mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
What I wrote on 25 April 2016:

"The Indians are playing a lot of shorter-format matches in the first half of this year, but they've got 14 Tests scheduled from June to December. Kohli is the only player who averages over 50 in ODIs and T20Is. My biggest hope for him is to become the first to average over 50 in all international formats. He currently averages 44 in Tests and if he can keep up this form and translate it into the longer-format, there's a chance of that happening."

After his latest marathon effort at the crease and with a match to spare, the Indian Test captain averages 50.53. In a year where the political and sporting outsider has challenged the orthodoxy, one legend-in-the-making has offered a constant reminder of all that is still well with the established order and the greatest iteration of its greatest sport. Thank you, sir, for the entertainment. Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Sachin Tendulkar)
A chronological list of his scores since the year started.

74   - T20   v West Aus
7    - ListA    "
91   - ODI   v Aus
59   - ODI      "
117  - ODI
106  - ODI
8    - ODI
90*  - T20I
59*  - T20I
50   - T20I
7    - T20I  v Bdesh
49   - T20I  v Pak
56*  - T20I  v SL
41*  - T20I  v Bdesh
23   - T20I  v NZ
55*  - T20I  v Pak
24   - T20I  v Bdesh
82*  - T20I  v Aus
89*  - T20I  v WI
75   - T20   v Hyd
79   - T20   v Del
33   - T20   v Mum
80   - T20   v Pun
100* - T20   v Guj

1454 runs @ 90.88 (24 innings, 8 not outs).

The Indians are playing a lot of shorter-format matches in the first half of this year, but they've got 14 Tests scheduled from June to December. Kohli is the only player who averages over 50 in ODIs and T20Is. My biggest hope for him is to become the first to average over 50 in all international formats. He currently averages 44 in Tests and if he can keep up this form and translate it into the longer-format, there's a chance of that happening. It would also help if he didn't burn himself out by the latter stages of the year, especially now that he's the Test captain as well. In 2014-15, Kohli became the first in history to score three hundreds in his first three innings as captain, all of them away in Australia. Later in the year he led India to its first away series win in four years against Sri Lanka, and then thrashed the Saffers 3-nil at home with only inclement weather preventing a probable whitewash. Kohli clearly models his game on the Ponting school of cricket and one trusts that this aggressive approach is exactly the tonic demanded of India in Tests. I'm also trying not to come across as all fangirly about VK but I can't help it. When Tendulkar retired (who btw turned 43 yesterday) there were a few candidates to usurp his mantle as India's best, but only one has slipped effortlessly into his shoes. To be sure, the boy Kohli has a long way to go before he can truly be compared with his idol, but if this year is anything to go by, the future looks promising. Long may the glut continue!
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
TEST
26.95 - 1st match innings (HS: 119)
72.16 - 2nd match innings (169)
25.55 - 3rd match innings (96)
60.81 - 4th match innings (141)

ODI
41.23 - 1st match innings (138)
61.22 - 2nd match innings (183)

T20I
35.22 - 1st match innings (90*) [EDIT: After today's 89*, he now averages 40.16 in 1st match innings.]
91.80 - 2nd match innings (82*)

Those are his averages in each innings of a match. The figures in ODIs and T20Is did not surprise me as much as the 2nd and 4th match innings in Tests. And what a contrast with the figures in 1st and 3rd innings - how similar the averages are for those 2 innings. I'm yet to find a batsman who matches this trend across all three formats in 2nd innings (I compared with Root, Williamson, Smith, Amla and De Villiers). After Kohli's match-winning knock against Pakistan earlier in the tournament I wondered if we would see teams winning the toss and choosing to field against India. Then he went one step further against Australia. Does it seem as far-fetched? Kohli has over 900 runs in ODIs and T20Is this calendar year already.

Another stat to savour on: at exactly the same age (27y 147d), one Sachin Tendulkar also had 25 ODI centuries. However he needed 249 matches @ 42. Kohli's done it in 171 @ 51. Considering the Little Master is widely regarded as (one of) the greatest ODI batsmen, Kohli is well on his way to emulating the chap who inspired him. Which explains the rather fitting homage he paid to paaji (big brother) in the match against Pakistan.

Finally, here are the win percentages for the Test-playing nations in all T20Is so far:

62.67 - India
60.00 - South Africa
58.01 - Pakistan
56.02 - Sri Lanka
53.29 - New Zealand
51.82 - England
51.72 - Australia
51.36 - West Indies
33.33 - Bangladesh
24.50 - Zimbabwe

Given that Steve Smith averages 21.55 in T20Is, perhaps it is not all that surprising Australia have been a lot less successful in the shortest format. And perhaps the rankings don't lie either. Kohli and India top their respective categories. For now...

Addendum

Jan. 14th, 2016 10:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
In my excitement to evaluate Leicester City's potential achievement, I forgot to mention a couple other aspects of this season's Premier League that has equally confounded expectations and added to the merriment. The first is the almost mirror-like collapse by defending champions Chelsea and the other is the welcome return of unpredictable results for practically every match, including the ones involving the usual top teams (though perhaps excluding Aston Villa). Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
It's been a wee while since I made an entry about O Joga Bonito, but this season's English Premier League has earned it. I can't remember the last time when we were so far into a season (Gameweek 21 out of 38) and a team like Leicester City were still contending for the title. However unlikely it may still seem, the neutral in me wants them to go all the way. It would certainly surpass any achievement since the Premier League began (1992/93) and possibly eclipse the achievements of both Leeds United in 1991/92 and Aston Villa in 1980/81, because of their existing pedigree in English football. Of course, Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994/95 under Dalglish, but they also had pedigree and their triumph was aided in no small part by owner Jack Walker's millions - the prescient precursor to the business model's successful replication by Chelsea and then Manchester City. No, we'd have to go back to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest - a fellow Midlands club - in 1977/78 to find the most recent equivalent accomplishment. Back then, The Reds won the league title immediately following promotion from the old Division Two - an extremely rare achievement in itself - and they remain the only club in Europe to have won more European Cups than league titles (2-to-1). I suppose even if The Foxes don't conquer the summit of English football, they'd take a place in the top four and entry into next season's Champions League. Even that would be an outstandingly incredible achievement. Goodness knows how excruciatingly frustrating it's been as a Liverpool fan aiming to achieve just that in the past half a dozen seasons. As another famous Scot might muse: Football, bloody hell!1

1 Bill Shankly quoted in the subject, Sir Alex Ferguson in the entry.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same"

(Rudyard Kipling's "If")

Every year for two weeks, the British put on the greatest show on earth. I don't care what anybody else says, but there is nothing as good as The Championships at Wimbledon. It's the (only) highlight in the British tennis calendar and the pinnacle of the sport. At once the game's oldest tournament and arguably its most innovative. It aspires a lofty, secluded status. It oozes class, largely upper-middle. And the British are only eager to oblige with a spectacle that smoothly links the stiff upper-lipped past with the dynamic present, leaving you starry-eyed and hungry for more.

Everything about it is different. The name. The colours. The uniforms. The dress codes. The lack of advertisements. The surface. The traditions. Oh yes, the traditions. 1pm starts on show courts, except for the second weekend. No play on the middle Sunday. Strawberries, cream and Pimmsmania. Curtsies, bowed heads, royalty in their box. Inclement weather, early British wild card exits, ball boys and ball girls working like precision pulleys. But in truth it was not ever thus. Indeed the greatest trick the British ever pulled, was convincing the world that tradition could not be manufactured. And I'm not about to reveal our hand either.

That is the beauty of SW19. It transports you away from reality to a land conquered by a select few. The true legends. And this year's edition was no different. From Serena Williams, to Novak Djokovic, Martina Hingis and Leader Paes, this was another vintage crop. It's twenty-four years since my uncle introduced me to the wonder that is grass court tennis and my love for the game has never diminished. I have also never missed a men's singles final since then and although my man fell short again today, it is worth recalling the immortal words penned by Britain's own Kipling. It adorns the doorway onto Centre Court and rings true to the way we should approach life in general. As the sun sets on yet another magical experience, there remains only one thing to say: Game, set and match!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
When Roger Federer stepped onto Centre Court on Tuesday 30 June 2015, it marked his 63rd consecutive Grand Slam singles appearance, a record-breaking streak (for men and women) dating back to the 2000 Australian Open. If it wasn't for his losses as a qualifier in the preceding US and Australian Opens of 1999, he might easily have been playing his 67th consecutive Grand Slam tournament. Trailing him in second-place are Japan's Ai Sugiyama for the women with 62 and South Africa's Wayne Ferreira for the men on 56. Sugiyama and Ferreira never reached a Grand Slam final. In fact of all the players (men and women) who have made at least 45 consecutive appearances, only one other has played in more than two Grand Slam finals: the Swede Stefan Edberg, rather fittingly Federer's present-day coach.

On top of this injury-free consistency, can be added a record 17 Grand Slam titles (for men), a record 26 Grand Slam finals, a record 37 Grand Slam semi-finals and a record 45 Grand Slam quarter-finals. He also became the first man to reign supreme at the top of the rankings for more than 300 weeks, that included a record (for men and women) 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008. Even Novak Djokovic, with 154 weeks and who has dominated the men's game for the past four years, trails Federer by 148 weeks overall as world number one. While Rafael Nadal was number one for 141 weeks.

Supplant onto these: the record 10 consecutive Grand Slam final appearances between 2005 and 2007, followed by the second-best 8 consecutive appearances between 2008 and 2010 (Nadal is third-best with 5 consecutive finals); the 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances (Djokovic is second-best with 14); the 36 consecutive quarter-final appearances (Djokovic again second-best with 25, and counting); the first man to appear at least 5 times in each Grand Slam final (the next best is 3); one of four men in the Open Era to achieve the career Grand Slam (along with Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Nadal); an Olympic singles silver-medalist and doubles gold-medalist; 86 ATP Tour titles, surpassed only by Jimmy Connors (105) and Ivan Lendl (94); 131 ATP tournament finals (surpased again only by Connors and Lendl); the only man to win at least one ATP Tour title for 15 consecutive years (one ahead of Lendl, two ahead of Connors). And you get the picture.

As if that wasn't enough, he has won the most prize money in the history of the sport (although Djokovic should surpass him soon enough), earned the most through endorsements (which few will ever surpass), is by far the most popular player in the world, is multi-lingual, has a beautiful supportive wife and two(!) sets of twins. All this before turning 34. And yet, when Federer stepped onto court yesterday afternoon to play Britain's Andy Murray for the umpteenth time, he delivered a performance that was at once clinical and majestic. One for the Gods to savour, and the mere mortals amongst us to cherish for all-time. Many others have written more eloquently about the aesthetic pleasure derived from watching the Swiss maestro in action, so let me end simply by saying, we are privileged to be living through a period when two of the greatest players ever to wield a racquet (Federer and Serena Williams) are still willing to put themselves through the grinder, in order to satisfy their own love for the game - and by extension, ours. Long may this continue!

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