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August - September 2008


India Sport Scene

Cricket, Hockey, Golf & Tennis

by Ramesh Seedhar, Dr C. P Dalvi & Sudhir Misra


Cricket

Indian Premier League (IPL)

The razzmatazz of IPL is over and the cricketers have now gone back to their national duty and to perform in international cricket.

The six weeks of glamour and camaraderie developed in respective dressing rooms will prevail but on the field it will be a case of hard nosed competition.

The IPL was a test of character for the teams and the team that best responded was the Rajasthan Royals led by the legendry Shane Warne.

Shane Warne was there at the end to haul Rajasthan Royals over the line in the final of the DLF Indian Premier League. The three wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings marked the end of the journey for Shane Warne. His biggest contribution was to make competitive cricket an enjoyable experience for both the spectators and the players.

Rajasthan Royals were the most successful team having won 12 of the 15 matches they played. According to Shane Warne the success of the Rajasthan Royals was that they worked as a team and were not dependent upon any one individual.

The best part of IPL was that it gave the opportunity to senior world class players to work with young guys, watch them learn skills and enjoy their cricket. Warne gave the team the confidence to walk on the edge and goaded the youngsters to perform without fear of failure.

Atypical result of motivation is recalled by Yousuf Pathan. Pathan recalls an inspirational moment when Warne took the all rounder to a corner during a practice session and told him that he was the main man. Warne said that “you will do the job for us”. Pathan’s confidence went up a few notches. “When your captain, such a great cricketer, displays so much faith in you, you have to respond.

Pathan was the man of the moment for Rajasthan Royals against a spirited Chennai Super Kings in high octane summit clash that threw up a winner only on the last delivery.

Cricket is played as much in the mind as in the arena. The wily Warne had recognised Pathan’s precious ability and had then used his motivational skills to get the best out of him.

Rajasthan Royals also kept surprising the opponents with their game plans. There were changes in the batting order and the batting pattern differed according to the situation. This was the side that invariably nailed close finishes, held its nerve at the crunch and threw up unexpected heroes in adverse situations.

Shane Watson, before he came to India to join Rajasthan Royals was down on his luck and high on injuries but under Warne he delivered both in batting and bowling. Watson was adjudged IPL’s most outstanding performer, Yousuf Pathan being chosen as the player of the final and Sohail Tanvir topped the bowling chart The success of IPL has led ICC to think of including it as part of the ICC calendar. The multi million dollar Twenty20 tournament has been included in the final draft of radical proposals to revamp the ICC’s international programming.

The suggested schedule includes IPL and it will be presented to the ICC’s executive board in Dubai. Players and player associations have demanded a space for the IPL for they fear that emerging cricketers will abandon playing for their country and instead take big money on offer in the IPL.

In a recent survey more than half of the 64 players polled from seven of the nine active test playing countries including Australia were willing to sacrifice their career for IPL money.

This was highlighted when the Sri Lankan Board bowed to pressure from their players and gave the players freedom to fulfil lucrative IPL commitments and skip a test and one day series in England due to being at Lords on May 7 2009.

It is feared that the Sri Lankan decision may set a precedent and add to the fear that test cricket is sliding down on priorities in the modern game.

With so much money at stake the IPL was back at the centre of corruption allegations when police in Calcutta busted abetting ring with links to London. Five people were arrested for allegedly running an inter- state betting racket on the results of IPL matches. There is no suggestion the men have official links to the IPL. The Indian Cricket Board stressed that they are taking sufficient measures to stamp out match fixing with players barred from using mobile phones at matches and flow of visitors to the dressing room is closely monitored.

Gambling is illegal in India but a murky under world of bookies flourishes with billions of pounds thought to have been waged on IPL matches.

A breakaway Twenty 20

According to the Daily Telegraph of England, a company New twenty 20 will be formed to manage a new Twenty 20 tournament built around a creation of certain nine new teams, setting forward a radical vision for the future of English cricket. The twenty 20 tournament will replace the traditional 18 county format.

The nine clubs based at the international grounds, Lords, the Oval Edgbaston, Trent Bridge, Headingley, Rose Bowl, Chester Le Street and Cardiff will be formed and owned by private investors.

The project is the brainchild of Keith Bradshaw the Chief Executive of MCC and is the English cricket’s answer to the Indian premier League.

World Twenty 20 Championships

The tickets for World Twenty 20 Championships to be held in England in 2009 were all sold out, although the future of the tournament hanged in the balance while England and Wales Cricket Board and their Indian counterparts tried to hammer out a compromise over Zimbabwe.

The England Cricket Board wanted Zimbabwe to be expelled from the International Cricket Council. In their opinion conferring Test status upon the country in 1992 was a mistake. Zimbabwe never had a domestic first class structure and a test team cannot be built on such a flimsy foundation. India was however one of the supporters of Zimbabwe’s application and were also the first to tour Zimbabwe.

Astatement from Zimbabwe stating that they had withdrawn from Twenty 20 world Cup in 2009 saved England’s blushes. ICC in their turn decided not to suspend Zimbabwe.

The Asian block has been gaining in importance at the ICC and Pakistan demonstrated the power of the Asian block when they successfully over turned the result of the controversial Oval test of 2006. Pakistan had refused to take the field after being accused of match fixing by the umpire Darrell Hair who then awarded the test to England for failure of Pakistan to play. That match will now be deemed a draw.

The Indian Cricket Board has plunged the new Twenty 20 Champions League into chaos. It has threatened to boycott the competition if their teams have to play against a side that contains a player having links to the rival Indian Cricket league. As one of the signatories to the tournament the Indian Cricket Board do not have the power to ban ICL players but their threat of boycott is the next best thing.

Lalit Modi is the commissioner of the Indian premier League, a tournament with official backing of BCCI. The tournament made more than $40 million profit for BCCI. Modi is determined to kill off the ICL, a rival Twenty20 tournament run by India’s Zee Television. With the result, English County players have found themselves in the cross fire of apolitical battle in India

The Asia cup

Sensational spinning by Ajantha Mendis who took six wickets for just 13 runs to helped Sri Lanka beat India by 100 runs in the final of the Asia Cup in Karachi.

The 23 year old spinner mesmerised the Indian batsman with a career best figures. India lost 9 wickets for 97 runs and was bowled out 173 in 39.3 overs.

For India Shewag hit 12 boundaries during his knock. After his departure there was little or no resistance as Mendis bowled Yuvraj Sing for a duck with a straight delivery and then bowled Suresh Raina. After Shewag only Dhoni and Robin Uthappa offered any resistance.

For Sri Lanka Sanath Jayasuriya hit a fighting 125 to help Sri Lanka post 273 runs in their 50 overs. This was Jayasuriya’s 27th one day hundred and he became the second highest century maker in one day cricket behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who has made 42 centuries. Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf presented the trophy and congratulated the Sri Lankan team for their victory and praised the Indians for playing well.

He said that such healthy competitions are important and necessary for Pakistan and for the region. He congratulated the Pakistan Board and the Asian Cricket Council for successfully organising the event. He also condemned the Islamabad ‘s bomb blast and said that life must go on and sporting events would continue to held in Pakistan.

India’s tour to Sri Lanka.

India’s leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar will return from injury in the three test series against Sri Lanka. The tests will be played in Colombo from 23rd July, Galle from 31st July and again in Colombo from 8th August.

The Indian vice Captain Dhoni will miss the first part of the tour due to fatigue and in his place Shewag has been named as the vice captain and Anil Kumble will skipper the side. Dhoni will return for the five ODI’s that follow the tests.

Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh have been omitted from the squad, while Harbhajan Singh returns after the end of his ban for slapping Sreesanth during the IPL series. Sreesanth has also been overlooked with the return of Zaheer Khan. Shewag has been named the vice captain to skipper Kumble. The other members of the squad are Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, R.P.Singh, Munaf Patel, Rohit Sharm a, Dinesh Kartik, Parthiv Patel. Newcomer Pragyan Ojha has been called as a back up to spinners Kumble and Harbhajan.

Hockey

India failed to take their fourth Azlan Shah Cup Hockey crown in Singapore. They lost 1-2 to Argentina who claimed their first cup win as result.

India started the game well and took the lead in the 11th minute when Sandeep Singh converted a penalty corner. Argentina soon equalised through Mario Almada. India continued to create chances but failed to convert them playing very cautiously.

The match went into extra time and India was made to pay for their reluctance to go forward as Almada scored his second goal in extra time to clinch the title for Argentina.

In the 3rd – 4th play off position, New Zealand defeated Pakistan to claim the third position.

The tournament however ended up with a controversy. A Malaysian newspaper Malay Mail reported that India-Malaysia match was fixed and the Malaysian Hockey federation has filed a FIR and ordered an inquiry into the matter. It was reported that the match was fixed at the behest ofMalaysian players, who had bet against themselves.

The ad-hoc committee running Indian hockey after the dissolution of the Indian Hockey Federation has said that none of the Indian players were involved. The coach A.K.Bansal expressed shock over the reports of match fixing. He said that “it will be very sad that the whole episode takes the sheen from the performance of his boys who played wonderful hockey to finish as runner up in the Azlan Shah tournament”. “It certainly demoralise me to hear these reports, especially considering the fact that Indian hockey is looking up in recent months. Let me make it clear that we were not even aware of such a thing, leave alone being part of the ugly controversy”. “The players seem to be the least bit bothered by the controversy, but is of concern to us is the fact that brilliant performances of the Indians in the Azlan Shah trophy will be undermined for no fault of my boys. That is saddest thing” he said

This is not the first time that India and Malaysia have been drawn into “match fixing” controversy. Canada had alleged fixing of a qualifier match between the two sides prior to the 1992 Olympics. The International Hockey Federation had then acquitted both teams after an inquiry.

When asked about the preparation for the Junior Asia Cup , the coach A.K.Bansal said that since India were the defending champion as well as the host nation, the pressure was high on his players but he was confident of a good performance from them. “The focus is to keep improving in every area of the game” he added.

Although the Indian team will be absent from taking part in the Beijing Olympics there will be four players of Indian origin who are taking part. The four players, Ranjeev Singh Deol, Ravi Singh Kahlon, Bindi Singh Kullar and Sukhwinder Singh are part of the squad of the Canadian team.

Canada’s best performance in the Olympics was the 10th place in 1976, 1984 and again in 2000. Having qualified for the Beijing event they are hopeful of coming up with their best performance. Canada is in Pool B and scheduled to meet Great Britain, Pakistan Australia and Netherlands.

Golf

India’s Jeev Milkha Singh faltered at the final step and dropped to tenth place in the final standing in the European Open Golf championships

The tenth place finish, while being very creditable meant that that he missed on what could have been a great chance to finish in the top 5 and earn a berth at the British Open at the Royal Birkdale. After his very creditable performance at the US Open Jeev had high hopes for an automatic inclusion in the forthcoming Open championships.

Tennis

Sport has stolen the headlines this year with nail biting performances of football in the European Cup and the tennis at All England Championships.

17 million people in Great Britain saw the men singles final on their television sets, and they will remember it as one of the greatest in the Wimbledon’s history.

At its greatest, sport can be a great art, and in the hands of these two outstanding players Nadal and Federer, it was performed with great finesse.

In an epic five set encounter Nadal of Spain ended Federer’s reign over the Centre Court. It ended in darkness but the pair of them had given us a blaze of eternal light. It was magical theatre that lasted for four hours and 40 minutes in a rain interrupted play. Yet the end had to come and with the force that was Nadal, come it did.

Over all the years, all the delights and awesome wonders that have been Federer’s were on display but the new champion would not be denied, what he thinks to be his birth right. For every magical Federer moment, the feathered slice, the swift footed drive, the brutal wide swing forehand there was a Nadal return or best of all the imitable whipped forehand down the line winner.

In an age in where triumph is deemed to be a necessary component of the desire to win, the defining quality of this final was the grace and elegance in victory and defeat

Nadal was generous in his praise for Federer, who displayed extra ordinary grit in fighting two sets down to come within touching distance of a sixth title before capitulating. Federer was magnanimous in defeat praising Rafa as a deserving champion who had played fantastically. The words respect and honour have been mangled in recent times into something dark and menacing, but here in this epic final there was genuine respect and genuine honour. It was not just the quality of tennis but the humility with which the young Nadal embraced his destiny and the fruits of his colossus labour.

He was a real role model for youth.
Somebody said that the difference between sport and drama is that in sport nobody knows the ending. It was never more wonderfully demonstrated in the near darkness of the south London suburb.
Sport is about winning but in the end it is also just about sport.

Winning Is Not Everything: Playing Host To Major Sporting Events Is The Key To Happiness - Professor Szymanski

Good news for host countries of the Olympics and major football championships

New research from Cass Business School proves that winning major sporting championships is not the key to national happiness, it is hosting the competition that creates the “feelgood” factor. This is good news for the organisers of London 2012 who are facing mounting pressure for a spiralling budget and may come as a surprise to the teams in Euro 2008 who are pinning their nations’ happiness on this weekend’s final.

The research*, by Professor Stefan Szymanski from Cass Business School and Georgios Kavetsos from Tanaka Business School, used cross section data of surveys of reported happiness in European countries from the last 30 years and the success of national teams in the summer Olympics and major international football tournaments. They conclude that hosting major events, particularly marquee football tournaments, is associated with increased reported happiness in the year following the event.

Politicians responsible for bidding to host events consistently claim that events such as the Olympics and the World Cup football generate substantial long term economic benefits, yet there is ample evidence in sports economics literature showing this is not the case. However the public does not appear to penalise these politicians through the ballot box for their erroneous claims, and indeed most politicians calculate that hosting events can only enhance their political standing. This makes sense if the benefits of hosting are not derived through economic gains, but through the “feelgood” factor, specifically associated with being the host.

Professor Szymanski said: “There is much academic research to prove that the economic benefits of hosting major sporting events such as the Olympics are negligible, however this does not take into consideration the pleasure which can be gained by the residents of the host nation as they welcome the world’s greatest athletes to their country.

“This is not to say there are no economic benefits to hosting major sporting events, particularly the Olympics, but the organising committees should face up to the reality that the resources employed for the event could have been more productively used elsewhere and that they are really just sponsoring an international party. Sport is a form of entertainment and with governments seeming to carry the cost burden for the Olympics the public perception can be that they are receiving free entertainment, which for many is quite satisfying.”

The research also revealed that the sporting success of a nation’s athletes has very little impact on the nation’s overall happiness, which may come as welcome news to many British football fans who have had to endure no UK representation in Euro 2008 and to the British competitors who are currently battling it out at Wimbledon.

*The Impact of Major Sporting Events on Happiness by Georgios Kavetsos, Tanaka Business School and Stefan Szymanski, Cass Business School.

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