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Task cut out for new India batting coach Vikram Rathour

Makarand Waingankar



Vikram Rathour
Vikram Rathour has to quickly blend into the Indian cricket team's fold.

Mumbai: Vikram Rathour might have been succeeded Sanjay Bangar as India’s batting coach but he would be as good as the Indian batsmen’s performance whom he would tutor.

The job of a batting coach is to find remedies for batsman’s deficiencies. Bangar did a commendable job in the position. Coming from Aurangabad, he is a keen student of the game, a voracious reader and a man of few words. The batsmen who confided in him has benefitted from his inputs over the years.sports news in english

Now that Rathour has come in, his immediate task is to groom the young talents in a team that has a considerable number of experienced players. His task would be to mould the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey into reliable batsman in ODIs and T2OIs.

Rathour’s primary responsibility would also be to find a pair of settled openers for Tests. India would have Prithvi Shaw within their ranks from November 15.

The new batting coach would hope he comes back stronger. Shikhar Dhawan is unreliable and Rohit Sharma has failed to cement his place at the top in red-ball cricket.

It would be a challenging proposition for Rathour, who hardly has any time to get into the groove with a three-match Test series against South Africa beginning on October 2 followed by Bangladesh series.sports news in english

He has to present his plan of action to skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri straightaway.

Lots to ponder for England after Ashes loss

That the England team, apart from Joe Root and Ben Stokes, was full of bits and pieces players was laid bare by their Ashes defeat to Australia.

Their defeat in the fourth Test proved that if Stokes or Root fails – as the England skipper did in the fourth innings, out for a duck, his third in the series – England have no one to pull them out of trouble.

Had it not been for Stokes, they would have lost the Ashes in the third Test itself.

Judging by their Ashes performance, it seems England only had prepared for the World Cup and not the Ashes that succeeded it.

But white-ball cricket is very different from red-ball cricket.

Their objective of winning their maiden World Cup has been achieved, albeit in controversial circumstances. But at what cost did it come?

Did they neglect the traditional Tests for ODI glory? Their batsmen, apart from Root and Stokes, are not equipped to succeed in the rigours of Test cricket.

They tried several permutations and combinations in the batting order. But as Geoffrey Boycott has said you can’t achieve success by swapping positions in the middle of a series.

It is surprising since England have a laudable development system where each county have separate talent officers, who are all connected to England’s cricket board. With all the resources at their disposal it is baffling that they can’t find a proper top-order batsman fit to bat in Test cricket.

If England batsmen continue to exhibit these technical faults, then they would have a tough ride at the inaugural World Test Championship.

Joe Root

Skipper Joe Root is under pressure after England lost the Ashes.

Not that Australia are without glitches. Their find of the series was Marnus labuschagne, who came into the team by default after Steve Smith was forced to sit out the third Test due to injury.

It helped that Labuschagne was among the runs, scoring for Somerset in the English County season. He is a technically correct Test match batsman, who also bowls some overs of leg spin.

But there are technical problems among Australian batsman too. David Warner has turned into a bunny of Stuart Broad. With an open stance, Warner is squaring up while facing the angular deliveries of Broad, which is a big technical deficiency.

It’s puzzling why former England batsman Graham Hick and ex-Australia opener and now the team’s coach Justin Langer have failed to fix the obvious glitch. Not only Warner, Australia’s other left handers have also faced the same problem against Broad.

Nary Contractor had said that in India’s tour of England in 1959, a similar problem crept into his game. In those days England had swing bowlers rather than tearaway quicks and playing them on uncovered pitches was a difficult proposition.

It is then that Brian Statham’s tips on how to remain side on while batting helped Contractor score 81 in the second Test at Lord’s.

Warner needs to introspect. Having scored 21 Test hundreds and 17 ODI tons, he is too good a batsman to fail consistently. But the manner in which he is getting dismissed and his lax body language thereafter suggests that he is virtually surrendering his wickets.

He doesn’t know what needs to be done. And he is not the first neither he would be the last to face such a slump in form.

The great Denis Compton struggled to such an extent in the 1954-55 Ashes that he was made to look like a school boy in the series Down Under. The legendary Greg Chappell also faced these type of lean patches.

Mental problems along with technical deficiencies do creep into a cricketer’s game. Warner has to take a leaf out of Steve Smith’s book. Smith has developed his mental game and batting rhythm. He goes through a detailed process to “get into a zone” while batting.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith’s rich vein of form has drawn comparisons with Donald Bradman.

It is evident Smith has worked very hard on his batting during his 1-year suspension for ball tampering.

He has achieved a Bradmanesque average by undergoing a specific routine. He shuffles across the stumps, has an exaggerated ball leaving style and is a prime suspect of an LBW candidate.

But his hand-eye combination and head position while striking the ball he is in a perfect position. West Indies stalwart Rohan Kanhai used to fall on his back to execute a sweep shot.

Apart from his batting peculiarity, he is a confident guy who has compelled English fans to convert their boos to applause.

Australia and England not only need to sort out their batting and bowling woes but also fielding to entertain any hopes of winning the WTC.

The fielding standards in the Ashes have been average. Is it because of fatigue?

With England’s loss, clamour of skipper Root’s head have grown. Many feel he has too much of a burden as the captain as well as the team’s premier run scorer. But who could be his replacement? There are hardly any options, Ben Stokes not being one of them, neither do they have someone of the calibre of Mike Brearley.

All in all, a lot to think about for England after losing the Ashes.

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Ideal time for Sundar, Chahar to boost profile for World T20, says Dhawan



India opener Shikhar Dhawan
India opener Shikhar Dhawan

Bengaluru: India opener Shikhar Dhawan on Saturday said the time is perfect for youngsters such as Washington Sundar and Deepak Chahar to build their confidence in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup next year.

The senior player was speaking on the eve of the third T20 International against South Africa at the M Chaannaswamy Stadium here.

Both players have impressed in recent times with their performance and attitude.

“Washington is bowling really good, giving us the breakthroughs and also choking the batsmen. He has got very good control and variety as well.

“Even Deepak Chahar, he swings the ball both ways and at the same has pace as well. It is the perfect platform for them to perform and build the confidence for the T20 World Cup,” Dhawan told reporters.

He said senior players like him are always open to helping the youngsters in the side.

“For senior players like us, say someone like Rishabh comes in to bat or Shreyas coming in, we make sure we do the communication with them and make sure they are comfortable and not nervous. We make them think what is needed at that particular moment,” he said.

Dhawan added, That’s what we do even when I am batting with Rohit or Virat, we keep discussing and that is very important. Communication is very, very important.

“Any time any youngster wants to discuss something with us, we are always there for them.”

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Omission from T20Is opportunity to excel in Tests, says Kuldeep



Kuldeep Yadav

Mysuru: Omission from T20 International squads for India’s last two series hasn’t bothered Kuldeep Yadav too much as the chinaman bowler feels it is an opportunity for him to do well in five-day cricket.

Kuldeep was dropped from India’s T20I squads for the West Indies tour and home series against South Africa but that hasn’t dented his confidence.

“So far, I have done a good job in limited-overs format. I feel very comfortable with the white ball,” Kuldeep told reporters here.

“I am not worried about not being picked for the last two T20I series. Maybe the selectors felt I needed a break. Maybe the team thinks some changes are required. I respect that, and I have no complaints. I see this as an opportunity to do well in Tests.”

Kuldeep was part of the India A side for the second unofficial Test against South Africa A, which ended in a draw in Mysore on Friday.

The wrist spinner had a decent outing in the game, scalping 4 for 121 in 29 overs in the only innings India bowled in the match.

In 68 T20 matches since that 2016 T20 World Cup, Kuldeep has taken 81 wickets at an average of 22.97 (ninth-best in the world, second among Indians), and an economy rate of 7.60 (fifth among Indians).

And, he feels wrist spinners are in demand currently.

“There is no doubt that wrist spinners are dominating the world,” Kuldeep said.

“But sometimes, when you try to stop runs, you actually turn out to be expensive. We need to work on our accuracy. You need to accept that you do get hit for runs and work on being economical.”

Kuldeep, however, feels it is very difficult to adjust to red-ball cricket after consistently featuring in the limited-overs formats.

“It’s hard to play red-ball cricket when you aren’t consistently playing that format,” he said.

“If you aren’t a regular in this format, it takes time to get into your rhythm. When you are consistently playing limited overs and suddenly switch to Tests without much preparation, it will be tough to excel.

“You need to bowl long spells, play practice games, to understand field placements and to know how to pick wickets. It was important for me to come here (in the India A game) and bowl as many overs as possible. There is still plenty of work to do,” Kuldeep added.

He said with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in fray for Tests, he will have to utilise the limited chances he gets.

“When three spinners like Ashwin, Jaddu and I are in the squad, it’s challenging to pick the right combination. You need to be ready to grab your chance. Of course, there is pressure because you only get a few chances, and you have to make full use of them,” Kuldeep said.

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England’s Moeen Ali takes indefinite break from Test cricket



moeen ali
Moeen Ali.

London: All-rounder Moeen Ali will take a break from red-ball cricket and won’t be up for selection for England’s Test tours of New Zealand and South Africa.

Moeen’s decision comes after being left out of England’s list of centrally contracted Test players, announced on Friday, 20 September. He had lost his place in the Test side after the first Ashes Test, which England lost.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Moeen said he wanted a chance to “recharge his batteries” after a busy summer. “It’s just to get away from it a little bit,” he said. “I feel like I want to enjoy my batting and this will give me a bit of a break.

“I want to spend some time with the family. I’ve been playing for England for five years and it’s been quite tough. The intensity is obviously higher in Test cricket, so this is just to give me a break and then we will see what happens after that.”

Moeen didn’t rule out playing Test cricket in the future, and Ashley Giles, the ECB managing director, reiterated that the all-rounder has not retired from Test cricket. “He just wants a little bit of a break from Test cricket,” said Giles.

“He’s been a great servant to this team and that’s why I encouraged him to leave that option open for him to come back. He might just need that time away and freshen up, but he’s been a really good servant to this team and he’s relatively young.”

In the year up to losing his place in the Test side, Moeen had taken more wickets in Test cricket than anyone else. However, having been a permanent fixture in the England side in all three formats, Moeen endured a difficult 2019 summer. He was dropped from the ODI side in place of Liam Plunkett and then made two Test appearances before losing his place to Jack Leach.

Giles added: “I think for all the guys, not just talking about Moeen, it’s been a really challenging summer. A World Cup and an Ashes back-to-back has had a massive effect on many of these guys, psychologically as much as physically. Some of those guys are still carrying that. His experience in the first Test wasn’t a great one but that’s cricket.”

Moeen, however, has retained his white-ball contract, and figures to be a key figure in both the limited-overs sides.

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