|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, June 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
Commonwealth Games: the ‘hosting’ bug bites again
SO India has officially registered its bid to host the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010. Former Miss World, Diana Hayden presented India’s bid in London at a special ceremony during the last week of May. According to reports, the entire exercise was "very professional" and well received.
Ban instant cricket at junior level
Games: the ‘hosting’
SO India has officially registered its bid to host the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010. Former Miss World, Diana Hayden presented India’s bid in London at a special ceremony during the last week of May. According to reports, the entire exercise was "very professional" and well received. So if everything goes well and the technical evaluation fetches the green signal, India may well beat Hamilton (Canada), the only other candidate, for the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
The whole process of being able to get the government signal, Congress party leader’s blessings and the overall support for this project was something of an achievement and the IOA and the government deserve all praise. But some doubts need to be cleared.
Where was the need to bid for the Commonwealth Games and if at all it had to be done why pick Delhi? Is the city fit enough to host such a major multi-sport extravaganza? From the time after Independence Indian sports authorities appeared to be frequently bitten by the ‘hosting’ bug as if organising an international event is something of an achievement. Or perhaps it is the prestige involved.
But somewhere down the line the government and the sports authorities seem to have overlooked a very simple fact. India has no sports culture and its overall standards, with rare exceptions, are at the most still in the nascent stage. A country bidding to host a major international event must first built up its own image in the sport concerned. That has never been done as far as India is concerned. One must of course make an exception of the Asian Games, a multi-event show which India can rightly claimed to be a pioneer. But then the whole political situation was different when the first Asian Games were staged in New Delhi in 1951. India was newly independent and other Asian countries were still to get over the shackles of colonialism or in the case of Japan, of the after effects of a disastrous attempt to earn an identity. The first Asian Games was something of a political achievement. But things have changed since then and India are nowhere even in the Asian continent as far as the general standards go. But still sometimes medals do fall their laps and the country has produced a number of heroes, particularly on the track and field.
But for all India’s contribution, the hosting of Asian Games does not remain India’s prerogative anymore. At the last count, it could not even match Qatar’s bid. And mind you unlike India, Qatar will also have to import the public to watch the Games. But India seems determined to continue bidding for international events. It has a background of having successfully staged three World Championships and other regional tournaments in table tennis, a sport where it hardly counts on the world’s stage. So why not be more ambitious and stage the Olympics (the Prime Minister appeared to be all for it at the end of the National Games in Hyderabad) of failing that, the Commonwealth Games.
India vis-a-vis Commonwealth Games is a strange relationship. Young Indian wrestlers, the weightlifters in the substandard zone competition and shooters, have boosted the medals tally somewhat. But in the basic disciplines like athletics and swimming, India is nowhere. There have been the occasional athlete or the boxer who has stood on the victory podium but that is not enough to give credibility to our standards.
The itch to hold such big events could be explained but scratching it is a costly procedure. The Indian government spent in crores while sending king-sized delegations to bid for the Asian Games. And according to report, the cost of bidding for the Commonwealth Games is also likely to be king-sized, in crores, the actual amount known only after the event managers send their bill from London.
And finally why inflict the Games on Delhi. The capital has shown scant regard for the facilities it has. Last year the facilities built for the Asian Games were revamped with an extra hockey turf added in the National Stadium. The reason for this cleaning up was the Afro-Asian Games, thrice postponed, finally cancelled and now reportedly resurrected only to be shifted to Hyderabad.
The money which will now
be spent again to impress the technical committee of the Commonwealth
Games in August this year can easily be used to clean up the garbage
from the dumps and remove stray cattle which add to the traffic snarls
of the capital. According to reports the government does not have money
to buy trucks to clear the garbage dumps in the capital. It, however,
appears to have enough money to spend on bidding for international
sports events! What priorities?
Ban instant cricket at junior level
DURING one of my routine morning walks, I settled down to watch a bunch of enthusiastic kids playing a friendly game of cricket. One of the openers, unable to come to terms with the exaggerated swing of the bowler, promptly decided to dance down and go for a wild slog. He ended up joining me at the sidelines.
Unlike many, I believe that the boy (later I came to know he was an under-15 state player) is not to blame for his shot selection. The influx of one-day cricket has reached deep down. The amount of one-day cricket played at various levels is mind-boggling. The twin-innings format is virtually non-existent. Of the tournaments I have seen, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the organisers are just bothered about finishing off the tournament, economically and within the shortest period of time. The players’ interests are best kept aside while conducting these one-day tournaments.
There has to be a sense of urgency in revamping the entire system to see some ‘real cricket’ being played. You can label me as a purist — in fact I would be proud to wear that tag but I have always believed that a good "days" player can be a sound one-day player.
Precisely why, I believe that junior cricket, right till the under-17 and under-19 stage should be played strictly on "days" format. It more than makes up for a solid foundation, which will stand good for a budding cricketer. How often have we seen a team not lasting the entire 50 overs or not knowing how to tackle favourable bowling conditions. How many times, defending low scores, the bowlers are unable to dismiss the opposition under the target? Why is it that despite such enormous talent reserves we cannot find a proper leg-spinner in place of the ageing Anil Kumble.
I would link the answers to all these questions to lack of "days" culture in India. Had, the boys been served with "days" cricket in the initial stages, the bowlers would have learnt to flight the ball while going for wickets rather than bowling flatter and straight for fear of getting hit as in one-day cricket. The seamers would have preferred to keep the ball up to the batsman and allowed it to swing rather than settling for back of length stuff. The batsmen would have known that runs could still come by playing in the ‘V’.
Let me put my point in a different way. In mathematics, why do we study differentiation first and then integration ? Why do we learn to make journal entries first before making a balance sheet in accounting? Why do we learn the laws of physics, before solving a problem? Because, it will be easy to comprehend and use if learnt in that order. Similarly, if a cricketer has a good technique by virtue of playing "days" cricket, he can easily survive in slam-bang cricket.
The boys should know the importance of their wicket, how it feels to stay at the wicket for long periods, build concentration and combine aggressive play with stout defence. That thinking quality in a player can be developed only in the longer version. Let youngsters implore the various permutations to understand the batsman and work him out. Only when they play this format, will they know it’s advantages.
It’s our duty to give the best to the young generation, place them on a sound platform to achieve higher echelons in the game. "Days" cricket will add volumes to a player’s calibre and then one-day cricket, with all it’s improvisation, will be a cakewalk. So let’s join hands and call for a blanket ban on one-day tournaments in junior-age groups.
Hats off to Windies
HATS off to the West Indies cricket team for their excellent performance against Australia in Test matches and one dayers. Though they lost the Test series 1-3 and ODI series 3-4, they won accolades for stopping the Aussie juggernaut. In the last Test match West Indies not only saved themselves from a humiliating sweep but also made a record total of 417. In the one-dayers they fought back after losing the first four matches to win the last three. Under the captaincy of Brian Lara the young West Indies team has really boosted the morale of other teams. West Indies have restored charm to the game after Australia dominated the scene for almost six months.
NARESH POPLI, Chandigarh
Brian Lara, the captain of West Indies cricket team and his team-mates deserve heartiest congratulations for winning the three one day matches against Australia. The last match was rather one-sided. Credit goes to Lara and Hinds for their remarkable batting. Hinds cracked two consecutive hundreds and Lara made 75 with three successive sixes.
SUBHASH C. TANEJA, Rohtak
We Indians never do anything in small measure. When our cricket team lost to Australia and performed badly against Kenya, we went to the extent of blackening Kaif’s house and burning the effigies of our cricket heroes. But a few powerful strokes in subsequent matches changed our attitude dramatically. Every advertisement on TV featured cricket. Children displayed strong taste and appreciation of the game. Even grandmothers with no knowledge of cricket displayed a know-all demeanour. In fact cricket has ceased to be a mere game for Indians. It has become a carnival. However, we should exercise restraint in our outpourings.
SHALINI GOYAL, Faridkot