav Ganguly.

    You would be surprised to hear that the fielding standards in IPL has been slightly better than the usual domestic cricket. Few good catches and stops have stood out against the trend of overthrows, drops and misfields.

    Hard grounds and poor coaching have resulted in a complete disdain for the basics.

  6. “If you ever visit there, try and watch a club game”

    I wish I can especially Lahore which has the late night eatout famous for some of the finest kebabs.With all the political instability in that country, as an Indian, I will find it difficult to get a visa and travel inside.May be my time will come…

  7. After watching the match, I reckon that the Rajasthan Royals have been (up till now) severely underrated as a team. It was great to see Cap’n Warne in top flight – Hampshire must be fuming!
    Agree 100% with Flyonthewall’s points. Looking forward now to the Chargers and the DareDevils in just under an hour (I think I’m starting to like this little league…!)

  8. Any team with Warne in it will be competitive more times than not. Soon the Saffas Smith and MMorkel arrive and they’ll surprise more talented teams than Punjab.

    I’ll be interested to see the backroom machinations if a team loses four or five straight. Will heads roll? How patient will the millionaire moguls be? Will the crowds support a team when they cannot make the finals?

  9. Great stuff above and below the line.

    My comment is really about that writing. This is the only site I have seen which has been prepared to take the cricket at face value: cricket, a game brutally unforgiving of the fakers and the timeservers. It’s about time more writers followed this lead and addressed the IPL as cricket, not showbiz or money or the Grim Reaper come to hasten Test Cricket’s demise. The game is a good one – not as good as the greatest game (Tests) but better than any other sport.

  10. Toot – There are some wonderful writers at the moment. Try to get articles written by Osman Samiuddin ( easily the best writer in my opinion- Read the article on Religon in Pakistan cricket.Trickiest subject to write in a most thoughtful manner),Rohit Brijnath,Nirmal Shekar,Peter Roebuck, Ian Chappell as an expert is too good to miss.His is the most incisive ( unconventional )cricket brain from the pool of ex. cricketers. Vic Mark is another good writer.There are few more which escapes my immediate memory.Cricket is in good hands at the moment from the writer’s point of view

  11. Aw shucks Toots, the cheque is in the mail.

  12. Tooting Trumpet – I suggest u pay Well Pitched a visit. I have been covering the IPL and purely from a cricket and entertainment point of view.

    And I agree, there is no match to the ultimate form of cricket – Tests. But I do hope that 20-20 wipes out ODI cricket, which has become meaningless lately.

  13. There is a link to Well Pitched in the sidebar. Very few sites get the 99.94 tick of approval but Well Pitched easily cleared the bar.

  14. Thanks guys – I’ll check out those links.

    Osman Samiuddin I have read for some time at cricinfo and agree that he is good. I’m not so sure about Vic Marks!

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