Comparisons with Bedi unfair: Neetu

Published: Saturday, May 21, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Kanpur:Indian cricket has never seen shortage of top-flight spinners. Illustrious names like Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Bishen Singh Bedi along with contemporaries-Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh are well etched in public memory.

There is another who's making steady strides to being talked about in the same breath as those stalwarts.

Ace India eve's left-arm spinner Neetu David is one cricketer who can be counted upon to to deliver and more often that not, she does not let her teammates down, consistently coming up with stellar performances.

Safe to say, any discussion on international women spinners around today cannot happen without a passing mention of her.

A star performer at the 2005 World Cup in South Africa, where she reaped an impressive haul of 20 scalps, the diminutive bowler's career graph has soared life never before.

The 28-year-old Kanpur lass is only one among three bowlers to pocket hundred wickets in One-day Internationals (Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Clare Taylor being the other two), but surprisingly, she isn't aware that she belongs to these special hundred-club.

"I wasn't aware of it . Got to know it from you only. There's sense of contentment to know that you have these kind of records under your belt," Neetu says in a freewheeling chat with ThatsCricket.com.

A firm believer in flighting the ball, Neetu looks to dry up the runs and create pressure on the batswoman; no wonder comparisons are already being drawn with spinning legend Bishen Singh Bedi, something Neetu dismisses straightway.

"It's unfair to compare me with legend like Bishen Singh Bedi. He's a cricketing mountain. I've a long way to go before I can reach anywhere close to him. Of course, it feels nice that people are comparing me with a great like him. More than anything else, it makes me realize that I've been able to achieve something cricket-wise which is getting noticed," Neetu says.

Wickets in South Africa have good bounce and carry but little encouragement for the slow bowlers. How then was it possible for her to spin a web around opposition batsman en route to emerging as the highest wicket-taker at the World Cup?

"Strips in South Africa don't offer purchase to spinners. Most non-sub-continent batswomen do not have a good footwork against spinners. They try to play from the crease and that's where flighting the ball comes in handy," she opined.

India's summit clash defeat to Australia meant that they lost out on a photo opportunity of creating history. Does that one bad day in office still rankle?

"Look, Australia are a professional side. They showed that during the final. The game was very much on an even kneel till the 45th over. After that Karen Rolton just took the game away from us. Later, four run outs also set us reeling," Neetu said trying to put things in perspective.

Though the team's final-finish showing has shaken many out of their slumber in India, the bowler feels that the response leaves a lot to be desired.

"I'm tad surprised at the response we got on reaching home from South Africa. It hasn't been the way we had expected. Lot many still don't know much about the women's game. No doubt, Sahara sponsoring us have helped the game hugely but we need more help from other quarters," she reckons.

Her batting exploits aren't anything to talk about. For someone who averages just seven in Tests and above four in ODIs, Neetu attributes that to lack of opportunities.

"Our batting order is so formidable that it's only seldom that I get a chance to show my batting wares. Having said that I'm not offering any excuses. My primary job is that of a bowler, still I'd look to improve my batting average," Neetu said candidly.

Speculation are rife about many of senior team members including herself bidding adieu to the game, but like a typical tail-ender Neetu planted her front foot forward to offered a straight bat to guard her wicket.

"I'm not too sure whether I have an answer for that. All I can say is that we have a home series coming up against England in November and I'm looking forward to that series.'

Neetu has fond memories of playing against England. It was against the English women that she bagged her career best Test figures of 8-53 at Jamshedpur in 1995-96, which incidentally remains the best bowling figures by any Test bowler in an innings.

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