December 2006 - January 2007
India Sport Scene
Cricket, Hockey & Badminton
International Cricket Council (ICC) President Percy Sonn thanked India for hosting
what he called an “outstanding” ICC Champions Trophy Tournament.
Thirty days of hard-fought action culminated on Sunday with Australia
beating the defending champions the West Indies by eight wickets. Australia
for the first time lifting the ICC Champions trophy at the Brabourne stadium
in Mumbai. Australia thus retained their position as the number one cricketing
nation in the world.
Although world champions Australia eventually came through to take the spoils,however,
this tournament more than any other in recent memory, illustrated the unpredictability
of the great game of cricket.
The formbook was turned upside-down on more than one occasion; and matches
such as Pakistan’s win over Sri Lanka, South Africa’s great comeback
against Pakistan and the West Indies’ win over Australia in the group
stages were illustrations of that.
The ICC Champions Trophy also showed how fascinating one-day cricket
can be when there is a balance between the bat and the ball. That balance helped
to define this tournament and was responsible for its success.
In the finals, West Indies won the toss and their opening batsman Shivnarine
Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle caned the Australian seamers. With their ungainly,
open stances and high club-like back lifts, both Chris Gayle and Shivnarine
Chanderpaul looked more like butchers than batsmen. They swished their bats
hitting at everything in their way. Chanderpaul raised the stakes in the first
over, with a delicate cut and an unintended edge. Two overs later, he disdainfully
swiped the ball that whizzed past Brett Lee’s face, with Lee sitting
on his backside, stunned. Two deliveries later, Chanderpaul hit an unusual
six over third man while aiming a shot towards mid wicket
It was the cue for Gayle to join the party and he too cut loose. He smashed
Glen McsGrath for two leg side sixes in an extraordinary two overs that produced
22 runs. West Indies were 49 for no loss in just five overs.
Australia had lost the initial skirmish; but then, they rarely give in easily.
Chanderpaul promptly dragged the next ball on to his stumps. That was the first
sign of imminent danger.
With the score on 80 for two, in the 10th over, Bracken threaded one to hit
Gayle’s off stump. That was the start of the West Indies batting collapse
on a pitch that carried no menace. West Indies were all out for 138 in 30.4
Set to overhaul a tiny total of 138, Australia lost two early wickets as Brian
Lara attacked desperately. But Shane Watson and Damien Martyn rallied through
to post 45 for two after 10 overs. After the lunch interval, for more than
two hours, the skies growled angrily overhead and intermittent showers entertained.
Eventually the fickle Mumbai clouds yielded and Australia resumed their march
towards their maiden Champions Trophy triumph.
The forced break made the revised target easier for Australia and they were
required to score just 116 runs in a maximum of 35 overs. Watson and Martyn
needed only 28.1 overs to help Australia win the trophy for the first time.
Both the two finalist came from Group A. By beating West Indies in the final
Australia avenged their defeat at the hands of West Indies in the group matches.
Australia also beat India in the group match when Australia and India went
head to head in Mohali with the place in semi-finals at stake.
At Mohali, the day couldn’t have begun better for India. Dravid won the
toss and elected to bat, surely prompted by the mounds of grass that sat sadly
somewhere beyond the ground and the clean-shaven pitch.
India hopefully, had also got their combination right, packing the middle order
with seven batsmen. India soon got into their groove, with the stadium packed
and the noise reaching a crescendo and the dholaks dancing to their own tunes.
. Tendulkar took time to settle done, getting off the mark with a boundary.
But McGrath, the old enemy, was nicely setting him up. He soon ensnared him
for the seventh time. Pathan kept his pinch-hitting bat in the coffin. Dinesh
Mongia began with flourish, pulling McGrath to the mid-wicket fence but looked
scratchy against the pace onslaught
With a gilt-edged axe hanging over his neck, Virender Sehwag came up with a
face-saving and place-saving knock. Rahul Dravid too delivered a polished 52,
and it looked like India would finally make an imposing total. However, Australia
maintained a stranglehold on the scoreboard. They kept plucking wickets and
cut off every extra run. Kaif made 30. Dhoni vainly tried to crack the final
overs, but India was clearly at least 20 runs short, as the rest couldn’t
do enough to lift Team India out of the grave.
Set to chase a teasing 249 for eight, Australia began on a gallop and aided
by some poor fielding by the Indians, pounded their way home by the 46th over.
Indian bowlers should have learnt from McGrath how to keep line and length
despite being attacked by Indian batsman with their stroke play. Indian bowlers
however sprayed the ball and thus gave opportunities for Australia to score
Ricky Ponting smashed a rollicking 58 to supplement Shane Watson’s breezy
50 to leave India reeling in pain, if not in shame. Australia lost merely four
wickets as the sceptre of dew faded and the bounce evaporated faster than the
crowds in the stands.
By the time the dew surfaced and the air became cold and misty, the stands
were almost empty.
India’s campaign to win on the home soil came to a sad end. It had promised
so much but had failed to deliver. In fact the whole contingent from the Indian
sub-continent, India Pakistan and Sri Lanka failed to make the semi final stage.
If they wish to participate at the next ICC Champions trophy, they rectify
the mistakes in their game plan. They have also had to raise the standard of
their fielding and bowl consistently at length without giving away too many
Pakistan will be the next to host the Champions Trophy in 2008, under a new
format where only eight teams will take part. That should increase the intensity
and excitement still further.
Drugs in Cricket
There were many plusses at the ICC Champions trophy tournament. First the
adherence to Spirit of Cricket and the second a continued strong stance against
drugs in sport through WADA.
A day after the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) officials expressed dissatisfaction
over the ICC’s doping policy, ICC, the cricket’s world governing
body reaffirmed its commitment to the codes of WADA.
ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed said that the current ICC Champions Trophy
is the first tournament since ICC became signatories to the WADA Code.
It has presented ICC with some challenging issues particularly the logistical
ones particularly as no infrastructure or culture of drug-testing exists currently
ICC is committed to ensuring that cricket retains a zero tolerance attitude
to drug-use. It is also committed to ensuring that those full members of the
ICC that are not currently testing their players outside of ICC tournaments,
start that process as soon as possible.
Since testing began in 2002 no player had tested positive for a banned substance
at an ICC tournament with the exception of the two Pakistan bowlers.
The Pakistan bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif were the first to be tested
as positive for taking the steroid nandrolone. The Pakistan Cricket Authorities
have taken action by banning these players and withdrawing them from their
squad to represent Pakistan at the ICC Champions trophy. Shoaib has been banned
for two years while Asif for one year. Both the players have however denied
taking any banned substance knowingly. Asif has lodged an appeal against his
ban while Shoaib is still considering an appeal. A report from Pakistan’s
drugs panel mentioned that the injury plagued Akhtar took supplements, vitamins
and herbal medicines for several years without informing the Pakistan board
staff. Akhtar claims that he has never seen a list of banned substances issued
It is a tragedy that the careers of two top cricketers have been tarnished
in this way, but at the same time it emphasises that cricket has zero tolerance
of drugs use.
Yasir Arafat and Abdul Rehman replaced the banned Pakistan bowlers for ICC
Champions Trophy Champions Trophy squad following the withdrawal of Shoaib
Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.
The Oval test fiasco.
Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas has been replaced as the Team Manager
for the ICC Champions Trophy in India following his failure to play a stronger
role in the Oval test fiasco. The former stylish batsman has been the Pakistan
manager since early this year. He has also been referee in the past a chief
selector and ICC.
Another scalp of this fiasco has been Darrell Hair. A concentrated drive by
the powerful Asian bloc has forced ICC to decide to remove from the elite panel
of umpires. Hair’s position had become untenable during the August Oval
test between England and Pakistan. He had accused the Pakistan bowlers of ball
tampering and had penalised them five runs. Pakistan refused to take the field
after fourth day in protest. The umpires Darrell Hair and his colleague Billy
Doctrove from West Indies were forced to award the match to England, the first
ever forfeited test match.
An ICC inquiry cleared the Pakistan captain, Inzamam ul Haq, of ball tampering
but found him guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and banned him from
four one day internationals.
England women deny
The England’s and Wales cricket Board has played down the sledging claims
against the National Women’s team during the recent series against India.
The allegations were made by India’s Captain Mithali Raj following the
teams return to India.
An ECB statement said that England took pride in playing cricket within the
spirit of the game and the series against India was no different.
In the two test match series India won 1-0.
ICC Awards for 2006
Some of the top names in cricket were on hand in Mumbai to present this
ICC Awards 2006. Imran Khan, Sunil Gavaskar and Tony Greig, are some of the
people that attended the function. The local Indian hero Sachin
Tendulkar presented the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Player of the Year.
Sri Lanka’s Jayawardene was named Captain of the Year. 29 year-old Jayawardene
displayed impressive leadership qualities, leading his side to a series of
impressive victories against tough opposition. Between 1 August 2005 and 8
August 2006, Jayawardene captained his side in nine Test matches, winning five
of them, and 14 ODI’s, winning ten.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting was named international cricket’s Test
Player of the Year. The 31-year-old Tasmanian topped the poll ahead of team-mate
Michael Hussey,Pakistan’s Mohammed Yousuf and spinners Muttiah Murlitharan
of Sri Lanka and Australia’s Shane Warne.
Since last year’s awards women’s cricket has come under the auspices
of the ICC. Australian Karen Rolton became the first Women’s Player of
the Year. She beat India’s Anjum Chopra and Katherin Brunt of England
to that honour.
India the richest cricket nation.
It is no coincidence that when Lalit Modi was elected as a member of the
BCCI committee that the fortunes of Indian cricket would change. Today, Lalit
Modi is the most important cricket administrator in the world. He has made
India as one of the richest cricketing nations. As Vice president of the
Board of Control for Cricket in India, and as Chairman of their marketing
sub-committee, Modi is exploiting, for all its worth, what he calls the most
powerful brand in the world of sport. As a result, he will be as influential
as anybody else in shaping what international cricket will look and feel
like in the years to come.
Modi and 21st century Indian cricket is a perfect match.
Born to a wealthy Indian family, with tentacle like business interest,
he spent much of his youth in the United States learning about marketing
in sport. He believes that sport business is like no other business, having
the ability to cut across all creeds and castes. That is why he decided to
make his own mark by bringing televised cricket through Ten Sports and ESPN
The timing was spectacular. Indian cricket had been rejuvenated by the rebirth
of its rivalry with Pakistan in 1978, the 1983 World Cup victory, by the arrival
of cricketing superstars like Sachin Tendulkar. Most importantly in the 1990’s,
by the happy combination of double digit burgeoning economic growth, the proliferation
of one day internationals and consumer crazy middle class that wants to watch
Television did for Indian cricket what it had done in UK for football. Even
in a country where running water is hard to come by, where two fifth of the
population live below poverty, 86 percent are known to be watching television
as their main hobby.
From the deals Modi negotiated at Ten Sports and ESPN, he found that BCCI were
underselling their rights and that corruption was rife. The television stations
would be in profit after the first year of a four year deal and that side deals
were an integral part of negotiating process. It was his love of cricket and
frustration in knowing that Indian cricket was being short changed and corrupted
that encouraged him to fight the system.
His challenge to the system started in Rajasthan, where he allied himself with
the Chief Minister and pursued Rungta family through the courts. Rungta family
had run Rajasthan cricket as a personal fiefdom. He did the same with Jagmohan
Dalmiya, the man who had run the whole of Indian cricket as if it were its
personal fiefdom. Dalmiya loved power as much as Modi loved money. Modi therefore
backed Sharad Pawar, a powerful politician from Mumbai and set about running
a ruthless election campaign prior to the BCCI elections. Dalmiya was ousted
from office and pursued through the courts for alleged financial irregularities.
Since then, BCCI led by Pawar and Modi have transformed the finances of Indian
cricket. In the four year prior to the arrival of Modi, the BCCI income was
estimated at $67 million. Since the arrival of Modi, the four year cycle that
began in January 2006, BCCI income has already passed $1 billion.
Modi has been ruthlessly efficient at exploiting the BCCI property. A four
year television deal with Nimbus raked $612 million, team and shirt deals with
Sahara and Nike brought another $641 million, dwarfing equivalent contracts
in any other sport. A TV deal with Zee TV for India’s matches on neutral
venues is worth another $219 million.
With technology changing at such a rapid pace Modi plans to exploit every available
BCCI with their new found wealth, intend to change the infrastructure. As a
priority Modi wants to make India’s 22 international stadium into state
of the art providing spectators far greater access and better facilities.
This is greatly overdue. For example recently in Goa, it transpired that thousands
of spectators failed to gain access to the ground despite holding tickets.
The stadium had minimal entry points to allow access to 40,000 spectators.
The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and a show case venue of Indian cricket has
disgraceful facilities for spectators.
The rejuvenation of domestic cricket in India is also high on the agenda and
there are plans afoot for a new intercity domestic league. The BCCI have promised
to give 26% of gross revenue, to the Indian players, both domestic and international,
so they too can benefit.
Modi is determined to take the game to India’s massive population. He
plans as many as 25 matches per year against Pakistan in neutral countries
such as America, England, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and United Arab Emirate where
India will play two matches against their great rivals.
It is his motivation to simply take the game to an audience who only get to
see their team play on television. He has been contact with the England and
Wales Cricket Board to arrange matches against Pakistan at Lords. The ECB would
be given a match fee and BCCI would keep the television rights. His critics
point out that by playing on neutral venues, allows the BCCI to keep the television
revenues, and could put Modi on a collision course with the International Cricket
India has already bared their teeth over future tours programme, where they
think it does not allow them the maximum potential to exploit their home matches.
The Champions trophy that was played in India benefits all nations rather than
The traditionalists are not used to such brash commercialism and naked exploitation.
They see a difference between sport and business, but they have to know that
cricket cannot survive without money. India has therefore got to have the balance
The BCCI is now preparing to bid as much as $1 billion for control of television
rights for every International Cricket Council from next year to 2015.
Starting after 2007 Cricket World Cup, the deal would cover the new Twenty20
World Championships, the Champions trophy tournament, and most notably the
2011 and 2015 World Cups.
Every broadcaster including Channel 4 and Sky would have to go to the Indian
board to negotiate a fee to cover the tournaments. This would place BCCI, an
amateur body in position of enormous power over the world game.
If successful, the bid could be seen as emphasising the power shift in what
some English once fondly imagined to be their game. Already ICC has moved their
headquarters from Lords to Dubai thus emphasising the power shift from west
After taking control over the revenue from India’s TV rights , India
is now emerging as an economic powerhouse and flexing its muscle in audacious
move to take over Cricket’ world wide television coverage.
India is now regarded as the most important market in International cricket,
generating over 60% of sports overall income. Matches in India can attract
stadium audiences of up to 100.000. When Sachin Tendulkar walks out to bat
for the Indian test team against Pakistan, the domestic TV audience is said
to exceed the population of Europe.
However one thing stands in the way of the Indian bid. ICC’s commercial
arm has previously ruled that bids for the ICC rights should be restricted
to broadcasters and agencies. Any bid by the Indian cricket board would be
disallowed unless the Indian Board persuaded ICC Development committee at their
next International meeting.
India’s economic growth now rivalling China, call centres taking bites
out of western economies the Indian industrialists taking over British and
French steels, this is another move in India’s apparently unstoppable
Hockey World Cup
India’s dismal performance at the World Cup has left them last in the
pool with only one point. Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran was obviously a disappointed
man and failed to put up a brave face as India ended without a single win to
He said that you cannot expect to win if you concede close to ten short corners
in every match. Our deep defence has really faltered in this area, India gave
away corners very easily, and was then unable to defend them. The team has
been very inconsistent and has struggled to hold on the opponents from scoring
I think the biggest thing that has been lacking is the mental strength of the
team. The team is talented and at par with the best of the world. However they
are not mentally strong and must learn how to cope with pressure.
On the positive side, the show by young strikers Shivendra Singh Tushar Khandekar
and Hari Parsad were one of the plus points, and hopefully they will mature
into better players in two to three years time.
Saina Nehwal thwarted a spirited challenge from Bae Youn Joo of Korea to
reach the girls’ singles final at the World Junior Badminton Championship in
Incheon, South Korea.
World No 32 Saina, etched out a stunning performance to prevail over the Korean
winning in two straight games 25-23 21-13. She is now one win away from creating
Saina, seeded 14th, disposed of Bae in just 35 minutes to set up a title clash
with top seed Wang Yihan of China. Yihan defeated Kim Moon of Korea 21-16 21-13
in the other semi-final.
For Saina, the Korean was a tough nut to crack but the 16-year-old was at her
agressive best and played with a purpose. Saina has got some good wins in this
tournament by defeating Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese and Korean girls.
More India Sport Scene
More articles by Ramesh Seedhar
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