Wouldn’t it be most fair for umpires to tend towards giving greater benefit of the doubt to a struggling team? I think it would, though I suspect in reality the opposite tends to happen. I mean, the Aussies never frickin’ seem to have their appeals turned down.
It is frankly inconceivable that Tendulkar’s catch off McIntosh was given without consultation with the third umpire after the precedent with Ryder’s catch off Dhoni (for which the on-field umpires conferred and consulted with the third umpire before giving it not-out). Both catches were equally dubious and the umpires should have treated them the same.
But what can you do but grumble. If the referral system was in place, nothing would have changed. Even though Tendulkar’s catch was equivalent to Ryder’s, if it had been referred by McIntosh, the third umpire wouldn’t have changed the on-field umpire’s call. It would be easier in a way however to be able to complain about been done in by “the system” than to feel hard done by inconsistent umpiring.
Dhoni has led his team to two defeats in the 20-20s, the second by a whisker, but apparently he’s not that bummed – certainly less than devastated. I guess he properly understands the value of 20-20s.
India are finally back to play cricket on our pitches. It was 02/03 when they were last here. Everyone else has toured in that time, except Zimbabwe. They’ve been a long time away from New Zealand shores. They were supposed to tour in 2007 but, well, they didn’t come.
There have been comings and goings in both teams since then, to say the least. By my reckoning, only two current New Zealand selections have any experience playing tests against India, Vettori and Oram. And the Indian team likewise is largely changed.
A significant change for both teams since the 02/03 series and the return series in 03/04 is that we have both moved on from epochal captains. Those series both occurred at the peaks of the careers of both Fleming and Ganguly. This season’s series will be a contest between the new generation captains Vettori and Dhoni.
Ganguly was India’s most successful captain by a big margin. He was an inspiration. I was in India for a year during his reign and it really felt that for once hero worship and fair analysis had got it right in believing that Ganguly (along with John Wright) was the driving force behind India’s continued success. Of course, he had his quirks. Sportsfreak has a good summary of Ganguly’s snooty antics, which goes a long way towards explaining why JRod calls him a giant alien lizard freak. Flintoff described playing with him at Lancashire: “It’s a struggle with him. He wasn’t interested in the other players and it became a situation where it was 10 players and Ganguly. He turned up as if he was royalty – it was like having Prince Charles on your side.”
Dhoni is a real contrast with Ganguly, with his Bollywood good looks, comparatively humble background and Sehwagian approach to batting. He is a captain for his time like no other captain has been at any other time. He is also, 5 tests into his career, many times more successful than Ganguly. He has captained 4 wins from 5 tests.