Punjabi spice for Canadian
AS he walked away into the sunset with a first ball duck in the fourth Test against Australia at Nagpur, Sourav Ganguly left behind a legacy which future captains would love to emulate and all players who turn out for the country keen to follow.
But he goes with the satisfaction that he was a member of a team which put it across the mighty Australians, unbeaten in a series for three years. India will find it difficult to find a more combative captain, not afraid to take on the best skippers of his time, but also a player who not only overcame all his handicaps to emerge as a cricketer with a very strong personality even if there were various shortcomings in his skills. He will probably be remembered more for tearing off his shirt and waving it around from the hallowed balcony of Lord's than the way he rubbed Australian captain Steve Waugh the wrong way by making him wait in the centre for the toss game after game as the world champions tried to conquer the final frontier. But then how many players make cricketing folklore?
Although Sourav got his first chance to play for the country in the shorter version of the game in 1992 in Australia he saw himself on the benches with a score of three in his first international game. He heralded his arrival on the international scene with a debut Test century at the Lord's in 1996 and followed it up with a century in his very next game at Trent Bridge. Later that year, playing in his 11th one-dayer, against South Africa in Jaipur, he was promoted to open in one-day internationals and along with Sachin Tendulkar formed one of the most destructive opening pairs of all times.
Many experts were of the opinion that Sourav could not face the delivery aimed at his ribcage while others were of the view that he was laid back, not willing to bend his back while fielding. Even if that were so, his 16 Test centuries has class stamped all over them. Add to that his 22 one-day centuries and 11,000 plus runs and one will know what a complete cricketer he was.
Nobody can dispute the fact that Sourav was the most successful Test captain India has ever had, forging a winning squad from a bunch of talented youngsters. Under his leadership India started winning Test matches even away from home and his splendid winning streak saw India reach the final of the World Cup in 2003, the nearest they have come to the Holy Grail of cricket after winning it last way back in 1983. In fact, as captain he laid a lot of emphasis on youth and probably paid the penalty for this by being jostled out of the squad by them. It was he who gave a chance to players like Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, to name a few. As captain he led India in 49 Test matches and saw India winning 21 ties with eleven victories coming on foreign soil.
His dropping from the one-day squad for the CB series against Australia last year was surprising after his splendid showing in the tour of Pakistan but then the national selectors were probably looking for fresh talent with an eye on the next World Cup
After his miserable showing in the series against Sri Lanka he knew that he would have to fight even harder to retain his place in the Test squad. Two days before the Bangalore Test against Australia he announced that this series would be his last. He signed off in near fairy-tale fashion with a century in Mohali and 85 in his penultimate innings at Nagpur.
But even as he hung up his bat and looked to a world beyond cricket, one question remained unanswered: what forced Sourav to announce his retirement in so much haste even when he himself knew that he had some cricket still left in him. Was it the dropping from the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy tie prior to the series against Australia which forced him to take the decision? Or was it the sarcastic remarks which former chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar made from time to time about the senior players?
Captaincy had taught
Sourav, or Maharaja as he is popularly called specially in his home town
of Kolkata, to become a fine diplomat. In the various interviews that he
gave as his retirement came nearer not once did he mention any reason
for his decision to retire. He heaped praise not only on Vengsarkar but
also on people like Greg Chappell who had in their own way tried to stop
his career. But then is this not the most graceful way to leave!
Equality is a myth and Indian sports does nothing to vilify this insinuation. An international cricket player needs to hide himself behind dark glasses, a stubble, a hat and lot of other garb, for the fear of being mobbed. On the other hand, for someone like Balwinder Singh, a regular with the Indian national volleyball team, both at the junior and senior level, recognition is a rare privilege.
But Balwinder is not one to be bothered by this. Talking to The Tribune he says, "For us there are bigger issues to worry about than who recognizes us on the road or not. Unlike cricketers we don’t get enough money to live a lavish life and not worry about looking for a job outside to make ends meet." At 23 he has already played so much international level volleyball that to jot down a list would be an extremely arduous task. He has the experience of representing India on 13 tours abroad, five Asian Championships and two World Championships.
Hailing from Bhucher Kalan village, Amritsar district, Balwinder belongs to a family of agriculturalists. His initial interest in the game rose as his brother was an ardent follower of the game. But the desire to push his game a level higher stemmed from his grandmother’s wish. "My grandmother wanted me to stick to the game. It was her dream that one day I play for the country. I think it was her dream that in turn gave me the desire to stick it out. It definitely has not been easy. There were times when o thought that I was just idling with my time and that I can look for a more viable job. But I guess when you love a sport, then not just your dreams, but also your reality starts getting affected by it. I can withstand tough times, but not staying away from the game".
He also talks about the immense contribution that SAI volleyball coach Mohan Nargeta and academy incharge DS Bedi have made towards his growth as a player and more so as an individual. "Nargeta sir and Bedi sir have been the two most influential people in my life. During the most testing of times these two men have been my side."
When asked about his future plans he says, "I wish one day we treat volleyball the way Europeans do. They absolutely love the game. I also hope that the game can get some more sponsors. Money is not the driving force behind a sportsman’s zeal for a sport but there is life off the field as well." He also seems to be extremely excited about the professional volleyball league slated to begin in 2009.
"All the players are
looking forward to the league. It is sure to lift the standard of play
and also bring in a little more money for all those involved with the
games. Even for the spectators it promises more action and better
quality performances as the field will be thrown open to a lot of
promising talent. Lets just hope it materializes and lives up to the
expectations it has generated within the sporting circles."
Punjabi spice for Canadian
Anoop Josan’s rise on the footballing circuit has brought pride to her family and her community across the world. She recently passed the final roster cuts for Canada’s U-20 women’s soccer team.
Anoop will compete and showcase her talents in the grandest and most prestigious tournament held in the world, The FIFA Women’S World Cup, being held in Chile this month. Born in 1988 to a proud Punjabi Sikh family of Parmjit and Darshan Singh Josan in Edmonton, Canada, Anoop has an elder sister, Karen, and brother, Bickramjit Singh. Anoop took to the world of soccer at the age of 5 and has never looked back ever since. She has always been one of the star players in all the soccer teams she ever played with.
A very humble person and determined in nature she thanks God and her family for all her achievements. She has worked extremely hard and dedicated herself to achieving her dream of playing for the women’s soccer World Cup. Anoop is no stranger to the international stage of soccer. Having trained at the national training centre she was a member of the Canadian Olympic Development Team that won the 2007 International Soccer Festival.
She also competed at the 2005 Adidas Cup as a member of the U-18 National Team and for the U-17 Development Team. Anoop has won Silver and Bronze medals as Captain of Alberta women’s soccer team in consecutive Canadian National events. She has also won Gold Medal as the captain of Sherwood Park Rangers.
Anoop is currently a pre-nursing major at University of Texas ElPaso, USA and is a key player for UTEP Miners women’s soccer Team. She is the first player in school history to receive recognition from three separate national organisations after being tabbed to soccer America’s, Soccer Buzz’s and Soccer Times’ National Teams of the Week following her outstanding performances and was also named the freshman All-American by Soccer Buzz. In all, Anoop is an inspiration for all Punjabi women who aspire to succeed in the world of sports and has brought Punjabi players around the world into the limelight on the grand world stage of sports.
Team Canada was drawn into
Group C, along with Germany, Japan and Congo DR. The squad’s schedule
for the group round commences with a match against Japan on November 20.
Team Canada battles Congo DR on November 23 and Germany on 27. The first
two tilts will be contested at the Estadio Municipal in Santiago, Chile.
Anil Kumble the greatest Indian spinner will always be remembered for his skill of turning the ball by tiny deviation to claim 619 wickets in the cricket test matches.
The cricketing world in Kumble's 18 years glittering career has often seen his fighting qualities. Most of Kumble’s dismissals were leg before or clean-bowled. He also has the distinction of getting most wickets through caught and bowled. This is the hallmark of any bowler who never takes his eyes off the ball after releasing it.
Kumble’s strength was not so much physical as it was mental. His stamina to bowl long spells was unmatched. as he always made it up with high level of concentration and application. Kumble’s suppleness matched his sportsman spirit and he was the perfect gentleman under trying circumstances. No wonder the entire cricketing world respects him as the gentleman cricketer par excellence. Popularly known as Jumbo in his team ,this Jumbo Jet has finally landed at Kotla after encircling the cricketing globe for the last 18 years in flying colours. This wizard of spin has taught us a thing or two about courage under fire and grace under pressure
Dilbag Rai, Chandigarh
The Indian team did a tremendous job by beating the mighty Australians in the Test series. The Australians, who are the no.1 side in the world, have been a shadow of their previous dominant self. But what was most heartening to see was the way the Indian bowlers went about their job. Not only the experienced Harbhajan and Zaheer but also relative youngsters like Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma stuck to their task and provided their team with a magnificent series win against the mighty Oz. I wish the team best for the England series and for future series as well.
Hemant Singh Rana, Tehri Garhwal