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Media vs. Player
The Media and the private lives of the players
By Ali Usman

The relationship between the media and the celebrities has never been smooth and has been rocked at times. They hate each other, they love each other but they cannot ignore each other because both feed on each other. In our country along with filmstars, the cricketers have been the biggest celebrities and we have had a long history of such a feud between the media and the players. The players complain that the media keeps unnecessarily prying into their ďprivate affairsĒ whereas media has its own point of view. Letís see what both of them have to say. Letís see both the point of views.

This is our personal life and we are entitled to our privacies. We want the media to cover our game and not what we do after the dayís play is over. We think that media is exceeding its limits. We wish they contained themselves to the game. Itís really unethical (what we mean is that if we had our way, we would have it banned.)

By the way we have the right to do what we wish outside the field of play and how does it matters to others whether we are moving with some filmstar or anyone else. Donít we have the right to do that?

Actually what we feel the media loves juicy stories or else they wonít sell. So they try cheap gimmicks of reporting our personal life, and that too, infactually, to make up their stories the way they want to. They feed on our actions on the field, but off it,  they donít know how to do their job well. So they resort to do what they are not supposed to. Even if the media is reporting our Ēoff-the-fieldĒ activities, they do it in the most unprofessional manner. They feel that they are doing a great job by telling the fans that our performance is linked to such things. They should know what is expected of us in the field as professionals. In no way is our ďoff the fieldĒ activities or romance going to mar our performance on the field. Get it !

The scribes are always judgemental. They try not only to cover our daily lives but also distort the facts before people. They keep asking us to do things the way they want it to be done.

Now letís see what does the media have to say. A point-by-point retort.

First of all our community would like to make it very clear to one and all that as against what players and other celebrities think, they are in public domain and it is not only their on field activity that is watched by the public but also what they do off the field.When we report some players having an affair with some actress, we arenít reporting it as some personal story but itís about a certain player who represents the nation. Isnít that our duty? And donít you love it when we also report about your Ďoff-the-fieldí activity when you did some charity. You canít have it both ways Mr celebrities [Remember Steve Waughís efforts with Udayan in Calcutta, which was also covered by us.] Good or bad we have to Ďcoverí you thatís it.

Yes, you have the right to do what you want to, outside the field and we have never tried to stop it. But the fans too have a right to know what their idols are doing off the field. They want to know it, so we give it. Is it our fault? Should we deny your fans that right? Further we donít love such juicy stories. In the first place they arenít juicy, they are facts. It is you who would have us believe they are all false. If so why are we proved right in the end? The players themselves hanker after publicity and keep running after us for stories so that they get instant recognition. Once their purpose is fulfilled, we turn into devils that are made to look as if we are always behind the downfall of players. Sorry, it is always you  who use us for your own ends. As regarding our job, we know how to fulfill it in the best possible way. It is the player who arenít doing their job properly. Need we reminded the Mumbai test?  Since there is hardly any  on the field performance  to write about  we are left with the only option. To write about other things  which  they seem to do in plenty.

As regards your assumption that such thing donít affect your play is utter non-sense. We have seen players in the past busy with affairs outside the ground & forget to play well  Ďon it!  OR why did we have such a poor performance from one of our senior players in Mumbai. We need answer.

We are not judgemental. We are doing our job. And our job is to be a watchdog. So of course when it comes to news, we offer as it is. And when it comes to opinion, we simply analyze it. If someone is better in his personal life, do you except us to applaud it? We are doing our duty perfectly well Mr players, Thank You.

Oh. Oh, such deep crevices exist between the media & players. But like a piece of land they also cannot move away from each other. They need each other. And it is you who can decide who is right or wrong. 



The Great And Unselected

Australiaís Amazing Bench Strength
By S Zeyaur Rahman

Mike Brearly, widely considered to be the finest brain to have captained a side, was once asked about the parameters on which one could judge the strength of a team. Pat came the reply- bench strength. Only a person with shrewd perception could say that. 

If we follow the above dictum to judge the current international sides, we would find the accuracy of the statement. I guess nobody would have any hesitation in calling the Australian side the best in business at the moment if not an all time great combination. If nothing else their reserves display the abundance of talent at their disposal.

The recent statement by Steve Waugh was a revelation in itself. Just imagine the confidence level of a captain who is talking of keeping away his most prolific wicket taker without any regret or agony - for the simple reason that he has no dearth of substitutes. 

A substitute for Shane Warne. An unthinkable proposition until sometime ago. Warne is no pushover. He is highest wicket taker for his country in the history of the game, has a brilliant strike rate and a fantastic record. It is not just statistics that put him on a different league. He is supposedly the best exponent of the art of leg spin in a game, which, is not short of great leg spinners Ė and Steve Waugh would not give a second thought before replacing him. 

That is so characteristic of Australian cricket. They have a complete team of youngsters breathing down the neck of their seniors, compelling them to perform. Once you are in you have to perform. Even performance is no guarantee for a place in the team. If a better option is available, there is no qualm about a replacement, performance or no performance. The heroes of one test match do not find a place in the next game. Ask Damien Martyn or Jason Gillespie, who won the game for their side only to be dropped from the next one. 

That speaks volumes about the confidence level of the team. Steve Waugh is indeed a lucky man. I wonder if any other team can do that. Letís have a look at the contemporary scenario. Brian Lara would continue to walk in the West Indian team any time he wants and Sachin Tendulkar can be assured of his place for a lifetime. Not that these people do not deserve to be there, but there is a fundamental difference. Just see De Silva walking back to the side or the pleas sent to Walsh to continue for some more time. These teams cannot afford to be without their Ďgreatsí in complete contrast to Australia, who can dare to drop its Ďgreatest everí.  

Shane Warne does not enjoy this insurance cover. He will have to earn his selection in the team and then perform constantly to be a part of it. He has managed a place in the Carlton Series without much trouble, but then if he has to take the Indian tour, then he has to deliver. Otherwise, McGill and Miller would be glad to replace him and so would be Steve Waugh. 

Gender Discrimination 
Women's Cricket Has A Long way To go
By A.Rehman

One wonders if the Eves play the same game of cricket as their 'unfairer' sex do. It is indeed very difficult to explain the indifferent and pathetic response of the very same cricket loving and mad-for-cricket nations, when it comes to women's cricket. 

The just concluded Women's World cup is a glaring example of neglect and indifference. Where was the hype and frenzy that accompanies the men's World Cup? The debates in the media, the speculation, the anxious wait and let us admit it, the odds and even at the bookies? A majority of the matches went unreported, some were lucky to get a corner on the second last page and it was only the final that got a decent headline and a complete score card. 

The domination of men's cricket is so complete that the word cricket triggers a series of events associated exclusively with the male variety. As if the women play some other game! The truth is that there is no concession made to the women players in terms of rules or parameters. They have to fulfill the same eligibility criteria and their performance is measured on the same yardstick. 

How many of us would be able to recollect and recall the records and performances of our women cricketers? The very same fans, who are updated on the likes, dislikes and hobbies of their cricketing idols, would find it difficult to name the captains of their present national teams. Acting a second fiddle is understandable, but the discrimination is so much that one can't even call it a poor cousin. Men and women cricket players seem to have absolutely no relationship at all.

It is not that cricket alone suffers from this discriminatory attitude. Perhaps it is a problem with every sport. Women footballers, hockey players etc get a cold shoulder in the very same game for which their male counterparts are revered. It is ironical and in fact unjust because women have to work harder to achieve the level of physical fitness and put more strain on their bodies, which is more or less a natural gift to men.

I feel that two factors ate important while studying the reasons for the huge gap between men and women players of the same game. Firstly, if it happens to be a team game then the women stand nowhere near the status of the male players of the same game. This is a kind of universal tendency and one can apply it to any game. Conversely, in games demanding individual brilliance, there are women superstars as well. Tennis, Athletics as examples would suffice to illustrate this example.

Secondly, the countries to which these players belong, is also an important factor. It is no secret that the West is better disposed in projection and reception of its female players than the East or the Middle East. Countries having a conservative psychology do not have women teams in many events.

Grace and glamour do exercise a limited influence in deciding the popularity of certain games. That is one reason that explains the star status of female swimmers, figure skaters, gymnasts etc as these games have a certain amount of sex appeal.

Let us return to the specific problems of cricket. When one talks of cricket as a psychology or an attitude then women's cricket is nothing more than an aberration. Till very recently, women were not allowed in the MCC, the body that decides the rules of the game. What could be more discouraging or discriminating? 

Women's cricket is yet to take roots among the spectators. People are not yet used to it and have developed neither a taste or a craving for it. Men's cricket caters to all their needs and desires. It would not be difficult to find people who would actually resent and regret the existence of women's cricket as it does not provide them with the thrills hat is customary in the men's events.

This attitude should not be allowed to prevail and it should not go on. The media and the corporate sector has a role to play and it must step in - to invest and sow the seeds. Perhaps in a similar fashion to the domestic and junior circuit. I am sure that it wonít be a bad investment because ultimately everyone, including them, stand to be benefited from it.

West Indies: What a shame!!!! 
By Ruchika Khanna       

West Indies arrived in Australia after their disastrous trip to England, where they were demolished to say the least. They were bowled out twice under 100 runs in 5 test matches. This is a far cry from the great West Indian team, which used to crush the opposition relentlessly and now they are at the receiving end.  The West Indies team of the 80ís was a revelation in itself and such teams come only once in a lifetime. To be able to achieve those heights is not easy for any team but to fall down so low is an altogether different thing. Everybody is stunned with the kind of level they have fallen down to.

They started off in Australia, exactly from where they had left. They were humiliated and badly crushed in the first test match. Lara, their only batting hope failed in both innings.  There has been widespread criticism of their constant decline, so much so that Colin Croft, the former West Indian great has asked them to go back midway to avoid further humiliation. There have been calls from all quarters for them to go back but Adams, the West Indian captain is still hopeful of a revival.  Well, it is a sad situation and the one, which needs a lot of thinking and may be some time off from cricket. Though there can be many theories behind this downfall, but one thing, which is more apparent than anything else is the lack of talent. No matter how talented Lara is but no team can succeed on one manís laurels. Even Lara has been in an awful form to say the least. Even a six-month lay off has not brought him back the kind of batting, he had become reminiscent with. He now looks a pale shadow of what he used to be and that is a big blow to his team.

Apart from Lara and to some extent Chanderpaul, none of the West Indian batsmen have the technique or the talent to face fast bowling. Their bowling also revolves around Walsh, who is 38 and on his last legs now. Besides him, the others have come and gone. None of them could even come close to the oldies Ambrose and Walsh. It is so strange that the West Indian selectors have not been able to fine one good pacer from the land where babies used to be born with a cricket ball in their hands. Well, literally. No one is trying to say that their bowlers are bad. Mclean, Dillon and Black are very talented but they miss the firepower, which is so essential. And who will justify the selection of someone like Nagamootoo, who is as good as a college level cricketer.

Without being rude, one can call their batting line-up absolutely awful. Even someone like Adams, who is the captain of the team, has made zero contribution in the last few matches. In fact his presence in the team is questionable. Players like Campbell, Ganga, Sarwan, and what not have found a place in the team and they have delivered nothing. May be some one like Sarwan needs experience but where is Ricardo Powell, who created quite a sensation during his presence at the Sahara cup. Is West Indies trying to tell the whole world that he is not good enough to be in the test team and is only good for the one dayers? If that is the theory then it is absolute rubbish. They donít have 11 decent players to represent in any form of international cricket and they cannot afford to be so choosy in their selection.    

Fielding has been on the downward path for a long time and less said the better about it.

Well what one fails to see is that the fall of West Indies is a big loss for cricket. It has been a tremendous contributor to this great game and one of the biggest reasons why cricket became so popular. There is a lot of sorting out to be done and even if that means not playing for another year or so, so be it. That kind of break can do wonders, as constant cricket doesnít give anyone the time to think about whatís going wrong. Especially in the case of West Indies, who have been completely shattered ! Whatever the decision would be, one can only hope for something positive out of it. Because cricket without West Indies would indeed become poorer.

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