Confrontation gets me pumped up: Donald
India slump to innings defeat
Pollock calls for a review
Sourav test before Mohali
Subhomoy helps Bengal pile up 405/8
1200 for Asansol tourney

Centurion, Nov. 27: 
With over 550 wickets in Tests and ODIs, Allan Donald’s place in cricket’s Hall of Fame is assured. And it’s reasonable to say he has probably had the most significant impact, player-wise, on South Africa’s emergence as an outstanding team.

Donald, 35, spoke to The Telegraph for around 45 minutes on the eve of the ‘Test’ here, after a fitness-proving workout with the national team. He remains among the most articulate of sportsmen.

Following are excerpts

On ten years at the highest level

Touch wood, I’ve been successful. I’ve had some fantastic highs and, as is to be expected, some lows as well. Indeed, cricket has been good to me. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve been struck by niggling injuries... I’ve reached a stage where, to stay fit, I need to work harder... Spend more time at the gym... It will be nice to sign off from Test cricket after the six games against Australia, later this season... Fitness permitting, I would like to be available for ODIs till the 2003 World Cup.

On his thoughts on debut (Eden Gardens, November 1991)

To begin with, it was frightening... I mean, 100,000 people... Yet, once I got a few wickets, the atmosphere got the adrenaline flowing even more. I realised I wanted to be part of international cricket. Realised that, henceforth, life wouldn’t again be the same.

On whether the past ten years have taken a heavy toll

Well, yes... It’s not that I’m not strong enough... I spent a number of years at Warwickshire and, while County cricket has been great for me, it has also taken its pound of flesh... I admit the seasons at Warwickshire left me tired when I returned to South Africa for international commitments.

On whether Shaun Pollock, who plays for Warwickshire next summer, could end up the same way

(Smiles) The other day, Shaun was quoted as saying he wants to “rest” there. I really don’t see that happening. Frankly, it’s not for me to answer whether he is taking on too much. In any case, no one knows Shaun’s body better than the man himself. But, yes, his batting could improve.

On Pollock having asked him, at the start of this season, to again make himself available for Test cricket

Shaun did, before the tour of Zimbabwe, only I couldn’t make the trip because of illness... He wanted a pressure-creating bowler at the other end though, really, I think he was looking ahead to this up-coming tour of Australia. It will, by the way, be a fascinating contest there.

On South Africa getting to where they have in just ten years (after readmission into the ICC)

I was confident we would get better... I think we’ve used the technology available very well... We’ve got used to winning and, significantly, have won in the sub-continent as well. In my view, a measure of any team’s progress is how it adapts to conditions in the sub-continent... Looking back, the upswing began around five years ago and much of the credit should go to Bob Woolmer. Hansie (Cronje), too.

On the difference brought about by the Cronje-Woolmer partnership

Each one was made to feel responsible for the role assigned... Discipline has a lot to do with this and both the then captain and coach instilled that very well. Woolmer, specially, had a knack of solving problems... He would get a video ready, call for tapes... Woolmer was so methodical, attempted new things... Hansie, for his part, was always cool and calm, never allowed the opposition to guess what was on his mind... He backed his players, made them aware of the faith he had in them... In time, both got us to play at a pace others found difficult to match.

On whether Cronje would read the riot act

(Laughs) Hansie would... When he was angry, he was really angry. But, then, that anger wasn’t ever at the wrong time... He is being missed, that’s for sure, but life goes on.

On his own special relationship with Woolmer

I would call him my mentor... The one thing he taught me early is to never abuse good form, to keep working hard... He was so precise, so committed into making the team a winning unit. Indeed, he helped us to focus on one thing at a time.

On his association with Cronje

(Emotionally) We grew up together (in Bloemfontein)... I regarded him as a wonderful person with such high aspirations... I think he was destined to captain South Africa... I made my first-class debut before him and, on Saturdays and Sundays, it wasn’t unusual to find him at the (then) rather uncomfortable scoreboard at Springbok (now Goodyear) Park... He was so enthusiastic, wanted to excel at whatever he did... I missed him when I got my 300th Test wicket last year. Instinctively, I looked at mid-off, but he wasn’t there... Of course, he promptly called at the break, but it wasn’t quite the same thing... What happened shouldn’t ever have happened but, now, he should be left alone... Should be allowed to get on with life. In a few years, I’m sure Hansie will get over this crisis.

On why Cronje got tempted

Don’t know. Even if you ask me a million times, I still won’t have an answer. Not for even a split second did I ever imagine Hansie was involved with something unethical... Losing Hansie, the cricketer, has been a loss for the sport.

On Kepler Wessels’ influence, generally

Perhaps because he came through the Australian system, he was hard... Kepler was a no-sympathy man. I doubt if I’ve played with or against a tougher cricketer. Mental toughness, being ruthless... He’s the one who got us going... If one bowled a bad ball, one didn’t even (dare) look at him... Having already experienced the pressures of international cricket (for Australia), Kepler could guide us on handling those situations... Actually, Hansie and Woolmer took over, in the truest sense, from where Kepler left off.

On Pollock as captain

There were some murmurs when he got the job, but Shaun has stood up to the challenge and done very well. He’s a performer.

On maturing as a world-class super quick

I learnt a lot from County cricket... I became better and better each time I went to Warwickshire... I set goals and realised them... In fact, goal-setting has been a feature of my growth as a fast bowler. I would advise youngsters to do likewise. Goal-setting and planning... With experience, I learnt to occasionally hold myself back, to save myself for the moment when a telling blow had to be landed... Cricket is a pro sport and, so, players must also be professional in their approach.

On handling pressure

If there’s pressure, that’s the place I want to be. I’d love to bowl to a Steve Waugh on 98 and would love to get him at that score. As a bowler, I thrive on tense situations, moments which get me pumped up. Yes, I like being in the ‘cooker’, love a confrontation — like the one with Mike Atherton in 1998.

On whether he is still haunted by that run-out fiasco in the 1999 World Cup semi-finals which allowed Australia to go through

(After a pause) As I said then, it was like a death in the family... It took many weeks to get over it... I’d even forgotten I had four wickets and Shaun five... It’s just that one moment of madness which remains rooted in everyone’s memory... Lance Klusener and I... Perhaps, destiny had willed it that way... If there’s a reason I wish to play till the 2003 World Cup, it’s that I can get an opportunity to make amends. What if there’s a repeat? I’ll shoot myself.

Finally, whether his aggression is all natural or the result of a conscious effort to be aggressive

Natural... Depends on the situation... I did deliberately have a go at Rahul Dravid (tri-series final in Durban, 1997), but that was an exception. Later, I apologised to him and shook hands... I quite admire Courtney Walsh, who would get his eyes to do all the talking. Frankly, no quick would like to be ultra-aggressive and lose composure. Doesn’t help.


Centurion, Nov. 27: 
India 232 & 261
South Afirca 566/8 Dec..
MoM: Pollock
MoS: Gibbs

Five days ago, Shaun Pollock stunned the Establishment by insisting the ‘Test’ here was a “practice game” and that the “edge” had gone out of his players.

Today, moments after India suffered an innings-and-73-run defeat, Pollock was quick to collect one of the stumps as souvenir. Perhaps, out of habit. Perhaps, he wanted a memento in case the ICC, at a future date, did grant Test status... In fact, at the presentation ceremony, Pollock even let slip “it was a nice Test.”

Can’t blame the South African captain for being ‘confused’. Later, however, Pollock was consistent in talking about the match as a ‘Test’.

With Jawagal Srinath (fractured finger) and Venkatesh Prasad (pinched nerve in the neck) unable to bat, the Indian second innings ended some 20 minutes after lunch. An ordinary end to an extraordinary ‘Test’.

With the result overwhelmingly in South Africa’s favour, the joke at SuperSport Park was that the Indians would now go slow on the Test-status demand and, instead, the United Cricket Board would firmly press for that!

Should the game actually get official status, the defeat today will be recorded as India’s 12th by an innings. The series-verdict, of course, will then be 2-0 for South Africa. “At this point of time, that’s a technical question... Can’t, therefore, say with certainty... What I can state is that we won,” explained Pollock, smiling.

Stand-in Indian captain Rahul Dravid, for his part, maintained his team had treated the match as an “official Test.” Coach John Wright’s stand was much the same: “It’s a pity our performance wasn’t better. Only, we didn’t lose because we were unsettled by the status-controversy. For us, it was a proper Test.”

Significantly, in deciding the Man of the Series, the adjudicators only took the Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth Tests into account. Appropriately, the award went to Herschelle Gibbs (316 runs, including two centuries). Asked if he was dedicating this to anybody special, Gibbs grinned and told The Telegraph: “Not this time but, should I be Man of the Series in Australia, too, I’ll certainly do so.”

India began Day V requiring 217 to make South Africa bat a second time, but with Dravid departing early, the latest setback was fast in coming. After taking a string of fours off Mornantau Hayward, Dravid played the wrong line and was bowled by a beauty which pitched middle and took off.

Sachin Tendulkar, clearly the target of ‘chirping’, was dropped (an absolute sitter) on 16 by Gary Kirsten, but wasn’t able to make real capital. When on 40, he misjudged the freshly-introduced Makhaya Ntini’s line and found the timber disturbed. Out without offering a stroke is, to say the least, embarrassing.

The maestro’s dismissal made it 188 for four (in effect six) and any realistic chance of a fight disappeared. Very disappointing was V.V.S. Laxman’s approach — sadly, he keeps forgetting to put a heavy price tag on his wicket.

Harbhajan Singh, though, produced another cameo (30 from 33 deliveries), while Deep Dasgupta again showed he can be counted upon. That he has character. Deep was unbeaten on 26 (with one life) when the second new ball finished the ‘Test’.

Boje in doubt

Meanwhile, Nicky Boje, the only specialist spinner in South Africa’s tour party to Australia, has a “knee problem” and may not make it. And, so, Claude Henderson has been asked to keep himself ready should he be required to “stand-in.” The South Africans leave on Saturday.


Centurion, Nov. 27: 
South African captain Shaun Pollock today became the latest member of the cricket fraternity to call for a “review” of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) Code of Conduct.

Speaking to newsmen at SuperSport Park, he said: “Yes, there should be a review and each punishment must be clearly spelt out. Having it this way will ensure Match Referees are consistent. Moreover, even players will know exactly what awaits them if they step out of line.”

Significantly, Pollock agreed that “players” must have some say in situations where they are directly affected. Though he didn’t specifically talk of the ‘Test’/Test tamasha here, he was obviously referring to that.


Centurion, Nov. 27: 
Sourav Ganguly, expectedly retained captain for the England series, will undergo a fitness examination ahead of the first Test, in Mohali from Decem-ber 3.

“I’m much better, today, but will have to undergo the fitness test,” Sourav told The Telegraph this evening. Sourav, it may be recalled, missed the ‘Test’ here owing to a shoulder problem.

While it’s confirmed Jawagal Srinath is out, there’s the chance that Venkatesh Prasad, too, won’t be available for Mohali. According to coach John Wright, Prasad “pinched a nerve in the neck region” and is in pain. Neither Srinath nor Prasad batted this afternoon.

The Indians, meanwhile, leave for home on Thursday.


Calcutta, Nov. 27: 
Propelled by Subhomoy Das’ fine 112, Bengal piled up 405 for eight against Sikkim on the opening the day of the under-22 match at Burnpur today. Subhomoy’s innings came of 167 balls.

According to information received here, Amitabha Chakraborty (84) and Wrichik Majumdar (63) also chipped in with handsome contributions while skipper Shib Sagar Singh made a quickfire 58 off 47 balls. Ashutosh Pintoo was the most successful bowler for Sikkim, claiming four for 115. BRIEF SCORES: Bengal 405/8 (Subhomoy Das 112, Amitabha Chakraborty 84; Ashutosh Pintoo 4/115) vs Sikkim. Match to continue.

Women’s league likely from Dec. 26

The Calcutta women’s football league is expected to begin on December 26, the Indian Football Association (IFA) said today.

The concerned sub-committee met today and decided that inter-club transfers will be held from December 10-18. Twelve teams took part in the league last year and number of teams will remain the same this year.

After an all-play-all league, the top four will compete in the knockout phase, which means there will be 66 matches this year. Availability of grounds may be a problem, but IFA officials said the three Maidan grounds could be used till December 10, after which matches would be branched out off the Maidan.

Super Div. relegation leg from Monday

The relegation leg of the Super Division league will resume Monday with George Telegraph taking on FCI and Mohammedan Sporting facing SAIL. FCI will meet Mohammedan Sporting on Wednesday and George will compete against SAIL on the same day. The schedule of this phase was disrupted about two months back and after unsuccessful efforts, fresh dates were announced today.

Meanwhile, Aryan Club and Salkia Friends, who have already entered the relegation zone, scripted ineffectual wins in first division group A league today. Anwar Ali Beg helped Salkia win over Railway FC at Mohammedan Sporting ground while Aryan thrashed Milan Bithee 3-0. F. Alam chipped in a brace and Suman Dey added another for Aryan. Peerless and Rajasthan played out a goalless draw.

Bhalotia, Mukesh in joint lead

Local man Inderjit Bhalotia and senior pro Mukesh Kumar opened up a three-stroke lead at the eleventh leg of the Hero Honda golf tour, which began at the Tollygunge Club course today. The duo was followed by Shiv Prakash and Uttam Singh. Rohtas Singh and Suleman Ali were tied at fifth place.

State basketball from Thursday

Rakhi Sangha will organise the 21st senior state basketball championships for men and women from Thursday to Tuesday. Twelve teams will take part in men’s section while Eastern Railway will defend their title in an eight-team women’s section.

The state team for the national meet, to be held in Pune from December 22 to 29, will be picked up following the hoopsters’ performance in the meet.

Chhatra Samity in quarters

Chhatra Samity beat Saptarshi AC 25-12, 25-14, 25-15 to move into the quarter finals of the senior state volleyball championships for men at the WBVA courts today. In other matches, Simla Bayam Samity defeated Darjeepara Bayam Samity 25-12, 25-12, 25-10 while Chetla Central Club got the better of Police AC 25-15, 25-20, 20-25, 26-24.    

Calcutta, Nov. 27: 
Bengal’s Joydeep Banerjee and Kuheli Ganguly will vie with the likes of K.P. Subbaiah (Services) and Raj Kumari (Madhya Pradesh) for top honours in the 11th all India G.V. Mavalankar shooting championships beginning at Asansol Rifle Club from Monday.

About 1200 shooters are expected to take part in the 10-day meet, organising secretary V.K. Dhal said at a press conference today. The participation of top guns Jaspal Rana and Anjali Vedpathak, though, is not certain.

The meet, which returns to Asansol after three years, will feature 70 events in all. The upper sight standard prone-3 position for NCC and home guard categories have been scrapped, while the centre fire pistol for junior civilians and services added this time.

Electronic turning targets will be installed at the venue to provide shooters with facilities of international standard.


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