हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Aussie press turns anti-Sachin

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
 
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Sachin Tendulkar's woes seem to multiply with every new day of the ongoing tour of Australia.

The media, which was all set to go into ecstasy over the performance of the world's leading batsman, has now become one of his worst problems on the tour. A couple of cricket-writers have been unsparing in their criticism of not only his captaincy, but also what they describe his as "confrontationist behaviour."

It is in such troubled times that the Indian captain has to collect his wits and regain his confidence, both as a batsman and a leader, who would motivate his boys to get out of the rut and do something remarkable.

The Indian team cannot afford any more than just an odd defeat in the remaining five matches, if it has to make it to the final of the triangular series. Three straight defeats have done a lot of damage already to their hopes of making it to the final and there isn't much inspiration coming from anywhere either. And god forbid if the injury problems multiply.

While the punch-drunk players themselves and all those connected with the Indian team must be trying very hard to diagnose what has gone wrong so far for them to perform so badly, some of the off-field developments have not helped matters any.

That Tendulkar would be the centre of media attraction, both laudatory and otherwise, was only to be expected, but that some of the columnists should go to the extent of exaggerating issues soley with the intention of running him down to demoralise the entire team was something not quite on the cards.

The latest salvo fired by the print media against Tendulkar is in the form an article appearing in Sunday's Sydney Morning Herald, childishly headlined "Rain, Rain, Go Away."

It said that Tendulkar suggested, through his action, that he wanted to lead his team out of the field, claiming that rain had made the playing arena too treacherous.

The report further said that "Tendulkar, after pacing around the wicket square and rubbing his hands on the ground, insisted that it was too slippery and unfit for immediate return of play".

It went to say "Tendulkar, vice-captain Saurav Ganguly and pace bowler Javagal Srinath clustered in an agitated group around umpire Peter Parker seeking use of the super sopper to dry the wicket surrounds."

"With their cause all but lost, after dismissal for 100, any delay was a good delay for the Indians" added the report.

An angry Tendulkar is reported to have blasted the Australian media for "trying to create a controversy out of nothing".

Fortunately for us in India, and wherever the live telecast of the matches is carried, we seem to get a correct picture of what is actually happening and are enlightened further by the expert commentators, all of whom have played cricket at the highest international level.

As soon as the game resumed after a sharp, heavy shower at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) , the TV commentators persisted in saying that the outfield, and the area near the square, might be quite wet for the bowlers to get a proper foothold.

As if to corroborate their remarks, Tendulkar first walked rather gingerly around the square and then ran his hand on the surface and showed the amount of water that had come off on the palm to umpire Parker. Srinath too suggested that he might slip in his run-up. But the umpire was unrelenting. It was only when Srinath slipped and then one of the Australian batsmen, Adam Gilchrist, showed the soil of his boot and the studs where a lot of wet mud had lodged, did the umpire agree to sprinkle sawdust, not only on the area leading up to the bowler's run-up, but also in the area of the batting crease.

This action immediately suggested that the ground was indeed wet and that the Indians, who were in the field, had every reason to be concerned. What was so unusual or controversial about the whole episode?

The playing conditions clearly stipulate that the umpires will have to satisfy themselves that the ground conditions are fit for play before deciding to resume a rain-affected match.

The playing conditions also lay down that if the ground conditions are not absolutely perfect, the umpires would invite both the captains and ask them whether they would be willing to play under the prevailing conditions.

Hence, there was nothing wrong in the Indian captain pointing out the risky wet areas to the umpire and asking him to see that they were dried in whatever way.

The cordial manner in which this issue was handled by the Indian players and umpire Parker, as seen on television, hardly suggested even a hint of acrimony. Moreover, Tendulkar has hit out at the writer, saying that he, at no stage, wanted to take his team out. "I am shocked by the insinuations," he said.

Apart from his outstanding cricketing skills, what has endeared Sachin Tendulkar to the masses, not only in India, but wherever cricket is played, is his self-effacing personality. So modest of his achievements and highly disciplined, both on and off the field, he has never been the one to butt his head into a cloud of controversy even.

The media attack on Tendulkar, therefore, for what was no more than a routine incident, is, perhaps, one more step towards putting psychological pressure on the Indian captain, and through him, on the entire team.

How hollow the whole criticism was can be seen from the fact that the Australian batsmen at the crease too pointed out to the umpires that they were finding it difficult to get a proper foothold to play their strokes.

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