Tuesday, October 30, 2007

IS THIS NECESSARY?

Predictably, the non-inclusion of Dravid in the squad for the first and second one-dayers against Pakistan has evoked a strong response. Every supporter of Dravid is now able to find a personal enemy in the Chief of the Selection Committee, Dilip Vengsarkar. This is similar to the situation when Saurav Ganguly was axed during the tenure of Kiran More.

The news channels have gone to great lengths to explain the possibility of a conspiracy theory. Polls have been conducted to show that Dravid should have been included in the squad. Former players and cricket administrators have joined the bandwagon. In short, the decision of the selectors has not been received too well.

It is true that Dravid was totally out of sorts in the six matches against Australia. But that does not give the selectors any licence to make Dravid sit at home considering his past record. In both cases, statistics have been bandied about.

In the midst of all this shouting and chest beating, we have to remember that this squad is to play only the first two matches. A different squad is to be selected for the other matches. That may bring Dravid into the squad after all.

There is of course, very little logic in bringing Virender Sehwag to the team. Sehwag scored only one 50 in the Challenger trophy and he is no youngster as well. Sehwag’s record in the limited overs game is not impressive while his test record is excellent, especially, in the context of Pakistan.

When everyone talks about the Australian methods, it is time for the selectors to think about the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly. Both have stellar achievements as far as one-dayers are concerned, but their match winning ability is suspect. The Aussies dropped the Waugh twins when they could have easily walked into any of the international teams. Vengsarkar needs to apply the same principles to everyone.

I am still not sure whether Dravid has been dropped or rested.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

HAYDEN'S REVELATIONS

In the midst of all the shouting and the allegations, Matthew Hayden has come up with a stunning revelation. Hayden feels that beating India gives the Aussies the ultimate satisfaction. He even went on to suggest that the duels with India rank higher than those involving England.

The supporters of Indian cricket should take this positively. This also explains why the Aussies were so focused during the seven match one-day series in India. That in a way explains why the Aussies took offence to the verbals dished out by the Indian players and spectators alike.

In the test series of 2001, India managed to win the series 2-1 after trailing 1-0. In the series, Hayden was by far the best batsman on show with over 500 runs. That series marked the emergence of Hayden as a great player who could adapt to different conditions successfully. In the end, that was not enough and Steve Waugh’s dream of conquering the ‘last frontier’ remained unfulfilled.

The loss to India in the T20 made the Aussies look beatable and they were determined to settle the scores. England won the Ashes in 2005 and the Aussies returned the compliment by scoring a 5-0 whitewash during the last summer down under.

The Indian team can expect a less-than friendly atmosphere when they tour Australia later this year. But the Indians should not lose heart in the wake of the statement of Hayden.

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THE CURIOUS CASE OF FEDERER'S LOSSES

Roger Federer lost to David Nalbandian in the Madrid Masters. It was a rare event. Then Federer struggled to get past Michael Berrer in the first round at Basel.

Federer is expected to win all his matches. There are very few answers to the spectacular success of the Swiss, except may be on the red clay of the French Open. Now with these two losses, there are questions asked. Rightfully, the master fends them off as laughable.

The two losses just show that everyone including the truly great can have off days and there are times when the opponents can raise their game to great levels

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PLAYING FIRE WITH FIRE?

During the series against Australia and also during the T20 World Cup, the Indian players displayed aggression in the form of shouting at the opponents and showing unnecessary emotions. For a long time, the average Indian fan felt unhappy because the Indian players were at the receiving end of verbal bashing from the opponents, especially the Aussies. Any gesture or a verbal was misconstrued as an insult to India and Indians. So the newfound aggression got a lot of support. The win in South Africa added to the tall tale. It is not for nothing that George Orwell called sport ‘war minus the shooting’.

The Australians are past masters in the game of verbal volleys. Ponting and his team have taken the art of ‘mental disintegration’ to a new level. The Aussies do not like to lose and the loss in South Africa only added to the decibels.

With cameras everywhere, players like Sreesanth and Harbhajan did their best to keep the spectators interested. Even Robin Uthappa talked about ‘playing fire with fire’. Sreesanth’s behaviour was boorish. The Aussies succeeded in their ploy and the Indians concentrated more on verbal aggression and lost the one-day series.

The media that projected the new found show of aggression with a lot of enthusiasm suddenly did a volte-face after the racist allegations leveled by Symonds. Suddenly, the Indian players were advised to show restraint.

A win in the T20 World Cup is not sufficient to give bragging rights forever. The Indian team surely deserves the adulation since it is in a long while that the Aussies have ended up on the losing side four times in a space of two months to India.

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IS IT RACIAL ABUSE?

The racial allegations leveled by Andrew Symonds have opened the proverbial can of worms.

Initially, there was the disbelief that Indian spectators could subject white coloured foreigners to any kind of racial abuse. I use the word disbelief deliberately since even in the context of Indians, the colour of the skin has a very important bearing. There are ‘fairness creams’ which promise to make the dark coloured girl fair much to the relief of her father and family who find it difficult to find a groom. The creams also promise to make the wearer shine on the career path as well. It is no secret that most of the mothers want fair skinned daughters-in-law.

The Indians always hold white foreigners in awe and no wonder even the advertisements for underwears feature a white male or female. Indians attach great prestige to the recognition given by people of the Western world. An Indian novelist or a poet or for that matter anyone from any walk of life is not considered good enough unless there is an approval from a foreigner, especially one with a white skin. The Indian cricket fan is also not different. Giving something back to the Aussie players is not an option since the retribution is feared.

The win in the T20 World Cup where the Aussies were one of the victims of Dhoni and company, emboldened the Indian fans. Suddenly, the fans realized the prospect of the Aussies looking beatable. This added to the noise and Symonds might have misconstrued this as racial abuse.

The Aussies have the right to be aggrieved if the Indian spectators hurled racial abuse. But in the event of no such evidence, there is no way the Aussies should complain for their fans are notorious for their hostility towards players from other countries.

With the allegations, the media made Indians feel ashamed over the racial slurs. Some cricket writers also joined in castigating the behaviour of the Indian spectators.

The reaction of Sharad Pawar in the whole episode was typical of a politician. He argued that the whole issue was due to the inability of the Aussies to decipher the Indian languages. Pawar himself expressed his inability to understand many of the Indian languages. No wonder, the farmers are committing suicides since their pleas cannot be understood by Pawar who is also the Minister for Agriculture in India.


There is no place for racism but it cannot be removed.

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