Have mercy on the
Waugh of words
Steve Waugh, one of Australia’s greatest cricketers, pulls no punches in his autobiography. Here are extracts from the book that has caused a flutter in cricket circles
ON Shane Warne: "He needs constant support, encouragement and reassurance that he is the man. He loves to be loved."
Confrontation with Curtly Ambrose in 1995: "He repeatedly stared down me during a searing spell, and I, sizing him up, said: ‘What the f--- are you looking at?’"
Relationship with Michael Slater: "It’s funny with Michael ... in his first book I was his mentor and in the second I had become his tormentor."
First tour as captain (West Indies, 1999): "What I saw as a drinking culture was affecting more members of the squad than I had initially thought. We were tending to socialise in the same groups (and) that had unhinged what should have been the joker in our pack: togetherness. As captain, I felt slightly let down by my most senior professional, Ian Healy, who was struggling to come to terms with the approaching end of his career and for the first time in his cricket life had let his discipline and work ethic slide. Mark Waugh had an average tour and didn’t get involved enough in the running of the team, while some younger guys followed the leads and erroneous ways of others. I felt betrayed when later I discovered that secret pacts had been made by some of the guys to stay out past curfew."
On being dropped from the one-day squad in 2002: "I was a little shocked at how cut-throat the selectors’ attitude was. "I didn’t have a problem with the decision. However, I did have an issue with the lack of man-management skills involved. Surely, after so many years playing and being the captain of a side that had been ranked number seven when I took over and was now number one, at least one phone call or conversation letting me know how the selectors saw the bigger picture would have been nice. The clinical efficiency of my dismissal stung me most because as a player I had always given everything."
On his ‘constant critic’ Ian Chappell: "He has always sweated on my blunders and reported them with an ‘I told you so’ mentality. He labelled me ‘selfish’, which for a cricketer is tantamount to being accused of treason. To say his criticism irked me would be an understatement, but I knew he was entitled to his opinion. But I have always felt that a critic must be either constructive or base his comments on fact."
CHINA expectedly dominated the 11th Asian Rowing Championship at Hussainsagar lake (Hyderabad), but it was hosts India whose rowers performed remarkably to finish runners-up with four gold medals.
In the men’s light-weight coxless fours, the team comprising Saji Thomas, Rateesh Devi Balyan, Bajrang Thakur and Kudrat Ali won the gold, while the quartet of Satish Joshi, Dharmesh, Pradeep and Saji Thomas won the light-weight quadruple scull event.
India also won the gold in women’s light-weight fours (Swathi Sanjay, PR Raji, Julee Verghese and Pravasini Dwivedi) and men’s light-weight eights (Sunil Kakde, Balyan Rateesh Devi, Praveen Dhull, Saji Thomas, Narayan Rathore, Pradeep Balyan, Darmesh Sangwan, Satish Joshi and Rakh Balu). Besides the four gold medals, Indian rowers also won three silvers and five bronze medals.
India’s fine performance has brightened their prospects of winning gold medal or two in rowing at the Doha Asian Games in 2006.
In another good news for Indian rowing, the National Rowing Academy would start functioning at Hyderabad from December 1, assisted by Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh(SAAP) and Sports Authority of India(SAI).
During the medal ceremony of the Asian championship, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy announced Rs 2 crore as financial assistance for the academy.
The money would be spent on the construction of building and other infrastructure needs on one-acre plot on the police hockey stadium premises at Rasoolpura. The SAI would train the oarsmen and other technical expertise.
Brig KP Singh Deo, President of the Rowing Federation of India, said a 20-year dream had come true with the opening of the academy, which would train 40 boys and 20 girls for the Doha Asiad under British coach Colin Barret. Five Indian coaches — Ismail Baig, Johnson, Gurutej Singh, Jacob and Nair — apart from Capt Dalvir Singh and three reserve coaches from the Army would assist Indian oarsmen, he added. — Agencies
on the bowlers
India scored 350 runs in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Nagpur. The outcome of the game was known at the outset of the Sri Lankan innings. The only thing left to know was the margin of defeat.
As many as 12 scores of 350 runs or above in a one-day innings have been witnessed in the past six years. New Zealand made mockery of the Zimbabwe bowling attack in the opening match of the Videocon Triangular Cup in August by scoring close to 400 runs in just 44 overs.
Scores of this magnitude create the impression that the bowlers are there to deliver the ball for the batsman to hit and the fielders to gather it from the boundary.
Bowlers have always been on the receiving end in one-day cricket. Limited-overs cricket has given birth to one-day "specialist" batsmen who employ improvised scoring strokes, not given in the cricketing manual, using "meatier" bats.
Most tracks being prepared around the world are ideal batting tracks, which only require batsmen to play through the line. To rub salt into bowlers’ wounds, umpires are very strict on wide deliveries on either side of the stumps.
Some effort was made to correct this imbalance with bowlers permitted to bowl one bouncer per over.
But it was like taking one step forward and two backward when the new playing conditions were announced a few months ago. According to the new playing rules, fielding restrictions have been increased from 15 overs to 20, only adding to the bowlers’ woes.
In such a scenario, only very disciplined bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Muttiah Muralitharan get away without much of a beating. This trend, if allowed to continue, would nip many an up-and-coming bowler’s career in the bud. The loop in a spinner’s delivery has gone amiss and the fast bowler has little courage to bowl wicket-taking deliveries. The idea is only to "contain" the batsmen.
Cricket is a batsman’s game and soon only batsmen will survive to play it. Only bowlers who can bat and that too briskly will be kept in the playing eleven. The batting skills of Gillespie and Shane Warne have saved many a match for world champions Australia. The idea of a contributing tail puts more pressure on the likes of Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan.
Pure bowlers like Ashish Nehra would soon be an endangered lot and only find a place in the side as a super sub.
The argument, though fallacious, given for tilting the balance in favour of the batsmen is that making a lot of runs and then chasing them provides more excitement. On the contrary, competition between the two teams and a tussle between the bat and the ball provides for more nails being bitten.
The bowlers need only one change in their favour to bounce back. Instead of dead pitches, which give no help to the bowlers, pitches have to be prepared which provide at least some bite to the bowlers.
It is imperative to
restore this balance, otherwise the bowlers and fielders’ whole day’s
hard work in the field would go unrewarded.
The Australians made a mockery of the Super Series concept by defeating World XI team convincingly in both forms of the game. All three one-day matches and the Super Test were one-sided affairs, with World XI players showing no sign of professionalism. The pillars of their respective teams — Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul-Haq put up little resistance before the Aussie bowling attack.
On the other hand, the Australians showed commitment and professionalism to re-establish themselves as the world champions.
Vipin Sehgal, Ladwa
Cricket lovers who wanted to see the Australians lose were disappointed once again when the "invincible Aussies" clinched the Super Series by drubbing the ICC World XI. A team consisting of batting stalwarts Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Graeme Smith, Inzaman-ul-Haq and allrounders like Andrew Flintoff and Shaun Pollock failed to match the mighty Aussies.