So loaded was the news this past week that I voluntarily had to look past two, if not three or four, stories. Not the kind of luxury you get week in and week out, eh? Either way, all said and done, on a day when Sasha Zverev blew a 2-set lead, it’s time to do what we do best on Mondays: overreact.
Yuvraj Singh wants to win trophies for Punjab
Yuvraj Singh, 38, who announced his retirement last year, has expressed his desire to come out of retirement to mentor youngsters and ‘win championships’ for Punjab.
SC Take: To roughly paraphrase Yuvi, “Together with Bhaji (with whom I’ve not won a domestic title with), I’d love to win championships for Punjab; that was a huge motivating factor for my comeback.” Yep, you see the problem right there? Yuvraj is 38; Harbhajan is 40. The duo, two of Punjab’s greatest ever cricketers, did not deliver the state a championship during their peak, so I wonder what makes Yuvi believe that they’ll be able to do it now. Last I checked, Punjab’s last Ranji win came in 1992 and they haven’t won the Vijay Hazare Trophy and SMAT since the tournaments’ inception. I love Yuvi but let’s be honest: he’s beating around the bush here. The whole ‘championship vision’ is a badly-knit excuse, just like the ‘mentorship dream’. The former is next to impossible and the latter, well he could have anyway done without coming out of retirement, I suppose? C’mon Yuvi, we can read through your words. Wish you’d have instead just told the truth, which is you wanna just come back to the sport. There is nothing wrong in that, champ.
Dawid Malan is the best T20 batsman in the world
In the latest iteration of ICC’s T20I rankings for batsmen, England’s Dawid Malan climbed to top spot.
SC Take: Cricket is a funny sport, yeah, but the ICC rankings are funnier. Who would have ever thought that the David with the ‘W’ would someday end up becoming the number one ranked batsman in the world? I mean, I kid you not, such is the absurdity of the situation that despite officially being ‘the best batsman in the world’, Malan’s place in the side is not secure. Is he the first ‘Number one’ batsman to not be secure of his own place in the side? Possibly. An average of 48.71 and an SR of 146.66 from 16 innings are dream numbers, no refuting, but they don’t paint the full picture. 47% of Malan’s total T20I runs have come against New Zealand, there’s the argument that a lot of his runs have been ‘easy runs’ and there’s also the fear that his slow starts might someday end up hurting the team. Personally, do I think he has a place in the side when Stokes and Roy return? Nope, I don’t think there have been enough defining performances. Also, can someone please explain to me how Mo Hafeez, who averages 96.40 in his last 10 T20I innings at an SR higher than Malan - dating back to October 2018 - does not even find a place in the Top 10 of the T20I rankings? Enough reason to not take it seriously, I suppose.
Australia want Marcus Stoinis to be their very own MS Dhoni
After Stoinis’ botched finishing attempt in the first T20I versus England, Pat Cummins revealed that his side were looking to groom the Victorian as their very own MS Dhoni.
SC Take: I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but Marcus Stoinis is not a good finisher, okay? Not in ODIs; not in T20Is. The Australian management seriously needs to get over their obsession with him; not everyone bulky and possessing the ability to hit sixes is Dhoni. The bitter truth is Stoinis’ entire legacy is built on one knock - the 146* versus New Zealand three-and-a-half years ago. Take that away and he’s a slightly better version of Hilton Cartwright. Seriously, Stoinis’ ODI average (33.39) drops to 28.11 without that one knock and he is garbage in T20Is anyway, averaging 20 and striking at 123 after 22 matches. It’s flabbergasting that despite seeing what Stoinis did in the World Cup as a finisher - he averaged 14.50 in 7 innings at an SR of 76.99 - the Aussie management haven’t learnt their lessons. To employ Stoinis as a finisher in any format is, right now, a catastrophic move. The only Dhoni they can mould him into - as was evident from the first T20I - is the Dhoni of 2019. Do Australia really want that?
Andre Russell can score a double century in the IPL
KKR mentor David Hussey feels a promotion to No.3 for Andre Russell might enable the big Jamaican to score a double hundred.
SC Take: You know it’s IPL time when KKR start panicking about Andre Russell’s batting position. Ah, I love it. We’ve heard this before, haven’t we? Not just with Russell. With any and every big-hitter. “Send them in higher up the order and watch them go boom boom boom for 20 overs” yada yada yada. But the sport, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way. I mean, think about it: there are only two men who have come remotely close to scoring a double-century in T20s (Gayle and Finch) and yet even they didn't do it even once. Countless big-hitters and finishers have been promoted up the order - heck, Buttler was directly pushed to open - and under 5% of them managed to score tons, let alone go well beyond the 100-run mark. Sending Russell in at 3 is an enticing and greedy idea, but it is common sense that the more balls a high risk-taker (like Russell) bats, the higher the chances of them either slowing down or getting out. The Windies tried this ploy - of promoting Russell - and did not reap rewards, and KKR, themselves, managed to get ‘only’ 80 the last time they promoted the Jamaican to 3. A double-ton might be unrealistic, true, but yes, giving more balls for Russell to bat won’t be a bad idea at all.