Chandigarh, Tuesday, September 8, 1998
Of forgotten stars, neglected kin
By Ramu Sharma
A COUPLE of months ago an investigative piece of journalism highlighted the plight of 74-year-old Mary Philips, who eked out a humble living by cleaning utensils in Kirkee. It would not have mattered if she was just another poor woman doing such chores. There are millions of them in this country, barely managing an existence.
joins elite club
place for Ronaldo
stars, neglected kin
A COUPLE of months ago an investigative piece of journalism highlighted the plight of 74-year-old Mary Philips, who eked out a humble living by cleaning utensils in Kirkee. It would not have mattered if she was just another poor woman doing such chores. There are millions of them in this country, barely managing an existence. But Mary Philips had a right to a better living. She was the wife of Joe Philips, a member of Dhyan Chands famous hockey team which wore Indian colours in the Berlin Olympics of 1936.
Joe Philips had died a broken man, unsung and unheard. That was some 12 years back. But according to reports he had given up living much earlier, taking to drinks after losing his job at the Ordnance Depot. He had to even pawn his Olympic medal to support his family. And after his death the responsibility of surviving without financial support rested solely on Mary Philips.
The report in the newspaper did wonders. Everyone reacted and money and support came from all quarters, including the IHF and the ministry. Thanks to the reporter who put out the story, Mary Philips can now spend the remaining years of her life in some comfort.
The question is whether all this could have been done earlier, perhaps in her husbands lifetime so that the couple could have lived reasonably well, without worrying about where the next meal would come from. Surely Joe Philips deserved some such consideration for having represented the country.
One is happy for Mary Philips that she is at last cared for. But from the point of view of the Indian Hockey Federation, the state and central government, Mary Philips, is only one such case. Her plight and the resultant relief should be taken as a test case and efforts must be made to cast a wide net to see if there are other such cases in the country needing help and relief.
Given the vastness of the country and the number of sportsmen and sportswomen spread all over, it is understandably difficult for the federations and the authorities concerned to uncover such cases. But a method must be worked out and a central authority instituted to ferret out the sportspersons who are living and in difficulties and in case dead, the immediate relatives who need assistance. In many ways Mary Philips was lucky that she was able to attract the attention of a reporter whose crusading efforts brought her plight to the notice of the authorities. But this was more by accident. Journalists can only do investigative work if such cases are brought to their notice.
While admitting to the difficulty in tracing such cases, it is time that the federations and their affiliated units all over the country pool their resources and start tracing sportspersons in needing help. First and foremost a register should be compiled wherein the names and addresses of each and every player representing the state and country are entered. Latest changes in address and job must be incorporated.
And in view of the Mary Philips case, the Federation should immediately set about tracing all former players, their whereabouts and the nature of their existence. These will take time but once done, all cases needing assistance should be forwarded to the authorities concerned. And not only that, there should be follow-up steps to ensure that the promised aid had been given.
According to reports, in the case of Mary Philips, officials did visit her house and took details. A state minister too went to her house and gave some money and promised relief on a regular basis. But that promise was never fulfilled till the report in the newspaper. The tragedy in Mary Philips case was that the authorities had never bothered about her husband even while they were paying his friend and fellow Olympian Babu Nimal a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 till his death. This is something difficult to understand. Surely Nimal himself must have directed the attention of the authorities to the plight of Mary Philips.
To continue with the federations responsibilities and the need to compile a register of all players, dead and alive, it would be in the larger interest of the Indian Olympic Association to maintain a master register of all internationals with complete details updated every year. The IOA would of course need the fullest cooperation from the federations.
The state and central governments do of course contribute considerably to help sportspersons in difficulties but it would be much better if some sort of a fund is instituted and kept separately to render help on an urgent basis. There have been many cases of sportspersons themselves asking for help and in quite a number of such cases, there has been an immediate response. But there are also many other cases where despite repeated pleas no assistance has been forthcoming. The fault here lies with the officials dealing with such complaints.
The best possible answer would be for the sportspersons to go through the federations or the state units to lend their cases some authenticity. It would be too much to ask any state government to depute officials to inquire into the genuineness of such cases.
Something must be done to prevent more cases like that of Mary Philips. It is quite unfair on the sportspersons to criticise the government for not helping out. State and central governments can only help if they are in the know of such cases. The sports federations must take over this responsibility, of keeping themselves informed and forwarding the information in turn.
Mary Philips is just one example of an Olympians wife in trouble. There have been many such cases in the past. One recalls instances of volleyball players in dire straits, of athletes stricken by cancer and needing financial help and many others. One remembers too, Makhan Singh, the man who almost matched and even once beat Milkha Singh in the quarter-mile, who had repeatedly to remind the authorities of the promised help.
India is a vast country and there are any number of people needing help. The Press can only do that much, an occasional expose, but in the larger context, it is up to public, sportsmen included, to bring to notice of any former international or his or her family in distress.
directory of sportsmen and sportswomen, their
performances, their whereabouts and their present status
in the world, all kept with the Indian Olympic
Association is one way of knowing the fate of the men and
women who have served the country in the past. To compile
a reference volume of such nature calls for some real
hard work but it will be worth it.
OFF-Spinner Muttiah Muralitharan became the first Sri Lankan and 14th bowler in Test history to take nine or more wickets in an innings. He achieved this feat when he took nine wickets for 65 runs off 54.2 overs in Englands second innings at Kenningston Oval, London.
Englands George Lohmann was the first bowler in the history of Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings. Lohmann achieved this feat in south Africas first innings at Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, in 1895-96 by taking nine wickets for 28 runs off 14.2 overs.
The second bowler to dismiss nine batsmen in an innings was Englands Sydney Barnes. Barnes took nine wickets for 103 runs off 38.4 overs in South Africas first innings at Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, in 1913-14. Barnes took 17 wickets for 159 runs in the match to establish a Test record which stood until 1956 when Jim Laker took 19 wickets for 90 runs against Australia at Manchester.
The only Australian bowler to take nine wickets in an innings was Arthur Mailey. He became the third bowler to achieve this distinction by taking nine wickets for 121 runs off 47 overs in Englands second innings at Melbourne in the 1920-21 series.
In 1956 at Old Trafford, Manchester, the Yorkshire-born Surrey off-spinner Jim Laker became the fourth bowler in Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings. Laker took nine wickets for 37 runs off 16.4 overs in Australias first innings. In the second innings of the match, Jim Laker became the first and still the only bowler to take all ten wickets in an innings. He took these wickets for 53 runs off 51.2 overs. His match analysis of 19 for 90 is the best analysis in a Test match as well as in first class cricket.
Hugh Tayfield who is the only South African bowler to take nine wickets in an innings, was the fifth bowler to achieve this distinction. Tayfield took nine wickets for 113 runs off 37 overs in Englands second innings at New Wanderers, Johannesburg, in 1956-57.
In 1958-59 at Green Park, Kanpur, leg spinner Subhash Gupte became the first Indian and sixth bowler in the history of Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings of a Test match. Gupte took nine wickets for 102 runs off 34.3 overs in West Indies first innings. He was also the first to accomplish this feat and finish on the losing side.
Next year at the same ground, Jasu Patel took nine wickets for 69 runs off 35.5 overs in Australias first innings to became the seventh bowler in the history of Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings. His analysis is still Indias best in Test cricket.
Jack Mollinson Noreiga who played only four Test matches is the only West Indian bowler to take nine wickets in an innings. Noreiga took nine wickets for 95 runs off 49.4 overs in Indias first innings at Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain, in 1970-71. He was also the second bowler to accomplish this feat and finish on the losing side. It was Noreigas second Test match.
In Pakistans 100th Test match against Australia at Melbourne in 1978-79, Sarfraz Nawaz produced one of the greatest spells of bowling in Test cricket, taking seven wickets for one run with 33 balls. Overall he took nine wickets for 86 runs off 35.4 overs in Australias second innings to become the first Pakistani and ninth bowler in Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings.
In the first ever Test at Gujarat Stadium, Ahmedabad, in 1983-84, Indias Kapil Dev became the third Indian and tenth bowler in Test cricket to take nine wickets in an innings. Kapil was the third bowler to do so and finish on the losing side.
New Zealands Richard Hadlee was the 11th bowler to achieve this feat. Hadlee took nine wickets for 52 runs off 23.4 overs in Australias first innings at Wolloongabba, Brisbane in 1985-86. Hadlee is the only New Zealand bowler to achieve this feat.
In 1987-88 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Abdul Qadir took nine wickets for 56 runs off 37 overs in Englands first innings and became the second Pakistani and 12th bowler in Test cricket to achieve this feat.
Muralitharan, Englands West Indian born fast bowler
Devon Malcolm was the last bowler to take nine wickets in
an innings. Malcolm achieved this feat against South
Africa at Kenningston Oval, London in 1994. He took nine
wickets for 57 runs off 16.3 overs in South Africas
place for Ronaldo
SINCE returning home from Brazils humiliation in the World Cup final against France, soccer star Ronaldos life has been a nightmare. His pre-match collapse and its effect on the team is blamed for Brazils 3-0 defeat headlined in one newspaper here as The Brazilian Titanic.
Speculation about what happened before the crucial game in Paris is unabated. Every day Ronaldos picture is on the front pages; every evening he is on television. The press follows him relentlessly. Do you want to kill me? he shouted at a posse of photographers and reporters waiting outside his home in a posh area of Rio de Janeiro.
The hysteria and hype are reminiscent of the atmosphere that surrounded Britains Princess Diana before her car crash death last year. The 21-year-old striker has himself been involved in several high-speed chases as he tries to escape the media pack. He often drives his Mercedes through red lights in his desperation to get away.
Fortunately, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, widely regarded as the worlds best footballer, has survived the car chases, outstretched microphones and clicking cameras. But the pressure on him is enormous, at a time when calm is what he needs most.
When will you ever rest? he recently demanded of a crowd of journalists and fans. Each day is getting worse. I cant stand this any more.
I dont know where to go because I will be followed. he complained on another occasion. We lost the final because everyone played badly, yet everyone blames me.
In fact, many fans do not blame Ronaldo, and still ask him to autograph their copy of his national team shirt, bearing the number 9. But they do want to know what really happened in those hours before the final, when he collapsed on the bathroom floor of his hotel room and had convulsions. As he foamed at the mouth, team-mate, Roberto Carlos called for help and other players shouted: Hes dead! Hes dead!
Fans want to know why he was allowed to play after returning from the clinic only 50 minutes before the final, whether he is epileptic, and whether or not he was playing under the influence of tranquillisers: he says yes, his doctor says no.
When he arrived in Rio two days after the final, a waiting helicopter whisked him to his mothers house on the outskirts of the city. But the journalists followed him and have been on his trail ever since. He switches cars several times a day. On one occasion he took off the number plate to escape identification. On another, he asked his neighbours children to put their bicycles in front of journalists cars so he could escape. His hired security men have threatened to shoot journalists.
Get down from the trees or Ill shoot all of you! one of the guards yelled at photographers trying to get a shot of Ronaldo having a barbecue with friends and relatives in his mothers garden.
A sports newspaper published a minute-by-minute account of his day, covering every move from his 11 a.m. departure from his penthouse to visit girlfriend Susana Werner, through a visit to his mother, to a restaurant, to a clinic and then home.
We need to relax and get away from the siege of people. We cant stand this persecution any more, complained Werner, a model. She denied allegations that she had been unfaithful and thus contributed to Ronaldos lacklustre World Cup performance by no means the most bizarre theory doing the rounds.
Some people have wondered whether he was poisoned. Others have suggested he died from a heart attack but was revived by team-mates and the grace of God.
Another suggestion is that Brazil lost the match in return for a promise that it would be allowed to stage the next World Cup instead of Japan and South Korea, and that each member of the team received $ 570,000 as part of the deal. This would have been the most expensive bribe on the planet, commented Istoe magazine dismissively. It would be cheaper and even more sensible to bribe the referee.
The media is unremitting and unapologetic. The star is experiencing the predicament of Princess Diana, said one newspaper, but its all Ronaldos own fault. He should have told the truth from the beginning. The bigger the mystery, the more speculations there are.
Sorry Ronaldo, but in Rio it is difficult to find peace and tranquillity. And its not only in Rio. If you return to Italy (where he plays for Inter Milan), life wont be that easy, either, warned Diogo Mourao, a columnist for the popular sports daily, Lance.
The big question is whether the pressure will affect the goal-scoring abilities of Ronaldinho (young Ronaldo), as he is commonly known in Brazil. Many Brazilians regard him as a child, especially since last years television confession that he sometimes soils his bed and wets his pants while on the field.
He collects teddy bears and other cuddly toys and is a mothers boy. He calls his divorced mother, Sonia, after every international, no matter where in the world he is.
I used to tell Ronaldo, Go to school my son. Please dont waste time playing football it wont help you in any way, she recalls. I realise I was wrong. Ronaldo first bought a house for me and an imported car for his brother. He is very generous.
His annual income has been put at about $ 34 million and he is looking for ways of investing his money. In August, he is launching a nightclub called R9 R for Ronaldo and 9 for his shirt number.
Whatever the truth about those vital pre-World Cup final hours, Ronaldo has now been declared fit by Inter Milan doctors who travelled from Italy to examine their star.
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