|SPORT TRIBUNE||Saturday, April 8, 2000, Chandigarh, India|
Pak were hungry for success
By Sushil J. Aaron
The Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah demonstrated a few veritable cricket truths that, among other things, Pakistan on song are the toughest team to achieve a target against.
failure at Sharjah
Africa still among worlds best
Pak were hungry for success
The Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah demonstrated a few veritable cricket truths that, among other things, Pakistan on song are the toughest team to achieve a target against.
The bowling of Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram affirmed this conventional opinion. The case of Pakistans new opener Imran Nazir and their never-ending list of young fast bowlers conveyed that charisma and a keen eye could nurture and unearth talent better than weak institutional structures. The form of Sachin Tendulkar and Lance Klusener proved that class may be permanent but confidence is mercurial.
Pakistan won the cup narrowly by 16 runs because a few individuals in the team were hungrier for success than a jaded South African team that arrived in Sharjah after a long two-Test, five match one-day series against India.
Besides, South Africa has been a team that makes up for its lack of natural flair through discipline, athleticism in the field, mental strength and strategy. Its a team that cannot imaginatively respond to an orchestrated display of talent and inspiration that Pakistan churns out every once in a while. And in this case they were up against a rejuvenated Younis, an unfulfilled Inzamam-ul-Haq and in Nazir a youngster who wowed everyone with his array of shots.
Man of the series Younis, keeping his motivation levels high by the grudge against the erstwhile captain Akram who allegedly kept him out of the side on non-cricketing grounds, took advantage of the new dispensation and recovered his rhythm to torment both the opposing teams. He has not re-discovered his pace, nor did he display his toe-crushing yorker but relied on controlled movement, change of pace and did not strive to buy wickets, as he was prone to earlier. As has been the highlight of his career, nine of Younis last 11 wickets in the tournament were taken without the help of a fielder.
Inzy made good his return to one-day cricket by being the top scorer of the tournament. His 53 in the final was crucial after the 18-year-old Nazir who in scoring 69 besides 43,71 with a total of 17 fours and six sixes in the cup reminded people of a young Krishnamachari Srikknath with his irreverent strokeplay lofting Shaun Pollock and company regularly for huge hits.
This is the astonishing part of Pakistani cricket as to how a country whose domestic cricket virtually amounts to inter-institutional tournaments and whose cricket board is racked with infighting can discover a huge talent like this and achieve a consensus to immediately play him in international cricket.
Nazir, like Srikkanth, has a crouched stance and is very decisive in his strokeplay, probably attributable to excellent hand-eye coordination and a youthful ignorance of the stage that he is performing on. He obviously has to prove himself on bouncier tracks but is without doubt Pakistans best batting find since Inzy announced himself in the 1992 World Cup.
South Africa sorely missed Gary Kirsten, who will reportedly be out of action for a couple of months owing to a back injury. Herschelle Gibbs, who impressed all with his clean strokeplay, was undone by an Akram in overdrive whizzing the ball both ways. Jacques Kallis, on whose solidity the team is a trifle overdependent, failed to negotiate a quicker, rising delivery from Mohammed Akram who Imran Khan reckons is talented enough to bag a place in any other fast bowling line-up except Pakistan.
Hansie Cronje counterattacked brilliantly against spin and medium pace. Mark Boucher, who is set to end up as his teams Steve Waugh, again displayed maturity, tact and aggression that belies his boyish looks by making 57 off 49 deliveries.
Nonetheless the team performed creditably without regulars like Jonty Rhodes and Allan Donald while Kluseners form was a cause for despair. He landed three golden ducks, out first ball to Venkatesh Prasad, Akhtar and Younis, bowled through the gate twice and leg-before once. What a turnaround for a man who virtually threatened to win a World Cup less than a year ago.
Indias total failure at
By now it has become an all too familiar story. After the good showing of the national squad against the touring South African team in the home series, the Indians slipped very badly in the three-nation tournament at Sharjah in which besides India, South Africa and Pakistan took part. So far this year India have played a total of 17 one-dayers, winning just five (three against South Africa and two against Pakistan, one in Australia and the other in Sharjah) and losing the remaining 12. Prior to the home series against South Africa, India had played in the three-nation series in Australia where they could win just one match, losing the remaining seven.
The only good that has come from the recent one-day matches that India have played is the fact that in Saurav Ganguly the team has got an innovative captain who is not afraid of taking risks. One must remember the way he used Rahul Dravid as a bowler in a home match against South Africa or the way he promoted Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja up the the batting order in Sharjah. If only the other players can perform to their optimum level there is no reason why Indias performance in the shorter version of the game cannot rise a notch or two. Nobody minds losing but even in defeat other teams go down with all their cylinders firing (remember the final of this years Sharjah tournament in which fortunes swung from side to side before the Pakistan side emerged winners of the Coca-Cola Cup.)
In fact, to be very realistic India were a total failure in the desert tournament and the much vaunted Indian batting line-up could not cross the 200-run mark even once in four innings, twice each against the two contesting teams. What went wrong? Why did the top order batsmen, barring the newly appointed skipper Saurav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin (who by all accounts must be enjoying his return to international cricket after a long hibernation, first due to injury after the World Cup and later unable to find favour with the national selectors) failed to come to terms with the wicket at Sharjah where the ball tended to come slow off the track.
The biggest worry is the fall in form (at least by his very high standards) of Sachin Tendulkar, who relinquished the captaincy after the tour of Australia (it is a different matter that he was asked to continue in the two-Test series against South Africa which the Indians lost) so that he could concentrate on his own batting. That, unfortunately, has not been the case and at Sharjah it seemed Sachin was playing by rote. Not once could he dominate the rival bowling and was out to very poor scores. And one must remember that only when Sachin comes good with the bat does the Indian innings flourish.
Sachin is too good a batsman to be down for too long. But now that India have no international engagement right till the Asia Cup, scheduled to be held at Dhaka (Bangladesh) towards the end of May, it is time that Sachin took a long rest, abstained from cricket and pursued some hobby. Most pundits are of the firm opinion that he should stay away from all cricket venues (including masala matches and the proposed International Cricket Council match between two all-star teams at Dhaka) for some time. Like the brilliant West Indian Brian Lara, Sachin too needs to take a sabbath from cricket. By doing so, a rejuvenated Sachin can perhaps perform to his optimum level because without the batting of Sachin, India look to be a very mediocre squad.
But more than the batting it is the bowling department which is causing the biggest headache to the Indian team management. Not a single Indian bowler, not even Anil Kumble is, at present, capable of running through any side in contemporary cricket. Things came to such a pass at Sharjah that Indias main bowler, Javagal Srinath, was forced to sit out after a match since he was proving to be too expensive. In fact, following the teams return to India Srinath said he was not motivated enough to play in one-day cricket any more.
But then what happens in the future? Speaking very logically the Indian cupboard is bare as far as bowling is concerned. And one must not forget that it is the bowlers who win matches for any team.
Not a single bowler has been unearthed in the recent past and India will continue to use bowlers like Venkatesh Prasad and Ajit Agarkar, who though good are not match winners by themselves. The time has come for the national selectors to scout around for bowlers who might in the long run be able to take Indian cricket to its rightful place. But at the current moment it does not seem possible.
South Africa still among
It seems to be the rule with the South Africans now. In any series, they will mesmerise with their spectacular fielding and seemingly cold-blooded efficiency. But they tend to falter at the last step.
The final of the Sharjah tournament against Pakistan was no exception, as was the recent one-day series against India. And before that the last three World Cups.
In spite of this, they are rightly rated as among the top three teams in the world. Even though they lost the one-day series against India, they did win the two-Test series convincingly, completing what has been one of their most satisfying tours since their return to international cricket.
It seems that the South Africans are continuing from where their illustrious predecessors left off, or were forced to do so, when they were banned from international cricket in 1970. The South African team of 1970 was recognised as the best in the world. They had just completed a 4-0 whitewash of the Australians when the ban was imposed.
After nearly a century of dominance of the game by England and Australia, the Springboks, who played their first Test in 1889, were flowering in the 1960s. That decade was the period when the talent of brilliant players like the Pollock brothers, Graeme and Peter, and Eddie Barlow came to the fore.
Unfortunately for them, this was also the period when the politics of colour began to dominate the game. The seeds of their ouster were sown when the 1968 English tour of South Africa was cancelled.
Basil DOlivera personified the dilemma facing cricket in South Africa. A talented coloured cricketer, he knew he had no chance of playing at the top level, as long as Pretoria continued its policies. He migrated to England, played county cricket for Worcestershire and was selected to represent England. He played in the 1967-68 home series against Australia. His magnificent 158 in the last Test should have guaranteed him a place in the squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
But he was dropped. At the last moment, an injury to one of the seamers Tom Cartwright meant that he had to be included. In retaliation, the South African government of Prime Minister Ian Vorster cancelled the tour.
Australia did tour South Africa in early 1970, but no one had any illusions about what was to follow. The Springboks tour of England the same year was cancelled, and they were subsequently banned from international cricket.
To replace this aborted tour, a Rest of the World XI tour of England was organised, and this tour showed what the cricket community would miss during the next two decades.
West Indian Gary Sobers and Graeme Pollock, two batsmen who can still walk into any all-time World XI, were involved in a superb 165-run partnership at the Oval. Also, Barlow scored a century in the second Test at Trent Bridge. The next two decades saw the South Africans grab every possible opportunity to display their skills. Most went on to play county cricket in England.
Among the prominent cricketers in the county circuit was Barry Richards, who incidentally scored a century in South Africas last official Test against Australia in 1970. Playing for Hampshire, he often opened the innings with West Indian Gordon Greenidge.
Some South African cricketers qualified to play for other nations. Tony Greig even captained the English side in the 1970s. Allan Lamb and Kepler Wessels became integral members of the English and Australian teams. Graeme Hick of Zimbabwe would surely have tried to qualify for South Africa, if that avenue was open. Ultimately he had to go to England.
In a cruel twist of fate, soon after Hick qualified, Zimbabwe got full Test status, and he, as it happened, failed to command a regular place in the English side. Another Zimbabwean, John Traicos, played in South Africas last three Tests and then captained Zimbabwe in the late 80s.
Then there were the notorious rebel tours of South Africa in the 1980s, which fulfilled their desire for competitive cricket. However, these tours probably did more harm to the cause of South African cricket, because of the tremendous controversy the tours caused within the cricketing world, with the Test playing nations split on the issue of how to deal with the rebels.
But they did show the talent that had been suppressed for two decades. Clive Rice ranked along with the four musketeers, Englands Ian Botham, Pakistans Imran Khan, New Zealands Richard Hadlee, and Indias Kapil Dev, as one of the greatest all-rounders of the generation.
When South Africa toured India in 1991, Rice was in the side. But it was obvious that his playing days were over. Incidentally, he had been selected in the side which was slated to tour Australia, before fate intervened. His skills were, however, on display in English county cricket.
Ironically, these cricketers were totally in favour of selection based on merit and not on the colour of the skin. Players like Mike Procter used the period of their isolation to encourage cricket among the coloured and blacks. A lot of credit for nurturing the game there also lies with Ali Bacher, who captained the side in their last series in 1970. Nelson Mandelas release from the Robben Island prison in February 1990 signalled the beginning of the end of apartheid. For players like Rice, Jimmy Cook and Peter Kirsten it was a little late.
Cook played a few matches. Kirsten, along with New Zealander Martin Crowe dominated the 1992 World Cup, which the South Africans would probably have won, had it not been for some absurd rain rules.
Since then they have defeated every team in Tests, though they have shown a tendency to falter at the finishing line in major tournaments.
Today South African cricket is in full flourish, with a lot of credit to its cricketers of the 70s and 80s. They ensured that the game was not affected by the countrys isolation, and when they came back, they were ready to face the best. They might have lost the Coca-Cola Cup, but examining it in perspective of the last four decades, they are worthy successors to the 1970 side.
Walsh overtakes Kapil
West Indies pace bowler, Courtney Walsh became the leading wickets-taker in Test cricket when he set a new record of 435 wickets. Walsh broke former Indian captain, Kapil Devs record of 434 wickets on the fourth day of the second Test match against Zimbabwe on his home ground at Sabina Park, Kingston, on March 28 by dismissing Henry Olonga, caught at short leg by Wavell Hinds.
Walsh broke the record in his 114th Test, 17 Tests less than Kapil. Kapil Dev played 131 Tests for his 434 wickets.
Born on October 30, 1962, at Kingston, Jamaica, Courtney Walsh made his Test debut against Australia at Perth in the 1984-85 series. Graeme Wood was his first victim in Test cricket.
In the 29th Test match against Australia at Sydney in 1988-89, Walsh completed his century of wickets by dismissing David Boon. Pakistans Basit Ali was Walshs 200th victim in Test cricket. He had Basit Ali in his 58th Test at Bridgetown in the 1992-93 series.
The 6 foot 6 (1.95 metre) Walsh completed his 300 wickets in Test cricket when he had Englands Mike Watkinson at The Oval on August 25, 1995. It was his 80th Test match.
Walsh became only the third bowler in Test cricket to take 400 wickets when he had Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy in his 107th Test match at Port of Spain in the 1998-99 series.
The wicket of Zimbabwean Trevor Gripper at Kingston in the 1999-2000 series was his 434th in Test cricket. He equalled Kapil Devs record by taking this wicket.
Courtney Walsh took 190 wickets in 50 Test matches at home while he dismissed 245 batsmen in 64 Tests outside West Indies. He has taken 10 wickets in a Test twice and five wickets in an innings on 17 occasions.
Australias Ian Healy has the dubious distinction of being dismissed most often by Courtney Walsh, 15 times, followed by Englands Mike Atherton and Australian Mark Waugh, 11 times apiece. Englands Alec Stewart has been dismissed by Walsh on nine occasions while Australian Michael Slater was sent back by Walsh on eight occasions.
With a three-Test series against Pakistan in the West Indies to come, followed by a tour of England that include five Test matches, Walsh could set a daunting target for those with an eye on his record.
Pakistan all-rounder Wasim Akram, 383 wickets in 92 Tests, is the closest current player to Walsh while fellow West Indies paceman Curtly Ambrose is some 50-odd short of his pace partner.
COURTNEY WALSH'S BOWLING RECORD
Tests Balls Mdns Runs Wkts. Avg.
v England 31 7496 266 3247 111 29.25
v Australia 33 7362 240 3591 124 27.34
v S Africa 5 1247 53 518 26 19.92
v N Zealand 10 2252 83 943 43 21.93
v India 15 3124 122 1316 65 20.24
v Pakistan 15 2632 84 1160 49 23.67
v Sri Lanka 3 583 15 278 8 34.75
v Zimbabwe 2 483 29 134 9 14.88
In West Indies 50 11180 406 4640 190 24.42
Outside West 64 13999 486 6343 245 25.88
The picturesque Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course was the venue for the match of matches played on Monday. It was a holiday for Golf-addict members but they had turned up to watch this unique match which was the first of its kind being staged in this country.
It was a one-to-one match between a woman and a man. There were many other dissimilarities. While the woman was a professional golfer, the man was an amateur. The woman was stocky and the man was slim. The most unique aspect of the match was that both started from the same tee. (The practice is that a woman golfer has a different tee to that of a man player).
There were some among enthusiastic followers of the view that it would be an absorbing contest. But the match did not attain expected dizzy heights. Dynamite Simi Mehra was, in reality, a dynamite for Shive Kapur, who seemed overawed by the occasion.
Simi was superior to Shive in every department of the game, that is, in driving, chipping and putting. On the par four 15th, Simi made a terrific drive. Then she shipped in for an eagle. It was a tremendous display Simi won the 16th when she claimed the match four and two.
The first Indian woman professional, Simi plays abroad in various circuits. Her stint as a pro in foreign countries had rendered her tough and powerful. Known for her long drives, she has had many rewarding achievements abroad. It is, however, not a bed of roses to be a professional.
Simis reward was Rs 10,000. The members enjoyed watching her play. Despite staying abroad most of the time. She remains as carefree and casual as she was before leaving India.
Simi along with another pro Nonita Lal Qureshi should help Indian women raise the level of their game. There were a few women who provided visions of attaining international standards. But sadly they have not lived up to their promise and talent. Maybe, Simi and Nonita can help them emerge out of their indifferent from.
There is a keen contest for the Mahindra award between Mukesh Kumar and Vijay Kumar. The performance in the on-going SRF Tournament may decide who is lucky to grab the Mahindra award.
Vijay has already won the award twice and, if he bags it this time, it will be a hat-trick of titles for him. He is, however, trailing Mukhesh Kumar in this years aggregate points so far. Both come from obscure cities. Vikay Kumar is from Lucknow, while Mukesh is from Mhow.
After 28 long years, the match-play club championship for the Walter Locke was revived at the DGC. The competition was a grand success as known and unknown amateurs were seen in action. There were some absorbing matches. The final was between Amit Luthra and Shiv Kapur. It was a match between experienced and youth and youth triumphed.
The course is indeed being used and utilised extensively. The tribe of golfers is on the increase. The new courses and clubs are coming up but all of them are not enough to satisfy the demands of the ever-increasing golfing community.
Whatever may be protests
of members, the club should conduct as many competitions
as possible. All the abandoned competitions should be
revived. The more the competitions, the better will be
the standard of play.
Encourage games other than cricket
Mr Suresh Kalmadi (IOA president ) some time back rightly stated: No country is as mad about cricket as India. He further blamed Doordarshan and the media in general. Cricket being played even in some remote corner of the world gets undue coverage in the news bulletins whereas other sport events in the country are denied the desired coverage. No major sporting nation of the world including Russia Germany, USA, China, Korea and Japan play cricket. We must learn from these nations and encourage other games. There has been an overdose of cricket and forced viewing. We as a nation like fools have been watching cricket and wasting time.
It is a pity that our cricket team has been knocked out of the one-day cricket tri-series at Sharjah. They received a thrashing and suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of both South Africa and Pakistan. They failed in all departments of the game.
It was really disheartening to see consecutive defeats of India at Sharjah. The entire team is responsible for the poor slow because none of the players played according to their standard. We are lacking in team effort. Similar was the case in Australia. There also nobody was performing. The selectors should remember that changing the captain will not change the fate of Indian team.
It was heart-warming to learn that Jamaican cricketer Courtney Walsh recently claimed his 435th wicket in the second Test match against Zimbabwe, overtaking the record of former Indian cricket star Kapil Dev and thus becoming the first highest wicket-taker. It was only because his hard work and dedication that he achieved the milestone. It is always the ambition of a bowler to break word records. Heartiest congratulations and good luck to him for the future.
Felicitations to Pakistan for winning the Coca Cola Cup at Sharjah by defeating South Africa in the final by 16 runs. With this cup Pakistan have won a total of 12 championships at Sharjah, followed by India who have won six. By defeating South Africa in the league match and in the final, Pakistan have also become the only team to defeat South Africa at Sharjah. South Africa have played 10 matches at Sharjah and lost only two.