Empty thoughts and mutterings

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

UK wildcats' cricket season 05

This was inspired by ashok's recent blog on his cricketing experiences. And needless to say, this like any other season, had its ups and downs and we had a lot of fun together. The biggest challenge that was facing us was that we were an extremely young team, and trends in this league showed that it didn't matter how talented you were, if you didn't have the experience to back it up and didn't know how to win when it mattered, it would be hard to have big ambitions. We did not how the season would turn out, when we started initially. We had a lot of issues to sort out, before we knew we could play and if we played, how good we were going to be. First off, whether UK athletics was going to help us with the pitch and the ground, whether we had enough people that would have the enthusiasm all through the season, whether people like ashok (non UK) would be allowed to play for us, whether we would have the transport arrangement for our road games and so on and so forth.. And then there were minor worries like vasu losing color against the sun, mohit being able to play every week etc. But thanks to DineshP's persistent efforts, help from people (sriram in particular) and enthusiasm from people, a lot of those issues were resolved and our season began. Thankfully for us, our first game was against a lowly charleston and it was a good opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves. For eg. the first game showed that jignesh was going to be an important wicket taker for us and mohit was a better wicketkeeper than some of our wicket keepers in the past ;). For the first half of the season, we were playing halfway decent cricket, winning against EKU and losing against KentuckyCC in a nail biter, but more importantly, we were forming an identity as a team. Ashok was becoming our best batsman and we all knew that the idea was to bat around ashok. The bowlers were doing their job well enough, but it was the batsmen that were lacking in application. We managed to get good teams out to under 160 in 35 overs. Chasing 160 should be easy enough, but we made it harder for ourselves. We lost to cincinnati in the regular season after getting their famed batting order out for under 160. But we stepped up from then on and started winning these close ones. The game against UC was a do or die for the both of us. We bowled pretty poorly and our fielders did a bad job too, (not to take away anything from chandan, he was hitting the good balls for boundaries). Chasing 190+, Manju played his anchor role to perfection and vasu got us home in the last 2 overs with some lusty hitting.It was a sensational way to get into the playoffs and more than the fact that we made it to the playoffs, it was how we got there that pumped us all up. If this was great, the next game (pre quarters) was even better. We had to chase 220 against nationwide CC (I don't know if it has been done in the midwest before) and our heads drooped a little. But Laka, Mohit, ashok and vasu did not give up. A disciplined batting effort slowly but surely chagned the fortunes and with 5 overs to spare, it was the opponents' heads that drooped. The whole of columbus rooted for us and vasu once again with some HUGE sixes saw us home with an over to spare. A terrific feeling indeed to get into the quarters the way we did. UK has had a history of making it to the quarters and losing in the quarters. We wanted to break the hurdle this time. After a terrific bowling display once again, we got them out to a paltry 140. All we needed was a disciplined batting effort to see us home. Not to be...wickets fell like pins in an alley, and we fell 11 runs short. I managed to break out of a mini slump and got a good 50 but nobody else stepped up in this all important game. It was disappointing to go out that way, but if I was told at the start of the season that we would chase 2 scores of around 200 to enter the playoffs and lose in the quarters, I would have taken it gladly. Afterall, I believe we have provided the next batch with a wonderful platform to operate from. Here's a small list of +ves and -ves for each player. This list is by no means exhaustive and is not intended to pull anybody down. It is merely a list of observations that I had made over the course of the season.


+ve - wonderful effort with the co-ordination. Overall good job with captaincy too. Good dedication and your bowling was a huge plus. Very dependable fielding !
Areas to work on: Have to be in control of all situations when it comes to handling people/violent situations during games. Standing up for your player when required and reprimanding him when required. Have to become a little more dependable with batting.

Ashok Lakshmanan:

+ves: Overall our best cricketer easily. Sweet timer of the ball and has a lot of time to play his shots. Good attitude/respect towards the game.
Areas to work on: Control over aggression when bowling and controlling taking on challenges to your own peril while batting. Have to convert 30 s and 40 s to much bigger scores.


+ves - Wonderful finisher (Duh!). When he connects the ball, it usually lands in louisville ! No half measures. A lot of bowling talent.
Areas to work on: - In spite of all that he does with the bat, I believe he's a better bowler than he is a batsman ---- only ofcourse if he puts some effort in it. Very inconsistent with the ball. Need to improve bowling mechanics and also needs to read the batsman/field much better when you bowl. Need to put your head down, and play neat singles once in a while too. Have to get those big scores (agreed, you've not been provided with enough opportunities, but you will get more than your share in the years to come)


+ves: Don't know if I have told you this. But I think you are a very good team man. Your effort to help the team during practice were noted and appreciated. Good batting technique. Have a lot of good shots in the book.
Areas to work on: Not enough if you have the shots...need to know when to use them :). Spend some time in the wicket, without putting pressure on yourself. Need to believe more in yourself ! You have the goods, the sooner you realize it, the better it is for the team and for yourself !


+ves : Very natural wicketkeeper and a very useful batsman. Can play some very big strokes. Has a good feel for the game. Usually does a good job of keeping the bowlers encouraged.
Areas to work on: Must learn to play the ball by merit. Has the rahul dravid syndrome of sometimes defending a rank loose ball. Has to consciously run up to the wicket after every ball (keeping).


+ves: Has the left hander's angle working for him. Provides wickets just when you ask him to. Has a big passion for the game.
Areas to work on: Has to work on sustaining enthusiasm through out the season. Maybe get a yard or so quicker..will make life real hard for the batsmen.


+ves: A natural at any sport, he's pretty natural with cricket too. A very safe fielder and has a clean technique. A very good platform to be a really good player in the league in the future.
Areas to work on: Has to be in the game every minute. Should take the game more seriously than he is right now ! Has to spend more time on the wicket to get some big scores to be a confidence boost.


+ves: Defines the word "team man". Prompt and equipped all the time and can only be a help on any team. Inspite of having to undergo the frustration of a lesser role, he took it very well and gelled well with the team.
Areas ot work on: Get a yard of pace and better mechanics to be a stronger contender for bowling. As for batting, put a big price on your wicket, never give it away cheaply.


+ves: Good mechanics and a clean bowling action. A very good fielder and another excellent team man.
Areas to work on: Experiment lesser and concentrate on a good rhythm while bowling.


+ves: Better than just a bits and pieces cricketer. A terrific talent with the ball. Variations are excelllent. Runs between the wickets like a maniac and puts pressure on the opposition before you know it. A thinking batsman too ! Knows his limitations and bats well within it.
Areas to work on: Has to learn to read the field better. Will have to focus on bowling good length. If I may say so, you haven't justified your bowling talent this season. Will have to do better this coming season.


+ves : Classic leg spinner's action. A treat to play him during practice. Challenges you with this unnerving length.
Areas to work on: Have to give cricket more time..we know you're a family man..but still :)


+ves: A terrific anchor. Puts a big price on his wicket. Enjoyable to bat with :)
Areas to work on: Forget that you're playing a big game, and try to have fun while batting. Try to free your arms when you see a bad ball, don't worry about getting out. Have to play the big shots that you play during nets, in the game too. Another knock - have to give UK cricket more time when it matters too ! It's hard to replace you dude !


Areas to work on: Don't play stupid shots when the team needs you the most. Play the first 2 overs out before going for a big hit and DON'T DROP 3 CATCHES IN A ROW EVER AGAIN :)

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