An Ode to Charles Dickens’ Classics

 

The first half of the season for some key teams with high expectations has been a mixed bag. I’m reminded of the opening paragraph from Sir Charles Dickens’ novel (the one I rate as his masterpiece) A Tale of Two Cities (those who are into reading, I highly recommend this book). It is riveting and provides an amazing glimpse of life during the French Revolution. Here is the immortal paragraph from that book (I will explain later in this article how it relates to cricket):

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on it being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

So how is any of this relevant to our season so far? Well, I will start with Washington Cricket Club. The team came into the league with very high expectations. I remember talking to Palash before the season began and he said, “Anu, I wish we could directly go into D1. We’re going to have to endure a season in D2.” He wasn’t being arrogant. Many of the players in the team had just helped Falcons reach D1 the previous year; had some players who had played in the PD; had beaten very good teams in WMCB to win multiple championships. I think where they lost the plot was that they expected teams to simply rollover for them. They expected no resistance during this season and played too casually without giving the required effort and/or commitment. As a result, at this mid-point of the season, they have probably already lost the opportunity to finish 1st and qualify for D1 without having to win in the post season. So while it was wise for the team to come play in WCL, it was foolish of them to take it for granted that they will win. While it is good to have belief that you’re better than the rest of the teams in your division, it is incredulous to not respect them and not take the game seriously. So for now, Washington has been left with a season of despair. Luckily for them, all is not lost. They need to regroup and fight it out and get untracked. The team is very low on confidence and many of their key players are not playing together. Team chemistry seems to be lacking and Ankit, their captain, is doing most of the heavy lifting for the team. He needs others to step up to help him. The team is failing with the bat, ball and fielding. I think Palash needs to take more of a leadership role and help get the right players to play together. This will greatly help Ankit on the field. For the first half of the season, I rate Washington Cricket Club as the most under-performing team in WCL.

Now let’s move on to D1. The top of the D1 is very competitive and I expect a tight finish for 1st place. This will be a tale of two halves. Kensington, Sixers, UMBC and ICC played the leading role in the first half. Potomac is ready to play the lead in the second. Kensington is undefeated, while the other three have 1 loss and there is little that separates them; but if each of these teams loses a total of two games, then Potomac comes into play for a first place finish as well. Potomac has seriously upgraded its roster and if all these high quality players play all the remaining games, I don’t see any team beating them and therefore it is critical for these 4 teams to finish first to guarantee promotion. But Potomac will not give up on catching these teams in the regular season and will certainly be eyeing the top spot as well. But for that to happen, it will count on the top four teams to beat each other. If that happens, then D1 will have a very exciting finish at the end of the season. D1 will see the best of times during the second half of the season, with 4 of these 5 top teams having to fight it out in the playoffs, which could be their worst of times.

In PD, the team that has not met Great Expectations (hint: Another one of Charles Dickens’ classics) is AFCA. The team that finished 3rd in the regular season last year and is struggling to stay in the playoff race. I think there are several factors in play: Losing Ahsan key among them. His loss significantly affected the balance of the middle order. And secondly, Hamid is not playing the role he did last year. Hamid was destructive at the top of the order last year but has, for some reason, tried to change his game and moved way down the order this year. He is not playing his natural game and is batting out of position, which has affected the results. The second half won’t be easy for AFCA either. There are hardly any easy games in the PD. They have their work cut out if they want to move up the rankings.

Since the underlying theme of this article is great literature, I will end with the line from Billy Jean King’s autobiography: “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Can Washington and AFCA do that? And who amongst the top 5 in D1 will rise to the top? Let the post interval drama reveal the results.


 

11 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great analysis!!

    I wanted to add my 2 cents about the second half of the season in PD. The team I would like to focus on is Titans. I believe that this team will be a team which will fall dramatically in the second half. The only way Shoaib can stop that from happening is if he replaces his local talent which outside players. I am not talking about one or two outside players, I am talking about 5 and 6 players. Otherwise, they Will not make the playoffs.

    It will also be interesting to see which two teams will have an opportunity to play in D1 next year. I think Vikings with their new leadership is probably the worst team in PD. I think they should go down to D1 as this will allow them to enjoy cricket on weekly basis there. There team has no place in PD what so ever. It is apparent that Waleed does not like to play cricket anymore. And with Waleed not playing like his old self, this team is basically bunch of lost D1 players who mistakenly find themselves in PD every weekend. I don’t intend to disrespect their talent, but I do feel there are few teams in D1 who can make PD much better in place of vikings.

    Another team who i think will be demoted is Srilankans. Their impeccable record can speak much louder than anything I can write here.

    • anurag says:

      Thanks for your comment Anonymous. But I was curious why you didn’t mention Jamaica, since they haven’t won any games. It appears that you follow Vikings and Titans closely.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jamica talent wise is also a D2 team. But it seems like they are willing to dog deep in their pocket, and if that is the case they will survive the elimination. But you are right anurag, if they don’t, they might make sure Vikings stay in PD for another year.

    • anurag says:

      Thanks. If you look at the overall performances objectively, I think Sri Lankan has played better than Vikings, who have struggled to score runs. I think Vikings are more than competitive with the bowling. Their issues are on the batting side. If they can solve some of that, they can be a competitive PD team. If not, then they will continue to struggle for the rest of the season.

  3. anurag says:

    Anonymous — I’m very surprised by your comment about Titans. The team has lost a total of 1 game all season. Don’t you think you’re being too harsh? On what basis do you think the team will not make the playoffs? The data in front does not support your argument.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You are right about Srilankan. But it also to be noted that their schedule has been easier to start with. They played Virginia, Titans, nitro and AFCA. Their game against dulles was a rain out. Of the 4 teams they played against, only two are in playoff contention. I think now that they will play with Zolon, Tigers, Cosmos and boyds, I just don’t see them winning any of those games. Maybe they can sneak one win against Jamica and Vikings and I think those games will decide who will get to stay in PD and who goes to D1.

    • anurag says:

      My comment wasn’t so much about winning, but I feel that Sri Lankan has been much more competitive in their games (for the most part). I believe they have displayed more resiliency when faced with adversity and have posted respectable scores. Vikings has really struggled to score runs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That I agree with you.. Vikings batting is simply pathetic!! That’s why as an avid follower of the PD, I really hope they get demoted as I don’t see them getting competitive any time soon!!

  6. Palash says:

    Thanks Anu !! Great write-up I am sure most of our folks will derive inspiration from it and not hate you for stating the obvious. We will definitely keep playing till we get it right.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I apologize Anurag, I didn’t read your Titans question before. Well to answer that question, I just don’t think titans have the talent to compete against the teams like Zolon, Tigers, Boyds, Cosmos, Virginia and Dulles. I think Titans have a lot of average players playing together. Their batting is very vulnerable with Batsmen like Shoaib, Osama, Saquib and Rizwan. They need some solidity in their batting. They can only have two of those four players playing in top 6. Rests of them have to be guest batsmen. Maybe they can call on Naumanullah again this year.

    Also their bowling is very one dimensional. They only have few medium pacers and no quality spin. Also their fielding is below par. I think the teams I mentioned above are much better than Titans and should make the playoffs. Like I said earlier, for Titans to make it to the playoffs, they need atleast 4 guest batsman who can also bowl spin on their rosters.

    • anurag says:

      Thanks. Not sure if you are serious or trying to light a fire under Titans to motivate them. But like I said, the data does not support your hypothesis

Leave a Comment