For the past year, of course, Marsh has also been associated with our Board’s National Cricket Academy (NCA) and this latest assignment took him to Calcutta late this evening. In the afternoon, though, Marsh took time off to speak to The Telegraph before yet another session with the NCA (proper) trainees here.
“One should keep eyes and ears open and I’ve continued to learn. There’s never a full-stop in cricket,” Marsh remarked. Incidentally the second of his three sons, left-arm spinner Daniel, is doing County duty this summer: He is Anil Kumble’s replacement at Leicestershire.
The following are excerpts
Q This question has already been answered a number of times, but let’s hear it from you: What makes a quality wicketkeeper?
A (Laughs) He’s got to have some ability, to start with... Catching the cricket ball has to come naturally... Standing up over the wickets with the batsman waving his bat perilously close to your face... If he isn’t a natural, the first reaction will be to take a step back. So, one way of judging a wicketkeeper is how he reacts standing up over the wickets.
Q Besides ability?
A He’s got to be a tough person, a strong person, a person who can deal with temperamental bowlers... A person who also has a keen eye for the game, a keen eye for angles...
Q Who did you idolise?
A Wally Grout, though I never got to meet him one-on-one. Every kid’s dream is to someday replace his idol. I did, eventually.
Q To what would you attribute your own phenomenal success?
A Hard work and opportunities. It’s clichéd, but there really is no substitute for hard work. In fact, I not only worked hard, but thought hard... I went to sleep thinking about the game, not about how my garden ought to be looking. Actually, I visualised dismissals; dreamt dismissals... I was a great dreamer and visualiser.
Q You kept to two of the legendary quicks — Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. What was the experience like?
A Absolute joy. Lillee remains the greatest fast bowler and Thommo the fastest. Not a bad combination, right? It’s the batsmen who had problems, not us wicketkeepers who were 25 yards behind!
Q Did you have a ‘secret’ understanding with either Lillee or Thomson?
A A bit with Lillee, but not with Thommo... In any case, when you play so much cricket with somebody, you do end up understanding him. You become familiar with his thought process.
Q There was a period when your contemporaries included Alan Knott, Derryck Murray, Farokh Engineer and Wasim Bari. More recently, though, we haven’t been seeing the same class of wicketkeepers. Why?
A It’s a difficult call... I don’t see a hell of a lot of Test cricket and, so, it’s honestly tough for me to say that era was superior to this. To sit in judgement, I should first watch the wicketkeepers in question over a period of time.
Q Who is the one contemporary you probably admired?
A Knott, without a doubt. In his time, he was the greatest. The way Knott stood up to (Derek) Underwood was a class act by itself.
Q Talking of standing up to spinners, is it a huge disappointment you never got to play in India?
A I wish my debut (1970-71) was in India, that exposure would have made me a better wicketkeeper. In my own eyes, I improved only after ’keeping in Karachi (1979-80) when the ball turned and bounced shoulder height.
Q What are your impressions of Ian Healy, who broke your world record of 355 Test dismissals?
A A fantastic wicketkeeper... He kept improving each season, which is how it should be.
Q On quitting (1983-84), who did you think would break your record
A Never thought on those lines. I played cricket because I enjoyed it and, eventually, made a profession of it. I was lucky... Having said that, records are meant to be broken. Should Adam Gilchrist play for another 10 years, I expect him to get past Healy who signed off on 395 victims. (Adds grinning) There was a time when we all thought nobody would get past Lillee’s 355 wickets yet, Courtney Walsh has just finished with 500-plus. There’s so much cricket, so many opportunities.
Q Under Ian Chappell, specially, you were part of a team seen as very, very aggressive
A Ian was a great captain, but a good many others would perhaps have led the same way... After all, we played to win. At the same time, at the end of the day, we shared a drink with the opposition. What separates the average Australian cricketer from a contemporary elsewhere? Well, wouldn’t know... Where he stands vis-à-vis the rest will depend on how good he is.
Q But, surely, the infrastructure makes a difference?
A It does, actually. The Academy, in particular, has served to broaden the base of our cricket. In other words, should a top quality player retire, somebody will be around to straightaway fill the breach. That’s the way it should be in India, too.
Q Did you take to coaching because you wanted to give something back to the game?
A Oh, no... Not at all. The greatest misconception of all time is that somebody owes the game something. I don’t; nobody does... That’s crap... I mean, I played cricket because I loved it, had a passion for it.
Q Are you enjoying your second ‘innings’?
A Yeah, even more than the first... You do get personal satisfaction from the number of runs scored or dismissals effected, but the satisfaction is greater when you’re in a position to directly influence youngsters. Basically, as a coach or coaching consultant, you help more people.
Q The other day, you spoke to the Indian probables about mental toughness. What is mental toughness?
A Simple: The ability to perform consistently in all conditions. I’ve always believed individuals themselves create the pressure they may find themselves under.
Q To return to wicketkeeping, today, most teams compromise by picking a batsman who can ‘keep, rather than a specialist wicketkeeper. Are you comfortable with this?
A I wouldn’t exactly call it compromise, rather I would say it’s getting the balance right. If, for example, your opening bowlers bat at Nos. 4 and 5, would that be a compromise? You can, however, bet your life that wicketkeepers spend a lot of time batting at nets... Generally, yes, I would like the wicketkeeper selected to be the country’s best.
Q You’ve said you don’t watch too much of Test cricket, but will you rate the contemporary wicketkeepers you’ve seen off and on?
A Obviously, I’ve seen a lot of Gilchrist and he seems to be getting better and better not just as a ‘keeper, but as a complete cricketer. Then, in the last two years specially, I think Adam Parore has improved a lot... The Alec Stewarts and Moin Khans keep doing their job, only I haven’t seen much of Mark Boucher.
Q And what of the Indian scenario?
A I haven’t watched much to comment... Allow me six months to look around and I could pick you the right guy. Equally, because I haven’t looked around, the right guy may already be doing the job. Who knows?
Q What advice would you offer to aspiring wicketkeepers?
A Enjoy ’keeping; enjoy the game.
Q Did you have a non-cricket hero?
A (Smiles) Jack Nicklaus. If I may add, golf is my top love outside cricket and I play off eight.
Q The final question: Australians, perhaps more than the others, have the highest regard for Sachin Tendulkar. Your thoughts?
A A wonderful player, a wonderful person... And, then, he is so humble. I don’t think anyone in the world begrudges him his success. Long after Sachin has stopped playing, he will still be an ornament to the game.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the selectors and the thinktank (chiefly, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright) have decided on a strict horses-for-courses policy. In effect, that means the squad will have five new-ball bowlers and two spinners.
Just briefly, in the lead-up to the selection, there was a debate over choosing a four-three combination but everybody quickly realised Zimbabwe will only be preparing wickets to suit quicks. If anything, Harbhajan Singh’s 32-wicket haul in the Australia series has confirmed that.
Actually, the five-two combination has come as a boon to Debashish Mohanty and Ashish Nehra. Had it been a more conventional Indian squad, one of the two would have made the cut but, now, both will be southern Africa-bound.
Mohanty’s last India appearance was during a one-dayer in Adelaide, in January 2000, while Nehra’s was in the Asian Test Championship game in Colombo, in February 1999. Mohanty’s last Test was way back in November 1997, against Sri Lanka.
Among the new-ball bowlers Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan would, of course, have been picked in any combination.
Of the two in ‘contention’ for the second spinner’s slot, left-armer Sanghvi was discarded after the Mumbai Test, versus Australia, while Bahutule’s debut was in the historic Chennai Test. Bahutule, one learns, is the specific choice of both Sourav and Wright.
Harbhajan walks into the XV. Indeed, today, he would walk into any World XI.
The seven specialist batsmen, too, select themselves straightaway: Openers Sadagopan Ramesh and Shiv Sundar Das; middle-order gems Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav himself and V.V.S. Laxman and the young Hemang Badani.
Really, the Mohammed Kaifs and Dinesh Mongias have merely completed the probables’ numbers here.
The one berth that remains is that of the wicketkeeper. Here, Samir Dighe is set to make his first trip overseas for a Test series. For now, it appears he is being rewarded for that heroic unbeaten 22 (on debut) in Chennai, but the word is out he must now perform with the big gloves.
It is understood Bengal’s Deep Dasgupta has made a “good” impression at the on-going conditioning camp and, should Dighe fumble in the two-Test series, there’s this chance Dasgupta could be his replacement for the tri-series which will follow the Tests.
The West Indies will be the third team in the tri-series, which will be played between June 23 and July 7. The India-Zimbabwe Tests will be completed between June 7-19, the first in Harare followed by one in Bulawayo.
At home, Zimbabwe are never to be underestimated. In fact, on India’s last tour (1998), the hosts won the one-off Harare Test with more than a degree of comfort.
Already, Sourav has warned against complacency, while Wright, in his typically measured way, has said he expects Zimbabwe to be competitive.
EXPECTED XVSourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S.Laxman, Hemang Badani, Samir Dighe (wicketkeeper), Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Debashish Mohanty, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh and Sairaj Bahutule. Coach: John Wright. Manager: Chetan Chauhan. Physio: Andrew Leipus.
While trainees of BCCI’s East Zone academy, busy at nets across the road, are now a familiar sight, a few other youngsters made sure everyone took notice when the second phase of the Ambar Roy sub-junior cricket tournament got underway on Eden’s hallowed turf today.
Adit Osatwal’s brilliant century and Sajib Saha’s seven for 15 (which included a hattrick) stood out on a day when the lowest rung of local cricket flaunted talent.
The allround capabilities of Osatwal, the Bournvita Cricket Academy skipper, were acknowledged when he found a berth on the state under-14 squad even before he was 12. Today the opener underlined that promise with a 82-ball 105 that had 18 boundaries and a six.
With Arjun Roy and Sujay Das chipping in with handsome scores, Bournvita were able to total 205 for four in their 25 overs. Opponents Gopinath Union managed just 144 for nine, with Osatwal adding a couple of wickets to his good work with the bat.
Sajib’s seven restricted Deshbandhu CCC to 84 and set up Suhrid Mitra CCC’s seven-wicket victory.
Waiting for MarshIt was business as usual at the BCCI academy, even as there was this air of expectancy. With Rodney Marsh set to visit the nets tomorrow, East Zone’s best will get a chance to showcase their talent before the chief of the Australian Cricket Academy.
It will also be an opportunity for the coaches and fitness consultant Dr Vece Paes to again interact with former Aussie wicket-keeper, who is the main consultant for the BCCI academies.
SUMMARISED SCORESMilan Samity 109 (21.1 overs) (Sanjoy Gayen 4/14, Archit Chakraborty 4/18). Tarun Sangha, Baghajatin 110 for 1 (12 overs) (Debojit Bose 83 n.o.). Tarun Sangha won by 9 wkts.
Russa United CCC 120 for 9 (25 overs). Paikpara Sporting Club 123 for 2 (17.4 overs) (A. Bhowmick 45). Paikpara won by 8 wkts.
Sipasree CCC 154 for 7 (25 overs) (Muktinath Ghosh 47). Calcutta CCC 155 for 7 (24.2 overs) (Anirban Kundu 62 n.o.). Calcutta CCC won by 3 wkts.
Deshbandhu CCC 84 (21.3 overs) (Rakesh Baishnab 24; Sajib Saha 7/15). Suhrid Mitra CCC 87 for 3 (18.4 overs) (Chandan Paul 31). Suhrid Mitra CCC won by 7 wkts.
Bournvita CA 205 for 4 (25 overs) (Adit Osatwal 105, Sujay Das 44, Arjun Roy 42 rt hurt). Gopinath Union CCC 144 for 9 (25 overs) (Kunal Chowdhury 47, Gautam das 39; Manoj Mondal 3/3). Bournvita CA won by 61 runs.
Star Sporting 123 (25 overs) (Soumya Mukherjee 36). Roydanga Sporting CCC 127 for 6 (24.5 overs) (Soumitra Paul 55). Roydanga won by 4 wkts.
Lakshmibilas CupSAI Training Centre set up a semi-final showdown with Khalsa Blues in the Lakshmibilas Cup hockey tournament with big victories today. SAI Training Centre drubbed Behala SA 4-0, while Khalsa Blues crushed Students AC.
Age-group volleyballThe state age-group volleyball championships for boys and girls will begin at the WBVA courts tomorrow. Competition will be held in the mini, sub-junior and junior categories.
Sunil Gavaskar, chairman of the technical committee, said the west-zone team’s suggestion to introduce a two-tier structure for Ranji Trophy was the main topic of discussion.
Other issues which figured prominently in the discussion were concern about the quality of wickets and venues for domestic matches, Gavaskar said.
National selection committee chairman Chandu Borde, former wicketkeeper Kiran More and BCCI secretary J.Y. Lele were among those who attended the meeting.
Gavaskar said the two-tier proposal for Ranji Trophy was a radical one which could not be implemented immediately. The proposal states that the 15 teams qualifying for the knockout stage should feature in group A with the 12 which fail to qualify and the new states forming group B.
Group A teams will then be divided into two groups as will be the teams in group B. The teams will then be involved in a round robin league and the duration of matches will be four days. Two teams from each group will make it to the semi-finals and the semis and the finals will be five-day affairs.
It was also discussed whether pitches should be left uncovered to enhance performance.
Some members felt if the standard of pitches were improved, changes in format could be limited. It was also said basic facilities like pavilions, practice nets and accommodation at smaller venues should be improved.
Gavaskar said all suggestions will be discussed with state associations. The final decisions will be forwarded to the BCCI’s working committee for ratification.
ACB agreementLater, the BCCI secretary informed an agreement was reached with the Australian Cricket Board about holding three-match one-day series on a reciprocal basis.
India will tour Australia in September this year and play two matches indoors in Melbourne on September 14 and 16. The third match will be outdoors in Brisbane on September 18. It was announced earlier that all matches will be played indoors.
Lele said Australia will tour India within the next 12 months and play three one-dayers.
England get a breakThe BCCI secretary said England’s request for a Christmas break during their tour of India later this year has been accepted. England will play three Tests in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore in November-December and then fly home. They will return for the one-dayers in the second week of January.
Lele informed the BCCI is not too keen to stage the ICC Knock-Out tournament next year, as the ticklish issue of playing with Pakistan and sharing revenue with the ICC have not been sorted out. Geoff Marsh’s report on revamping domestic cricket will also be placed before the working committee.
An emergent session of the governing body, which met this afternoon, didn’t take long to take the decision. It also okayed a new proposal — to invite a club of international repute for a two-three match promotional tour in the third week of June.
Blaming the AIFF squarely for their predicament vis-a-vis the India Cup, IFA joint-secretary Ranjit Gupta explained at a press conference the country’s apex body wanted certain unreasonable conditions to be met before permission could be granted for the international club-level tournament.
A letter from AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco, dated May 9, granted IFA ‘provisional permission’ to hold the tournament provided three conditions were met within 10 days. It’s condition No. 2 which dealt IFA the knockout punch.
According to it, the IFA had to give AIFF a bank guarantee equal to the sum to be incurred for conducting the tournament. “We are talking in terms of something in the region of Rs four crore. How can an organisation like IFA raise that much money in 10 days? We can’t ask for that sum from prospective sponsors unless a firm permission to hold the meet is given,” argued Gupta.
Colaco’s letter also requested IFA to withdraw the court cases against AIFF regarding misappropriation and misuse of funds. “Though that is not part of the conditions, it is a camouflaged condition set by the AIFF,” said Gupta.
Ruling out any possibility of withdrawing the cases against AIFF, Gupta said: “How are court cases related to a football tournament? The cases were filed to help bring in transparency in financial matters of the federation and we’ll fight till the end.”
Gupta accused AIFF of dragging the permission issue to such an extent that it left little time for IFA to finally go ahead with the tournament. “We had last year wanted to organise the India Cup with top national teams, but that was turned down as they (AIFF) wouldn’t give permission to any meet before the Millennium Cup.
“This year, we wrote to them on March 10 expressing our desire to hold an international club-level meet in June, but they kept on delaying in giving us permission on one pretext or the other,” lamented Gupta.
Hinting that the AIFF was being vindictive, Gupta said he will write to Colaco tomorrow, seeking permission to organise a few exhibition matches involving a top international club.
But what if the AIFF again played spoilsport? “Let them do that, we’ll decide on our next course of action then.”
It’s no secret that Gupta has declared war against the style of AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi’s functioning. Now, it’s getting increasingly clear that the sport will suffer in this state as the two men continue their battle.
(With inter-state dividends)
1. Kangeyam Plate 1,400m: (6-7-4) Master Weaver (S. Amjad) 1; Stately Girl 2; Barrier Ridge 3. Not run: Classic Gold (2) & Minoan (3). Won by: Nk; 2-1/4; (1-28). Tote: Win Rs 66; Place: 21; 13; 16; Quinella: 64; Tanala: 371. Fav: Stately Girl (7).
2. Town View Plate 1,200m: (1-2/5) Majestic Style (Kariappa) 1; Endless Image & Simply Dashing 2. Won by: 3/4; D-H; 3; (1-17). Tote: Win Rs 56; Place: 27; 16 (on Endless Image); 7 (on Simply Dashing); Quinella: 110 (on Majestic Style & Endless Image) & 48 (on Majestic Style & Simply Dashing); Tanala: 330. Fav: Simply Dashing (5).
3. P. T. Sampathkumaran Cup 2,000m: (2-5-10) Simply Unique (A. Imran) 1; Zaryad 2; San Marino 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 1-1/4; (2-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 14; 44; 30; Quinella: 259; Tanala: 2,480. Fav: Simply Unique (2).
4. Trichur Plate 1,400m: (14-10-3) Victory Arch (Anil) 1; Silent Boy 2; Connexions 3. Won by: 1-1/4; SH; (1-30.2). Tote: Win Rs 225; Place: 44; 20; 138; Quinella: 767; Tanala: 22,010 (C.o). Fav: Silent Boy (10).
5. Shoranur Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (6-5-10) Common Spirit (A. Imran) 1; Brave Vision 2; Forest Brigand 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 1; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 18; 26; 29; Quinella: 196; Tanala: 723. Fav: Common Spirit (6).
6. Udipi Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (13-9-8) Amazing Crown (Ross) 1; Owner’s Pride 2; Unaproachable 3. Won by: 6; 2-1/4; (1-14.5). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 23; 35; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 401. Fav: Amazing Crown (13).
7. Shoranur Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (14-9-3) Bruce Wills (Hesnain) 1; Sergeant Slipper 2; Celtic Venture 3. Won by: 1/2; Nk; (1-17.2). Tote: Win Rs 282; Place: 55; 98; 21; Quienlla: 3,258; Tanala: 26,140 (Carried over). Fav: Prismatic (11).
8. Udipi Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (13-6-7) Supreme Challanger (Ross) 1; King’s Harmony 2; Noble Dancer 3. Won by: 6; 1-1/2; (1-15.2). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 15; 51; 29; Quinella: 321; Tanala: 1,571. Fav: Supreme Challanger (13).
Jackpot: Rs 15,710 (Carried over on May 23).