It really is good times for Indian sport and all the money spent on building various infrastructure seems to be paying rich dividends now.
By Sunil Gavaskar
India’s World Cup win is still ringing in the presents for the members of the team and hopefully all the promises will be fulfilled but as we know from past experiences it is easy to speak but much harder to do it. Be that as it may, the win has added to the number of World Champions in Indian sport.
Not too long after Mahi’s men won the Cricket World Cup the Indian duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi got the number one ranking in world doubles in tennis. There is Saina Nehwal who is among the top three in what is a most demanding sport. Badminton is a sport where to stay number one for more than few weeks is a huge achievement and so Saina’s ranking is to be appreciated even more. There are the shooters who have been top of their respective sport for quite some time now and the boxers and wrestlers are also right on top.
Then of course there is the one and only Vishwanathan Anand who has recently become a proud father and has said that he hasn’t looked at Chess for over two weeks now. That of course is understandable but it won’t be long before he is matching wits with opponents and making sure that nobody catches him napping. It really is good times for Indian sport and all the money spent on building various infrastructure seems to be paying rich dividends now.
What is heartening is to see Leander and Mahesh playing together again. Watching them play was terrific because they bring an energy to the game that has seldom been seen in Indian sport. It really was a pity that they drifted apart and lost a major part of their peak years while they were winning titles with other partners but that was in the past and it is time to rejoice in their play now. There is Rohan Bopanna who is partnering Aisam Qureshi, a Pakistani player and doing well too.
Speaking of Pakistan there is some movement to resume sporting ties between the two countries. India has a packed cricketing schedule for the next year so there is no chance of any contests between the two arch rivals at least this year. What it means is that the BCCI has another year at least before they have to look at resuming ties and hopefully there will be some concrete developments rather than empty words at the highest level of authorities from across the border. Having said that it will be interesting to see how many of the players’ families will allow their loved one to go on the tour especially after what happened to the Sri Lankan team just two years back. As of writing this not one person has been apprehended for that heinous attack. It is a tour that Pakistan need more than India does and that’s why a decision about this must not be taken lightly.
The more current issue is about the Sri Lankan government asking its players playing in the IPL to report to a conditioning camp before they leave on the tour. England in May will be a bit cooler than Colombo, so a conditioning camp there does not make much sense. Sure the players have to go on the tour for playing for the country comes first which is accepted by the IPL and that’s why a No Objection Certificate from the home board is insisted upon by the BCCI before any overseas player is signed up. When the Lankan players were signed up for this edition of the IPL, it was on the understanding that they would be available at least till the middle of May. If they then have to go then there is no issue at all but it is the report that they have to return ten days before that has come as a shock to the franchises.
Those franchises that did not go for Chris Gayle will perhaps be regretting that since the left-handed destroyer has been omitted from the ODI squad to play Pakistan and so could have been available for the first part of this IPL. It is for this uncertainty of international selection that players like Kieron Pollard have not signed the contract with their Board and Andrew Symonds has quit international cricket prefering playing in the IPL instead. Symonds has had success at the Test and ODI level, so maybe the ambition may have lessened to play at that level and Pollard is still young enough to try and get into the West Indies Test team a bit later on. There has to be non-cricketing reasons for Gayle’s omission from the team and that is something that no player however big or seemingly irreplaceable, can ever control.
The IPL is just about warming up as teams settle down. It is a new season and this year many players have switched teams, so naturally it will take some time for them especially the new teams to gel. There are plenty of matches still to go and as the sun gets hotter some of the early energy may flag and some players may lose the spark they had at the start of the IPL. The teams that rotate its players and keeps the enthusiasm going is the one that will triumph in the end and the end is not yet in sight.