We like R Ashwin. He seems… keen.
He’s talented too, but talented players are ten-a-penny. Who cares about them? No, what we like is a stony face when someone runs in to bowl; a face that says: ‘Shut up, I’m working. No, seriously, stop it. I’m trying to concentrate. I’ve got to get this finished otherwise I won’t be able to leave on time and I hate – absolutely HATE – staying late’ – that kind of face.
R Ashwin has replaced Harbhajan Singh in the side. We wouldn’t say Harbhajan became complacent exactly, but he did start to cling to his own record and past reputation a little too tightly.
Speaking to us in a fictional interview, Harbhajan reacted to Ashwin’s hundred and five-for against the Windies in Mumbai by saying:
“Obviously, as a senior player, I’m delighted for him. It’s great to see that I’ve mentored these youngsters so well and if they ever want more advice, they know they can count on me as a senior player.
“His performance in this match brings to mind my own in Cape Town earlier in the year. As a senior player, I made a whirlwind 40 and took 7-195 on a pitch that was tougher for both batting and bowling than this one.
“Hopefully, one day, Ashwin will become a senior player and will replicate such astonishing feats. Also, while we’re on this subject, I think it’s important to emphasise that I’m a senior player.”
Cricinfo have done a ‘how will history judge him?’ kind of article in the wake of Harbhajan Singh’s 400th Test wicket. Seems weird. He’s still playing, right?
Harbhajan is now 31. He’s hardly shopping for his last pair of slippers. Graeme Swann had played about a dozen Tests by that age.
Maybe Harbhajan should have eased back a bit in the early days. He had two blinding years about a decade ago and everyone thought that was the norm. Set the bar low, Harbhajan. Give yourself room for manoeuvre. Trust someone who’s a past master at pacing himself.
Anyway, 400 wickets? There’s plenty more to come. He’s getting cannier even if he isn’t getting more dynamic and he’s always had that dickish streak that’s such a vital component of so many of the best bowlers.
To Harbhajan! [Raises empty glass and decides that, on balance, there probably isn’t time for another one. But no matter, the glass is raised all the same. But it doesn’t feel the same. It feels false. Turns out it does matter. Another one? No, too late. Bit of a limp toast then. Sorry about that Bhajji. Hope you understand. It’s not a reflection on you, it’s just a whole beer, just for one toast? You know. Seems a bit much. We are on our own at the minute. And it’s not like you read this website anyway. Why don’t you read this website, by the way? Is there some problem with it? Yeah? What kind of problem? Okay. Outside. Let’s settle this once and for all.]
Well it isn’t a bowling attack, is it? India have got a medium-pacer called Abhimanyu Mithun opening the bowling against Sri Lanka. We hadn’t even heard of him until this morning.
Muralitharan said this week that Harbhajan Singh was the only person who could challenge his Test wickets record. At the time this seemed ludicrous, being as Harbhajan’s over 400 wickets adrift, but judging by India’s bowlers in this Test, Harbhajan’s going to need a bigger belt if he’s going to get all the overs he’s going to have to bowl under it.
Three years ago, we wrote about how India were blessed with young fast bowlers. Through inconsistent selection, fitness problems, complacency and a build ’em up-knock ’em down media, they’ve all fallen away.
The one bowler who does look determined and who has been given selectorial support is Ishant Sharma who’s currently wicketless and going at nearly six an over in a Test where the medium-pace debutant is conceding three an over.
On the first day of the second Test between India and South Africa, we were being fed series bowling averages. Harbhajan Singh’s was really bad. He was in dire form was the insinuation.
To be fair to Harbhajan, South Africa had only had one innings in the series up until that point, so his series bowling average was basically meaningless. He promptly proved as much by bowling a wicket maiden and then taking two wickets in his following over. In South Africa’s second innings, he took 5-59 off 48.3 overs on a pitch that wasn’t even spinning that much.
The campaign for statistically significant sample sizes to be used in cricket coverage starts here! Who’s with us?
Perennially sulky, team-mate-slapping off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh, played some demented shots in hitting 49 off 31 balls in a heroic but doomed bid to win the first one-day international against Australia. Praveen Kumar was a handy sidekick, hitting 40 not out off 32. Harbhajan enjoys batting against Australia.
If you’re due to bat at the lofty heights of number eight, you need to be half decent these days. In fact, you have to be half decent to bat at nine (like Kumar). In this same match, Australia had Mitchell Johnson at eight and Brett Lee at nine. Even England have a go at this with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann occupying those batting slots of late.
However, the king of the lower order is surely Daniel Vettori, whose Test batting average at number eight is 42.64 with three hundreds.
As often as not this year, Harbhajan Singh has hit a fifty against Australia. Quite literally.
He’s had eight innings against them and hit four of the six fifties he’s hit in his entire Test career. He is an improved batsman, but Australia won’t be impressed by that.
We’re not sure how impressed we are, to be honest. Harbhajan Singh pretty much always ‘has a face on’. It’s hard to warm to him.
When you ‘have a face on’, it’s always the same face. Harbhajan should take a leaf out of the book of Man-E-Faces.
In fact, Man-E-Faces’ book is well worth a read whoever you are. We highly recommend it. We’d give it eight of ten.
Harbhajan Singh slapped Sreesanth. Sreesanth had a bit of a cry.
This happened because Harbhajan Singh’s a little bit of a dick and because Sreesanth’s also a little bit of a dick. Harbhajan Singh would slap anyone and anyone would slap Sreesanth. It’s a huge surprise that it hasn’t happened before.
That’s how we’re reporting it.
As many of you have gathered, we were away last week. We did say something somewhere, but we always get lots of ‘why aren’t you covering this?’ emails and comments even if we do make an ‘official’ announcement.
Anyway, it seems the big news was STILL Harbhajan Singh calling Andrew Symonds a monkey. We’re glad we missed it really. It’s never fun when ‘he said, she said’ matters are dissected in the media to no great effect. It was an unprovable issue from the start, but one that couldn’t be ignored. Expedient justice ensues.
We’re not going to get into a debate about whether being a racist is even a good thing any more. We’re not going to discuss exactly how clever it is. We’re not even going to put up an online poll as to whether racism or xenophobia is the best kind of bigotry.
But we will say this: If you’re going to get yourself banned for several matches for saying something stupid and clearly offensive, you’d at least want to say something remotely interesting or unusual.
And it is clearly offensive. If there’d been a big racism to-do about an opponent of yours being called ‘a monkey’ by the crowd during a match in which you yourself were playing, you’d know that you shouldn’t call them THAT EXACT SAME THING.