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Our batting in World Cup finished at three: Gavaskar

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Sunil Gavaskar

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) In my mind’s eye there are many Sunil Gavaskar fanboy moments. Lashing out against Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, hooking and cutting in a ferocious counter punching exhibition at the Kotla in Delhi, playing an epic 221 at the Oval in a run chase, fighting virtually single-handedly on a minefield against Pakistan spin twins — Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed in Bangalore, epochal moment of winning the World Championship of Cricket in Oz, battling 13 men, including a full strength Pakistan pace attack in Karachi scoring hundreds in each innings and smashing three hundreds against Jeff Thomson in Australia.

Every moment is embedded in the memory recesses like they happened yesterday and one could go on describing them. Sunil Manohar Gavaskar was a short man but he strode the cricketing world like a colossus. By his own admission “shorter men make better batsmen because they have a lower centre of gravity which allows them to play equally well against the quicks and quality spinners both on the back and front foot”.

Earlier this month, the iconic opening batsman celebrated his 70th birthday but this was somewhat marred by India losing the World Cup semi-final to New Zealand. In this exhaustive interview, the supremely fit former Indian captain busts many urban legends and myths about himself and his fellow travellers.

Q: Do you still play baddy at Bombay Gym whenever you get the time and is it still doubles? Is that the secret of your youth and 34 waistline which has never seen any compromise? Or does fitness go beyond baddy?

Gavaskar: No I don’t play badminton at the Bombay Gymkhana anymore. I stopped in 2011 when the Indian cricket schedule and my TV commitments took me out of Mumbai so often that it was impossible for my group to wait up for me.

Q: Ravi keeps saying that this is the best Indian team of all time and you have contested that…I would agree that this is a very good fast bowling unit, but beyond that…

Gavaskar: Everybody has a right to their view so that’s ok.

Q: Is it true that Imran at the end of the fabulous Bangalore Test when you batted on a bunsen against Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed told you that the time is now to retire and not when people ask you to? It was one of your exceptional innings and you almost won the game for us…

Gavaskar: That’s a totally made up story like so many others about me. Fact is during the India tour of England in 1986, Imran and I had lunch where I told him that I was planning to retire at the end of that tour. He said to me that I shouldn’t do it as Pakistan was due to tour India the following February. He said his ambition was to beat India in India and it wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t in the Indian team then. I told him then that if the Pakistan tour was not announced by the time the England tour ended I would retire at the end of the tour. It was announced within a fortnight so I postponed the retirement.

Q: You still played the World Cup after that and scored runs including your only hundred in ODI, was there gas left in the tank?

Gavaskar: Oh yes, there was gas left in the tank but I wasn’t enjoying driving the car so it was better to get out then.

Q: What happened to Bombay cricket, why did it fall off the cliff? Young callow Maharashtrian boys played for izzat and shaurat, where has that ethos disappeared?

Gavaskar: It’s not that Mumbai cricket has gone down, it’s just that other states have raised the level of their game which is why Indian cricket is in such a healthy state with its talent pool.

Q: Do you think M S Dhoni signalled the true democratisation in Indian cricket as people from obscure towns and smaller cities made the big leap in Indian cricket?

Gavaskar: Have you forgotten India’s greatest match winner, Kapil Dev? He was the one who showed that you don’t have to come from a metro to be a successful cricketer. Before that there were great players from non-metros too, like Col C.K. Nayudu, Vijay Hazare, Mushtaq Ali to name just three and the regularity of non-metro players started after Kapil showed them how.

Q: So much that commentators wrote about your rocky relationship with Kapil, but now both of you praise each other profusely…

Gavaskar: Sadly, Indian cricket is full of stories where it’s suited people to try drive a wedge between players. From Col C.K. Nayudu’s time it is been the practice. Thanks to the PR guys of current cricketers, any such move is nipped in the bud today. For the record for whatever it is worth Kapil and I have always had a mutually respectful relationship. We were always aware that Indian cricket came before anything else.

Q: Tactically were we short of a good batsmen in the middle order in this World Cup and the off day exposed not just that but our tail?

Gavaskar: Our batting this World Cup finished at number 3. If these batsmen didn’t get runs as was seen in the semis then we were always going to be in trouble.

Q: How is that we ended up playing four wicket keepers if we include Rahul while a whole phalanx of talent sat twiddling its thumbs in India?

Gavaskar: That is a question that only the team management can answer.

Q: You once told me about the perfume ball which you could smell even as the leather passed by, these days everyone seems to be bowling at 145-150 clicks, but there is no fear factor? Who was the most dangerous fast bowler you faced? Is it the length that was different or were the wickets livelier…

Gawaskar: The protective equipment today is so good that the batsmen are hardly in physical danger. This is a terrific development as nobody wants to see any serious injury on the field. The best fast bowler I faced was Andy Roberts who had the knack of bowling the unplayable ball even in the 60th over. There was no restrictions on the bouncers then, so the length was generally where you were playing off the back foot most of the time. The pitches especially in England, Australia and New Zealand had a fair amount of grass on them.

(To be Concluded)

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My eyes fixed firmly on Women’s World Cup trophy: Mithali Raj

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.

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Mithali Raj

New Delhi, Aug 8 : Veteran India batter Mithali Raj has said that she is “definitely looking” at the ICC Women’s World Cup, which has been postponed to 2022 and has added that her eyes are firmly fixed on the trophy.

On Friday, the International Cricket Council decided to postpone the World Cup, originally slated to be held in New Zealand in 2021, until February-March 2022 because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whilst this is never great news to wake up to. I can understand the reasons why given the lack of cricket in some countries. I just hope those players who were planning to retire after the World Cup can hold on for one year…right Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Rachael Haynes,” cricketer-turned-commentator Lisa Sthalekar tweeted following ICC’s decision to postpone Women’s World Cup.

To this, Mithali replied: “Oh absolutely, my eyes are fixed firmly on the trophy. With all niggles recovered, mind and body fresh and stronger than before, I am definitely looking at World Cup 2022.”

Mithali had led the Indian eves to the final of the showpiece event in 2017 where they had to face a heart-wrenching defeat against England in the summit clash at the iconic Lord’s.

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.

The 37-year-old has already retired from T20 cricket and now aspires to win India their maiden World Cup for which she will now have to wait at least until 2022.

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Madrid Masters tennis tournament cancelled: organisers

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Madrid Masters tennis

The Madrid Open that was scheduled to take place from Sept. 12-20 has been cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish Capital, Organisers said on Thursday.

“As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by COVID-19 and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstance that the pandemic continues to generate… it has been decided that 2020 Muta Madrid Open will not take place this year,” organisers said in a satatement.

The tounament, which was to feature both men’s and women’s draws, was seen as an important event for players to prepare for the Frech Open which begins on Sept. 27.

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BCCI issues SOP; players must sign consent form before resuming training

BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.

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bcci

New Delhi, Aug 2 : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to the state associations for the resumption of cricket. While these will help the state bodies restart cricketing activities, all players will have to sign consent forms before getting back to training.

In the 100-page SOP, accessed by IANS, the BCCI has touched on principles while returning to training, ground and practice facilities preparation with an eye on the pandemic, gymnasium protocols, physiotherapy and medical protocols as well as protocols to manage a suspected COVID-19 case.

It also has the consent form where the players have to acknowledge that there is risk associated with resuming training and that the player has been informed about the protocols in place and the precautions taken by the association.

The player also needs to acknowledge that the association can’t guarantee complete elimination of risk despite taking necessary precautions and that the player is willing to resume training.

With an eye on the whole situation with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the BCCI has shared its views with the state bodies with regards to resumption of cricket.

“The BCCI as the governing body for the sport of cricket in India is responsible for ensuring that appropriate protocols are put in place to protect the health and safety of players, staff and all stakeholders. Covid-19, an infectious disease primarily affecting the lungs, poses a serious threat to the health of individuals as is evident from its spread to almost all countries around the world with more than 17.5 million infections and over 0.6 million deaths as on 1st August 2020. As the world grapples with Covid-19, cricketing activity has come to a standstill and players confined to the four walls within their homes.

“It is said that cricket is a religion in India and the fanfare and fervor that cricket commands are far greater than any other sport or event in the country. Besides, it also helps generate tremendous revenue and employs players and staff across 38 State teams, both in the men and women category. BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.

“However, the BCCI is concerned about the high infectivity rate of SARS CoV-2 and in the interest of health and safety of all players, staff and stakeholders, the BCCI would not like to compromise on the preventive measures by resuming too soon,” the SOP read.

“The purpose of these protocols is to ensure the safe resumption of cricket activities and the below guidelines may be amended from time to time as may be required depending on the existing Covid-19 situation in the country and the guidelines issued by the Government of India at appropriate times. These guidelines have been prepared by the BCCI Medical Team.

“All BCCI affiliated State Cricket Associations will adhere to these guidelines and take additional measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection. Approvals must also be sought from local administration and health authorities before commencing any cricket activity. The health and safety of players, staff and stakeholders will be the sole responsibility of respective State Cricket Associations.”

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