SPORTS TRIBUNE


A whole new ball game
The rule changes in one-day cricket are likely to infuse fresh energy into the sport,
writes Abhijit Chatterjee
O
ne-day cricket will probably never be the same again. The changes, both tactical as well as technical, being brought into the game will give it a different direction, hopefully for the better.

Fastest man on no legs
Hannington Osodo & Alistair Thomson
E
lbows and knees pumping like pistons, Oscar Pistorius powers round a bend into the home straight of a fast 200 metres. At first glance, the South African could be any other promising young sprinter ó except that below the 18-year-oldís knees are the hi-tech carbon fibre blades that have earned him the nicknames "Bladerunner" and "The fastest man on no legs".

He played hockey at Lordís
Neeraj Bagga
B
albir Singh Randhawa has fond memories of playing at Lordís. What makes his experience remarkable is that he has played hockey at the Mecca of cricket. The year was 1967, and the Indian hockey team was on its European tour.

IN THE NEWS
Pick of the lot
S
everal Indian golfers were in the fray at the inaugural Brunei Open, but it was Amandeep Johl who performed most impressively among them. Carding a sub-par score in each of the four rounds, Johl finished a creditable tied seventh.

SISTER ACT

Testing time

Unheralded Jill Craybas was on cloud nine when she knocked out two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams
Unheralded Jill Craybas (left) was on cloud nine when she knocked out two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams. However, she was brought down to earth by another two-time winner, Venus Williams (right), who thus avenged her sisterís shock defeat. ó Photos by Reuters, AFP
With the tri-series in Sri Lanka less than a month away, Indiaís cricket coach Greg Chappell set the ball rolling in Bangalore
With the tri-series in Sri Lanka less than a month away, Indiaís cricket coach Greg Chappell set the ball rolling in Bangalore with a conditioning camp for pace bowlers, including spearhead Laxmipathy Balaji


  • Bangladesh played like champions
  • Tysonís end
  • Damp squib
  • Ganguly must quit
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A whole new ball game

The rule changes in one-day cricket are likely to infuse fresh energy into the sport, writes Abhijit Chatterjee

The fielding side would now get a range of opportunities to put pressure on the batsmen in one-dayers
The fielding side would now get a range of opportunities to put pressure on the batsmen in one-dayers

One-day cricket will probably never be the same again. The changes, both tactical as well as technical, being brought into the game will give it a different direction, hopefully for the better. But letís admit one fact: The game has now become spectator driven and the changes were necessary if the interest of viewers, especially the television audience, was to be sustained till the end of the game. With the Twenty20 game slowly gaining popularity, the day is not far when this version of the game will also go international in a big way.

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) approving the recommendations regarding substitutions and field restrictions in one-day international cricket, the latter will throw up so many opportunities, probably for the better. The rule changes will come into effect from July 30 but will be adopted for the first time in the series between England and Australia beginning early next month.

One-day cricket, which was started in the seventies after spectators became bored with the "actual game", as Test cricket is still called, was also getting stuck in a rut. The ODIs, especially in the middle overs, were following a predictable pattern.

The rule changes are bound to infuse new life into the game as it is one-day cricket which is the driving force of television channels who are, per force, obliged to beam telecast of Test matches which may or may not produce a result even after five days of play. The money is in one-day cricket and both sponsors and advertisers know this fact very well.

But the one-day game has had its influence on Test cricket. The run rate in Test matches have gone up since modern-day cricketers, more used to playing the slam-bang variety of the game, have wielded the willow with telling effect, much to the delight of the spectators who still turn up to watch a Test match. Of course, things in the subcontinent are different with a packed stadium watching all five days of play even if a result is not possible.

One-day cricket is a delight for spectators. There is a lot of action right through the day. More importantly, the guarantee of a result makes the matches so competitive. However, the shorter version, per force, is loaded in favour of the batsmen. The restrictions are on the bowlers ó no bouncers, no deliveries down the leg side, no deliveries leaving the batsman even outside the off stump, besides the limit on the number of fielders that can be placed in the deep and so on.

The new rules give some semblance of help to the bowlers. According to the new rule, field restrictions will initially be limited to the first 10 overs, followed by two blocks of five overs each which will enable the fielding captain to contain the runs. For example, if a batting side is plundering runs in the first 10 overs, the fielding captain can opt to take away the restrictions at the end of 10 overs and then opt for these again when the run rate has been contained.

He might like to use the field restrictions when the tailenders come in to bat. In fact, this option given to the fielding side a range of possibilities and it will up to the captain and his bowlers to put it to the best use.

The rule regarding two players being within the 15-yard inner circle will be applicable only for the first 10 overs.

Then there are the football-style substitutions. Now if a bowler is being whacked around the ground or is injured during play, the fielding captain can replace him if he has another bowler among the reserves. Or, while fielding he can use five regular bowlers and then when the turn of his team comes to bat he can replace one of the bowlers with a specialist batsman.

In another scenario, the captain can include a very good fielder while on the ground and then replace him with a batsmen who might be a poor fielder. The options are unlimited but will depend a lot on the bench strength of a particular team.

The technical changes which will permit on-ground umpires to refer to the third umpire on any aspect of a decision should be welcome by all. The only exception will be the line decision in which the third umpireís decision will still be final. Given the pressure-cooker-like situation in one-day matches (especially in the subcontinent), this move should take the pressure off the ground umpires, particularly in close decisions.
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Fastest man on no legs
Hannington Osodo & Alistair Thomson

Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, who has hi-tech carbon fibre blades below his knees, is keen to run with able-bodied athletes at the Beijing Olympics
Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, who has hi-tech carbon fibre blades below his knees, is keen to run with able-bodied athletes at the Beijing Olympics

Elbows and knees pumping like pistons, Oscar Pistorius powers round a bend into the home straight of a fast 200 metres. At first glance, the South African could be any other promising young sprinter ó except that below the 18-year-oldís knees are the hi-tech carbon fibre blades that have earned him the nicknames "Bladerunner" and "The fastest man on no legs".

Last year, less than six months after taking up sprinting, Pistorius stunned the disabled sporting scene by setting a 21.97-second Paralympic 200 metres world record in Athens ó 2.18 seconds off the able-bodied menís winning time and faster than the champion able-bodied woman.

For Pistorius it was just the start: not content with Paralympic success, he has set his sights on racing against able-bodied athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Less than 18 months into his athletics career, Pistorius is off to a flying start and has been invited to run at the Helsinki Grand Prix on July 25 after making the qualifying times in the 200 and 400 metres ó though school studies mean he will not accept the invitation.

He trains with able-bodied university students under Ampie Louw and a US prosthetic limb-making company sponsors his $35,000-a-pair legs ó made up of dozens of layers of carbon fibre bent forward like a real shin and foot.

Pistorius was born without fibulae and several bones in his feet. After much agonising by his father Henke and late mother Sheila, surgeons amputated both feet before his first birthday.

"Oscar never looked back. He played all kinds of sport ó soccer, rugby, water polo," said Henke.

Pistorius fell into athletics by accident while recovering from a knee injury sustained playing rugby at Pretoria Boysí High ó the alma mater of some of South Africaís top Springbok rugby players where he is now in his final year. ó Reuters
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He played hockey at Lordís
Neeraj Bagga

Balbir Singh Randhawa
Balbir Singh Randhawa

Balbir Singh Randhawa has fond memories of playing at Lordís. What makes his experience remarkable is that he has played hockey at the Mecca of cricket.

The year was 1967, and the Indian hockey team was on its European tour. "A pre-Olympic tournament was played at Lordís", he recalls. "It became the first and only hockey championship to be organised on the prestigious cricket ground. Thereafter, the ground administrators prohibited its use for any sport except cricket".

Balbirís eventful career spanned two decades. The forward was known for his alacrity to pounce on the ball.

However, he has his grudges too. Though he was declared the best player on the European tour, his name was omitted for inexplicable reasons from the list of players for the 1968 pre-Olympics camp.

Randhawa played for two major national teams, Navy and Railways. He was associated with the Navy for 11 years after joining as a sailor in 1958. He took part in several national tournaments for Services.

He also played against the visiting England XI team in 1954. On Indian teamís tour of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1967, Balbir and his younger brother Baldev Singh played together. It was the second time in the history of Indian hockey that two brothers were in the same team. Earlier, Dhyan Chand and Roop Chand had played together in the 1936 Olympics.

Balbir coached the Northern Railway womenís hockey team for six years from 1977. During this period, he honed the skills of several players who later became internationals, including Kuldeep Kaur, Sita, Rani, Sandeep and Razia. He retired from Railways in 2002 after putting in 33 years of service.

These days, he does not spend his time merely watching matches on TV. He visits the hockey ground daily and gives tips to budding players. He is honorarily imparting training to students of BBK DAV College for Girls.
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IN THE NEWS
Pick of the lot

Amandeep Johl got his first top-10 finish of the season at the Brunei Open golf tournament last week
Amandeep Johl got his first top-10 finish of the season at the Brunei Open golf tournament last week

Several Indian golfers were in the fray at the inaugural Brunei Open, but it was Amandeep Johl who performed most impressively among them. Carding a sub-par score in each of the four rounds, Johl finished a creditable tied seventh.

Three Indians ó Johl, Gaurav Ghei and Ashok Kumar ó were tied fifth at the end of the first round with a score of four-under 67. The second round saw Johl slip to the tied 17th spot. However, he bounced back with a three-under 68 to climb to the tied-sixth place after the penultimate round.

The Chandigarh-born golfer was in with a chance to grab a top-five finish but he had to settle for tied seventh. Ghei ended tied 16th, while Firoze Ali finished tied 20th, his best performance of the season so far. Among the other Indians were Uttam Singh Mundy (tied 35th), Ashok Kumar (tied 39th) and Digvijay Singh (tied 68th). Arjun Singh, Harmeet Kahlon, Shiv Kapur and Gurbaaz Mann also took part in the competition but failed to make their presence felt. ó Agencies
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SPORTS MAIL

Bangladesh played like champions

Kudos to Bangladesh for their astounding win against Australia. It was arguably the biggest upset in the annals of one-day international cricket. World Cup winners Australia looked completely out of sorts against a resurgent Bangladeshi team, who played like champions.

The past year has been perhaps the best year in Bangladeshís cricket history. They defeated India in a one-dayer and then comprehensively defeated Zimbabwe in both forms of the game. And now the best win of them all, against the No.1 ranked team. This match once again proved that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.

Shivani Verma
Baddi

Tysonís end

The defeat of Mike Tyson in the sixth round by unfancied Kevin McBride of Ireland confirmed that his boxing days were over. Time has finally caught up with Tyson and he has taken a wise decision to quit and hang his gloves.

"Iron" Mike was an awesome and much-feared boxer during his heyday. He intimidated his opponents and mercilessly knocked them out. He was a raw boxer, not graceful in style, but carried a tremendous punch, which brought down many of his formidable opponents.

Tyson ruled the ring during 1987-90 and was the undisputed heavyweight champion. Then came the charges of rape, followed by the prison sentence. Probably this was the time when he lost the killer instinct. His return to the ring after completing his jail sentence was not remarkable. His loss to Buster Douglas was the beginning of the decline of his illustrious career.

Tyson has called it quits with a record of 50-6, which is no mean feat by any standards. He will go down in boxing history as one of the most temperamental and fiery pugilists of all time.

Rajiv Narula
Panchkula

Damp squib

The French Open womenís singles final turned out to be a damp squib. Played between Justine Henin-Hardenne and Mary Pierce, the lopsided affair disappointed tennis lovers as the former pulverised her opponent 6-1, 6-1 to annex the crown at Roland Garros for the second time.

However, the menís singles final had all the ingredients of a potboiler. Rafael Nadal was crowned the undisputed monarch of clay as he overpowered unseeded Mariano Puerta in a nerve-racking final.

The two left-handed players fought tooth and nail for the coveted title. Having lost the opening set, Nadal raised his game several notches to rattle his rival. Thereby, he became the first player since Mats Wilander in 1982 to lift the French Open crown on his debut.

Tarsem S. Bumrah
Batala

Ganguly must quit

Indian cricket captain Sourav Gangulyís efforts to regain his form by playing county cricket in England have been fruitless to a great extent. Except for a couple of innings, he has failed miserably on every occasion. In the tsunami relief match, he could score only 14 runs. This is high time for him to retire honourably, rather than be left out of the squad by the selectors.

Y.L. Chopra
Bathinda

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