Golfer Irina Brar down but not out
No Punjab player in Indian women’s hockey team
Waugh humane to the core
IN THE NEWS
Golfer Irina Brar down but not out
SHE was going strong. She was the country’s reigning golf queen. Conquering the national crown on her 16th birthday, she went on to repeat the feat two more years, holding her head firmly on young shoulders. But then it happened. In November, 2002, her lower back caved in. Yes, she fractured her lowest vertebra and was out of the course.
This girl was none other than Chandigarh’s golf icon, Irina Brar. The Tribune team button-holed Irina at her Sector 21 residence. She was happy to share her experiences. Ms Madhu Brar, Irina’s mother, welcomed us while apologising for the mess because of the construction activity going on.
Wearing a Boston Brace in the lower back, the BA Part II student of the local MCM DAV College is determined to bounce back into the national golf circuit. She showed her class when she returned to the course in November last year for the Punjab Ladies Open Amateur Golf Championship in Chandigarh. Competing with top lady golfers of the country, Irina struck a bright patch despite a nagging lower back pain to clinch the title by a big margin. Her nearest rival was Shruti Khanna of Delhi who fell 12 strokes behind. This brief appearance after an 11-month forced hibernation was a clear indication that she was still in perfect form. Egged on by the performance, Irina proceeded to Delhi for the Northern India Ladies Open. But during the practice round the pain became unbearable. In no time she was under the watchful eyes of Dr Yash Gulati at Apollo Hospital. The X-rays have shown a slight crack in the lowest vertebra. She cannot sit or stand for more than half an hour. She is regular for her physio-therapy at the PGI.
But during her Saturday date with The Tribune, Irina was her usual self. She was up and about. And with cameraman Manoj Mahajan clicking away she was at her smiling best. She is determined to get back. After-all India’s ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar faces a similar problem. And with the doctors hopeful of a recovery soon, she should be back on the course after the examinations.
The smile on her face vanished as she recalled the agonising moments in November, 2002. It all started with knee pain during the practice round on November 11. "But like a dodo I ignored the early warning". The next four days saw her going through excruciating pain in the lower back. She played all four rounds taking heavy doses of pain-killers, all the time giving support to her lower back.
Back in Chandigarh she visited the PGI. The X-rays revealed stress fracture in the lower back. This was the result of the heavy stress on the bones during the formative years from 12 years to 18 years. This was the period she had clinched the titles — first the subjunior, then the junior and finally the Ladies Open.
Dr Rai of the PGI and Dr Ravinder Chadha, former physio-therapist of the Indian cricket team, advised her bed rest for three months. "And, no golf for the time being please".These words coming from Dr Chadha sounded like a "death knell". She could not bear it any longer. She broke down. "After all I was being asked to ignore my first love", said Irina. Then slowly but steadily the smile returned to her face.
But Irina’s sponsors, IOC, have stood by her. She continues to hold the post of Sports Officer.
During her forced hibernation, Irina dabbled with modelling. And what is more a Mumbai jewellery outlet chose her as the model for their Rs 1 crore tie studded with 261 diamonds and weighing 2.5 kg.
Twenty-year-old Irina has been good in her studies. In fact, she has been a topper from the very beginning. In Vivek Higher Secondary School she was a topper throughout.
No Punjab player in Indian women’s hockey team
IT is inconceivable to think of an Indian women’s hockey team sans a player from Punjab. Punjab players were the fulcrum of the women’s hockey team till a few years ago. But not any more. The Indian women’s hockey team for the Asia Cup, held in New Delhi did not have a single player from Punjab. Names like Jasjit Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Surinder Kaur may give out a misleading impression, but the truth of the matter is that they are all from Haryana. With Punjab focussing its attention on men’s hockey, the talent source of women’s hockey has virtually dried up in the State.
"It’s ironic that not a single player from Punjab found a place in the Asia Cup squad", bemoaned chief coach Maharaja Kishan Kaushik. Kaushik, the Dronacharya Awardee, was once a ringside observer of the growth of women’s hockey in Punjab, and had played a prominent role in nurturing talent at the national level.
With the senior players stepping down to pave way for new faces, Punjab finds itself excluded from the present scheme of things. The new breed of players mostly belong to the Adivasi-Tribal belt of Jharkhand, with Haryana taking the second position.
There is, however, reason to be optimistic. Kaushik hopes that the women’s hockey academy being established at Jalandhar by former international Rajbir Kaur, in association with former Indian men’s team captain Pargat Singh, will play a catalytic role in creating a new assembly line of players from Punjab.
Punjab’s loss, in a manner of speaking, has been the gain of neighbouring Haryana, which, with a benign sports policy, has been producing players of high standard to emerge as the backbone of the women’s team now. Pritam Thakran (Gurgaon), Mamta Kharab (Rohtak), Suman Bala, Jasjit Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Surinder Kaur are products of a well-created sports setup, which includes liberal incentives and cash rewards for the achievers. The State has established top quality infrastructure for the trainees to learn the basics in a stimulating environment.
The Haryana Government recently disbursed cash awards of Rs 10 lakh each to Suman Bala, Jasjit Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Surinder Kaur for being part of the gold-winning Indian women’s hockey team at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad last year.
Kaushik, who is a Deputy Director of sports, Gurgaon, (Government of Haryana) credits the State’s Commissioner of Sports D S Dhesi with the resurgence of sports, particularly hockey. It was due to his initiative that the State Government loosened the purse strings to lay an astro-turf at the Nehru Stadium (Gurgaon) and a second one at Shahabad (Kurukshetra), which is coming up. Shahabad, in fact, is the hub of women’s hockey and Kaushik disclosed that the State was now toying with the idea of forming a top class team to give Railways a run for their talent.
Kaushik lamented that women’s hockey was now struggling to find its niche due to lack of patronage. Railways is the only institution which employs women hockey players and enjoys unchallenged supremacy. All the players in the Indian team are from Railways. There is no other team in the country which can give a close run to the Railways. Kaushik says this scenario must change for the growth of women’s hockey, and hopes that oil majors like Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Bharat Petroleum would enter the fray to form their own women’s hockey teams to generate more employment opportunities, and stiffen the competition. The oil sector is now pitching for only the men’s hockey teams, but this outlook must change if women’s hockey has to flourish.
The national team solely survives on the help and support extended by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Union Government. The SAI bears the expenses for holding national camps while the government takes care of the teams’ foreign exposure. The Indian Women’s Hockey Federation (IWHF) has not been able to do much on its own due to lack of resources. Its efforts in roping in a sponsor have not yet met with success.
Though India hosted the Asia Cup, the federation has not done much to drum up any kind of publicity. Kaushik had been quietly toiling at the National Stadium to make the girls battle fit to take on tough outfits like China, Korea and Japan, who are all ranked above the hosts.
Waugh humane to the core
STEVE Waugh is an extra-ordinary personality. His contribution to cricket and humanity is even more admirable than Sir Donald Bradman’s. Ruthlessly professional on the field of play, he is exceedingly humane off the ground. His immense liking for the downtrodden children, particularly of the Kolkata home, is an act of nobility.
One of the most durable batsman-captains in world, Waugh does unique things for poor kids graciously and spontaneously. No wonder, his mother adores him and he has equally high respect for her. Anyone, who carries mother’s complete ‘ashirwad’ (blessing), as Kapil Dev carries, is bound to succeed.
Waugh steals time from his otherwise busy schedule and rushed to Kolkata as often as he can. Since he has bid adieu to competitive international cricket, maybe, his visits to that grand Kolkata home would be more frequent. Our super stars, who are even wealthier than the Australian, should take a leaf out of his book and help needy children. It is one thing to say that the proceeds will go to charity but quite another to donate from the hard-earned savings.
One of the most knowledgeable players in the history of cricket, Waugh has gone on record saying that ‘leg bye’ law has no place in laws of the game. How right he has been! The leg bye law is not only redundant but it should be done away with because it provides needless advantage to the batting side. Why should the fielding/be penalised for the run taken or allowed to be taken when the striker was fairly and squarely beaten and was hit on his pads?
A bowler bowls a delivery which baffles the striker. He nudges but he is beaten. His leg or legs intercept the ball, which might have crashed into the stumps. There is, however, an appeal for leg before but he survives it. The ball travels to different corners and runs are taken. What has the batting side done to earn these runs? What wrong fielding side has done to be discredited for these runs?
The law, as Waugh suggests, should be scrapped from the book. If this change is brought about in the laws, maybe, some one day matches will be more exciting. There are quite a few matches which are decided by thin margins.
Waugh has also suggested that a runner should not be allowed to the injured batsman. He says when a bowler is not granted any such facility, why should an injured batsman allowed to have a runner. Cricket legislators have to examine these two suggestions, made by one of the greatest cricketing personalities.
The competitive game is being played for more than 100 years. But shockingly minutes are still being associated with individual batsman. Runs cannot be made of minutes; they can only be made of balls. To be at the crease is one thing, but to face balls is another. To associate runs with partnership is alright but certainly not with an individual batsman.
The batsman may have stayed at the crease for 100 minutes, for example, but he certainly would not have batted all 100 minutes. Maybe, his partner would have faced some balls. To say that he made runs from 100 minutes is totally illogical.
CARLOS Valderrama, the instantly recognisable former Colombian international, is to be honoured with his own collection of wine.
The midfielder with the distinctive Afro-hairstyle is to have a limited edition of 30,000 bottles named after him in a tribute to his intoxicating skills by the Argentine wine house Raices de Agrelo.
"This will enable Colombians to toast his footballing success," said Guillermo Arcani, the company’s president.
Valderrama — a two-time World Cup
veteran and part of the team that performed so poorly in the 1994 finals
in the USA when considered one of the favourites for the title —
announced his retirement last April, saying he wanted to begin a
coaching career. — AFP
We can compare but cannot equate Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar with Sir Don Bradman who scored 29 centuries in 52 Tests. Don Bradman had inborn qualities of sportsmanship. Technically, mentally and habitually he was the fittest man in international cricket. He relinquished international cricket immediately after being bowled out thrice for a duck by Hall, the fastest of fast bowlers of West Indies. Sir Gary Sobers, Vivian Richards (West Indies), Glen Turner (New Zealand), Hanif and Asif Iqbal (Pakistan) were other cricketers of repute. India have also produced three star players — Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar but Bradman was a class apart.
NIRMAL KUMAR, Panchkula
This refers the editorial "Wah Bhai Waugh" (January 7). India floored Australia in the fourth and final Test of the recently concluded four-match Test series but could not go for the kill because of their toothless bowling attack. By the time the Aussies were down by six wickets on the final day, it had become too late to have a sniff of victory. And the gusty guy, who smothered India’s victory bid, was Stephen Rodger Waugh who stayed at the crease for a considerable period of time to stem the rot. Not only that, he also scored a classic 80 runs in his swan-song and saved Australia’s face by engineering a draw. He lived up to his reputation of ‘crisis man’ by batting tenaciously and defiantly in the company of Katich, who hit 77, to keep the sinking Aussie ship afloat. That speaks volumes of his ability.
TARSEM S. BUMRAH, Batala
Quite often India lose a cricket match after reaching the doorstep of victory. The latest in the list was the defeat at Melbourne where India’s last six wickets fell for only 13 runs.
Basically the fault lies with our tail-enders, especially the bowlers, who seem to be scared of the bowlers at the other end. The moment the last established batsman is out, the remaining 4-5 players just walk to the crease and return to the pavilion in a procession.
It is high time that our bowlers, especially spinners, are given some batting practice. Almost every other team has bowlers who can also bat.
BRIG HS SANDHU, Panchkula