|SPORTS & WELLNESS|
IS the 50-over game heading towards its demise? Will next yearís Cricket World Cup, to be hosted jointly by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, be the last of this tournament, which, at one time, had grabbed the attention of the cricket-playing world? Or is it to early to say that the 50-over still has a future?
None of the above questions can be answered with a yes or a no. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has said recently that it may consider increasing the number of participating teams in the World Twenty20 tournament while reducing the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup. The working groups of the Chief Executive Committee and the Governance Review Committee of the ICC, which met at Singapore, have discussed certain measures to revamp international cricket and have been asked to submit a final proposal in this regard by September this year. Therefore, it is apparent that the international governing body is not exactly happy at the state of affairs of the 50-over game.
Why has such a situation come about? One reason could be the predictability of the game. The ICC has tried to bring in some innovations like the introduction of the powerplays in segments, including one powerplay being left at the hands of the batting team, in an effort to pep up the game.
Already, Cricket South Africa and the England Cricket Board have opted to reduce their domestic one-day matches into a 40-over format, and the day is not far when other cricket boards will follow suit. There is already talk of Cricket Australia adopting this new format. And if that were to happen, it will deal a body blow to the 50-over game as we know it.
But to be fair to the followers of the game, the 50-over ODIs are still strong in countries in the subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan) as also in England, Australia and South Africa when the home team is one of the contestants in a game. But when that does not happen (say, for example, the recently held Asia Cup in Sri Lanka), then the probability of empty stands rises all the more.
Among the ideas being offered to beef up the 50-over game is one about playing two innings, but in the second carry the game forward from where it was stopped at the end of the first innings. The toss, which sometimes has a huge role in certain games, specially in day-night games where the dew factor is crucial, will not be as big an advantage anymore, the conditions will apply to both sides, and players will still have to adapt and play long innings. Most interestingly, it will make captaincy more critical. In the current 50-over format, the captainís role is like that of any other player and rarely does he have to take critical decisions like juggling with the batting order.
Another suggestion being made to pep up the game is to restrict the games to 40 overs a side, as South Africa and England have done in their domestic competitions. Juggling with the overs will not be anything new since the cricket World Cup was initially played over a 60-over format in England and then the game was reduced to 50 overs a side, when the tournament was shifted to the subcontinent in 1987. And the 50-over format has remained since then.
Another suggestion which the ICC can give serious thought to is the one made by Sachin Tendulkar. He had suggested splitting the format into two 20 or 25-over games. This suggestion could see the better batsmen on both sides bat twice in one day and, similarly, the better bowlers on both sides would get an opportunity to perform twice. But the only drawback of such a game is that it is quite likely to become a double innings Twenty20 game. We have enough Twenty20 games and the effort is to make the 50-over game workable and exciting.
There could be one reason why the 50-over game is fast losing its popularity. As it is, cricket is played by only 10 countries and their matches are being held at too regular intervals, robbing them of any novelty. Just for example, India and Sri Lanka have played each other 30 times in the 2008-10 period, and it matters little even to the diehard Indian fan that we have won 17 of these matches. (In comparison, how many times have Argentina and Germany clashed in football in the past two years?)
The one thing the ICC must do to keep
the 50-over format alive and kicking is to enlarge the membership base
just the way a game like football has done. Maybe, there will be
problems on the way and the standard of the teams will not be as good
as, say, Australia or India. But only by playing more and more against
the experienced team will the newcomers improve their game. In any case,
the new teams can take to the Twenty20 game and slowly over the years,
learn the art of playing cricket right through the day. The ICC has to
strike the best balance between excellence and the development of the
game and make it truly global in terms of the number of participating
teams in any tournament. Curtailing the teams to the 50-over World Cup
cannot, and should not, be the solution.
heroes at Wimbledon
YES, it was simply astonishing. For, here was a gentleman in a tweed jacket seated above the Wimbledon Centre Court and enjoying every moment of the Federer-Berdych quarterfinals clash, 2010. The entire space above his right breast pocket was crammed with sparkling war medals shaped as stars, full moons and crosses moulded in copper and silver, suspended from stiff cloth ribbons.
The visual was all too brief but it left no doubt that starting with Vietnam, this soldier had been on battlefields on the Faulkland Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan et al.
I rummaged through my memory-bank (being computer-illiterate), for soldiers in the league of world-class tennis players. The name that flashed on the instant was of Lieut Arthur Ash. He was an Afro-American, tall as Berdych but leaner and of shy countenance.
He had graduated from the US Armyís West Point Academy, rose meteorically on the tennis horizion and was admitted to the Hall of Fame at Flushing Meadows. He also made a mark at Wimbledon before cancer consumed him all too suddenly. The measure of his calibre was immortalised by the American Lawn Tennis Association, when it named the newly constructed stadium after Arthu Ash!
Then there was John Smyth, VC, MC, who in the 1950s, became a celebrity among the Wimbledon tennis fraternity. Hamilton Price, the lawn tennis writer for the Sunday Times, had passed away in his sleep, the night prior to the menís quarterfinals. During the morning conference, on an impulse, the Editor sent for Smyth (military/war correspondent) and holding him in his gaze said: "John, I believe no one in the Indian Army can hope to command and lead a division in battle unless he had been an outstanding sportsman in his subaltern days. As you have had both attributes, would you report for us on Wimbledon also, henceforth?"
As Smyth was struggling to make a fresh start in life, he suppressed his inner misgivings and responded: "Well I, have played a lot of first-class tennis both at home and in India and am a member of the All-England club at Wimbledon. I have never written on the game, but I could." His first article, "By a Correspondent," appeared on February 3, 1947. As there was no adverse comment, two more followed and on February 14, a very comprehensive article appeared under his name. And Sunday Timesí new lawn tennis writer had "arrived"!
Two years later, Smyth was invited by the All-England Club to write all articles and the photo-captions for the Wimbledon programme, which became so popular that nearly 1,00,000 copies sold each year!
When one of the chair-umpires fell ill, Smyth was asked to deputise. Once again, he became a permanent presence in this department too. Finally, he wrote a book on the subject which became a classic (even with the American LTA)! Later, Smyth were to suggest a new foot-fault rule, which is in force to date.
Now, who was John Smyth,
VC MC? Well he graduated from Sandhurst (UK) in 1913 and being among the
first 20 in the merit list, he was eligible to "pick" his
regiment. He made a fortuitous choice to join 15 Sikh. In due course, he
became an MP, a Minister (of War Pensions) in Winston Churchillís
Cabinet, the man who had "sacked" him. He remained chairman of
the VC Committee for years and on Field Marshal Wavellís insistence,
was restored the rank and pension of a Brigadier. Such are the fortunes
Discussing diets is very common at every social gathering these days. Weight loss and weight gain leads to calorie discussion, paining joints lead to calcium discussion and so on, but have you ever heard somebody discuss zinc? No, because nobody really realises that if one is feeling fatigued, listless and depressed, if one is having luster-less skin and hair, and brittle nails, or having problems with remembering things and facing difficulty in concentration, then it might be because of the lack of zinc! Do you know that zinc is one of the essential minerals needed by our body? It is required by the body for a number of functions, though in very small amounts. The body needs it to enable the activity of more than 200 biological enzymes.
So, who requires zinc? Everybody. But specifically old people with a lower dietary intake, pregnant and lactating women, as low maternal zinc status is associated with lower motor and cognitive development of the child, and women having heavy menstrual cycles, for zinc is lost in menstruation.
Now, can this be a reason for depression during menstruation in some women? Zinc treatment is a simple, inexpensive, and critical new tool for treating diarrhoeal episodes among children in the developing world. This important micronutrient becomes depleted during diarrhoea, but recent studies suggest that replenishing zinc with a10- to 14-day course of treatment can reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoeal episodes and may also prevent future episodes for up to three months. It is very essential to maintain serum zinc levels in chronic diseases like chronic renal and liver failure or for those who undergo severe trauma or a major surgery.
Only 20 per cent of the zinc present in the diet is actually absorbed by the body. Dietary fibre and phytic acid, found in bran, wholegrain cereals, pulses and nuts, inhibit zinc absorption. Zinc from vegetarian sources may not be absorbed as well as zinc from animal products as these donít contain any Zn inhibitors, but cooking processes can reduce the adverse effects of both phytic acid and dietary fibre on zinc absorption. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 15 milligrams per day for an adult having a mixed diet.
The writer is a dietician with the Department of Dietetics, PGI