Sachin’s the Don of our times: Warne
Don ‘picked’ to lead, Miller deputy
The Mahindra test for Tolly
Team A-07 move into lead
East Bengal ask Nayeem to be ready
Analogy likely to come good

Sydney, Jan. 18 
Steve Waugh said it two years ago. Shane Warne, the only current player to be chosen in Australia’s Team of the Century, spoke in much the same terms today.

We are talking about Sachin Tendulkar.

“In the present times, Sachin is the best... He’s the greatest. Yes, he has given me nightmares... Indeed, he’s the Don Bradman of our times,” declared Warne, while answering questions this afternoon.

Speaking after the Team’s announcement, Warne felt Sachin had done very well in the Test series. “He got close to 300 runs (278, to be precise) in a series which had three games. If that’s not good, what is?”

Warne disagreed that the captaincy, perhaps, was weighing Sachin down. “Don’t think so. Look, whether he’s captain or not, he will be under pressure. The best guys always are. And, so, I don’t believe that the captaincy is a factor.”

But, by getting Sachin once in each of the first two Tests, did he have the upper-hand? “I’ll answer it the way Sachin has, in the past — some days he’ll be on top; on others, I’ll dominate. In cricket, that’s how it is... We had a plan for him, and it worked pretty well.”

Is he, for instance, more pumped up when bowling to somebody of Sachin’s calibre? “More than being pumped up, it’s accepting a challenge. For me, it’s a challenge to bowl to the Sachins and I never back-off. I respect Sachin and, I’m sure, he respects me.”

Warne added an absolute highpoint remains meeting Sir Don, in his Adelaide home, with Sachin for company in August of 1997. “Won’t ever forget that... Of course, Sir Don will always remain twice as good as anybody else — his average of 99-plus says it all...”

That exclusive, headline-grabbing meeting was to mark Sir Don’s 90th birthday. Sachin, it may be recalled, was the only overseas cricketer invited for the celebrations which, incidentally, Sir Don himself had nothing to do with directly.

Absolutely delighted at being named in the Team of the Century, alongside the legendary Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly, Warne remarked: “I wish he was still alive (O’Reilly died in October 1992)... But, hopefully, he’s liking everything he sees of my bowling.”

Warne, at the moment on the injured list, said he “hoped” to resume bowling within a week. “With some luck, I could be back for the final stages of the Carlton and United Series.”

That can only be bad news for India and Pakistan.    

Sydney, Jan. 18 
The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque: The Sydney Convention Centre, with the much-photographed Darling Harbour as back-drop. In fact, with over 150 players in attendance, it was just perfect for the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) to announce its (Test) Team of the Century.

Predictably, it is led by the numero uno batsman of all-time, Sir Donald Bradman. The vice-captaincy has gone to allrounder Keith Miller.

That even Allan Border didn’t make the playing XI — he made it as 12th man — should be indication enough of just how competitive the ‘tussle’ for slots was.

The selection was made by an ‘academy’ of 20 selectors, which featured our very own Sunil Gavaskar. Other non-Australian selectors included Lord Colin Cowdrey, Sir Alec Bedser and Sir Gary Sobers.

To facilitate the selection, the ACB and its partner in this exercise, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, decided the collective votes of the ‘academy’ would determine the Team of the Century.

Once the XI was chosen — two openers, four middle-order batsmen (including one allrounder), one wicketkeeper, two opening bowlers, one spinner and one “other” bowler — the player with the next highest votes (barring any wicketkeeper) was named 12th man.

The selectors (present captain Steve Waugh being one of them) were also asked to nominate their captain and vice-captain.

Actually, only six of the greats were present on an undoubtedly momentous occasion: Arthur Morris (one of the ‘invincibles’ of 1948), Neil Harvey, Greg Chappell, Border, Ian Healy and Shane Warne.

Three stalwarts are no more — Bill Ponsford, Bill O’Reilly and Ray Lindwall, while Sir Don couldn’t attend owing to ill-health. Miller, who has become a recluse, and Dennis Lillee were absent.

While he was present for the function (preceded by an auction and followed by lunch), Chappell couldn’t interact with a select media group as he had an Adelaide flight to catch. So, only five greats took questions, some from The Telegraph, during a half-hour session.

Besides making a point of how honoured they felt, this is what they said (alphabetically):

ALLAN BORDER: I’m not at all unhappy at having been named the 12th-man... It’s just terrific being in the same dressing room.

As I see it, it’s the ultimate accolade... (Smiles) Frankly, with (the temperamental) Keith and Dennis around, it’s not a bad idea being 12th-man!

NEIL HARVEY: It’s not fair to compare players and teams of different eras... We played for the fun and love of the game, not money... Today, players have the pressure of money as well and, so, I suppose are under even more pressure... Yes, there’s so much media attention and that has brought about a different kind of pressure.

(Laughs) Come to think of it, this is probably the first media conference Arthur (Morris) and I are attending. Of course, I’m under pressure!

How would I have coped with the one-day game? Well, I think I would have done well... Would probably have been a good one-day batsman... Obviously, it’s a game for those who bat up the order, not for a No. 6 or 7...

IAN HEALY: Did I edge out others because I kept reasonably well to Shane? Absolutely... To be a world record-holder, you’ve got to be part of a hugely successful team. A side which regularly takes all 20 wickets in a match. I was fortunate.

ARTHUR MORRIS: (Emotionally) I feel humble and, really, this afternoon’s has been a memorable occasion... Old bonds were revived, one rubbed shoulders with the young generation... Am I happy with this Team of the Century? Let’s put it this way: One can choose another XI which will be just as formidable...

We’ve been doing very well in the past four-five years, especially, and while South Africa can’t be discounted, there’s no doubt Australia has the best team... Yes there’s lots of pressure and, for a batsman, it’s always nice to get a few runs.

(After a pause) I’m just imagining, O’Reilly and Shane bowling in tandem... The batsmen couldn’t have got away by taking singles... Changes in the game? Oh, so many and, personally, I wouldn’t have enjoyed one-day cricket... In our days when, culturally, things were different, it was un-manly to get emotional (on-the-field).

Indeed, even when Eric Hollies got Bradman for a duck in his last Test innings, he didn’t go jumping. Nor, did his teammates say anything more than: “I say, Eric, jolly well bowled.” Today, that’s unimaginable... How do I rate Sachin Tendulkar? No comparisons with anybody but he’s very, very good.

SHANE WARNE: During the course of the afternoon, mention has been made of the kind of money that’s now in cricket but, as I see it, playing for Australia isn’t a job. It’s a passion and we love it...

I wish O’Reilly was still alive... It would have been great just learning from him... How would I have felt bowling in tandem with him? Would have been fun, but only if the quicks left some wickets for us!

Yes, I know I’m the only player still playing, but some of my teammates — the McGraths and Steve Waughs —are true stalwarts. They continue to serve Australia so well... The greatest players I played with? Border and Mark Taylor.

Incidentally, a local daily had Steve’s selection this morning. While eight stalwarts are common with the ACB’s Team of the Century, O’Reilly, Lindwall and Harvey don’t feature in the current captain’s XI.

Steve picked an additional batsman in Border, omitting a second spinner (O’Reilly), while preferring McGrath to Lindwall and the late Victor Trumper to Harvey.

That Steve, too, kept faith in Healy is significant. Many, after all, would’ve expected Rodney Marsh to be ‘winner’.

Team of the Century

Openers: Arthur Morris and Bill Ponsford. Middle-order batsmen (one an allrounder): Sir Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Neil Harvey and Keith Miller. Wicketkeeper: Ian Healy. Bowlers: Ray Lindwall, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee and Bill O’Reilly.    

Calcutta, Jan. 18 
After a tough match against holders Salgaocar, whom they held goalless Sunday, Tollygunge Agragami face another crucial test tomorrow when they take on Mahindra & Mahindra at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

The visitors from Mumbai, who didn’t start their Coca-Cola National League campaign with a bang and severed ties with coach S.S. Hakeem after that, are currently on a roll. With four victories on the trot, they are currently placed third with 15 points.

The inclusion of Jordanian striker Bassam Khateeb and defender Sameer Jalil have paid rich dividends and they have also been served well by Nigerian veterans Bernard Operanozie and Christopher Kem. With international Virender Singh manning the goal and a fine blend of youth and experience in the likes of Mohammed Najeeb and Satish Minz, Mahindras do look formidable.

Tollygunge coach Amal Dutta said he has not seen the Mumbai team recently. He will miss key gamemaker and skipper Chandan Das who will represent his employers in the inter-bank meet but Seriki Abdulateef, who missed the last match with two bookings, will be back. Dutta said he will play with five medios and one striker but did not disclose who will replace Das. Srikanta Dutta and Arunava Sarkar are two likely options.

His deep defenders, Kajal Bhattacharya and Parthasarathi Dey and medios Isiaka, Felix and Sasthi Duley did a splendid job against Salgaocar. Keeping in mind Mahindra’s recent form and the balance in their side, Amal Dutta’s men will have to reproduce that performance to make a match of it.

Salgaocar meet Kochin

Defending champions Salgaocar, with an unbeaten record, meet FC Kochin at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda tomorrow.

A win will ensure second-placed Salgaocar, who have 16 points from eight games, the top spot in the National League standings.

FC Kochin, who lost to Churchill Brothers 0-2 in their earlier game, are placed ninth with eight points from as many matches.    

Calcutta, Jan. 18 
Team A-07, comprising Ravi Dey and Ranjit Chowdhury and the father-son duo of J.R. and Sanjay Agarwal led the field with 83 points after the halfway stage at the Royal Challenge Invitational Golf Cup at the RCGC today.

A generally windy day pushed scores down a bit, and three teams, with 83 points each, are sharing the second spot.

The day’s best score of 42 came from Team A-15 and A-17.

Wills corporate golf

The Wills Tolly Cup corporate golf tournament starts at the Tollygunge Club course Thursday. The team of Vijay Singh will ‘kick off’ the meet from tee No. 1.

The following are the tee-off timings of the different teams for the first day of championships:    

Calcutta, Jan. 18 
The East Bengal top brass has decided that a change in coach for the club’s beleaguered team has become necessary. Today, the president and assistant secretary summoned Syed Nayeemuddin and asked him if he was ready to take up the job if Subhas Bhowmick quits.

That means while the club was not being nasty about a sack — as has been the wont of Mohun Bagan — it is giving Bhowmick a decent chance to put in his papers himself. The meeting also is a strong signal for Bhowmick that it is curtains for his stewardship.

East Bengal has been floundering at a nadir in the National League, and tensions between the coach and officials have run high. Tension mounted before the team left for their last string of away matches when the coach demanded a “positive striker” and East Bengal asked, why Willie Brown was being underutilised.

Now that the club has decided to bring in another foreign forward, it wants to keep the decision to itself. The 0-3 drubbing at the hands of Churchill Brothers was the last nail in the coffin for Bhowmick.

“I was called by the two senior officials to discuss the matter today and they (the officials) informed me that they would have a talk with Bhowmick and let me know,” said Nayeemuddin, who probably is in a bit of dilemma, Bhowmick being a close friend and well-wisher and, for a time, a co-player as well.    

Calcutta, Jan 18 
The Steinbeck- Roccobarocco bay gelding, Analogy, is expected to make a winning debut in the Indian Champagne Cup tomorrow. Decently bred and armed with workmanlike preparations, the Vijay Singh-trainee may overcome the disadvantage of winning a seven-furlong race in the first start of his career. Aslam Kader partners the horse. Soviet Port, Aracruz and Endless Surprise may decide the minor placings.

Vijay’s dependable galloper Arendal, in the 1,600m Chettinad Republic Cup, may get the better of an up-coming Giorgio and Kaizen. The poor performance of the Placerville-So Splendid son against a graded company is best ignored.

Notwithstanding his long lay-off, Sharp Sensation may win the 2,000m Baqlava Cup. He is best at the weights.

The two brilliant barrier trials ma-kes Piece of Cake the best bet despite his rumoured ailing shoulder.


1. Victo Handicap 1,400m (Cl V, 5-y-o & over Rt. 0-28) 1.15 pm: Ansedonia 61 Islam 3; Single Dawn 58 Merchant 2; Carabineer 54 Saran S. 4; Aristotemus 52 Yasin 1; Age Of Miracles 51.5 Shanker 6; Tribal Warlord 48 Nasruddin 5.

1. Age Of Miracles (5) 2. Tribal Warlord (6) 3. Ansedonia (1)

2. Chettinad Republic Cup 1,600m (Cl I; Rt.88 & over) 1.55 pm: Giorgio 60 C. Alford 2; Kaizen 60 Connorton 6; Arendal 59 Kader 4; Bold Invader 58.5 Islam 3; Kansai 57 Rabani 1; Swash Buckler 47 Brij S. 5.

1. Arendal (3) 2. Giorgio (1) 3. Kaizen (2)

3. Baqlava Cup 2,000m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 2.25 pm: Milano 60 C. Alford 2; Sharp Sensation 57 Kader 4; Acadameus 53 Amil 3; Charlene 47 Rabani 1.

1. Sharp Sensation (2) 2. Milano (1) 3. Acadameus (3)

4. Navy Cup 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 3 pm: Ironstone 60 Islam 1; A Ma Dats’E 59 Shanker 5; Celtic Bleu 58.5 Merchant 4; Friendly Knight 54.5 Saran S. 3; Golden Express 53 Rutherford 2; Infierno 51 Som S. 6.

1. Celtic Bleu (3) 2. Ironstone (1) 3. Friendly Knight (4)

5. Indian Champagne Stakes 1,400m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 3.35 pm: Airs Image 57 Merchant 3; Analogy 57 Kader 4; No Regrets 57 Connorton 2; Soviet Port 57 Manohar 1; Aracruz 55.5 Amil 6; Endless Surprise 55.5 C. Alford 5.

1. Analogy (2) 2. Endless Surprise (6) 3. Aracruz (5)

6. Vibrant Handicap 1,200m: (Cl V; Rt. 00-28) 4.10 pm: Dramatic Turn 60 Akhtar 2; Piece Of Cake 59 Bird 7; Swingtime 56.5 K. Kumar 5; Knight Charmer 54.5 Razzak 4; Skitop 49.5 Amil 6; Tabasco King 47.5 Kujur 8; Noble Canonire 47.5 Salim K. 1; Dancing Gypsy 47.5 Rabani 3.

1. Piece Of Cake (2) 2. Knight Charmer (4) Dramatic Turn (1)

Day’s Best: Piece Of Cake Double: Arendal & Celtic Bleu.


Outer sand track

1,600m: Assyrian (C. Alford) in 2-2 1/5s; (400m) 32s. Easy.

1,400m: Super Smile (Rb) in 1-51 4/5s; (400m) 32s. Easy.

1,200m: Aflicker (Rb) and Silver City (C. Alford) in 1-25s; (400m) 29s. Former too good. Aquaria (C. Alford) in 1-27s; (400m) 29 2/5s. Fit.

1,000m: Artwork (Rb) and Acceptor (Rb) in 1-17 2/5s; (400m) 31s.

800m: Whitney (Brij) in 1-0s; (400m) 27s. The Stud (Gowli) and Madame X (Shanker) in 54s; (400m) 25 3/5s. Both moved well. Slice Of Life (Rb) and no. 57 (M. Reuben) in 58s; (400m) 29s. Former better. Soviet Sky (M. Reuben) and Anntary (Kader) in 54s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former much better. Garden Of Heaven (Saran) in 1-0s; (400m) 30 2/5s.

600m: Privy Purse (Manohar) in 43s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

1,400m: Chicarica (Saran) in 1-42 2/5s (400m) 29 2/5s. Easy.

1,200m: Act Of Kindness (Rb) and Harry The Horse (Akhtar) in 1-30s; (400m) 28 3/5s. Former 2 ls better.

800m: Infierno (Akhtar) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Master Of The Rolls (Akhtar) in 1-1s; (400m) 29s.    


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