SPORTS TRIBUNE Saturday, April 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India

And how the arrogant have fallen
Barney Reid
n less than 10 days — actually in three very bad afternoons — the mighty Australian team, proclaimed by some as world cricket champions, were made to bite the dust. Any side that can win 16 Test matches on a trot must be doing something right.

Delhi Golf Club under siege
K.R. Wadhwaney

The late A.N. Jha, an ICS (Indian Civil Service) officer, was one of the most capable bureaucrats in the country. He was a genuine lover of sports, particularly tennis, cricket and golf. Jha used to say that, in this country, there were handful of people who achieved through their own merit and skill. 

Phillaur shooting range goes hi-tech
Arvind Katyal
anjitgarh Rifle Club, Phillaur, from its humble beginning in 1996 achieved a major breakthrough when its 10-metre shooting range was converted into an all-weather air-conditioned electronically operated trolly system.



And how the arrogant have fallen
Barney Reid

In less than 10 days — actually in three very bad afternoons — the mighty Australian team, proclaimed by some as world cricket champions, were made to bite the dust.

Any side that can win 16 Test matches on a trot must be doing something right. Hostile, accurate and disciplined fast bowlers, sending down ball after ball at torrid pace to cowering batsmen, backed by Shane Warne, supposedly the best leg spinner in the world, gives Australia a most formidable attack.

And there is no better fielding side in the world — the game’s best all-round fielder is batsman Mark Waugh. So when the team reached India in January for a three-Test series, the only question mark for those who dared doubt the superheroes was over their batting, which had displayed a weak underbelly at critical times.

But then the aggressive left-handed batsman Adam Gilchrist, the team reminded itself, had carried the middle order through impossible situations several times during this successful period. India? No sweat.

But 16 consecutive Test wins, no matter how impressive it may sound, must be accepted with some caution. For, 11 of these victories were achieved at home.

Wins at home are dulled by factors such as home-town umpiring decisions plus inside knowledge on how much water has been poured into the pitch before a game. The latter, of course, affects decisions on whether to bat or bowl if the toss is won. Many tosses were won and opponents invited to bat — enough to worry the sceptics.

Away from home, the only sides Australia beat were the comparatively weaker Test playing countries — Zimbabwe and New Zealand.

To be regarded at ‘champions of the world’, series wins in the sub-continent and in South Africa are mandatory. With neither being included in the string of 16, the tag of undisputed world champions’, though close, required a bit more work to make it stick.

It was all right to start counting the resurgence of Australian cricket following the wins against Zimbabwe. But to conveniently forget a loss to lowly Sri Lanka in September and October, 1999, as a temporary aberration stamped the team with a new arrogance.

This arrogance was typified by the sniggering smiles of fast bowler Glen McGrath and the rude sledgings of batsman Ricky Ponting.

The West Indies, under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd and then Viv Richards did prove to be undisputed world champions. They beat all the Test-playing nations both at home and away between the mid-1970s and late 1980s. But they were never arrogant.

In contrast, on the eve of their departure to India, both captain Steve Waugh and McGrath were talking about increasing the tally of wins with a 5-0 drubbing of England at the Ashes encounter in England this summer. India was only talked of in passing — a 3-0 victory over India was preordained.

It didn’t turn out that way, although the Aussies won the first Test easily.

The turning point of the tour was Steve Waugh’s decision during the second Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata to invite the Indians to follow on. Another day and a bit at the crease and 300-odd runs would have given the Indians the impossible task of scoring nearly 600 runs to win or to bat out over five sessions on a deteriorating pitch, to survive.

So what prompted the decision to enforce the follow-on? The self-same arrogance. Why play a five-day Test when one can finish it off in three and spend a couple of days relaxing by the pool? The first Test had been wrapped up in three days, so why not the second. No one could have possibly foreseen the VV Laxman innings of 281. An innings of such magnitude will probably never be seen again. But unfortunately for Australia it did happen.

Several instances of Aussie arrogance have been seen during the past 12 months. The worst and most insulting act of arrogance towards the opposition was, arguably, the blue tinted hair-do sported by Collin Miller in the Test against the West Indies in Sydney in January this year. Would he have come up with that idea had he not been successful in the preceding Tests or if it were the Australians who were losing at that point in the series? It looks doubtful.

Was India the beginning of the end for the Aussies? unlikely — Australia will bounce back, but hopefully with less of the arrogance displayed over the past 12 months.

— Gemini News
Barney Reid played cricket for Sri Lanka. He later played cricket in England and Australia and is now a cricket coach and freelance writer based in Melbourne.



Delhi Golf Club under siege
K.R. Wadhwaney

The late A.N. Jha, an ICS (Indian Civil Service) officer, was one of the most capable bureaucrats in the country. He was a genuine lover of sports, particularly tennis, cricket and golf.

Jha used to say that, in this country, there were handful of people who achieved through their own merit and skill. According to him, the majority of people succeeded in pulling down others through intrigues, cliques and political influence.

How right are his words: The sub-standard bureaucracy in connivance with a few politicians now hell-bent on destroying a fine institution called the Delhi Golf Club.

It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister, who sanctioned the land for the golf club to prosper and progress. Since its inception, the DGC’s contribution has been immense and, if golf is thriving and throbbing in the country, it is because of this club. The DGC has played as much a pioneering role as the Indian Golf Union (IGU).

The DGC management, in the past two or three years, may have erred in bestowing out-of turn membership to a few public-utility officials. This has paved the war for the bureaucracy to interfere. It wants more officials to be accorded out-of-turn membership to use the club in addition to playing a round of golf which now provides social status to the government officials. The bureaucrats in power do not seem to realise that two wrongs never make one right.

According to the DGC officials, the club has the lease until 2100. But there is perhaps no signed document available in the club. The vested interests in the Government say that the club’s lease expired on December 31, 2000, and it was granted another three months until March 31, 2001, as a “grace period”

Some officials have been granted membership under the category of “eminent personalities.” A senior incumbent has secured a stay order from the High Court on the plea that he is more eminent than these officials. More litigations are in the offing. Soon, there will be free for all. The atmosphere of the club is bound to get as much polluted as that of the Delhi Gymkhana, which was at one time the country’s best institution. It is the bureaucrats, who have ruined the Delhi Gymkhana and it will again be Government incumbents, who will spoil the healthy atmosphere of the Delhi Golf Club.

The ship, it is said, is greater than the crew. No individual, no matter how important, is greater than the institution. The constitution and bylaws must be respected. Rules should be adhered to in granting membership. The Government officials should not get precedence over others, who have waited for years to get membership of this prestigious club.

If there is an eminent personality, who should get membership, he is Ajitpal Singh. He captained India with the World Hockey Championship in 1975. He has been denied membership for years while Tom, Dick and Harry have been bestowed membership under the category of “eminent citizen”.

Golf growth

Professional golf has been growing rapidly, thanks to the Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI). The calendar of the PGAI is very strong and varied. The Indian pros are getting enough opportunities to show their potential and skill.

The same cannot be said about amateur golf in the country. It is because the Indian Golf Union of late has been doing precious little for the promotion of amateur golfers. There are internal bickerings which are standing between the IGU and progress.

The Indian team has been sent to take part in the Sri Lanka National Championship. The members of the team have not been officially announced. Why should IGU be so wary of announcing the names of the team?


Phillaur shooting range goes hi-tech
Arvind Katyal

Ranjitgarh Rifle Club, Phillaur, from its humble beginning in 1996 achieved a major breakthrough when its 10-metre shooting range was converted into an all-weather air-conditioned electronically operated trolly system. For incharge of the camp T.S. Dhillon, Director, competitions, it was a dream come true. This was the key demand of shooters for the past two years, who had been thronging the venue to take part in nationals championships and camps. Dhillon, himself an Olympian and on deputation from the CRPF to the Punjab Police, said when ever shooters went abroad, they found it difficult to adjust to the hitech ranges there but now with new range becoming operational things would easier for them.

A galaxy of shooters attended the camp to prepare for the World Cup and another international meet in Munich (Germany) and Milano (Italy) in May.

Anjali Vedpathak, national champion who had made it to last eight at the Sydney Olympics, was impressed by the facilities. Describing it as one of the best in country, she said she had always preferred to attend a camp here as it felt like home.

Jaspal Rana, another Olympian, termed the facilities here as the best. He said the Tughlakabad range was deteriorating and recreational activities were negligible there. Even for a cup of tea they had to depend on a nearby tea vendor, in absence of cafe facilities. Good food, accommodation, range and atmosphere all combine to make a range suitable for shooters, said Rana.

Ved Pathak, who has shot into limelight in centre fire pistol, felt happy after attending camp here. He found shooting at the range very comfortable. Ashok Pandit, an Arjuna awardee, said Indian shooters needed more exposure and good ranges were the only solution.

Saheeba Dhillon, the 1999 national junior champion who stays at Chandigarh, said the lack of proper facilities at Chandigarh usually force here to participate at Phillaur where she could always shoot with increased concentration. It was here that in 1999 she won the national title in junior women which helped her to participate in international competitions in Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.

T.S. Dhillon, who supervised the camp and was in the four-member selection team said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was so impressed by the range that he asked for another such range to be built at Dashmesh Girls School at Badal where a sport training centre in shooting was being run in association with the Sports Authority of India. Mr Badal, in order to give more exposure to shooters of Punjab, agreed to host the next all-India inter-school shooting meet at Badal village.

The national-camp-cum-trials, which began on March 12 ended on April 5 with the last six days devoted to trials in 10m, 25 and 50 m. Other prominent shooters who attended the trials were Meena Kumari, Vivek Singh, Shilpi Singh, Sumo Dixit, Naresh, Poonam Kumar, B.L. Daga, Neeraj Kumar, Mangesh Pawar, Sonia Rana, K. Ganguli and Pemba, among others. S. Chakarvorty, another reputed coach based at Mumbai, was also present there to give tips to trainees.

Jaspal Rana, the ace Indian shooter, asked for more attention in creating infrastructure if the government was serious to promote shooting. He was critical of the policies of the authorities and their not paying attention to different demands of the shooters. He said the Sports Authority of India was spending heavily on shooting but it was not being done in a methodical manner. The Tughlakabad range, near Delhi, has been neglected for all these years and no serious effort was being made to make it at par with the ranges abroad. For optimum performance shooters needed high value ammunition where as the government asks for tenders for procuring material at the lowest rates, forcing the shooters to use inferior ammunition.

Rana, who became a father few months back, said the forthcoming Afro-Asian Games scheduled to be held at the end of this year in New Delhi would give a boost to shooting. But the proposed renovation on ranges would mean that the shooters may not benefit as they would not be able to practice there ahead of the games, he said.

The Phillaur range was adequately serving the shooters and the past two consecutive nationals and national camps were testimony to the fact that shooters also preferred the range. Sponsorship was now coming up in a big way in India and shooting was one of the most sought after sport for getting returns,” Rana said. India stood a good chance to secure an Olympic medal in shooting so the government should pay more attention to promote the sport, he felt. Rana was all praise for young Abhinav Bindra who has won a number of international meets. Although the government was spending on Bindra quite a bit yet it was the financial backing by his family and others which was instrumental in his being able to take part in the meets abroad.

The government must identify and support deserving shooters so that talent may not go waste as after all a sportsperson is a nation’s pride. Rana who has advocated for the just and genuine rights of sportspersons, hoped the future generations could benefit from his efforts.


Injustice to Punjab cricket team

The Punjab cricket team which was undoubtedly the best team in 2000-2001 Ranji Trophy toyed with their rivals in the championship till the semifinal.. Barring one match, this team inflicted innings defeats on all North Zone rivals. Their supremacy in North Zone in one dayers was confirmed in the same grand style. The pre-quarterfinal against Rajasthan was even more one-sided. Punjab pinned Rajasthan within three days. Had last year’s champions Bombay and this year’s best team Punjab not have clashed so early they had a chance of meeting in the final. The BCCI was psychologically not prepared to play more than two Punjab players in any Test match or one dayer, but four Punjab players were retained in the Indian team. Why was Sarandeep not allowed to return to his home team? Similarly if Dinesh Mongia was not expected to be played in the last one dayer, he should have been spared for the Punjab team. By the comparison, Railways were not at par with Punjab, but they were in full strength, whereas Punjab were without their best quartet of Harbhajan, Sarandeep, Mongia and Yuvraj. The result was a victory for the underdogs. The result would have been different if Punjab’s plea for postponement of this important tie would have been accepted.

New Jersey (USA)

Test series

The Indian cricket team has done the country proud by defeating Australia, one of the world’s strongest teams, in the recently concluded Test series. It was the young Harbhajan’s consistent bowling that left the Aussies helpless. He has the makings of a powerful bowler. It is not the ultimate for him yet. I see a lot of cricket in him. I am sure that, with his growing maturity, he will keep his focus and concentrate on the finer nuances of the game. The early success should inspire him to recognise his potential rather than let it go to his head. Best of luck.

Windsor ( Canada)

Memorable series

Australia, after winning the crucial fifth one-day match at Goa, clinched the series 3-2. India were put in a comfortable position by Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid but others could not face the rival bowlers. The Australian chased the target of 265 with determination. Bevan with confidence and intelligent support from Steve Waugh and Harvey was responsible for snatching victory. Had the Indian bowlers been more vigilant and tactful in their last over, the result would have been different. They allowed boundaries to Australian batsmen at critical moments of the match when every single run was important. The fact remains that this series will be remembered for a long time. Sachin achieved the rare distinction of completing 1,000 runs. He also proved to be dependable bowler and completed his 100-wicket haul.


Umpire’s verdict

It has been observed that whenever a batsman challenges the umpire’s decision a penalty is imposed on him by cutting down the match fee or banishing him for one or two matches but there is no provision for imposition of penalty on the umpire for giving a wrong verdict due to negligence. During the final ODI played between India and Australia at Goa on April 6 while Ganguly was going great guns, he was adjudged caught and bowled off McGrath but actually it was a no ball. The ball rose much higher than the batsman’s shoulders. Moreover, Ganguly’s feet were one foot above the ground when he tried to cope with the ball. It means the ball was two feet above his shoulders but the umpire could not judge the ball and gave a wrong decision. Hence the umpire’s wrong decision changed not only the complexion of the last ODI but also the series. Even a school boy would have given a correct decision on such a ball.