Published: Sunday, January 28, 2001, 18:23 [IST]
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It is a combination of all. Majority of the responsibility lies with the players and partly with the system. If a player does not get to play tournaments on a regular basis it is very difficult to sustain a level of fitness continuously, throughout the year. Suddenly we get to know that there is a tournament, 15 or 20 days in advance. Given that scenario, to pick up fitness and perform at optimum level is quite difficult. Moreover, most of our matches are one-sided and as a result our fitness is really not put to the test. The Bottom line, we need more quality matches.

Actually we have a hitch here. Sometimes it is not possible to hold those more matches that we are talking about, simply because when the Indian probables are engaged in a camp or a series the domestic circuit comes to a grinding halt, with a result we end up having domestic tournaments during the exam time. Don't you think that irrespective of the international engagements, the official tournaments should go on?

Most definitely yes, given the kind of job opportunities it is not worth missing exams. With cricket, your education should go on. The domestic events should be over and done with by January end. The girls should not have any cricket to concentrate during February to May. So irrespective of whether the international cricketers are there or not the domestic circuit should go on.

Where do you think India has come in the past five years? There is no denying that a lot of efforts have been drained to see to it that you get to play international matches. But having done that, we still haven't consistently got the better of top ranking teams?

Apart from the World Cup where we have not proceeded farther than the semi-finals, we did win most of our engagements. We beat England, we beat Australia (the interviewer made it clear that it was an unofficial tour of Australia's second string along with the fact that we lost the Test series to England on home turf), we did win the Centenary Cup. So we have done pretty good.

Unlike the men's scene in women's cricket it basically is the top four, the rest you really can't take credit for winning - the likes of Sri Lanka, West Indies, Holland and Ireland. South Africa have just come into the fray, so we basically have moved one slot ahead. So in spite of the efforts we are putting in, why haven't we reached the top?

I am not giving any excuses, but when we compare ourselves to the Australians and the likes, their build makes so much of a difference. They make their running between look so easy because they are much taller than us. Probably, they cover the distance, half the time, because of their height.

If that is all there is to it, then what about Rhodes or Ponting in comparison with Ambrose or Walsh? Don't you think it really is the approach and the attitude that counts here?

Yes, I suppose you are right, it is the attitude and the approach. But then again it boils down to more matches. The more we play the better we get. By doing that we get to know where we lack so that we can improve. We have to face different match situations. Here we play so few matches that before we get into the grove the tournament is over and you do not know when you are getting to play the next tournament.

So basically the set up is not professional, in so much that there are no sustained efforts being put? Somewhere they put efforts and then they let it loose, then again they do something only to let it loose again?

I guess so. It all boils down to playing more matches.

Do you think it is now time to merge with the men, given that we on our own haven't accounted for much?

In what way does merging with the men help?

Don't you think that they have better infrastructure, the backing of finance and a professional approach? There is no doubt that the men have delivered the goods. People go expecting to get entertained and they do get entertained?

I guess it is how you market the game so that more money comes in. Once you market the game more money comes in, once there is money then there will be more tournaments.

Precisely! But the truth of the matter is that we have not been able to achieve it. What is happening, where are we going wrong?

This is a question you should be asking the association, the concerned people. From the players point of view, all I can say is we need more tournaments. How they are going to do it is up to them.

Part II of the interview to be continued.

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