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EAS Prasanna Column

One of the leading spin bowlers in his time, Erapalli Prasanna was a prominent member of the famed spin quartet. Known for his guile, vicious turn and sinuous flight, Prasanna was rated as the best in the business by many top flight batsmen. He took 189 wickets in 49 Tests in an international career that stretched from 1962 to 1978. A shrewd captain, Prasanna also led Karnataka twice to the Ranji Trophy title in the seventies. His regular column on CricInfo provides an insight into various aspects of the game.

EAS Prasanna's Profile

Set aside more money for the minnows
Erapalli Prasanna - 28 February 2003

Kenya has done the minnows of world cricket a big favour by beating Sri Lanka, a result that higlighted the fact that there is talent available outside the Test-playing countries. The shock upset and John Davison's awesome century against the West Indies has sent a reminder to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that they have to do more to help these countries than just allow them to play a few World Cup games once every four years.

The reach of cricket spans across all the continents now and all the latest converts need is a helping hand from the ICC. There is no shortage of funds at the disposal of the ICC, and I think it will be a good idea for the game's premier body to set up training academies in countries, which are knocking on the doors of international recognition. Globalisation of the game can only happen if the ICC chalks out a plan to improve the standard of the game in these associate member countries so that they can be integrated into the bigger international arena.

To achieve this, the ICC needs to look at re-investing the vast amount of money generated from the current international fixtures, by promoting more 'A' tours to associate member countries and also by allowing countries like Canada, Namibia, Kenya and Holland to tour the major cricketing countries. If my memory serves me right, Canada's participation in this World Cup was in doubt, as they couldn't find a sponsor. It is in such a scenario that the ICC has to step in to help these countries.

The quality of cricket in the World Cup games, which involved the minnows, though, has been abysmal. Blaming these teams though will not solve the issue; the crux of the problem lies in the economic realities in these associate countries. It will be na´ve, to quote a hypothetical instance, to wait for a sponsor to support Canada's tour of India. It is here that the individual boards and the ICC should work together in evolving a solution.

Only with astute investment in countries with potential will we be able to see more competitive sides emerging and making the World Cup more attractive. Otherwise, we will have the current situation of 14 teams divided into two pools, which I think is getting too stale. Hypothetically, if we have a situation, where four good teams are in a group, with all teams playing the other just once, the competition will be at its best.

Now moving over to the Indian team, I am delighted at the way they have bounced back after a couple of disappointing performances. No one doubted their ability to play well; it was their application that was questioned by many, including me.

In this happy hour, when they have almost assured themselves a place in the Super Sixes, they must also make peace with the fact that they will have to take the brickbats with the bouquets, for that is the very nature of life. Unfortunately or fortunately, we Indians are not made like the Australians or the English and are a very emotional people. What Sourav Ganguly's men should then do is tap into that powerful reservoir of emotional energy and bond together. A cohesive and confident Indian team is the one we all love to see, even if they happen to lose an odd game now and then. I am glad that they seem to have recognised this fact and are winning games in the most encouraging manner possible.

In contrast, look at the negative energy that is breaking up the South African team; when the togetherness is lost, the team tends to lose its way. That is why the basic lesson we teach the young players in the cricketing academies around the world is to forge and sustain the team spirit. At no level should there be a step- motherly approach to any player or team, for it is this togetherness and camaraderie that makes cricket such a wonderful sport to play.

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