Sunday, 27 November 2011

Will weather favor Nepal, Afghanistan in ACC Twenty20

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” -Mark Twain

 The Climate for the tournament will surely be electrifying which most of the Associate Players may not be lucky enough to see but the weather in Kathmandu will surely favor a few. The 2 times champion Afghanistan and the hosts Nepal both will definitely will get an Advantage from the weather. If we look at the average maximum and minimum temperature it will say it all

"It surely is cold at a few places only"
As we can see in the coldest month in Asia only 3 capitals i.e. Kathmandu, Kabul and Thimpu are in the temperate zone and rest are in the tropical zone. The max temperature in December is 19.4 C and min is just 3.0 C. This means we will have cold morning and evening.

Weather surely plays a very crucial factor in cricket. The cricket ball is very hard. In cold temperature the hands tends to become numb and effect the holding of the ball. For people of colder places like Nepal, Afghanistan or Bhutan it will not be much of a problem since they are used to it. However imagine a player who comes from Dubai or Malaysia, where it never gets cold through out the year. For such players it will be coming from 36 C to 20 C. It effects the performance specially fielding and bowling. 

Secondly the cold weather means thin air, which means more swing. The Pacer of Afghanistan or local stars will know how to extract the maximum.

Afghanistan are the champions and though this tournament means nothing for qualification but it surely is pride. The Rivalry between Nepal and Afghanistan is not any less than that of India Pakistan

Nepal has a huge home advantage that will boost it's morale. The weather also can be used to maximize its performance. Nepal will never have a better chance to boost it poor track record in T20

All things said and done, the teams are expected to perform in all circumstances. Since it the start of December there is a possibility that it will still not be that chilling. Also many of the players in the Gulf teams are from northern part of sub continent where also it get very cold and would be used to it. Finally to close I have a beautiful anonymous quote

“Whether the weather be fine, Whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold, Whether the weather be hot, We'll weather the weather, Whatever the whether, Whether we like it or not”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Dassanayake: 5 next things expected from Him?

When I heard the name of the new coach it told me everything that is expected from him. If we have a little knowledge of Sanskrit, then Dassanayake means Dassa (Ten)-Nayake(Heroes) which corresponds to creating 10 heroes (1 failure per match is human :) ). This is what Nepal would be expecting from him. He needs to create 10 heroes who will guide Nepal to level of success never seen before.

Will Dassanayake deliver the Das Nayaks?

The coach has got huge expectations lined up in front of him. Though not as per expectation of the fans winning ACC Twenty20 was not there but Nepal reached the top 4 which meant they are playing the World Twenty20 qualifier. If all goes well then we can see Nepal playing at the international stage for the first time.

Then another important tournament is also coming up in 2012- The all important ICC World Cricket League Division Four. This forms a part of qualification process of 2015 World Cup.

The coach also has a moral booster for him with a complete revamp of CAN going on. If all goes well we can have a much more democratic and open coach which he would relish

As per the people who met the coach, he seems to be a very tactful person. He has done his homework very well and his skills are making him very popular with the players but he has a full mountain to climb in front of him. If I have to list the coach needs to get few tick marks if he wants Nepal to qualify for international stage and make the team as successful as their Afghan rivals. However it is easier said than done. There are many things the coach needs to fulfill. If I have to list these are the following things the coach has to take care of

1. More exposure to the team
The team plays on average just maximum of 20 days of International cricket and 10 day of domestic cricket. Under these circumstances if you ask the coach and team to deliver is virtually asking me to climb Mount Everest tomorrow.
Here CAN should be pushed for more matches and exposure for the team. Perhaps the coach can use his contacts for getting Nepal team some domestic matches in Sri Lanka. Or perhaps the best option of Playing in Ranji would be the ultimate thing. However as an alternative playing against the Ranji teams ofUP and Bihar Teams would be an exposure that would also be useful. Sri Lanka in it's infancy days used to play regularly against Tamil Nadu. Kenyan team uses it Indian contacts to regularly get Ranji teams like Gujarat, Baroda or AP to play against the Kenyan Team

2. Strengthening the domestic Circuit
The coach needs to have choices to pick the squad. For a T20 different style of players are required than an OD or a longer format. Also the domestic players need to have to played enough matches to have gained enough confidence before facing the final stage. The domestic circuit needs to be made longer. Besides the T20,  3 day matches tournament consisting of all 10 teams playing each other is required. Under the present circumstances playing a tournament with a maximum of 6 one day matches is too short an exposure for a budding cricketer. As an coach this things needs to be very strongly pushed by the coach

3. Batting
Nepal is known to have a better bowling than batting line up. The batting is the one that has let the team down at many occasions. This is the top priority Area if the team has to be as successful as it's biggest rival-The Afghans.With more exposure and coaching tips this thing can surely improve. However in case of this not happening, then the coach needs to develop technique of preparing the team in Batting skills. Also the coach needs to Identify some young talents and giving them the right exposure and preparing them for the future. If the youth gets the confidence this brings in the right competition and no player get complacent.

4. The Pace Battery
This is critical area no 2, as important as Batting. Again I take the example of Afghan's. Hamid Hassan is world class. He has made all the difference for the Afghans. Here the coach would need to all the Hard Work. The Batsman are there. There just need to be refined. But for the pace battery, both a short term and long term strategy needs to be there. In short term like batting more exposure for pacers is required
However for long term a complete process of scouting needs to be there. Potential raw talents needs to be identified and developed for future. If 2015 WC is in sight then 2012 is when the potential needs to be looked, 2013 all set to face the associates to take Nepal to 2015 World Cup and finally in 2015 ready to perform at the big stage.

5. A bridge between CAN and Players
CAN is going through a phase of Change. What is coming is not known if the elections will bring more accountability or bring in more politics.  Whatever happens at the top, the players should be shielded from it. These are critical times for the team and players. If all goes well they can make it to the biggest stage or who knows whether there would be a second chance or not.
We have seen some right steps like 5000 Rs Stipend, This needs to be extended to full time contracts which even Japan is offering (It is in Div 8 and Cricket would not be in top 10 sports there!!!). Besides this team selection on performance rather than names would be be the thing that will boost the morale of players.
Hence these would be the 2 areas the coach needs to ensure he is a proper bridge between CAN and Players. The coach needs to use his strong personality to ensure absolute adherence to these areas.

The challenges are huge in front of the coach. Usually the coaches are not expected to go beyond the cricketing area but Mr Dassanayke, to create the 10 Heroes we will require a SuperDassanayke from him. Best of luck and I personally have huge hopes from him.

Friday, 4 November 2011

What can the coaches expect from SAARC Twenty20

The SAARC Twenty20 is on in full steam. We have seen some good contests but mostly one sided contests. In this tournaments where Bangladesh did not even send a team and India send a team that is not even a Ranji team. So from this tournament what should coaches of different countries expect

1. Afghanistan
Afghanistan is placed in a very easy group. The coach should not expect any tough competition in the league stage and has happened that way. It is here the coach should have used the bench strength and tried various new players and youngsters. Then in the Semi Finals and Finals the Afghan should put in the best team as it would be against the stronger teams of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Afghan should definitely aim to win this tournament

2. Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the weakest teams in the group. The coach here should put his best team and try to get the best performance. They had a chance to qualify to next stage by defeating Maldives (Though they did not do it) and then perhaps more exposure against the strong teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The coach should have relished the cricket team is playing after a long time

3. India
India has send not even a A or B or C but rather a Z team. It is not even one of the 24 Domestic Ranji teams. The players here perhaps would never get a chance of representing India and same maybe the case for the Coach. The coach should have got the best out of the players and perhaps got some recognition for himself.

4. Maldives
The coach will be coaching the hosts. He has big responsibility. He has perhaps the toughest task of taking his team beyond expectations. On a positive side, the team will never get a greater exposure than this and should relish this
Dassanayake: He perhaps has the toughest job in the tournament

5. Nepal
This tournament is perhaps most critical for Nepalese Coach. He is a new coach and the team is new to him. The team has a critical tournament of ACC Twenty20 coming up ahead which they are hosting. The team was always short of exposure and this tournament could not have come at the right time. The coach should be happy they got the tough group and will get all the exposure. Nepal should have aimed to perform and excel. They have not been able to do so. They have lost to Sri Lanka and just managed to go past the non existent KIC so called Indian team. The match against Pakistan is crucial and the Nepalese should not be happy with the win against KIC.

6. Pakistan
The coach is commanding perhaps the strongest team in the tournament. The coach has set of boys who would to prove themselves and perhaps break into the national squad. he should get exceptional performances and lead them to the title

7. Sri Lanka
The teams can be seeded second behind Pakistan. The coach would have similar condition as that of Pakistan. Ambitious boys and aim for the title

The tournament is now moving into the second stage. Let's hope to see some great matches and all the best to all the coaches

Can cricket become a peace tool for Afghanistan

Sports is a very powerful tool. It has power to unite people across the divide. For so many years people have been seen uniting behind their sportsperson, be it the ancient time warriors when that was a sport or in modern time a India behind Sachin or France behind Zidane or many more.

The has been seen on various occasions. When the Iraqi Football team won the Asian championship people could be seen shouting "We love Iraq". They forgot that whether they were Shia or Sunni or were they Arab or Kurd. That helped rekindle the dwindling identity of Iraq and people could be proud of being related to it. Similarly whole of Palestine rallied behind their team when they won the Football league of Israel.

Sports can be very powerful tool in other direction too. It was behind this sports that two countries El Salvador and Nicaragua went to war with each other. This happened after a bitter football match and immediately a war popularly known as "Football War". So it leaves us without any doubt that sport has got extreme power over people

Cricket for Peace in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a beautiful country. I never have been there but seeing various pictures on internet or posted by my friends from Afghanistan, I surely can say it is beautiful country. However the country has been bound by wars, strife for over 31 years now. The country consists of people of various ethnic groups like Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Baluch. The country has over years seen internal interference from various countries including Pakistan, Russia, USA, India, Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to name a few. The countries has got many dividing factors. Cricket definitely is the factor that can be the binding factor that the country needs.

Cricket was introduced to Afghans while living in the refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet Invasion. When the times became better they took the game back with them to Afghanistan. Cricket gained so much popularity that the Taliban regime which had banned all sports even Kite flying allowed cricket and even initiated the process of Afghanistan Team. The dream run of Afghanistan team begun when they started from Division 5 to reach for ODI Status and then qualify for the World Twenty20. This brought in even more support behind cricket to such that level that people who did not even understand game properly supported their team with full rigor.

When the new Ghazi Amanullah Khan Cricket Stadium at Jalalabad came up and the first match held the stadium was full in no time. So many people turned out that the financiers of the stadium decided to double it's capacity and immediately started it's construction.

 USA should realize the power of cricket in Afghanistan. USA should use it power to reach out to people and give them international opportunities. For this it should have a 3 step policy

Firstly it should take cricket to the deepest of parts and make it a very important part of the social fibre. There have been few stadiums coming up in Afghanistan but it should ensure they quickly come up in all the 30+ Provinces. Besides that grounds and equipment should be provided all across the country. This would ensure that cricket trickles down to the bottom and more solidly bonds in the national fibre

Obama thinking: Is he thinking a Peace Cricket Series between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and USA?

Secondly USA should ensure that the national team gets more international exposure and training. USA should also wield it's influence on Australia, UK, India, Pakistan and taking this as top priority pressurize them on playing some short series against the Afghan's. This would give a good exposure to the team but most importantly something for Afghans to cheer behind. A victory against the team would bring cheer and make people rally behind Afghanistan . This could be seen when in Asian Games the Afghan's defeated Pakistan, the whole nation was celebrating. 

An Idea for the same can be a series in USA involving India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA. This surely will be a peace series with USA getting a chance of involving 2 very important stakeholder of Afghanistan India and Pakistan. Also this series will provide a chance to break ice between India and Pakistan and also a chance of taking USA Afghan rivalry onto the field and not through guns.

Celebrating Heroes. Such performances help the nation to rally behind there teams and get over dividing issues

Thirdly it should ensure that better results start to come. If cricket is able to provide Afghan's something to rally behind and cheer about more importantly even more proud of the Afghan identity before their clan this will be a big step towards taking it to peace The Afghan's are known to be sturdy people full of dedication to whatever they take up. It was their dedication that brought a super power USSR on to it's knees. Hence given more chances, it is beyond doubt that the Afghan's will make it to one of the best.

In the end I am not saying by playing cricket will bring peace, but cricket is the most important tool to rekindle the Afghan identity and along with that some focused effort can do the trick. The World should realize this and help Afghans on this cause. They owe it to them. I am a real fan of the Afghans and hope peace comes there soon.