Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.
In a development that is bound to have serious repercussions on the India-England Test series, cricketcountry.com has got its hands on a dossier prepared by the Englishmen on the weaknesses of each of India’s XI. Late Wednesday evening, England team director Andy Flower let slip the dossier while having drinks with yours truly. Flower hopes that the dossier will give his team the added advantage going into the four-match Test series, starting today.
It is not known who prepared the dossier, but it is highly likely that Flower, the former Zimbabwe international, who loved sweeping and reverse-sweeping the Indians off their feet during his playing days, will have used his extensive knowledge to help the Englishmen.
Here is the full transcript of the “India Files”:
Unlike Graeme Smith, his feet don’t move, whether he is in form or not. He is also prone to playing...what’s that they call it around here... the ‘Upar Cut’. So we should look to station all nine fielders around the third-man region while we bowl short at him. He derives his strength from milk, so we should bribe the caterers at all venues and make sure he doesn’t get any. Also, make sure there aren’t any advertisement hoardings showcasing any milk at the grounds.
He’s an excellent player of spin, so it’s up to the quicks to get him early. He’s prone to poking at deliveries outside off-stump. So we should all send him Facebook pokes a day before each of their batting innings and get into his head...play a bit of a psychological war. Also, all the close-in fielders should keep asking him, “Why so ‘serious’?” He hates that! Samit will explain why.
He has the tendency to get riled up by the crowd’s banter. Shoot a mail to the commander-in-chief of the Barmy Army and ask them to be at their best. Also, ask them to have cut-outs of an enlarged finger ready as backup. I read an interview of his where he said he abuses himself to let off steam and get into the groove. We must not let that happen! We should make sure he abuses us instead. Take one for the team, guys! Don’t be like the Aussies! Learn to take it back.
It’s difficult to find a chink in this guy’s armour; I mean… he’s Tendulkar for Christ’s sake! But he has been bowled quite often in the recent past. So the obvious thing to do would be bowl to the stumps. He also has a well-documented weakness for something called vada pav – an Indian burger. I have already asked the MI6 to airlift some vendors from outside Shivaji Park and place them in the stands throughout the series. He won’t be able to resist the aroma! He also has a weakness for his mother’s homemade rice and lentils. Alastair, can you ‘cook’ that up?
They call him the new Rahul Dravid… the new “Wall”. He likes to score all around the park and if he gets into the groove, it’s game over for us. We haven’t faced him much, so I suggest we listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to get ourselves acquainted.
The only thing I can say for this guy is keep Stuart Broad gagged and bound in the dressing room when he’s batting. Also, place all the fielders in the ‘V’. And get the MI6 to kidnap his mother if all that doesn’t work!
He has a major weakness for the dew factor and has been caught repeatedly saying it is “a crucial aspect to the game”. I say we bribe the curators to sprinkle the ground with a hose every night. Also, get the MI6 to fly helicopters over the field every five minutes when he’s batting. His concentration will go for a toss!
He has been heckled with questions of the “mystery ball” and didn’t like it one bit when Swanny implied that he doesn’t have one. I have it on good knowledge that he officially hates the word “mystery” now. I’ve asked some of the Barmy lads to dress up as Sherlock Holmes and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc. Also, he’s an engineer. When he’s just into his run-up, whoever is the non-striker should ask him: “Hey Ashwin, state Bernoulli’s principle.”
It is almost impossible to pinpoint an area of weakness,and he does bowl well to lefthanders. Not sure why. Our left-handers should certainly be looking to avoid facing him. But he seems to pull his groin every time he gets a wicket. So Cooky, I’m afraid you’re going to have to be the sacrificial goat. Take one for the team. And how about scattering a few M&Ms this time?
He can be a bit all over place; we should look to put him off his game by scoring on both sides of the wicket. We should look to test his ability to absorb pressure.He can be very impatient with his bowling and it leads to him getting angry and being expensive. I think our job is taken care off if we get passes for Sreesanth and Geeta Basra and seat them together. But remember, whether he’s batting or bowling, whoever’s around him should wear a helmet or risk being slapped. I also suggest we go watch the Bollywood film “Son of Sardaar” to understand his psyche better.
All the hype for this series has been around Ashwin and Swanny and this guy has taken a backseat. I suggest we get into his head and wonder out loud “Who the hell is he?” when he comes to bowl. We should look to attack him since he looks like the weakest link in their bowling line-up. I’m sure you guys are familiar with him, since he played for Surrey last year, right?
Cook: But Andy, the guy took 24 wickets at an average of 12, and not a single one of us got to play against him back home.
When Cricket Country contacted MS Dhoni to get his comments late last night, a clearly sleepy Indian captain said: “Well, you know, clearly the first thing we will have to do in the morning is to (yawn) have a look at the dew factor before we do anything, you know, it’s such a (yawn) crucial aspect to the game. Only after (yawn) judging the dew factor can I comment on anything.”
We also called up India coach Duncan Fletcher to get his views. But when he picked up the phone, all we got was silence from the other end. We then asked him whether he has prepared a similar dossier on the Englishmen, who he knows inside-out after a long coaching stint. After 30 minutes of trying to get a word out of Fletcher, we hung up.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), meanwhile, has also chosen to remain tight-lipped on the matter. But inside sources tell us that they are contemplating withdrawing all the quicks and adding more spinners to the squad to throw the Englishmen off-guard. In fact, according to sources, a highly influential Board member even suggested playing eleven spinners in the team and getting India’s spin quartet out of retirement.
PS: This article is purely fictional.
(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and Editorial Consultant at Cricket Country. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn't fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog - The Mullygrubber )