SPORTS TRIBUNE Saturday, December 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India
 


ĎOn current form, Lara is better than Sachiní
Qaiser Mohammad Ali
I
tís the eternal debate on who is a "better "batsman - Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara? On current form, says former England captain David Gower, his vote would go to the West Indian for his exploits during the recently concluded Test series in Sri Lanka.

The changing face of hockey
Ramu Sharma
O
ne of the conclusions drawn in the International Hockey Federationís rule book pertains to the feeling in certain quarters that it would be wise not to change our game very much and perhaps not at all. It has a long tradition which we must safeguard. It also projects the view that we must respond to a society which is changing fast, which attaches high importance to achievements in sport and in which the media is increasingly influential.

Andhra Pradesh shuttlers proved they are best
Gursharan Singh
L
et me start by congratulating the organisers of the badminton event in the National Games for arranging every thing in perfect style. The venue of the game (Hans Raj Stadium, Jalandhar) was made ready for the event well before the start of the Games, technical aspects were well looked after, the umpiring was excellent and no one protested against the line judges.


 
  • Football lacks infrastructure
  • Sachin innocent
  • Cricket coach
  • Punjabís triumph
 
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ĎOn current form, Lara is better than Sachiní
Qaiser Mohammad Ali

Itís the eternal debate on who is a "better "batsman - Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara?

On current form, says former England captain David Gower, his vote would go to the West Indian for his exploits during the recently concluded Test series in Sri Lanka.

Lara scored 688 runs in the three-Test series, which the West Indies lost 0-3.

"These things (comparisons) fluctuate. The way Lara played in Sri Lanka, which was one man against 11, has made that issue very contentious," Gower, who is in India as a television commentator for the ongoing Test series against England, said.

"I think Lara at his best is better than Sachin at his best, though both are wonderful players," he said, wishing it were a judgment he did not have to pass.

Asked if he was being impartial, since both he and Lara were left-handers, Gower said: "It would be tempting for a left-hander to side with a left-hander, but it is purely based on current form."

Tendulkar has "awesome talent" and both he and Lara are wonderful to watch, Gower said. "Apart from the right and left hand thing, their styles are different. They posses a range of strokes and have a good temperament," he explained.

Gower, however, conceded that Lara had seen "more ups and downs" while "over his career, Sachin has probably been more consistent. One difference that I can point out is that Lara has made the bigger scores."

Gower felt that the "really, really big scores" have eluded Tendulkar thus far. "If I were him, I would be looking to add that to my record. I would be very envious of this talent. I wish I had such talent myself. I will enjoy watching him score lots of runs in this series."

He also put into perspective Tendulkarís lack of many match-winning knocks, in spite of some heroic efforts with the bat. "Well, you can twist all that around if you want to, but I always thought winning or losing was a team thing," he explained.

Citing the West Indiesís humiliating defeat to Sri Lanka recently, Gower asked: "Are you going to blame Brian for that? No, you will blame the other 10 who failed. So if India, despite having a strong batting lineup with (Rahul) Dravid, (Saurav) Ganguly and (V.V.S.) Laxman has a problem, it is not Sachinís problem, it is Indiaís."

On the code of conduct laid down by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for players and officials, Gower said it could not be enforced without the help of the umpires and captains. "Umpires have the potential to control the game - that was always their role. If necessary, they must talk to the captains," he felt.

Explaining further, the former Leicestershire and Hampshire batsman said: "To make the code of conduct to work, it needs the captains and players to understand that the code is there for a reason, which is that the game needs to have a standard of behaviour."

He advocated that whatever action is taken under the code should be in conjunction with the umpires. "The danger is when the match referee decides to do something without consulting the umpires," he said.

He pointed out that a match referee sits about 150-200 yards away from the scene of action and may not necessarily be aware of all the nuances of what was happening on the field.

So how does Gower view match referee Mike Dennessís decision to penalize six Indians in the drawn second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth recently? "I was not there. But from what I hear, he didnít consult the umpires," Gower said.

He was referring to Tendulkar being penalised for allegedly tampering with the ball, though the umpires never saw this happening nor reported the act to Denness. Tendulkar was handed a suspended one-Test ban and fined 75 per cent of his match fees.

"I am sure he (Denness) was working in all honesty. Letís remember that the ICC is keen to see referees take action rather than let things go. In the last few years, players have been pushing the limits too far," Gower felt.

Gower is all for an effective governing body. "ICC should be seen to be strong because the game needs an independent body with strength - a body that acts decisively and quickly - as, like all things, you want no bias (in its rulings)," he explained, and wanted the member countries to cooperate. "The most important thing is that the principle of authority be respected."

The affable Gower also felt that a bit of light banter on the field would be good for the game. "There will be moments of tension, which will be good to watch, but everyone must realise when things go too far" and thatís where a bit of banter could ease the tension, he opined. ó IANS
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The changing face of hockey
Ramu Sharma

One of the conclusions drawn in the International Hockey Federationís rule book pertains to the feeling in certain quarters that it would be wise not to change our game very much and perhaps not at all. It has a long tradition which we must safeguard. It also projects the view that we must respond to a society which is changing fast, which attaches high importance to achievements in sport and in which the media is increasingly influential.

These conclusions will have some meaning if the changes being brought about in the game do not interfere with tradition and at the same time keeps abreast of the requirements of time. Unfortunately, some of the changes brought about and some which are in the pipeline have not and will not help either the players nor the umpires.

The idea of introducing flexibility in the game is obviously to make it simpler, faster and more exciting to watch, both by the spectators in the stands and television viewers. With the introduction of rolling substitution, elimination of off-side and throw-in and some of the unnecessary irritants, the interference by the umpires has been reduced, thereby making the game faster. At the same time the incentive for more goals by removing off-side has not really worked. Teams still find goalscoring difficult.

These rules have, by and large, not really affected the free flow of the game. But the latest changes in store for the game of hockey needs to be studied. The Rules Board have asked federations to experiment with them this year before discussion and implementation. One of the new rules pertain to the widening of the scoring area. Players can now score from within the 23-metres mark. The other rule, a rather awkward task for the umpires, is the stipulation restricting the number of defenders within 23 metres area to eight inclusive of the goalkeeper.

These rules were applied in the Nehru Hockey Tournament and reportedly also in the MCC Tournament held in Chennai earlier. Frankly these two rules, meant for implementation later, will never stand scrutiny. By extending the scope of scoring from the Dee to from within 23 metres, the whole complexion of the game has changed. The teams will tend to become more defensive and the free flow of the game will be effected. In fact midfield play, which is an art and the essence of good hockey, will totally disappear.

What the Rules Board appear to have also overlooked is its aim of allowing for more goals may not work at all. A specialised job, goalkeeping has now become a science of sorts with the man under the bar armed will all the protective gadgets fully geared to meet the challenge. It is quite often difficult to beat him from within the circle. How can the Rules Board think about escaping his attention from a larger area? It does not make sense.

The International Hockey Federation must discuss this newly devised liberty to ensure more goals with all its constituents instead of rushing it through. The IHF too would be advised to discuss it with the players and umpires in India. The IHF should also take the umpires into confidence regarding the extra burden of counting the number of defenders in the 23 metres each time there is a raid. How can an umpire keep up with the ball in a fast game like hockey and at the same time keep counting the number of players in a particular range? How many things is an umpires supposed to keep his eye on? There has to be some other way of determining this!

Changes are a part of life and hockey too much go through this phase but not if it means changing the game altogether. The experimental rules now in practice need a rethink. The IHF and the FIH must allow for a full debate before making it a law. Hockey as it was played and enjoyed in the fifties and sixties is now totally different. It is just not the same game.
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Andhra Pradesh shuttlers proved they are best
Gursharan Singh

Let me start by congratulating the organisers of the badminton event in the National Games for arranging every thing in perfect style. The venue of the game (Hans Raj Stadium, Jalandhar) was made ready for the event well before the start of the Games, technical aspects were well looked after, the umpiring was excellent and no one protested against the line judges.

Andhra Pradesh badminton players once again proved that they are the best in the game by winning all the gold medals at stake in the individual events. In the team events they participated in the womenís section only and won the gold medal while they did not participate in the menís section as their team had failed to qualify in the zonal championship.

The system adopted by the BAI to select teams for the National Games needs to be changed as it came under heavy fire during the Games and there is a need to do something about it immediately. Andhra Pradesh menís team was not participating as it did not reach the final of the inter-state zonal championship. Not that they were not good enough to reach the finals but the players who could have helped Andhra to win play for their employers and are not allowed to play in inter-state championship Second-ranked Andhra shuttlers played in the inter-zone championships and as a result, failing to reach the finals. However, the players are allowed to play for their respective states in the National Games. I would suggest that the BAI should either organise a tournament, before the nationals, to select the teams to participate in the National Games or evolve some other formula so that the best players are able to take part in National Games.

Lovers of the game saw some of the finest badminton at Hans Raj Stadium. The spectators well remember for a long time the menís doubles final between Andhra Pradeshís Pullela Gopi Chand/Chetan Anand and Jaseel P. Ismail/Jaison Xavier of Kerala. Ismail and Xavier are the national doubles champions but they were defeated by Gopi and Chetan, who are not even considered a doubles pair, as they usually donít play doubles matches. It was the sheer determination which saw Gopi and Chetan get the better of the top doubles pair of the country. Service changed hands a number of times and the result was possible in the fifth game. Early in the semifinals, the winners had defeated another top pair of Vijaydeep Singh (Punjab) and Marcose Bristow (Kerala).

There was no match for Pullela Gopi Chand in the single, except some minor problems created by Sachin Ratti of Punjab. Sachin took the lead in all the three games but the maestro overtook him every time by throwing the shuttle either near the net or to Sachinís back hand. Sachin needs to work on his back hand as his tosses never reach the second line and this proves very costly for him. Sachin is still young and is willing to put in hard work. All he needs is a coach who can toughen him up mentally and work on his weak points. Arvind Bhatt of Gujarat looked a player to watch as he impressed every one with his athleticism and polish court craft.

In the womenís section there was hardly any new talent visible.

Punjab performed well, winning three bronze medals in the team events menís singles and doubles. Punjab players can do much better if they plan their games under an expertís eye and work hard to remove their weak points would also add that Punjab players need to be given incentives. A gold, silver or bronze medal winning Kerala player gets Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively. How about introducing such rewards for players of Punjab as well.
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Football lacks infrastructure

Apropos the article "Football biggest hit at Games" (The Tribune, December 8) it is indeed remarkable that despite the media hype over cricket, soccer continues to be popular in the state. Both the semifinals and the final in the 31st National Games were watched by the capacity crowds. Punjab once again proved their mettle by winning the football gold and silver in the menís and womenís section respectively. Despite its popularity and appeal, football lacks proper infrastructure in Punjab. There is not even a single exclusive football stadium to cater to the urgent requirements of clubs and players. Punjab is bereft of any major soccer tournament. A football stadium of international standards is the need of the hour, which should also house a state-level football academy. Such a stadium will also enable the Punjab Football Association to hold important domestic and international matches which will provide impetus to this game which is long overdue.

Gurjit S. Jaidka
Chandigarh

Sachin innocent

As a cricket lover, I have been viewing cricket matches in South Africa. In my opinion, nothing wrong has been done by the Indian players in the second Test to merit the punishment meted out to them. The quarrel over harshness of punishment is misplaced as even a mild one was uncalled for. Instances were repeatedly referred to where other players were Ďspoken toí or let off scot-free. The demand in respect of Sehwag alone was not at all understandable. Sachin was absolutely innocent.

C.N. Babu
Jalandhar

II

For a man who is a legend, the ugly episode should be a learning lesson. Keeping apart the question of the same standards not being adopted in respect of players of different nationalities, why should Sachin Tendulkar even want to be compared to the rest? He is far above the rest in his skill, attitude and as a person. Remember he is the same guy who, after his great personal loss during the World Cup, came back in a couple of days, overcame his emotions, and achieved yet another wonderful milestone. Such a strong man should always keep in mind the small rules of the game like cleaning the ball on a rain-affected muddy ground. He should make it a point to do all this so that no small man in the hunt for publicity may again target him.

Anant Dhupar
Shimla

Cricket coach

I fail to understand why the BCCI is availing the services of coach John Wright and physio Andrew Leipus. India has produced so many cricketers and renowned doctors who can easily fulfil the requirement of the Indian cricket team. The BCCI should give preference to Indian cricketers while appointing coaches. Are we not able to locate suitable cricketers who have rendered valuable service to the game? Why in the BCCI shying away from deputing former Indian cricketers as coaches? The board has spent nearly Rs 1.40 crore on John Wright.

Suman Chopra
Bathinda

Punjabís triumph

Three cheers to Punjab for hitting the jackpot in the National Games. By winning the maximum number of medals, Punjabis proved that they are always winners, whether on the playground or in the battle ground. The National Games, once known as Indian Olympics, were held in Punjab after a long gap of 45 years. The Punjab players captured medals almost in each game barring equestrian events. Sportsmen of Punjab are par excellence and if proper facilities are provided to them, they will win medals in the international arenas also.

H.S. Dimple
Jagraon
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