SPORT TRIBUNE Saturday, April 29, 2000, Chandigarh, India
 

Santosh Trophy needs more importance
By Ramu Sharma
Maharashtra is the new champion football team of India. It proved its right to the title when it beat hosts Kerala in the final in Thrissur on Sunday. Ironically the goal which sealed the fate of Kerala was scored by a boy from Kannur wearing Maharashtra colours. Ironic in relation to the statement made by a Kerala official just before the semi-final tie against Goa a few days earlier. Answering questions from a TV commentator, the official had spoken about the abundant talent available in the State and stressed on the policy of son of the soil followed by Kerala. Somehow Mohammad Najeeb had escaped attention and had gone to play for Maharashtra. It happens all the time. No one is in fault though.

Laxman's unique feat
By S. Pervez Qaiser
VANGIPURAPPU VENKATA SAI LAXMAN'S triple hundred (353) against Karnataka at Bangalore made him the first-ever player to score two triple centuries in Ranji Trophy. His career-best score overshadowed the 301 not out he had hit against Bihar in Jamshedpur in 1997-98.

Make cricket gambling legal
By Anisha Sodhi
It is not just cricket any more. The sport that moves the nation suddenly seems to be losing all its charm. Disillusioned fans and a shocked cricketing world are slowly coming to terms with the recent accusations of match-fixing against South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje — who has admitted to being “dishonest” — and four teammates by the Delhi Police.

 
 
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Santosh Trophy needs more importance
By Ramu Sharma

Maharashtra is the new champion football team of India. It proved its right to the title when it beat hosts Kerala in the final in Thrissur on Sunday. Ironically the goal which sealed the fate of Kerala was scored by a boy from Kannur wearing Maharashtra colours. Ironic in relation to the statement made by a Kerala official just before the semi-final tie against Goa a few days earlier. Answering questions from a TV commentator, the official had spoken about the abundant talent available in the State and stressed on the policy of son of the soil followed by Kerala. Somehow Mohammad Najeeb had escaped attention and had gone to play for Maharashtra. It happens all the time. No one is in fault though.

The defeat of the home team was in the nature of a surprise since it had all along, and all through done well enough to be projected as the eventual winner. Kerala is a football player’s delight. Perhaps Goa and Bengal as hosts can occasionally match the enthusiasm when its own teams are playing but for the fan in Kerala, it does not really matter who is playing whom? Of course the home team’s presence attracts that much more rush, but irrespective of that, the men and women who throng the stadium often wait for hours and patiently too to buy tickets, all for the sake of a football match. One has to give credit to Kerala and its football fans for the importance given to any national championship staged in that State.

But this year, despite the deserved victory over Goa in the semi-final and the earlier draw with Bengal, Kerala somewhat failed to make an impression in the final against Maharashtra for whom Aqeel Ansari, Md Najeeb and Abbas Ali Rizvi turned in splendid performances with Aqueel Ansari bagging the prize of the Best Player and Khalid Jamil that of the best midfielder. Najeeb who scored the only goal was the discovery of the championship, being the top scorer.

Maharashtra’s title win carried extra weight since this was a team which came through the qualifying rounds, not having been among the semi-finalists in the championship held last year. It went on to replace Tamil Nadu the team which played in the semi-final in the last nationals. And it must be remembered that Maharashtra had the better of Bengal in the semi-final. A very creditable achievement indeed.

Kerala may not have won the title but it proved that it can make any football championship a paying proposition irrespective of the quality of the game or the popularity of the participating teams. But for all the big crowds and the satisfaction of going through the formalities of a national championships, the All-India Football Federation would do well to dwell on the timing of this year’s competition.

Agreed it did not have any other dates available and with the Asian Football Confederation insisting on further extending the duration of the National League (from the present three to six months), it is unlikely that the position next year too will be any better. If anything it may be even more difficult to find time for this important championship.

Look what has happened this year. The preliminaries of the Santosh Trophy was held even as the National League was still in the process of solving the leadership issue. And the quarter-final league started even as the National League ended. This left many states, particularly Bengal and Goa which had three teams in the fray, very little time to arrange for a set of players with a frame of mind tuned to the respective States’ ethos. It is indeed difficult for players from various clubs to come together at short notice to profess new loyalties. Playing for clubs and that is what most of the players do the year around is a different proposition. To suddenly draw new combinations for new vistas at such a short notice is never easy.

Thus whatever one may think of Bengal’s overflowing talent, the State has a genuine difficulty in fielding a Bengal team for the nationals almost immediately after the NLF. The same goes for Goa which too had three clubs playing in the National League. In this respect Kerala with just F.C. Kochi and the weaker State Bank of Travancore and Mumbai (Maharashtra) with just Mahindras in the NLF fray had better chances in the nationals. This is not to provide excuses for the losers or to take away glory from the winning teams.

It would be better if both the Santosh Trophy and the National League be given the same importance and scheduled in such a way that both competitions flourish without harming the interest of each other. Agreed the scheduling is not easy particularly in view of the directive from the Asian Confederation but some solution must be found.

India is a large country and European conditions of play do not apply here. England as a country can do without a national championship or for that matter any of the other countries of that region. A national championship is a must for India. So instead of following the European pattern it would be better to stick to something more suitable for conditions here. Accordingly the AIFF should, instead of holding the Santosh Trophy after the NLF, conduct it before and then allow the players to make the fortunes of their respective clubs. This is not a tall order .

The other important aspect relates to selecting hosts for the Nationals. Agreed every affiliated unit should be given a chance to host the championship but how many States can hope to raise and generate the type of public interest and funds that Kerala, Goa and for that matter Bengal among few other centres can do? The All-India Football Federation can help on its own but surely it does not have all that easy access to funds.

The next edition of the Santosh Trophy is scheduled to be held in Nagpur. Does that city have the wherewithal to generate the funds needed for holding such a major meet. And what about public response? Can Nagpur match the crowds of Thrissur or other centres of Kerala? Football needs money and crowds.

At the moment very few states can organise both. Till such time others are able to match the efforts of centres like Kerala , Goa or Bengal, it would be better for the All India Football Federation restrict the competition to selected centres. There are other ways to promote the game. Holding the nationals with a shoestring budget and in front of half empty stands is not the answer.
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Laxman's unique feat
By S. Pervez Qaiser

VANGIPURAPPU VENKATA SAI LAXMAN'S triple hundred (353) against Karnataka at Bangalore made him the first-ever player to score two triple centuries in Ranji Trophy. His career-best score overshadowed the 301 not out he had hit against Bihar in Jamshedpur in 1997-98.

The first batsman to score a triple century in Ranji Trophy was Vijay Hazare. He scored an unbeaten 316 for Maharashtra against Baroda at Poona in 1939-40. Hazare batted for 387 minutes and hit 37 fours.

Vijay Merchant was the second such batsman when he made a chanceless unbeaten 395 for Bombay against Maharashtra at Bombay in 1943-44. He was at the crease for 640 minutes and hit 31 fours.

In the final of the 1947-48 Ranji Trophy against Holkar, Baroda's Gul Mohammed scored the third triple century. He made 319 in 628 minutes in his team's only innings of the match at Baroda.

Babusaheb Nimbalkar who holds the record of highest individual score in Ranji Trophy was the fourth player to enter the triple century-maker club in Ranjai Trophy. Nimbalkar scored an unbeaten 443 for Maharashtra against Kathiawar at Poona in the 1948-49 season. He batted for 494 minutes and hit 49 fours through drives, cuts and pulls.

Bombay's Ajit Wadekar was the fifth batsman to score a triple century in Ranji Trophy. He achieved this feat when he scored 323 against Mysore at Bombay in 1966-67 season. Wadekar hit 40 fours in a stay of 484 minutes.

Sunil Gavaskar became the sixth batsman to enter this elite club of triple century-makers. He scored 340 for Bombay against Bengal at Bombay in the 1981-82 season. Gavaskar batted for about eight hours and hit 46 fours and two sixes.

In the 1986-87 season. Abdul Azeem became the first Hyderabadi batsman to score over 300 runs. He batted for almost 10 hours to score 303 against Tamil Nadu at Hyderabad.

In the match against Goa in 1988-89 season at Panjim, Woorkeri Raman and Arjan Kripal Singh made triple centuries in the same match. It was a world record with two batsmen of the same side recording triple centuries in the same match. Raman made the first triple century for Tamil Nadu by scoring 313 which contained 31 fours in a stay of 575 minutes at the wicket. Later in the innings Arjan Kripal became the ninth triple centurion of the championship. Kripal's unbeaten 302 came off 400 balls with 20 fours in 560 minutes.

Sanjay Manjrekar was the 10th batsman to score a triple century in Ranji Trophy. He achieved this feat when he scored 377 for Bombay against Hyderabad at Bombay in the 1990-91 season. Manjrekar batted over 11 hours for his 377 runs, the highest individual score for Bombay and the second highest in Ranji Trophy after Nimbalkar's 443 not out.

The 11th member of the elite club of triple century makers in Ranji Trophy was Hyderabad's Maruti Venkat Sridhar, who scored 366 against Andhra Pradesh at Secunderabad in 1993-94. He batted for 699 minutes, faced 523 balls and hit 37 fours and five sixes.

Delhi's Raman Lamba became the 12th batsman to score a triple century in Ranji Trophy. He achieved this feat when he scored 312 against Himachal Pradesh at Delhi in 1994-95. Lamba batted 567 minutes, faced 392 balls and hit 25 fours and two sixes in his knock.

Bombay's Wasim Jaffer was the 13th batsman to score a triple century. Jaffer achieved this feat when he scored an unbeaten 314 against Saurashtra at Rajkot in 1996-97 season. He batted 680 minutes, faced 501 balls and hit 47 fours. He now holds the record of scoring a triple century in first class cricket in the feast matches from debut. Wasim made this triple century in his only second first class match. The previous record holder, Bill Ponsford had scored a 429 for Victoria against Tasmania at Melbourne in 1922-23 in his third first class match. At 18 years and 266 days. Jaffer was the youngest Indian batsman to score a triple century.

Vangipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman became the 14th batsman in the history of Ranji Trophy to score a triple century. He achieved this feat when he scored an unbeaten 301 in Hyderabad's only innings against Bihar at Jamshedpur in 1997-98. Laxman's superlative knock came after 10 hours and 15 minutes vigil at the wicket. He faced 434 balls and hit 28 fours.

The 15th batsman to enter the elite club of triple century makers was Devang Gandhi of Bengal. He achieved this feat by scoring 323 runs against Assam at Guwahati in the 1998-99 season.

Pankaj Dharmani became the 16th batsman in the history of Ranji Trophy to score a triple century. He achieved this feat when he scored an unbeaten 305 in Punjab's only innings against Jammu and Kashmir in the North Zone Ranji Trophy league match at Ludhiana in the 1999-2000 season. Dharamani batted for 601 minutes, faced 479 balls, hit two sixes and 30 boundaries. It was the first triple century by a Punjab batsman in the National Championship.

Triple century makers in Ranji Trophy:

Score Batsman Opponent Venue Season
443* B.B.Nimbalkar (Maharashtra) Kathiawar Poona 1948-49
377 S.V. Manjrekar (Bombay) Hyderabad Bombay 1990-91
366 M.V. Sridhar (Hyderabad) Andhra Secunderabad 1993-94
359* V.M. Merchant (Bombay) Maharashtra Bombay 1943-44
353 V.V.S. Laxman (Hyderabad) Karnataka Bangalore 1999-00
340 S.M. Gavaskar (Bombay) Bengal Bombay 1981-82
323 D.J. Gandhi (Bengal) Assam Maligaon 1998-99
323 A.L. Wadekar (Bombay) Mysore Bombay 1966-67
319 Gul Mohammed (Baroda) Holkar Baroda 1946-47
316* V.S. Hazare (Maharashtra) Baroda Poona 1939-40
314* Wasim Jaffer (Bombay) Saurashtra Rajkot 1996-97
313 W.V. Raman (Tamil Nadu) Goa Panjim 1988-89
312 Raman Lamba (Delhi) Himachal Delhi 1994-95
305 Pankaj Dharmani (Punjab) J & K Ludhiana 1999-00
303* Abdul Azim (Hyderabad) Tamil Nadu Hyderabad 1986-87
302* Arjan Kripal Singh (Tamil Nadu) Goa Panjim 1988-89
301* V.V.S. Laxman (Hyderabad) Bihar Jamshedpur 1997-98

* Denotes not out
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Make cricket gambling legal
By Anisha Sodhi

It is not just cricket any more. The sport that moves the nation suddenly seems to be losing all its charm.

Disillusioned fans and a shocked cricketing world are slowly coming to terms with the recent accusations of match-fixing against South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje — who has admitted to being “dishonest” — and four teammates by the Delhi Police.

While sports enthusiasts debate the future of cricket, there are many who think that betting on cricket should be legalised in India. One view is that legalised betting would discourage match-fixers by pulling gambling out from behind closed doors and bringing it in front of the public eye.

In that case, the odds will go up and down according to what happens in the match. If there is a sudden fluctuation, suspicion about whether someone is fixing the game will arise at once.

Also, betting on a much larger scale may give bookmakers less of a motive to try and fix matches. Encouraging bookmakers to go public will also give spectators, law enforcers, the government and the cricketing world an idea of the volume of money that is changing hands.

In Australia and England, betting on sport is all part of the game. Bookmakers like Ladbrooks or William Hill in England are reputed and popular. On cricket grounds like Lord’s in London, these gambling firms are allowed to set up shop as the match proceeds.

Peter Hutton, head of production of Transworld International which does sports coverage, speaks about a similar trend in England. “When odds suddenly change across the country, a possible scam immediately becomes public knowledge. This is what happened in some snooker cases in England where an outcry from punters led to investigations of some players who had lost games, before which, their odds had fallen dramatically.”

Even Manoj Prabhakar, one of the first Indian cricket players to claim he was offered money to throw a match, is in favour of legalising betting. “However, cricket players themselves should never be allowed to partake in this,” he says.

At present, the only legal form of gambling in India is at horse races. State governments charge tax and gains substantial revenue from such betting. Bookmakers or bookies, as they are more popularly known, at the Delhi Race Course, for instance, give 10 per cent of their earnings to the Delhi government. There are 17 bookmakers here, and they are all registered with the Delhi Turf Club.

Shammi Raj Kapoor, one of the leading bookies at the Delhi races, says, “I would be keen to open shop at Ferozeshah Kotla (the cricket stadium in Delhi) if given the chance. The government and public would gain a lot if cricket betting was legalised. The time for this has come. With more bookmakers in the game there would definitely be less chance of match-fixing.”

Narpat Singh, a Delhi Turf Club race horse trainer, points out that when betting is legal it can be controlled. “In racing too, there are cases when horses are disturbed during the race or pulled by jockeys. But if the result is suspect, especially in relation to the bookies odds, we can object and an immediate enquiry follows. Betting out in the open is, therefore, so much healthier,” he says.

Hutton describes how betting need not be viewed as something negative. He says, “Betting can be fun, if controlled — adding to the sporting experience rather than taking away from it. It is part of human nature and part of the joy of being a sports fan. The joy where everyone thinks they know what will happen next but no one can control the glorious uncertainty of it.”

Indian spin bowler Anil Kumble refused to comment on the match-fixing scandal. Even as most other current players share his silence, the Delhi Police says the idea of legalising betting is absurd.

“I fail to understand how you think legalising betting will help. Those who want to fix matches will continue to try and do so,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Amod Kanth said.

— India Abroad News Service
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SPORT MAIL

Parnita, Vandana ‘not dropped’

PLEASE refer to the report ‘‘Parnita and Vandana Axed’’. No national team had been selected until the completion of the trials in which Parnita and Vandana did not participate. Hence there was no question of them being ‘‘dropped’’.

Because none of the six top ranked players met the criteria laid down as a benchmark by the Indian Golf Union Ladies Section, the council had initially considered not sending a team for international participation. However, later in February this was reconsidered after various appeals from the players had been sent. This was reconsidered and it was decided by our selection committee that trials must be held to determine the team. The selection committee decided that Ms Irina Brar be exempted from these trials being a junior and number one golfer on the order of merit. The Indian Golf Union Ladies Selection Committee comprised representatives from the East, South, West and North Zones. So there is no question of bias for any player. Five out of six players were called to participate in the trials which were mandatory.

Parnita Garewal was contacted in spite of her telephone being out of order. Every effort was made to inform her to participate in the trials but she sent a fax stating she was unable to take any time off before her exams scheduled for April 2. She made it very clear that she would not be available for the trials or the coaching camp scheduled for April. She was asked to reconsider her decision and thereafter no more was heard from her. (However although her exams were still pending she participated in a non-categorised three-day ladies golf event held at Chandigarh Golf Club from March 29 to 31, prior to the start of her very important examination.

Ms Vandana Agarwal cited medical reasons for not participating in the trials, informing the chairperson that the doctor had advised her one week’s rest during the trials which were scheduled from March 9 to 12, and prevented her from travelling to Delhi. She too was contacted and urged to participate. No further information was received from her. However, within five days during that particular week she travelled to Delhi to play in the Indian Open Pro-Am on March 13.

Informed of these two players expressing their intention not to participate in the trials, the selection committee had further consultations, after which it was decided that the trials being mandatory must proceed on schedule. The two players were informed accordingly and their names were included in the draw.

Delhi was selected as the venue because four of the players were from North zone and only one player was from the East zone. The Delhi Golf Club had to be selected as the Classic, DLF and the Noida Golf Club were unavailable. In fact it was not an easy job to procure the Delhi Golf Club for March 11 and 12 which was weekend as it is one of the most utilised golf courses in the country. It must be known that Vandana Agarwal is a member of the Delhi Golf Club and it is a known fact that the Delhi Golf Course is the venue for the prestigious Northern India Ladies Golf Championship annually. Numerous coaching camps have been held on this course, making it in fact the most familiar course for all the players concerned. Neither Parnita Garewal nor Vandana Agarwal showed up for the trials which proceeded according to schedule. According to the scores Anjali Chopra and Shalini Malik were selected for the team and Shruti Khanna was the first reserve.

Champika Sayal
(Chairperson Indian Golf Union Ladies Section)
New Delhi

Cronje affair

The problem of match-fixing has assumed alarming proportions all over the world. The Hansie Cronje episode has not only hurt the sentiments of millions of cricket fans but has also vitiated the spirit of the game. Not only is the credibility of the Indian team at stake but also eyebrows are being raised over Pakistan’s win in the final. Only a thorough probe will reveal the truth and the culprits must be brought to book.

Manmeet Singh
PAU Ludhiana

Hockey victory

It was really pleasing to see the Indian hockey team winning the Four-Nation Tournament in Australia. They have improved their game a lot. But this victory is also due to the return of some senior players in the team, who were ignored and badly treated after the Asiad by the IHF. To get better results, players must be given better facilities.

Balwant Guleria
Chandigarh

II

Kudos to the Indian hockey team for winning the four-nation hockey title. After a disappointing year, the Indian Olympic campaign got a shot in the arm when our team defeated Germany in the final. It was due to Pillay’s brilliant performance that India won the trophy. Once again congratulations to Ramandeep’s team.

Jivesh Mittal
Bathinda

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