England tour of India - Cricket: Whither English gamesmanship, Oh to cricket!
Published: Friday, December 21, 2001, 22:55 [IST]
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Bangalore: It was a frustrating day for the cricket buffs in many ways. Wanting to watch the "little master blaster" at work, many Indian cricket fans had descended at the stadium more or less from day break.The day, however, turned out to be cold and dark. Threatening clouds didnt deter the ground staff from getting everything spick and span for 9.38 am start as the umpires wanted to make good the overs lost in the previous two days due to bad light.But, the misty kind of rain turned into an incessant drizzle and the covers were on much before the start of the match. This almost set the trend for the day with every session of play being interrupted by rain and bad light.The Stadium, in fact, for once had the festivity of a cricket match with huge India flags draping down from the first floor hoardings, Mexican waves from India flag waving crowds from the various stands, bugles, drums and all the din associated with a cricket match.But, alas it turned out to be a disappointing day with journalists more often than not churning out weather reports and reports on prospects of when play would commence. The crowd though was undeterred and kept enjoying every moment of it. Every time, a player present or past walked out to the pitch, they were greeted with cheers.And talking of past players, a virtual veteran Indian team has descended with Sunil Gavaskar, G R Vishwanath, Syed Kirmani, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh, Madan Lal, Shiv Lal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra and a host of other being spotted in various capacities. The Englishmen too had a fair sprinkling of former stars from Ted Dexter to David Gower and Ian Botham.And some of these veteran cricketers indeed would have rued the fact that the game today is not what it was. Nasser Hussain and his men added a new dimension to the game or call it gamesmanship by adopting negative tactics from the very outset of the day.Left-spinner Ashley Giles, operating from the BEML Stand End, went on to the negative mode from the very first ball that he bowled. Wicket-keeper James Foster stood almost six stumps away down the leg side indeed a sight very rare in the annals of Test cricket. The ploy may have been to distract and suffocate Indias master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, but there could have been more positive methods.The England skippers tactics came in for sharp criticism from well known commentator Henry Blofeld, who is now on an assignment as BBCs radio commentator."It would kill the game. Ill not cross the street to watch this. Cricket would be a much less good game to watch," Blofeld told Ravi Shastri over television. Sachin finally fell to the ploy when he danced down, failed to reach the pitch of the ball and was stumped for the first time in his career for 90. Sachin stumped Foster bowled Giles indeed added a new dimension to Sachins cricketing career.Irrespective of the mood of the day, the Indians did seem to be happy at the outset and in a very obliging frame of mind towards the fans. Saurav Ganguly and Javagal Srinath readily signed autographs for fans as they walked back to the pavilion after the pre-match training session.Srinath also walked to a police officer and enquired about his official posting. Turning to yours truly, he said, "Im happy at least your dotcom is doing reasonably well."