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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sachin Tendulkar voted 'Cricketer of the generation' ..... some moments of infamy...

He was cheerfully innocent all the time…. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, he enjoyed the game ~ for he loved is more than anything else and fans loved him more…. Such was his discipline that in that 24 glorious years representing the Nation of faithful followers, he never uttered a bad word nor made an ungainly move………….and on Nov 16, 2013, he as also the fans bid tearful adieu at his own turf – in a planned farewell at Wankhede on his 200th test – precisely drafted script….

One of the greatest batsmen of all time, the iconic Sachin Tendulkar was on Friday voted Cricketer of the Generation as he staved off stiff competition from spin legend Shane Warne and all-rounder par excellence Jacques Kallis. The award, given by website ESPNCricinfo is meant to honour the most outstanding cricketer between the years 1993 and 2013, and the occasion also marked its 20th anniversary.  "I am speechless, honestly," said Tendulkar after receiving the award. "When Martin (Crowe) and Rahul (Dravid) both spoke about me, I didn't know how to react." 

Sachin Tendulkar has been voted the cricketer of the generation by a 50-member jury of current and former cricketers and journalists. The jury list reads ‘who-is-who’ in the game – great players  - Michael Holding, Ian Chappell, Martin Crowe, Mark Taylor, Younis Khan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Barry Richards, John Wright and Jeff Dujon, among the lengty list that included : Ramachandra Guha Historian and cricket writer; Gideon Haigh Cricket historian and writer; David Hopps UK editor,  and more….and they could not have chosen a better character.

Besides the immaculate Sachin, the award for best batting performance in Tests went to Shikhar Dhawan and one in ODI went to Rohit Sharma.  Mitchell Johnson and Shahid Afridi bagged the top prize in Test bowling and ODI bowling respectively.  Dhawan slammed the fastest century as a debutant, hitting 187 against Australia in Mohali in 2013. Rohit won the award for his 209 against Australia in Bangalore last year. Aussie speedster Johnson was awarded for his match-winning spell of seven for 40 on a flat wicket in Adelaide against England in the recent Ashes series. Shahid Afridi was recognised for his spell of seven for 12 against the West Indies. Promising Indian pacer Mohammad Shami was adjudged the best debutant that was voted by the fans, while Tarak Sinha, the coach,  got the award for contribution to cricket that was decided by a panel headed by Dravid.

If that is all about fame, here is something about infamy as well.  Most of us have read about that 1st Tied test between Australia and West Indies at Brisbane on Dec 1960.  Record books would perhaps never reveal the drama when Wes Hall bowled the last over with Australia at 227/7 needing 6 runs from the last over (remember it was 8 ball over) – the clock showed 5:56pm;  Wally Grout and Richie Benaud were at the crease. 2nd ball Benaud was caught behind; 6th ball Grout was run out – Australia required just that solitary run…. 7th ball, Lindsay Kline played to square leg and set off for a single. Joe Solomon’s throw was accurate catching Meckiff out of the crease.

Before we read Meckiff’s hour of sorrow, Abdur Rehman  rose to prominence and with Ajmal he terrorized England in UAE in 2012 with 19 wickets at 16.73; later for Somerset where he took 9 for 65 in an innings against Worcestershire at Taunton but also received a 12-week ban after failing a drugs test.  In the recent Asia Cup match against Bangladesh,  the Paki spinner was in, in place of pacer Junaid Khan, ~ and for sure would like to forget the 11th over.  His first ball slipped out of hand and went wide. The batsman, Imrul Kayes, took a single off the no ball as it was  above waist-height and wide outside the off-stump. His second attempt turned out to be a beamer, which Kayes pulled to deep mid-wicket, where a fielder took the catch but replays confirmed another no-ball. Under ICC playing conditions, a bowler is taken out of the attack after sending down more than one full toss above the waist but South African umpire Johan Cloete let Rehman continue after a brief chat with Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. Rehman came round the wicket still searching for his first legitimate delivery but even his third attempt proved to be a full toss at the body of Anamul Haq, who pulled it to the midwicket boundary for an additional four runs. Rehman was summarily taken out of the attack after conceding the highest amount of runs ever recorded without bowling a single ball, and was replaced by fellow left-arm spinner Fawad Alam. His figures would read comically “0-0-8-0”

Getting back to that tied test, Ian Meckiff was a left arm fast bowler who used to run in 16 paces and bowled great speed……….. his career ended  abruptly in Nov 1963 during the first Test against South Africa as he was called for throwing four times in his only over. Meckiff's action had been an object of odium since the 1958-59 Ashes series.  On that eventful day after being called for throwing, Meckiff was carried off the field by his supporters, who booed umpire Col Egar, but it was the end of the bowler's Test career.

That would make us remember the way Muttiah Muralitharan was tormented in Australia by Darrel Hair, who was no-balled seven times in three overs in 1995. Murali's action (he bowled with a slightly bent elbow) had been queried before by a handful of international umpires, but this spell, in front of a huge MCG crowd, was the first time he had been called for 'chucking'. Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga spoke briefly to Hair after the second call, and after the seventh call, at the end of Murali's sixth over of the morning, he removed his deadliest bowler from the attack.  In the same Test Murali bowled 32 more overs from the other end where Steve Dunne was the Umpire.  He was also no-balled by Ross Emerson and Tony McQuillan in a one-day game at the Gabba,  he was subjected to innumerable medical studies, video analysis and more……….. the affable Murali ended up with 800 Test wickets in 133 Tests and 534 wickets in 350 one dayers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Mar 2014.

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