SPORT TRIBUNE Saturday, April 22, 2000, Chandigarh, India
 

Glimmer of hope for Indian hockey
I
T does not take much to please the followers of Indian sport. For a populace used to constant defeats and many excuses, any cause for celebration is welcome. So let it enjoy the few moments which come with a rare show of valour.

Harmohan to carry Sydney Olympics torch
THE most unifying moment of Olympics is the torch relay which unifies the man in the street to the best in the world. From a show which started in Olympia when the flame was lit by the rays of the sun by athletes, it has now become an event of community participation.

In defence of Hansie
MUCH has been said and written about la affair Hansie Cronje. Much more will be said and written in the times to come. But, if past events are any indication, the matter will be conveniently forgotten in due course even though it may find some mention in the annals of history.
No gentlemen left in game?
THE gentleman’s game, cricket, has undergone staggering changes. One, the traditional Gentlemen Vs Players match in England has long been consigned to the dustbin. Is it because we have no gentlemen left in the game?


Vijay’s win should spur Indians
VIJAY SINGH’S victory in the 64th Masters should spur Indian golfers, particularly, Jeev Milkha Singh, Gaurav Ghei and others to inscribe their names on more prestigious international competitions than they have been winning so far.

 

Hockey team’s win big achievement

 
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Glimmer of hope for Indian hockey
By Ramu Sharma

IT does not take much to please the followers of Indian sport. For a populace used to constant defeats and many excuses, any cause for celebration is welcome. So let it enjoy the few moments which come with a rare show of valour. After all it is not every day that an Indian hockey team wins these days. It nearly always loses. When something out of the ordinary happens, and that means victory, the reason is there in plenty to rejoice. Victory by an Indian hockey team is a rarity, and what happened in Perth on Sunday in the second leg of the back-to-back four nation tournament was something remarkable. India beat Germany in the final for their first international title in five years and the fact that this feat came with the Olympic Games a few months away adds to the importance of the achievement.

The tournament in Australia was no ordinary tournament. Among the participants were Germany and hosts Australia, both Olympic champions and among the top teams in the world. The third team, South Africa, are not playing in the Sydney Games but that does not mean that they are a weak team. And then there was India, former Olympic Champions desperately trying to regain their place in world hockey.

In the first leg the team lost to both Australia and Germany, narrowly though, but goals do count and that is what made the difference in the end. India finished third, beating South Africa for the bronze. It must be noted here that in the matches that India lost, the team was not disgraced and there were times that they looked as good as their opponents. The eventual difference and that is always important, was in being able to convert chances. India failed while Australia and Germany succeeded.

India were not disgraced but the message was very clear. They must learn to convert chances that came their way. With Dhanraj Pillay back in favour there was no reason why the front line would not work. Obviously, coach Vasudevan Baskaran drilled some sense into the team and India went into the second leg at Perth in a more determined frame of mind. The positive approach paid dividends as India beat Australia and then South Africa before bowing to Germany in the league phase, a 1-2 deficit more in the nature of a warning in what was a rehearsal of the final.

According to reports, India and Germany, both already assured of a berth in the final, used the game to try out younger players and to give those players who had been warming the bench in previous matches, a feel of top-level international competition. In fact, this back-to-back tournaments was used by all teams to finalise the list of players who would be doing duty in the Olympics in Sydney.

And in this match India went in without Dhanraj Pillay and the brilliant Baljit Dhillon. To go into an international without Dhanraj Pillay baffles imagination but Baskaran was perhaps right, wanting to rest his main player for the final. In the end he was proved right and in more than one sense. By resting Dhanraj Pillay he underscored the importance of the man for the umpteenth time, a man who had been thrown out of the Indian team more than once, the second time on a permanent basis by Mr KPS Gill, the President of IHF. India lost the match 1-2 and thereby learnt a lesson, a much needed one.

Dhanraj Pillay was back in the team for the final, the match that mattered and sure enough he made all the difference in the forward movement, giving Ramandeep and others a chance to concentrate on the jobs they specialised in. Dhanraj did the trick and scored the match-winner, his second goal of the match in fact. What a difference this one man made to the team.

Reports from Perth tend to be euphoric about the quality of the match “hailed as the best exhibition of entertaining hockey ever witnessed in the Western Australian capital”. This despite an aberrated beginning with their game riddled with mistakes in defence, misunderstanding and wrongpassing. Here mention is made of the valuable work put in by goalkeeper Jude Menezes. He has been under tremendous pressure to do well and he has so far exceeded all expectations in these two tournaments. Had he failed then there would have been the usual clamour for the recall of Ashish Ballal, an old story now, given extra weight because of the manner he along with five others were thrown out of the Indian team. It is now altogether a different story since the brains-trust has recalled Dhanraj Pillay and Mukesh.

One of the main reasons for India coming out on top was the German ploy of keeping the forward movement going in the second half. This according to reports gave the Indians plenty of room to manoeuvre and build up counter attacks. And in the end, it was left to Dhanraj Pillay to snatch the match-winner

One must view the victory in a proper perspective before rushing to conclusions. Baskaran and other coaches now must concentrate on the gains and try and keep the team motivated till the Olympics. Five years ago India won the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia and thought that an Olympic gold was their for the asking. They were proved wrong. The team, then in the process of building, failed to achieve the goal and finished seventh in Atlanta. Care should be taken to ensure that the same thing does not happen again. This time the IHF has learnt their lessons, and softened their stand on Pillay and Mukesh and at the same time appear to be going along with Vasudevan Baskaran, the coach. If one remembers, things were different last time. Everyone was unsure of his position, even the coach. Since then Vasudevan Baskaran is back and so are Mukesh and Pillay. The aftermath of the immediate fall-out of the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 is now a bad dream.

Mr Gill hopefully has eaten his words and learnt his lessons. The players and the coach too appear to have learnt some lessons. It is for the first time in more twenty years that an Indian team has come back without making much noise about umpiring. There must have been some sore points but obviously the protests, if at all any, have been of a muted nature. One must learn to take defeat before learning to enjoy the fruits of victory.Top

 

In defence of Hansie
By R.P. Sapru

MUCH has been said and written about la affair Hansie Cronje. Much more will be said and written in the times to come. But, if past events are any indication, the matter will be conveniently forgotten in due course even though it may find some mention in the annals of history. Meanwhile, Hansie will have to learn to live with his shame though many others in his place would dismiss the affair with a cold shrug of the shoulders. Or, may be he will too.

People ask: “Why did Hansie do such a stupid thing?” For a person at the pinnacle of glory to fall a prey to temptation that has the potential of a disaster is indeed stupid, so may say. Having built a reputation with hard work and dedication, acquired the status of an icon within his own country, and indeed worldwide, all this with a healthy bank balance that would not let him or his family down (may be even a couple of generations further down the line), the future would seem quite rosy. So why did Hansie do such a thing?

This writer suggests that the answer probably lies within all of us, you, me, and everyone else. Collectively we have brought humanity to a situation where pursuit of the green buck has come to be viewed as the sole objective of life. It is firmly believed that financial muscle is the best guarantor of happiness, power and success. Any concern for the means to achieve this objective is dismissed as obsolete rhetoric, a sign of senility. Search for spirituality, humane concerns, social justice and such like is for laity, not for the upwardly mobile.

In the currently accepted scale of priorities material wealth takes precedence over excellence of endeavour or discovery. Philosophy is passť, glitterati is the apple, no longer forbidden. In the past half-century or so there has been an upheaval in social values. Efforts over three millennia or more to subdue the first person singular have been turned upside down in this era of free enterprise. Love has been reduced to mere sex, a catharsis rather than a commitment. Ends have overtaken means. Grab what cannot be got, but got it must. Morality has become defunct. Even corruption is gaining in defence. The JMM case has been neatly filed with no adverse consequences to those responsible. Mr Helmut Kohl received and Mr Francois Mitterand gave without many qualms of conscience. Monicagate was enacted in the Oval office and yet dismissed as of little consequence. In the present information age nothing remains hidden for long and yet retribution is reserved for the weak, not the powerful.

The tide of material concerns is so powerful that everyone is sucked into it as in quicksand. Greater the struggle to set oneself free, deeper one is sucked into the quagmire. It is no surprise, therefore, that poor Hansie could not withstand the pressure. “Yield to temptation” being the mantra of the prevailing times, perseverance is the name of the game played off the pitch. Temptation finds its own victim. It seems Hansie did hold out in 1996 but succumbled soon after. However, he is not alone. Indeed many others before him from all walks of life, sports, arts, academics, politics, social service etc. are known to have succumbed in similar manner; the moral fabric necessary to withstand such tremendous pressures having withered so dramatically in recent times. The problem is unlikely to end here. Of course, there will be inquiries, debates, resolutions, codes of conduct and what have you, but the problem cannot be overcome until society decides to set equitable and secular norms for itself that yield pre-eminence to means ahead of ends.Top


No gentlemen left in game?
By I.M. Soni

THE gentleman’s game, cricket, has undergone staggering changes. One, the traditional Gentlemen Vs Players match in England has long been consigned to the dustbin. Is it because we have no gentlemen left in the game?

Players wearing colourful outfits in one-day internationals, look like peacocks from various nations.

There has been a revolutionary change in the approach of the players. Their words as well as their body language reveal a distressing decline in decency. Nor do they play the game in the spirit of it. The competition is literally cut-throat. Abusive verbal wars run between the players. There are more scowls than smiles.

Few batsmen “walk” even when they know that they are out. They stay put till the fatal finger goes up. To add to this unsporting act, they glare at the umpire, the “offending” bowler, and walk as if a grave injustice has been done to them.

They find refuse in subterfuge. McGrath said about Sachin’s “shoulder before wicket” dismissal that it was “a lucky decision.”

Waqar Younis openly accused his then captain, Wasim Akram, for ruining his career on personal vendetta. Navjot Sidhu air-dashed home from England because of remarks aimed at him in the dressing room.

Nayan Mongia, the best wicketkeeper in the world, according to Sunil Gavaskar, was treated shabbily in Australia.

Why did umpire Harper not refer Sachin’s “shoulder before wicket” to the third umpire? This was all the more essential because he had given the same batsman out in the first innings, too. Of course, he is human, too. And Brutus is an honourable man!

The problem is not new. Sir Donald Bradman is on record that umpires’ decisions tend to go against the touring sides. It is known that one English touring team dunked a Pakistani umpire into a swimming pool for his frustratingly unfair decisions.

One keen student of the game observed that Indian umpires were the most biased, the New Zealanders the least. I have a hunch that this observation was made by an Australian!

Neutral umpires can be a solution to the problem but to a point. Whatever the country the neutral umpire comes from, he brings with him all the human frailties.Top

 

Harmohan to carry Sydney Olympics torch
By Mohinder Singh Chaudhry

THE most unifying moment of Olympics is the torch relay which unifies the man in the street to the best in the world. From a show which started in Olympia when the flame was lit by the rays of the sun by athletes, it has now become an event of community participation.

More than 10,000 people from all walks of life will be a part of the Australian Olympic event which will unite all Australians. The relay will be completed by 10,000 runners and 2,500 escort runners who will run around 500 metres each. The runners comprise Olympians, community representative, sponsors’ invitees and ordinary Australians.

The torch is based on a design inspired by the Sydney Opera House sails, with the subtle curve of an aboriginal boomerang. Weighing a little over one kg and 72 cm in length, the fuel will be a mixture of propane and butane, guaranteed to burn for a minimum of 20 minutes.

The Olympic torch will begin its journey on May 12,2000, from Olympia in Greece moving through countries on the way such as Guam, Nauru, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, Vanuate, Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Island, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and will finally land in Australia in the northern territory at Uluru on June 8. The first torch bearer will be Nova Paris-Kneebone.

Out of the 10,000 who will form a chain and run through Australia, 5,000 are community representatives.

They had to meet such criteria as embodying community values of having accomplished outstanding feats against odds, having undertaken voluntary work etc. The panel of judges to select community representatives included representatives from local councils, multicultural and indigenous backgrounds and the relay’s main sponsor, insurance company AMP.

The other 5,000 include former Olympians, SOCOG volunteers and 200 reserved positions for contingencies.

For the Indian community, the relay of the Olympic torch is going to be a proud moment in its own special way. In Greenacre a prominent Punjabi Indian, Harmohan Singh Walia, will be the torch bearer on September 12.

Harmohan was selected by his company Trisar on the basis of merit and his nomination was sent to AMP. The panel of judges finally selected Harmohan Walia. Out of the 45,000 applications only 5,000 made through as the torch bearers.

Originally from Hoshiarpur, Harmohan worked as a mechanical engineer with Escorts Limited at Patiala from 1974 to 1988. After post graduation in industrial engineering from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, he joined Jamuna Auto Industries at Yamunanagar as Deputy General Manager in 1988. In 1991 the Walia family decided to migrate to Australia.

Since his arrival there Harmohan has worked hard, both in his profession to establish himself, as well as a newsreader for the last eight years. He is on Sydney’s Muticultural Radio 2000, 98.5 FM on Punjabi programme every Sunday from 9.10 a.m. and every Saturday from 8.45 to 9.45 p.m. His other interest include religious activities, charity and neighbourhood watch.

Harmohan’s wife Manbeen and children Indermohan and Kanchan were very happy to hear of his selection as a torchbearer. Manbeen, an English teacher at Plumpton High School, said. “It is a very proud moment and it is only once in a lifetime opportunity.”Top


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SPORT MAIL

Hockey team’s win big achievement

THE Indian hockey team returned to Delhi after winning the Four-Nation Hockey Tournament in Perth. India defeated European champions Germany 3-2 in the final. This is really a wonderful and great achievement after the Asian games win at Bangkok. The boys were physically fit and played as a team. The victory at Perth has come at the right time. Now, all eyes are fixed on the Olympics.

B.M. SINGH NARANG
Chandigarh

II

It was nice to see India winning the Four-Nation Hockey tournament at Perth in which besides India, the other teams were South Africa, Australia and Germany. This is really a praiseworthy performance with the Olympics drawing near. This win has also generated interest in the ensuing Olympics. It is not out of place to mention that Australia and Germany are the two strong contenders for the Olympic gold. Indian coach Baskaran is also considered to be a great motivator. The Indian Hockey Federation should now select the final team for the Olympics.

PRITPAL SINGH
Patiala

III

By winning the second leg of the pre-Olympic men’s Four-Nation Hockey Tournament at Perth, the Indian team has revived memories of the title win in the Asian Games. Our present hockey squad is a blend of talent and will definitely enter the semifinals at Sydney. Defeating Australia (Atlanta Olympic champions) and European champions Germany is a lucky break. Today, our team’s morale is sky-high.

SUNDER SINGH
Dialpura

IV

The Indian hockey team brought laurels to the country by giving a splendid performance in the four-Nation Tournament in Australia. India beat top teams of the world, including Australia in the second leg and Germany in the final. The victory over Germany is indeed a feather in their cap. Dhanraj Pillay proved that his speed and stickwork is still of top level. The entire team showed courage. This is a great morale booster for Indian hockey. My heartiest congratulations to Ramandeep’s team and best of luck for the Sydney Olympics.

ISHWARPREET S. GILL
Amritsar

Cronje’s confession

It is fact that Hansie Cronje made a blunder by accepting money. But it is also correct that he heard the call of his conscience. He rose to the occasion and boldly accepted his guilt and made a confession. Confession and repentance is the best punishment. A glittering star of the cricket world is virtually being killed through condemnation. Cronje fell prey to dishonest bookies. Hansie have faith in Jesus and the dark hours will be over.

ANUPAMA UMMAT
Chandigarh

Spectators

Despite being highly paid, cricketers have proved that money is above loyalty, nationalism and sportsmanship. Spectators, who spend money on tickets, are treated as “fools” by these players. This incident is likely to take away charm and suspense from cricket matches. Now even genuine players will be seen as corrupt if they happen to score less, drop a catch or are run out.

PARVEEN MALIK
Chandigarh

Ban cricket

Students of history must be aware that three opium wars were fought by China with the British, because the British were interested in making China a weak country by making the countrymen opium addicts. Similarly, the British introduced the game of cricket which is also like opium for under-developed countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kenya so that the energy of the countrymen is diverted to futile things. Under-developed countries should ban this game because it is wastage of manpower. Results of matches are predetermined.

K.K. KHANNA
Kapurthala
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TEEING OFF

by K.R. Wadhwaney

Vijay’s win should spur Indians

VIJAY SINGH’S victory in the 64th Masters should spur Indian golfers, particularly, Jeev Milkha Singh, Gaurav Ghei and others to inscribe their names on more prestigious international competitions than they have been winning so far.

If Fijian Vijay, at 37, can push behind players, like Tiger, Woods and Erine Els, why can’t Indians, who are much younger than the new champion at Augusta (Georgia-USA). All that Indian golfers have to develop is the needed mental sharpness and also faith in themselves that they are capable of winning.

Vijay Singh’s name reveals his Indian origin. Bespectacled and easy-going Vijay learnt golf from his father, Mohan Singh, who was an airline mechanic. Soon, he became addicted to golf and also stole a march over his father.

Winner of many crowns on the eastern horizon, Vijay made his debut at Masters in 1995. It was a course where the coloured players had played. Tiger woods are then rising as a star. When a member noticed Vijay on course, he quietly asked him: “Are you Tiger Woods”?

Vijay Singh had raised visions of win on the penultimate day of the competition. “On the final day, walking up to the 18th hole that a two-putt will give him the title was an inspiring feeling I had”, said Vijay, adding: “I immediately decided to stick to my natural ability instead of showing any sign of anxiety”.

When Vijay Singh was presented the green jacket by the former champion Jose Olazabal amidst defending cheers from enthusiastic throng of spectators, he did feel proud, as he ought to have. To snatch a title from world-renowned celebrities was a great achievement.

“Trust your swing, Papa” was the message written on his bag by his nine-year-old son, Qass, who is beginning to play golf.

That note by his son seemed to have inspired him for the high deed to win the title which he had been aiming for the last five years.

In Vijay Singh’s victory, non-resident Indians felt extremely proud. Some of them were heard as saying that no matter where he was settled but his name suggested that he was an Indian. “That was a moment of pride for us all”, said three Indians, who had watched Vijay play on all four days.

After winning the title, Vijay told himself that he could win many more tournaments of this dimension at other centres. “I have now more confidence and more faith in myself”, said Vijay, who exercises modernation in win and defeat.

Vijay Singh won his first major title, PGA Championship, in 1998. The Masters title is even bigger and greater than his first win. He earned $ 8,28,000. It will elevate him to even higher status,” said The New York Times.

Total dedication and commitment have helped Vijay rise to fame. His achievement is all the more praiseworthy as there are only 10 courses in Fiji. Golf in Fiji is as common or uncommon as cricket in the USA and hence his achievement should motivate Indians for higher deeds. Why not?

Vijay, married to a Malaysian Ardena, is the second coloured player to have won this title. The first was Tiger Woods. Washington Post said that Vijay showed steel in his frame and that saw him claim the title among challenging rivals.

Once, way back in 1985, Vijay was debarred from the Asian Tour. He had mistakenly reduced one stroke from his card. It was said that he had done it to make a cut. He went on record as saying that there was a misunderstanding.Top