Fans Disappointed at Absence of Key Players

Eugene Correia

11 September 1998

Disappointment reigns in Toronto's cricketing community because of the absence of key players from both the Indian and Pakistani teams for the Sahara Cup One-Day International Series.

Former skipper Sachin Tendulkar and all-rounder Ajay Jadeja have been chosen for the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia where cricket is introduced for the first time, while Pakistani Wasim Akram was not released by county Lancashire and Waqar Younis was not considered because of an elbow injury.

Two callers to the India Journal office complained that the Board not only cheated the world's leading batsman of his chance to add runs to his total but the board also denied his Toronto admirers to see him in his current batting form.

The spokesperson for the International Management Group (IMG), Kiersty Smith, said that no such complaints have been received at its Toronto office.

Kiersty said that the IMG is ``very happy'' at the composition of the Indian team and it has no business to influence either the Indian or Pakistani boards on the selection of the teams for the tournament.

She disclosed that the IMG contracts with the respective boards calls for ``the best possible sides.'' She said she wasn't aware if Tendulkar's absence would affect the sale of tickets, which are handled by a private company, TicketMaster.

President of the Canadian Cricket Association (CCA), Dr. Geoff Edwards, said that the CCA is neither involved in negotiating with the IMG regarding the team nor in ticketing matters.

``The CCA has certain functions. We have no problems with the IMG. In the past there have been problems and after significant attempts these have been solved,'' he added.

When asked if the absence of key players from both the Indian and Pakistani teams would affect the sales of tickets and as well as the response from the cricketing public, Dr. Edwards said that there's a possibility of eleventh hour changes.

The CCA was obviously referring to the media rumours that Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh may fly to Toronto for at least two matches if India fails to qualify for the semifinals at the Commonwealth Games.

At a press conference in Chennai, India, on Monday, Jadeja the skipper for the Malaysian side, reacted strongly to the rumours, saying ``I don't know how this impression got around.''

He said that the team was confident of bringing home a gold medal and honour the country.''

A caller to the India Journal office said he will watch maybe one match instead of all five because he felt Tendulkar's absence has robbed the tournament of glamour.

He said he is in the process of collecting signatures to send to the Indian board to reconsider its decision to send Tendulkar to Malaysia.

Former editor of The Canadian Cricketer, Ahmad Saidullah, said, ``In my opinion, Tendulkar's inclusion in the team to Malaysia came only after pressure from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Similarly, Wasim's absence points to the need for the ICC to establish a protocol that would prevent counties and states denying a player the right to represent his or her country.''

``I believe, regardless of the Tendulkar issue, that the Indian and Pakistani boards should have renegotiated the dates for the Sahara Cup with IMG. The talk about whether this move is good or bad for Tendulkar's career is neither here nor there. However much we would like him to succeed in the brilliant form he's in, there's always a possibility that Tendulkar may rise to the challenge of facing a full-strength Australian side in Kuala Lumpur than to facing a weakened Pakistani attack sans Waqar and Wasim in Toronto,'' he added.

Some sources told the newspaper that many cricket enthusiasts from the Canada-US border areas will not make the trip to Toronto to watch the tournament because of the absence of key players in both sides.

(Edited for Cricinfo with permission from India Journal, vol. VII, no. 44, Friday September 11, 1998.)

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Source: Eugene Correia

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 12 Sep1998 - 10:31