Aussies rankled by Indian cricket craze

Published: Monday, April 9, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: The Australian cricket team is back home after touring India for nearly two months with the hard truth of having failed to conquer that "last frontier" certainly not going down too well with a number of Steve Waugh's commanders and foot soldiers. But there was one definite shift in the media stories from previous tours. Earlier complaints about hot and humid weather, food and transport facilities used to hog the newspaper columns. But this time, they were not as pronounced. Before leaving for India, Waugh had warned his compatriots that the Indian tour was not going to be easy. Being blessed with a keen foresight, he had aptly called India the "final frontier". Besides the rampaging Laxmans and Harbhajan Singhs, a multitude of Indian fans expressing their craze for cricket in unbelievable ways by swarming all over the place has also been an intimidating experience for the Australians. What has been experienced and endured on and off the field during the tour would not be forgotten in a hurry by not only those who were actively involved but also those who followed the matches on television. Stories of how Indian fans would go to any length to get a glimpse of their Australian demigods have been appearing in the media here from day one of the tour. The eagerness of pushy parents and incorrigible hotel staffers, especially in the smaller cities, to get autographs of the players had also become a regular feature of the media columns. "It's just the amount of people who want to see you, get your autograph or even just to touch you - it gets a bit overwhelming in the end," speedster Glenn McGrath said after touching down in his hometown Sydney. "It's so different to being back home. You can really relate to the Indian players like Sachin Tendulkar, you wonder how he can even go outside his door," he added. The Australian cricketers may have failed to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy (given to the winner of a Test series between India and Australia), but they must have returned much stronger as far as facing trying conditions is concerned. It was not only that they endured just the weather, noise and on-field failures in a remarkable manner, but the Australians must have also returned more toughened as far as playing mind games is concerned. The Australians would have to thank Saurav Ganguly for this crash course. But Waugh is not going to forget or forgive Ganguly easily - and he is credited with an elephantine memory, according to press reports. Waugh was often frustrated by the alleged "misdemeanours" of his Indian counterpart. The incident in the last Limited Overs game at Goa where Ganguly refused to walk after being given out by the umpire off a shoulder-high delivery must have been still fresh in the mind of the Australian captain when he arrived in Australia. He has asked for clear-cut guidelines and, where applicable, penalties in such circumstances. "We wanted a situation where with indiscretions, on or off the field, you knew exactly what the penalty was going to be," Waugh said on Monday in Sydney. "At the moment it's up to the individual match referees and they've all got different opinions. There have to be guidelines so that if you step out of line you know exactly what the penalty is going to be," he added.

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