African Safari: The tour diary
Ashish Shukla - 29 November 2001
An unhappy team management and a relaxed Sehwag
The Indian team is due to leave for India on Thursday evening but it
seems there is trouble brewing on more than one front. Virender Sehwag's
selection in the final 14 for the first Test against England might have
caused the biggest flutter in cricketing circles around the world. But
as far as the team management is concerned, it is the fact that the the
team announced at Jaipur on Wednesday evening differs vastly from the
one they had indicated, which has raised hackles. The composition of the
new Indian bowling attack, made up almost entirely of new faces, has
been greeted with some emotion here in Johannesburg and one cnnot help
but obseve that it surely would help any journalist looking for a juicy
copy to be a fly on the wall when John Wright and Sourav Ganguly finally
come face to face with the Indian selectors at Mohali.
Meanwhile, the cricketers, who are returning empty-handed as far as the
silverware is concerned, have made it a point to fill their bags with
goodies from the bustling malls of Johannesburg. The man in the eye of
the storm that is threatening the very foundations of the ICC, Virender
Sehwag, went to Mckrow, a one-stop wonder of a shopping mall at
Woodmead, a suburb of Johannesburg, and indulged himself in buying some
fancy stuff for himself and his family. Clad in yellow-T shirt and blue
jeans he looked very relaxed.
Javagal Srinath, for his part, has though been in a sombre mood since
the end of the Centurion Test. His fractured left-hand has meant that he
will not play at Mohali and might be that had something to do with his
slipping into a meditative mood.
Babu, as Srinath is known, is a charming character who hasn't got
his share of accolades for his contribution to Indian cricket. He has
often been criticised for being an underachiever in international
cricket but not many realise that his acheivements have come despite
hardly any support from the other end, except in 1996 when he and
Venkatesh Prasad forged a formidable pair of new ball bowlers in world
A modest Babu says he was never in the same league as Glenn
McGrath, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and hints that perhaps cricket
fans and critics expected too much from him. He also doesn't blame media
for the occasional criticism, saying he can understand their frustration
given the fact that he has been the spearhead of Indian bowling attack.
Tuesday evening had earlier seen the Indian pace ace and the rest of the
Indian team attend a farewell dinner at the Indian high commissioner S
Mukherjee's residence, an event to which the media was also invited.
Everyone had a good time, and the journalists and players spoke to one
another with great understanding. More than one cricketer thanked the
media for pushing the cause of the team at that fateful press conference
of November 20 in Port Elizabeth an event whose repercussions have
plunged the game into its gravest crisis yet.
African Safari - Other issues
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05 Nov | 13 Nov | 17 Nov | 21 Nov