Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Misplaced priorities (?)

Our boys in blue have finally won something of note on the international scene! It is undoubtedly a huge achievement (my misgivings about the entire tournament and its hit/miss attitude notwithstanding) and it sure has them raking in the moolah.

The numbers are staggering, with one state CM outdoing his counterpart by a few lakhs, and mind you, this over and above the BCCI bonus of $3 million. I might be a bit hard-headed, since I am rather disgusted (I shall get to the point a little later in my diatribe) with this 'bending over backwards' attitude to congratulate the cricketers.

If I am correct, the players are employees of the BCCI (when they play for India) and their respective associations (when they do indeed deign to play for their state sides). As a team representing India (and the BCCI), they have got their just reward of the 20-20 prize money as well as the 'bonus' from the Board. I am sure the chief ministers can put the 10/20/30 lakhs they are splurging (possibly for the vote bank?) on these [rather] well-paid/endorsed cricketers, to some better use such as (say) a coaching centre in their states. I dare say that this money might go a long way in some sort of rural developmental work!

Keeping this in mind, let us not forget NP Pradeep, the man who led India to glory in the recently concluded Nehru Cup. To put it mildly, he overcame a host of unfavorable circumstances to reach where he is today. Although one might argue that the achievement might pale in comparison to those of the cricketers, I'd say that it is a huge step in (hopefully) the right direction. Indian football was fairly top-rung in the 1950s, but has since undergone a downward spiral. The root cause probably being the lack of facilities in the country.

I am not sure if the government even announced a bonus for the victorious Nehru Cup team, nor for the hockey stars who won the Asia Cup the other day. All goes to prove that hockey and football probably continue to remain the poorer cousins of cricket!

As a follow-up: The hockey players have gone on a hunger strike protesting the step-motherly treatment being meted out to them.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Aussie mentality

"Indian batsmen a scared lot" the article screamed at me, begging to be read! I half expected it to be Ricky Ponting/Steve Waugh starting their game of 'mental disintegration', but to my immense amusement/surprise it turned out to have come from the pie-hole belonging to a certain Rodney Hogg along with some juicy quotes from Ray Bright.

I do agree that most Indian batsmen have been rather uncomfortable against quality pace, but I would not go as far as calling them 'scared'. We have had many a brave soul who took on the best in the business and came out victorious (Sunny Gavaskar and Jimmy Amarnath to name two), unlike some Aussies wusses (Dean Jones, Steve Waugh and Alan Border among others). Lets face it, the Indians handled Marshall/Holding/Garner/Croft//Roberts better than the Aussies did, in the early 80s. Even in the last decade or so (barring the disastrous Indian tour down under in 1999-2000), the Indian batsmen have dealt with the McGraths, Lees and Gillespies without much of a hitch.

Branding the team as a bunch of scared batsmen would be a tad unfair, considering the not so distant past. Mr. Hogg had a rather undistinguished career, during which his record against India pales even further (15 wickets at nearly 52.00 runs per wicket).

Good old Ray Bright claimed India played Bangladesh a fair bit and so "they tend to stretch cricket" (whatever that's supposed to mean). Turns out, Mr. Bright isn't that bright after all. The fact remains that India's played 5 tests against Bangladesh (won 4, drawn 1), while the Aussies have played 4 Tests (and won all of them). But he came close to redeeming himself with a rather astute observation (which even a ten year old might come up with) that "Ganguly and Tendulkar are perhaps not the same players they were five years ago".

I have a gut feeling he spoke to the reporter late on a Saturday night, blissfully oblivious (but unquestionably qualified to pass comment) of his magnificent record against India (9 wickets at an average of nearly 64!). It's almost like Shivlal Yadav (who has a much better record in India-Australia tests than Mr. Not-so Bright) and Karsan Ghavri (with due respect to both of them) calling the Aussies a "bunch of wimps" in the not-so-distant future!

There are more than a few ex-Aussie cricketers who talk straight out of their wrong end. I remember this fogey called Kerry O'Keefe (as part of a blustery discussion on Aussie television just before the 2001 series) boldly predicting a 3-0 whitewash by the Aussies - I bet he was red in the face at the end of the series! Welcome to the club Messrs. Hogg and (Not-so)Bright!

And hats off to NEO Sports for digging up some absolute nondescript fossils for their views on the game!