ultimate in cricket
Importance of being a manager
‘Indian football needs more TV exposure’
IN THE NEWS
The ultimate in cricket
The age-old ‘Ashes’ contest has lost much of its glamour, appeal and following as England, of late, has not been offering a formidable resistance to Australia, who wear the tag of invincibility. The irony is that even when Australia win, the ‘Ashes’ are lying in virtual permanent custody of England and Wales Cricket Board at Lord’s.
In sharp contrast, The India-Pakistan contest, which began in 1952, is livelier, tougher and fought with greater verve and valour than any other cricket competition anywhere else. This is because the two nations play the game as if it is a matter of life and death.
They associate victory with national honour and defeat with disgrace and dishonour This intense reaction on either side may be understandable for hardcore politicians, who are ‘artists’ in making capital out of victory and defeat. But, sadly, even players, promoters and public are swept away in the tide of frenzy adversely affecting peace and harmony. As a result of abnormal behaviour on either side of border, the sporting contacts have often caused more botheration than happiness.
Pakistan, born out of India in 1947, had several renowned stars who were in peak form. Inside of five years, Pakistan secured affiliation from the International Cricket Council (ICC). This was a record of kinds.
Pakistan with a team blending in experience and youth, undertook an official tour of India in 1952. Vijay Hazare was an automatic choice to lead India. But the Indian board thought that he was too ‘gentlemanly’ and instead asked Lala Amarnath to captain. Amarnath’s opponent was Abdul Kardar. They were colleagues. That series was won by India.
India won the first Test at Delhi by an innings and 70 runs. But Indian batsmen were mesmerised by Fazal Mahmood on a jute mating wicket at Gomati ground (now part of Gomati river) and lost to Pakistan by an innings and 43 runs. India won again at Bombay by 10 wickets.
There were several amusing and nasty incidents during the inaugural series. When Pakistan won at Lucknow, a very busy restaurant reduced its prices to half. Subsequently, when India won at Bombay, another restaurant in Nazirabag provided free meals to all customers.
Since then, 10 more series - total 11 — six in India and five in Pakistan — have been held with some long interruptions on account of border conflicts. Of 47 Tests in 55 years, India have won five to Pakistan’s nine, including the inaugural match for the Asian Cricket Championship at Kolkata. It was one of Pakistan’s greatest victories as they staged a comeback from a virtual ‘hopeless position’.
India undertook their maiden trip to Pakistan in 1955, with Vinod Mankad as captain. The team’s departure was from V.T. (Mumbai) where veterans, like, Vijay Merchant were seen laughing. They had a reason to laugh. The team members were undergoing ‘medical check’ in one compartment of the train. The Indian board’s president then was Maharjkumar of Vizianagaram (Vizzy). Vijay Manjrekar went without any ‘eye-wash’ (of medical check as he joined the team at Dadar. A few others, already in Kolkata, escaped the ordeal of medical examination. Such were the ways of functioning of the Indian board then. The team started the first leg of matches in Dhaka, now a separate country, Bangladesh. All five Tests ended in draws as no team was prepared to take any risk.
In 1960, Pakistan came on their second tour. Again, there was no result in five-Test series. Fazal Mahmood raised a controversy at Kanpur. After the day’s play, he pencil-marked certain areas on pitch. He was suspecting that Vizzy’s men would tamper with the wicket. There was criticism against Fazal’s action but Indian board chose to lie low.
There was a lull of 18 years because guns were firing. Then in 1978, in Pakistan, Bishan Singh Bedi’s India was beaten 0-2 and Bedi lost his crown. India won the next series 2-0 in 1979 when for the first time the word ‘rigging’ was used. Gundappa Vishwanath was deputising for Sunil Gavaskar in the Test at Kolkata. Here Zaheer Abbas allegedly declared Vishwanath winner of coin as there was reportedly heavy quantum of betting on ‘toss’. This was the first time the scandal of betting had figured in cricket as there were a few book-makers who were relatives of some players.
In 1982, Pakistan white-washed India 3-0 and Sunil Gavaskar lost his captaincy. The next series in India in 1983 was resultless. In 1984, the undecided series in Pakistan was cut short owing to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Gavaskar had regained his captaincy. Then Kapil Dev lost the series 0-1 in 1987.
In 1989 some senior players were penalised for alleged indiscipline. K.Srikkanth was the new captain on the tour to Pakistan. In his team was 16-year-old Sachin Tendular. The team returned unscathed. Yet Srikkanth was axed and Azharuddin became the captain.
Another big recess from the cricket series. The series came about in 1999 even after stern warnings by Balasaheb Thackeray. The sordid happenings compelled the authorities to swap two Tests with Chennai hosting the first and Delhi the second.
Chennai unquestionably became the first
centre in crowd discipline and appreciation of finer points of the game.
The Chennai crowd rose spontaneously to applaud Wasim Akram and his men
for translating a lost cause into an unbelievable victory. None, not
even Pakistan’s ardent supporters, could have entertained a hope that
their countrymen would stage a grand comeback in the Test, so badly
placed they were at one point of time.
Importance of being a manager
Choosing a manager for a cricket team on tour is as important as selecting the players. This becomes more significant in view of the delicate nature of the India Pakistan series , when the pitch is Pakistan. Here, the manager does not only need man-mangement skills but also a flair for diplomacy.
The number of boys that providing back-up is on the increase. There is a cricket coach, a fielding coach, a bowling coach, a physiotherapist, a medical officer, a motivator accompanying the team. The role of the Indian cricket manager has been reduced to an ornamental one. During tours, he merely doles out allowances to the players. Earlier, the manager’s work included reading the fine print of playing conditions, making travel arrangements for the team, looking after their stay, overseeing practice sessions before match days and giving speeches at official functions.
Very rarely have men with administrative experience been selected as managers. An exception which readily comes to mind was when, in the early 1990s, the BCCI had asked Ranbir Singh, a former BCCI secretary, to be the manager during a tour of Australia. (It was incidently, current captain Saurav Ganguly's first tour with an Indian team).
The BCCI has always been cautious while picking up managers for Indian teams touring Pakistan. For this job, the BCCI has always looked for the best man for the job, somebody with a good knowledge of cricket and an expert in the art of public speaking— someone who could command the respect of each and every member of the Indian team. The manager of teams to Pakistan was expected to be a good diplomat, always willing to iron out ruffled feathers.
For the first tour to Pakistan, in 1954, which extended from December 1954 to March 1955, the BCCI picked Lala Amarnath, once labelled as India's most fiery captain and a Punjabi to boot. Lala Amarnath got on famously with his hosts. Going to Pakistan was homecoming for Lala, having played a lot of his cricket in Punjab in the pre-Partition days. He also commanded the respect of the Indian captain Vinoo Mankad, one of finest cricketers India has ever produced.
For the next two tours, in September-November 1978 and 1982-83, the Board opted to have Fetehsinghrao Gaekwad, a diplomat to the core, as manager of the Indian team with Bishen Singh Bedi as captain of the first series. Sunil Gavaskar led India in the 1982-83 series. True, Gaekwad was not a great motivator of men but then he was a great hit in Pakistan, specially because of his after-dinner speeches. It should be mentioned here that the assistant manger of the team for the tour of 1978 was P.R.Man Singh, who later became the manager of the Indian squad which won the World Cup in 1983. Both Bedi and Gavaskar had larger-than-life images in international cricket and could forge a rapport with not only the Pakistani players but also with the people.
For the 1984 tour, the Board chose Raj Singh Dungarpur as the manager. Raj Bhai, as he was popularly known among players and friends, had immense knowledge of the game which he was never unwilling to flaunt. Since he spent his summers in England, he also knew a large number of the Pakistani cricketers and was an instant hit with the cricket establishment across the border. Dungarpur later went on to become the President of the BCCI. In this tour, the team was led by Sunil Gavaskar.
For the Indian team’s last tour of Pakistan in 1989-1990, the Board decided to have Chandu Borde as the manager of the team led by by Krish Srikanth. Borde's association with cricket was long, as a player of repute, an administrator and a selector.
This time, the BCCI has chosen a very
senior cricket administrator and a member of the Board, Ratnakar Shetty,
as manager of the Indian team. He was a member of the three-man team
which had earlier been sent by the Board to examine the security
arrangements being made by the Pakistan authorities and by now should be
well-acquainted with the ground realities there.
‘Indian football needs more TV exposure’
Among the dozens of foreigners assisting Indian clubs in the eighth National Football League currently under way at different centres all over India is 21-year-old Sri Lankan AA Fazlur Rehman, playing for Chennai's Indian Bank. Though he is not the only Sri Lankan footballer in the Indian circuit, he definitely is among the most sought-after having represented his country in qualifying tournaments for the World Cup and the Olympics. Recently in Ludhiana to play against Punjab's JCT Phagwara, Fazlur spared some moments to discuss matters pertaining to the game.
"The National Football League in India is a good idea which needs a further boost. Though in Sri Lanka we have the FACup Premier League, the Indian league appears to be more organised," Fazlur told The Tribune at Ludhiana the other day. " However there is always scope for improvement. For instance, what is lagging in India is TV exposure. Once the electronic media starts devoting time to Indian football, sponsorships are bound to flow," said Fazlur, who played for Sri Lanka's Ratnam Sports Club for three years prior to his stint in India. Incidentally the Colombo-based Ratnam Sports Club are the current national champions in Sri Lanka.
Born on June 22,1983, Fazlur who plays as striker, is all praise for some of his team-mates who are also from Lanka. "Kasun Nadika Jayasuriya and Mohamed Fuard are quite experienced. Fuard's stint in Singapore was a learning experience," he said. Incidentally it was Fuard who scored the equaliser against the formidable East Bengal in the current league at Chennai on January 12.
"Though there are as many as 14 football clubs in Sri Lanka, the game is not as popular as cricket. However, it is picking up under the guidance of the Sri Lankan Football Federation and we hope it overtakes cricket in terms of popularity in the years to come," Fazlur added.
Disappointing show by cricketers
Apropos of the editorial ‘‘Two wins, one loss’’ (February 10) the Indian women’s hockey team and tennis players did India proud by winning the 5th Asia Cup and Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-I respectively. But the cricketers, pampered sons of the land, disappointed and sent the cricket crazy country into mourning by playing like street kids against Australia at Melbourne and Sydney, not taking into consideration their mauling at Perth. Their good work done all through the Australian summer came to naught as they meekly surrendered without putting up a semblance of a fight in the ODI-VB finals. The first five premier batsmen collapsed and failed to learn anything from Badani, a casual player of the Indian team, who performed beyond expectations. Even the tailenders played better than Ganguly and others. Their inept batting clearly indicated that they could only play for fun, lucre and for themselves and not for the country. How the first six failed together at the same time will remain shrouded in mystery.
Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala
The Indian cricket team seemed to be in a precarious position while playing the finals in the VB series against Australia. The attitude of surrendering is questionable. The unsteady start by Sehwag and Tendulkar remained a perpetual worry throughout the series.
Navdeep Bhatia, Khanna
Cheers to hockey
Congratulations to hockey coach M.K. Kaushik and his team for winning the women’s Asia Cup in New Delhi. This win has also given India a berth in the 2006 World Cup. It is a proud moment for India as they are winners of both men’s and women’s Asia Cup hockey titles. What a surprise that the present team does not have even a single player from Punjab. Punjab was a nursery of Indian hockey. Rajbir Kaur, Arjuna Award winner, Rupa Saini, Nisha Sharma, Sharanjit Kaur, Saroj Sharma, Harjit Kaur, Sukhwinder Kaur, and Surjit Kaur Bajwa are only some of the names from Punjab who dominated the international women’s hockey scene. At present, Haryana are dominating the national and international scene. The credit for this largely goes to coach Baldev Singh, the present junior coach of men’s hockey team, who has played a great role in nurturing talent in and around Shahbad Markanda.
Pritpal Singh, Patiala
For most people, the gems of India are our software companies or our heritage, but to me they are the Indian cricketers. With eleven stars and a few prodigies, we are among the best cricketing units in the world. We have Dravid, pillar of consistency who can concentrate more on his job than Albert Einstien could ever on his theories. Then there are our strokeful wonders, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman and the six-hitting Sehwag, a dashing stroke-maker if ever there was one. Yuvraj and Kaif are mature, talented batsmen and as brilliant in the field as Jonty Rhodes himself. We also have Irfan, Balaji and Bhandari disciplined, consistent and agile. These cricket gems often sparkle around the world.