Eighth Column/ Destiny’s doing, says Murali
No coach has a magic formula: Lloyd
Thumping win gives EB League crown
Owners to lodge riding instructions with club
Whipping laws may be tightened

Sharjah, April 18: 
Only somebody with extraordinary mental toughness could have so quickly (and very remarkably) overcome the trauma of being booked for chucking. But, then, Muttiah Muralidharan has always been different. Indeed, 24 hours after suffering a terrible shoulder injury, that toughness was again much in evidence.

“It’s destiny’s doing... Moreover, sportsmen must be prepared for injuries, which can’t always be prevented. Cricket, really, is for the tough only,” Murali told The Telegraph at the Holiday International Thursday afternoon.

Smiling wryly, he added: “I’m off to Melbourne early Friday, where I’ll be examined by Dr David Young... If surgery is required (in the left shoulder region), I’ll be away from cricket for as many as ten weeks. Otherwise, I could be back within six... I know I’ve probably been bowling at my best, but how can I get the better of destiny?”

With over 400 Test wickets and close to 300 victims in ODIs, the 30-year-old is about the hottest spinner around.

Rewinding to the moment he fell on his left shoulder, during the Sharjah Cup 2002 final, Murali said: “My first thought was I’d suffered a dislocation. That’s why I asked teammates and the physio (Alex Kontouri) to push the bone back in place... Alex tried, but couldn’t, as the ligaments were in shreds...”

As of now, then, Murali is sure to miss the first two Tests in England (Lord’s and Edgbaston), but could be available for the third and final one at Old Trafford (June 13-17) and the tri-series thereafter. However, if surgery is necessary, Murali’s return to big-time cricket will only be during the home engagements against Bangladesh.

Incidentally, the Sri Lankans will await Dr Young’s diagnosis before deciding on a replacement. The Sanath Jayasuriya-led team’s England departure is slated for Sunday.


Sharjah, April 18: 
Clive ‘Supercat’ Lloyd has always had his hands full. Now, of course, his top job is that of Match Referee — Lloyd is on the ICC’s Elite Panel. He also heads the CBFS’ technical committee, an assignment which brought him to this Emirate. Despite a hectic schedule, Lloyd took time off to speak to The Telegraph during yesterday’s Sharjah Cup 2002 final.


On the latest India-West Indies series which is one-Test old

It’s going to be interesting because both teams have so much to gain. The West Indies haven’t been winning anywhere in recent times, whereas the Indians continue to be saddled with the poor tourists’ label. Therefore, the incentive for both teams is huge. Only, if you ask me, India and the West Indies are strong in batting but have a rather mediocre attack... Also, I’m not sure to what extent the series itself will be influenced, but the West Indies have recalled some players while the Indians have a more or less settled team.

On whether Harbhajan Singh, who missed the first Test, could make a difference

Not that many spinners have won a Test in the West Indies but, yes, he could... He will, at least, be different.

On the rain-marred first Test

Well, rain intervened only late on the fourth afternoon... The story could have been very different had Hoops (Carl Hooper) not been dropped on duck... Quite simply, you’ve got to hold everything that comes your way.

On Rahul Dravid’s unbeaten hundred

He’s such a quality batsman and, as I told you the other day, should be batting at No. 3. That slot is made out for him. At No.3, you do need somebody with exceptional powers of concentration.

On all the pre-series hype having been Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara specific

(Grins) It was understandable, but everybody forgot Hoops and Dravid! At the end of the day, cricket is a team sport and even the brilliant individuals contribute to what essentially is a team effort.

On the Indians ‘compromising’ by playing Deep Dasgupta

Look, specialist positions call for absolute specialists. Moreover, it’s not a good sign if you’re looking at your wicketkeeper to get you a significant number of runs. Personally, I’ve always favoured full-fledged wicketkeepers. If the guy can bat, well, that’s a bonus... Also, it’s too much asking the wicketkeeper to open after he has been in the field for two days.

On Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy

He seems to blow hot-and-cold... Captaincy isn’t an easy job and, so, if the players are happy with Sourav, he should be given a longer tenure... Of course, chopping and changing doesn’t help — certainly not at the very top. Trust, respect, self-belief... A lot of factors come into play where captaincy is concerned.

On India’s chances in the second Test

Good... Harbhajan’s availability gives an interesting dimension, doesn’t it?

On just how important is the present series for the West Indies

Not having won anything either at home or away, in recent times, the West Indies are in a precarious situation... It’s essential they win this one.

On Hooper as captain

Hoops is astute, reads the game well... The good thing is that he is getting runs as captain. However, a simple fact of life is that a captain is only as good as his team. Despite not having everything going his way, Hoops has been doing a fine job.

On criticism often being directed towards coach Roger Harper

(Emotionally) People are always looking for a scapegoat... I would like to emphasise no coach has a magic formula... I remember the time I was coach or when Malcolm (Marshall) had the job and I was manager, everybody thought we could wave a wand and the West Indies would start winning. That everybody would become a Viv Richards or a Joel Garner or a Gordon Greenidge. But, my friend, that’s not how things work. Even after so many years, it’s still a period of transition for West Indies cricket... The learning-curve hasn’t ended.

On whether the West Indies Board is guilty of not having professionally planned

We just didn’t prepare... Years ago, for instance, I kept saying we must have an Academy. They’ve got one now, in Grenada, but nobody then listened. Really, we ought to have thought ahead like the Australians... The cricketers shouldn’t be learning once they’ve reached Test level, that bit ought to have been completed much earlier.

On the Board now being headed by Wesley Hall

Oh, I have enormous respect for him and it’s nice to have somebody like him at the helm... At the same time, I would like the president to build a team of dedicated personnel around him. Having a legend alone (at the top) may not, after all, be enough.

On having himself been labelled a captain who had lots of luck

(Smiles) Yeah... I did have LUCK, only my definition of luck is slightly different: Labour Under Correct Knowledge. I rest my case there.

On the dearth of superstars in the present era

Probably because of the current structure... I think it needs to be reviewed. Players, and teams, are suffering because of too much cricket. Clearly, the players need to enjoy what they do.

On India continuing to not play Pakistan

Doesn’t make sense... If you don’t play against top teams like Pakistan, how will your players improve? I mean, I see no gains from having three series’ against Zimbabwe in less than 18 months... Everybody keeps talking of India’s poor record overseas. Yes, that’s a fact, but things won’t change unless there are regular away-engagements with sides such as Pakistan. You only improve by facing the best.


Calcutta, April 18: 
East Bengal romped home to an easy six wicket victory over Rajasthan in the CAB league final at Eden Gardens Thursday.

Chasing a paltry 197 for victory, they reached the target in 67.2 overs. Srikant Kalyani was the top scorer for East Bengal with an accomplished 86 not out.

Resuming the day at 39 for two, Kalyani and Ajoy Verma looked in good nick. Verma followed up his impressive bowling performance on the opening day with a well-made 62. Just when the two looked like running away with the game, Verma was run out.

East Bengal lost another quick wicket, that of Avijit Ganguli but Wrichik Majumdar and Kalyani ensured no further hiccups.

Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have won one title each in the local season so far.


Rajasthan 198. East Bengal 199/4 (Ajoy Verma 62, Srikant Kalyani 86 n.o.) EB won by six wkts.

P. Sen Trophy

The CAB may field only one team, instead of two, in the P. Sen Trophy this season, which begins in the first week of May. A Combined Universities side may also take part. The first round matches of the limited-overs meet may be held at Deshbandhu Park. This will be the first instance that P. Sen Trophy matches will be played at a venue other than Eden Gardens.

Schools’ meet

Howrah Vivekananda Institution and Howrah Ramkrishna Shikshlaya moved into the semi-finals of the Howrah leg of the Milo Challenge inter-school cricket meet Thursday.


Calcutta, April 18: 
Horseowners’ instructions, in respect of the whipping norms to all their jockeys, who were expected to don silks for them during the season, could be lodged with the concerned race clubs, said Vineet Verma, ceo and secretary Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) on Thursday. Verma was part of last Tuesday’s Turf Authorities of India (TAI) delegation that met Maneka Gandhi, union minister of state for statistics and programme implementations. The delegation was in New Delhi to solicit cause of Geoffrey Napgpal and three members of his family who were suspended by the ministry from owning horses, pending inquiry, following excessive whipping of their horse Shamaal by jockey Malesh Narredu in a race on March 17. The minister had assured the delegation that Nagpals’ suspension may be revoked after the owners reply to the show-cause notice. However, a repeated offence by the jockey on any of their horse may spell trouble for Nagpals again.

The minister was reported to have said that she would think a million times before taking an action against a horse-owner. The minister’s stand was, however, clarified by Verma that horseowners only get this benefit provided the concerned turf club takes a judicious action against the erring jockey and in accordance with the law. A repeated offence by the same jockey may, however, once again, expose the same owner to the law.


Calcutta, April 18: 
It is not only Jockeys, trainers and horseowners who need to understand complications arising out of breach of norms in regards to the use of whip, racing public, in general, too, needs to understand laws related to belting of horses. Vineet Verma, ceo and secretary RCTC viewed it differently: “Awareness about the use of whip among the general public has to be increased and media has a greater role to play in this direction.”

A stipendiary steward, on the other hand, feels: “The general public notion that harder hitting makes the horse runs faster is all wrong. A jockey needs to use the whip sparingly. A horse has to be shown the whip and given time to respond before hitting him.”

Although laws related to the use of whip approved by the animal activist Maneka Gandhi remain the same, RCTC will be launching a fresh campaign that they intend to follow the laws to the word. “We will be tightening the whipping laws from the forthcoming monsoon racing season. “ said Verma.

RCTC will also be introducing a new variety of shock absorbing whip from the monsoon season. The whip that was approved by Maneka during her last Tuesday meeting with the TAI delegates is slightly different than the one that was rejected by jockeys.


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