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Cricket Manager

ARTICLE: NZ Cent. Cup - Indian Disaster (S.Gavaskar) - 23 Feb 1995

New Zealand Centenary Cup - Indian Disaster : S.M.Gavaskar

Although cricket has hogged most of the sporting headlines in the
last  couple  of  weeks,  an  item tucked away in a corner of the
sports pages could not be missed.  This  was  the Federation   of
International Hockey`s reaction to the proposal of the organisers
of the Indira Gandhi Hockey tournament to give  cars  and   other
prizes for the outstanding players of the tournament.

The Federation of International Hockey`s  thought  that  awarding
individual  prizes in a team sport would take away from the feel-
ing of team spirit and encourage selfish play. The argument  does
have  some  merit  but  it seldom happens that a player in a team
sport goes out to play for an  individual prize.  A  team   sport
necessarily  means  the meshing together of individual talent but
since all the players in the team do not have the same talent all
the players may not have an equal contribution to make.

There will always be players who will contribute more simply  be-
cause  they have more ability than the others and it is this spe-
cial skill that not only brings in  the  spectators through   the
turnstiles  but  also brings in the sponsors. And if the sponsors
are happy to come in with prizes to reward these  special  skills
then  there really should be no objection so long as the prize is
available to all those who are participating  in  the  tournament
and thus have an equal chance to claim it.

At the international level there is so much pressure that  it  is
virtually   impossible   for  a player to play for a prize.  With
TV coverage a player playing for himself would  be  spotted  most
easily  and  the  truism  in team  sport is  that most individual
awards are won by the players of a winning team so a player whose
selfish play might have cost his team heavily is hardly likely to
win an individual award.

Sponsorship is the name of the game today and if hockey  is  get-
ting  sponsors  coming forward to reward brilliance then it would
be foolish of the administrators to look  a  gift  horse in   the
mouth.  In  any  case  there  is  no harm in trying to see if the
prizes affect individual play to the detriment of the team`s  in-
terest.  If  it  does then the prizes can be banned from the next
tourney but to ban them even without giving it a fair go is hard-
ly fair to the players or for the promotion of the game.

Promotion of the sport should be of paramount interest to the ad-
ministrators and if awarding individual prizes is one way of get-
ting more people especially youngsters attracted to the game then
so be it.  Youngsters tend to ape stars from sports which are po-
pular or where there are brilliant players and so if a prize  can
bring forth brilliance from a player then why not ?

The New Zealand Cricket Cup Centenary tournament was a bit  of  a
disaster for the Indian team and there is no doubt that the bats-
men must cop the blame for it.  The  Indian  batting  is  rightly
known for its strength but none of the batsmen did themselves any
credit. In all the matches that India  played, the  batsmen   got
themselves off to a start, did all the hard work and just when it
looked like they would be consolidating they got  themselves  out
to  a  loose  shot.  The team thus suffered as the new batsman to
come in not only had to settle down quickly but score as well and
it is not easy to do that.

The Indian fielding was also below par and  with  the  World  Cup
coming up in less than a year`s time, the Indian selectors have a
hard job in trying to pick players who will not be liabilities on
the  field  if  they fail in their specialised role of batting or
bowling. The Indian bowling which was not really supposed to make
an   impression  surprised  pleasantly with the way they stuck to
their task and did not wilt under punishment. Yes, we still  have
to find a good third seamer as well as a support spinner for Kum-
ble but these need to identified and persevered with. There is no
point in chopping and changing too much for the replacements will
be also continually under tension to perform  in  order  to  keep
their place in the side.

The success of the Centenary Tournament will have given  the  New
Zealand  Cricket  Cup  administrators  something  to cheer about.
Since this is being written even before the New Zealand vs  South
Africa game one does not even know whether New Zealand will be in
the finals or even go on to win the tournament though that  looks
a  bit unlikely considering the kind of form the Australian bats-
men are in but then in one-day cricket nobody can be  certain  of

The only criticism of the tourney would be  the  fact  that  team
squads especially the New Zealand team was allowed to be changed.
In tourneys where overseas teams  are  invited,  no  replacements
should  be  allowed  unless there has been an injury in the match
which has ruled a player out of the tournament.  Being  the  host
country  it is especially important not to be able to take advan-
tage of the proximity of distances to replace players but  that`s
exactly  what New Zealand did.  Murphy Su`a their seam bowler was
suspended after the first match and the Kiwis should  have  stuck
to the rest of the squad. Instead they replaced Su`a with Pringle
whose omission from the squad in  the  first  place  had  brought
forth   criticism  from  their  captain,  Ken  Rutherford.  Sua`s
suspension gave the selectors the scope to bring back Pringle.

They also had brought back, earlier in the season,  Andrew  Jones
who  proved once more that once you are past 30 and have had more
than a season`s break then it is very difficult, if not  impossi-
ble, to make a comeback successfully. That he had to play against
the West Indies must not have helped but like in any other  sport
in modern times a gap of even a few weeks is difficult to bridge.
Most domestic  competitions,  with  the exception  of   Australia
perhaps,  are  just not tough schooling grounds for international
cricket. Jones, however, must be applauded for responding to  his
country`s  call  in a time of crisis even though he knew that his
otherwise fine Test record would be spoilt by  being  exposed  to
the West Indians.

One wonders if that was the reason that kept  Martin  Crowe,  the
one  acknowledged  world  class  New Zealand batsman, from making
himself available against the West Indies. During  the week   the
West  Indies  thrashed  New Zealand by the heavy margin of an in-
nings and over 300 runs in the Test, Crowe was playing  for   his
state  in the New Zealand-first-class game and scoring 150 and 90
being not out on both occasions. Years after a  Test  career   is
over,  people  will  look back and check the players performances
against certain teams and performances against the  West  Indians
will  be  the  yardstick by which most players especially batsmen
will be rated by. Crowe missed out on the opportunity deliberate-
ly  or otherwise and may perhaps regret it later on especially if
cricket historians do not rank him among the all time greats sim-
ply because he did not do enough against the world champions. The
monthly ratings that come out do not matter a damn  because  they
are  indicators  of  current form. It is at the end of the career
and the performances against top teams that decide where a player
sits among the great players of the game.

Source :: IndiaWorld online
 Contributed by Rohan (

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