returns to Gurgaon
— the new Aussie strategy
IN THE NEWS
returns to Gurgaon
Vijay Singh, the world No 1, is a golfer with a difference. He cares for his word and reputation. Vijay will honour his commitment of visiting Gurgaon again to participate in the second BILT Skins (2004) and renew his friendship, among other things, with Gautam Thapar, a golf-addict.
When Vijay first played
at the pictureque DLF course in 2002, he was world No 6. Now he is the
undisputed king of golf, having stolen a march over awesome Tiger Woods.
On his first visit, ever-smiling Vijay impressed with his easy style of play, superb technique and happy-go-lucky way. His second visit is expected to be even more popular. He will be seen in action against Todd Hamilton, reigning British Open champion, and Daniel Chopra. Another player for the four-ball will be finalised before the competition on November 13 and 14.
According to Gautam, Fiji-born and US-based Vijay may also undertake a third visit when the field would be more competitive. When asked if it was be possible to invite Tiger, he said: ‘‘We will try, if we can afford to have him play here’’.
The competition on November 14 (a day earlier there will be Pro-Am) will carry a prize money of $100,000 (Rs 45,00,000). The winner will get $45,000. In 2002, Vijay had donated his prize money of $21500 to charity. He may do the same thing this time because, like Tiger Woods, he too believes in caring for the needy. Jyoti Randhawa had then won $13,500 and Harmeet Kahlon $8,500.
The format of the competition is interesting. There is prize money for every hole. If the hole is halved, the amount gets carried forward. If the first hole carries a prize money of $2,500, the 18th hole carries a prize money of $ 16,000. The format is exciting but somehow it has yet to catch the imagination of those at the helm of Indian golf.
Hamilton is a familiar face in this part of the country. He is sporting and adheres to golf etiquette. Daniel was based in Delhi for many years before emigrating to Sweden. He spent his formative years at the Delhi Golf Club course.
After marrying Samantha, Daniel migrated from Sweden to Australia. A few years ago he ran short of funds and almost quit professional golf. He was contemplating teaching when his Indian friends, including Jeev Milkha Singh, helped him emerge out of the depressing scenario. His turn-around came in 2003.
For the first time three PGA Tour players will be seen in action together in India. It will also be the first time when the reigning world champion will play in this country.
The one-day competition will cost the organisers Rs 3 crore. When asked for conducting a proper pro prize money tournament, Thapar shrugged this shoulders and said: ‘Not yet’.
— the new Aussie strategy
Fast bowlers get into arguments with batsmen, exciting them and then have the last laugh by taking their wicket. Aamir Sohail hit Venkatesh Prasad for a four and then pointed to him where he would hit the next ball. Venky got his wicket with the next ball.
Of course, there was the master of it all — Javed Miandad. He would antagonise bowlers with his antics. When their rhythm was disturbed, he could dispatch their wayward deliveries to the fence.
Close-in fielders and the bowlers appeal incessantly to pressure umpires. It happens more in the subcontinent as the chances of close bat-pad dismissals are more here.
Then, there was the Australian way of talking to a batsman, trying to disturb his concentration. Suddenly in this Australian tour of India, there are signs of changing times with the batsmen walking off without the umpire’s orders.
The Australians are the first to realise that the times have changed. Umpires have been crowned with absolute powers by the ICC. Bowlers can’t charge towards an umpire, can’t appeal excessively and batsmen can’t show dissent lest they want to be banned for the next match or want to forfeit their match fee.
Also, with the growth of TV technology, even if the umpire doesn’t see it, the viewer does. The Australians seem to have realised that fighting technology doesn’t help.
So, to ‘help the umpire’, they have started walking. Much to umpire Shepard’s discomfort and the Indian team’s amusement, Gillespie walked back to the pavilion after being given not out in the first innings at Chennai.
The strategy started paying off instantly. Yuvraj, who despite being short of runs, walked when he under-edged one to the keeper. Harbhajan cut short his appeal even when the ball hit Gilchrist’s pad before the bat when he was very close to the wickets. The fiery Irfan Pathan apologised to the umpire for appealing. Isn’t it going in Australia’s favour?
Beating India at home is the last frontier for the Aussies. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose in this series. Whatever be the result of this four-Test series, they have the ethical ace up their sleeve. If they lose, it was so because they walked. If they win, it was despite them having walked. A win-win situation for them.
In other places and against other teams where they are at top, they can very well employ this latest strategy to their benefit on the pretext of cleaning up the game and helping the umpire.
The umpires, human as they are, might be positively inclined towards the ‘fair’ Australians, giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of the opposition. After the embarrassment of Gillespie’s dismissal, umpire Shepard was slow to give the Australian batsmen out on close bat-pad chances, waiting for them to walk.
This Australian step has to be taken with a pinch of salt. They have played games outside the field. The Australian media had pumped up the caliber of Sachin in past series Down Under and put the master batsman under pressure even before the start.
This has continued with the Dravid-Laxman duo, who are yet to bat their next big match- winning partnership after that particular one in the second Test match during the last Australian tour of India.
Muttiah Muralitharan has been troubled by the Aussie media for ‘throwing’ so that he dropped the idea of touring Australia this year.
It will be worthwhile to see if the Aussie batsmen walk when they are in close situations or when they are short of runs or out of form. If, Australia are on top and their ethical stance makes the top opposition batsmen walk, it is only working in favour of the Aussies.
Glenn McGrath, the leader of the Aussie pace attack, became the eighth Australian to play in 100 Test matches at the third Test against India at Nagpur. He has also proved the critics wrong, who had harped on his loss of pace after returning from an ankle surgery.
Called ‘Pigeon’ by team-mates, McGrath is the quintessential pacer. His behaviour has not always been as smooth as his bowling action. Glaring at batsmen and having a word or two with them are as much a part of his arsenal as his consistent deliveries just outside the off stump.
He was not above sledging even the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar during the ICC Knock-out Championship in Nairobi, 2000. Words were exchanged as Tendulkar hit him for consecutive boundaries. The pacer lost both his rhythm and the battle as Sachin proved to be more than a match for him.
McGrath’s outburst on the West Indies tour proved to the turning point for the Australian team’s behaviour. His on-field screaming spat with Ramnaresh Sarwan raised a hue and cry Down Under and the selectors finally sprung into action. A code of conduct was formed and it was made clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
The 34-year-old gangly pacer is also keen to clean up his act on the field. He still glares but the occasional smile is there too. It has in no way diminished his bowling power. Rival batsmen still fear his accuracy as he is still taking wickets by the bagful.
Hockey wins in Dosti Series
The recently concluded India-Pakistan hockey ‘Dosti Series’ contested in a spirit of friendship was truly a victory for the game. In Quetta, Lahore, Chandigarh and Amritsar the public response was overwhelming. People carrying flags of both the countries thronged the venues in large number to see their favourite stars in action. This series should be organised every year so that budding players can be given proper exposure. Such contests will go a long way in improving the standard of hockey in the two countries.
Cricket needs new blood
The performance of the Indian cricket team in the last four championships starting from the Asia Cup to the ICC Champions Trophy has been very disappointing. They have been beaten thrice by Pakistan whom they had demolished not very long ago in their own backyard. Players like Sehwag, Laxman and Yuvraj have regularly failed with the bat. There is a need to motivate the team by inducting fresh blood. One should look at the way England and West Indies have come up over the last few years.
Mike Atherton has rightly commented that Sourav Ganguly has been a big influence on Indian cricket. He has been the most successful Indian Test captain. Sometime back, the Indian team was considered soft and could crumble under pressure. The Indians have not fared well in one-day games. But that should not belittle Sourav’s achievements. He should be given the credit he deserves as he has contributed immensely to Indian cricket.