A ‘green’ welcome for India in Nottingham
Wright the key to India’s knowledge
In the City
Randhawa among the top stars

 
 
A ‘GREEN’ WELCOME FOR INDIA IN NOTTINGHAM 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Nottingham, August 5 : 
The Nottinghamshire CCC, hosts of the second Test beginning Thursday, have accorded a green carpet welcome to the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian team.

Of course, curator Steve Birks insisted “much of the grass will be mowed,” but the Indians are bound to closely watch Trent Bridge over the next couple of days. Incidentally, the ground was waterlogged last week and the immediate forecast isn’t encouraging.

A close watch will also be kept on Anil Kumble’s fitness. Kumble, who has had a recurrence of the left calf muscle strain (which troubled him during the NatWest Trophy), did attend Monday’s workout — in overcast conditions — but coach John Wright conveyed the “let’s-wait-and-watch” look.

If Kumble isn’t available, the bowling combination becomes straight forward: Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh. The problem will arise if Kumble recovers — physio Andrew Leipus expects him to — and the grass actually is removed.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Sourav and Wright will then opt for the “four best bowlers.” In that eventuality, despite his hundred at Lord’s, Agarkar will almost surely have to sit out.

After all, being one-down in the four-match series, India must field the bowlers most capable of taking 20 England wickets. On the potential-scale, Nehra scores over Agarkar.

The captain and coach will find it tough in the other scenario as well — the wicket retaining its green look and Kumble being available. Clearly, all three seamers will have to be fielded and the debate will centre around playing Kumble or Harbhajan.

Thursday is still some days away and both Sourav and Wright will have opportunities to “review” the bowlers’ strengths and weaknesses. At the moment, though, the bottomline is pretty hazy.

Significantly, barring Kumble, the Indians have no fitness worries. However, just about everyone does have an unusual problem — the team hotel (part of the very upmarket Hilton chain) has such small rooms.

While it prompted one of the players to quip “the loo is probably more spacious,” manager Ranga Reddy also had something to say: “If my suitcase is open and I need to go across the room, then I must jump. There isn’t an alternative.”

Well...

’Interest’ in Sehwag

Meanwhile, Notts seem ‘interested’ in Virender Sehwag. A senior official confirmed “something is in the air,” but declined to give details. Chris Cairns is already contracted for next year — he is missing this season through injury — but Sehwag could be signed as the second pro from overseas.

From 2003, the Counties will each revert to two overseas players.

As already reported, Lancashire want Harbhajan to come on board. A big hitch, though, is that the BCCI hasn’t given the go-ahead. Indeed, the decision has been put on hold till the contract system is finalised.

   

 
 
WRIGHT THE KEY TO INDIA’S KNOWLEDGE 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Nottingham, August 5 : 
Kent’s Robert Key, who will be making his England debut in the second Test (Trent Bridge, from Thursday), doesn’t fall into the unknown-category for the Indians. After all, besides top-scoring for his County (76) in a warm-up game ahead of the NatWest Trophy, Key had joined Kent when John Wright was coach.

“Then itself (1998), Key had the potential to play for England... One could, straightaway, make out he’s a good batsman. It’s just that he needed to reduce and get fitter. Obviously, in more recent times, Key has done exactly that,” Wright told The Telegraph Monday.

Wright, of course, was Kent’s coach for four years — 1997 onwards. He has been with our team from November 2000, six weeks after ending his contract with the Canterbury-headquartered County.

Besides being a right-hand bat, Key can bowl off-spin and that must have given the 23-year-old an advantage when the selectors picked the XIII. That Key is a frontrunner to replace Graham Thorpe was mentioned in these columns last Wednesday itself.

However, while Key has replaced a middle-order bat, he will himself open — with the classy Michael Vaughan. Mark Butcher will drop to No. 3. Nicknamed Keysy, Key’s list of most admired cricketers doesn’t include big names. Perhaps, that says something about him.

Key, by the way, is unmarried.

The other new face in England’s squad, Durham’s Stephen Harmison, is also 23. Moreover, like Key, has gained by having worked with Academy boss Rodney Marsh. In fact, both toured Australia with the Academy side last winter and, by all accounts, returned better cricketers.

It’s not clear, though, whether Harmison will also make his debut Thursday. Apparently, he is very quick, but everything will depend on the strategy being finalised by Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher.

At the moment, then, one understands Harmison — chosen as the injured Simon Jones’ replacement — has a “fifty-fifty” chance. Provided Alex Tudor is fit, two from among Tudor, Craig White and Harmison will make the XI.

According to the County regulars, while Harmison does have a tendency to pitch short, he can extract much bounce. If his length and line is disciplined, Harmison is bound to be a difficult proposition.

Harmison (nicknamed Harmy), incidentally, believes in doing things quickly. So much so he married when just 20 and is already a father. A Courtney Walsh fan, Harmison was a stand-by on England’s tour of New Zealand earlier this year.

Notts’ problems

Meanwhile, for a bit of local touch specific to Nottinghamshire CCC. Come next week and the County will have its third overseas pro of the season. Lance Klusener left after a few weeks only, while Nicky Boje is leaving in a couple of days. Due next is Stuart MacGill.

Placed in Division-II, Notts also had to appoint a fresh cricket manager (Nick Newell) after Clive Rice, the former South African captain, recently chose to sever long-standing ties. Clearly, problems aplenty.

   

 
 
IN THE CITY 
 
 
 
 

CAB bowled out for 256

CAB XI were all out for 256 on the opening day of their second match in the KSCA tournament, against Chemplast, in Bangalore Monday. All-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla followed up his impressive batting performance in the first match with a knock of 50, while Aurijit Bose scored 38 and Amitava Chakraborty 30. At stumps, Chemplast were 37 for no loss, according to information recieved here. Meanwhile, Rohan Gavaskar is scheduled to join the side for the Buchi Babu tournament which begins after this meet.

Tolly bid for Mongia

Tollygunge Agragami, in a bid to build a strong side for the forthcoming season, has started negotiations with former India wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia. The club authorities have called the player for a final round of discussion on Saturday. The player has reportedly expressed his desire to play in the state. Orissa seamer Debashish Mohanty has also been called by Tollygunge for a final chat on the same day.

New post for Nassiri

Former striker Jamshed Nassiri, who played with distinction for leading Indian clubs in the 80s, was Monday appointed chief coach of Mohammedan Athletic Club.

The Iranian replaces Rahamatullah Khan, who was doubling up as the club’s playing coach.

The team is currently playing in group A of the Calcutta first division league. “The club officials approached me for the job recently.” Nassiri said. The Iranian’s only long stint as coach, for Bengal Mumbai Football Club, ended amid unpleasant circumstances last season.

Nabi hattrick

A hattrick by Rahim Nabi helped Narayanpukur United Club lift the 11th S.P. Roy memorial football tournament at the Shantipur Municipal stadium Sunday. They beat Madarihat Athletic Union 3-1, Sanjib Das scoring the reducer for the losers in the second half. Sanjib Dutta of Narayanpukur was Man of the Match. The prizes were given away by Mohun Bagan captain Dulal Biswas.

East Zone meet from Aug. 14

The Servo Indian Oil National ranking east zone table tennis championships will be played at the Sidhu Kanu Indoor Stadium in Durgapur from August 14 to 18. About 300 players from all over the country will take part in the tournament.

Charity drive to Europe

Two Bengal cyclists, Sanjib Chandra and Debajyoti Ghosh, will embark on a tour of Europe on Tuesday with the purpose of raising funds for thalassemia affected and physically challenged children. The tour, organised by the Rotary Club of Garden Reach and Rotary Club of Bhowanipore, will be flagged off from the West Bengal Kabaddi Association ground.

Md. Sporting to honour Qamar

Boxer Mohammad Ali Qamar, who won gold in the Commonwealth Games, will be felicitated by Mohammedan Sporting on August 9. The club secretary said Monday the youngster will be felicitated before Friday’s Super Division match against Eastern Railway at the club ground.

The club’s match against Tollygunge Agragami scheduled at Salt Lake Stadium Tuesday has been postponed. Adequate security personnel will not be available because of the Ghanaian President’s trip to the city.

TODAY IN SPORT

SOCCER: Calcutta League — Super Division: East Bengal vs SAIL (East Bengal).

1st Division Group B: Taltola DS vs Anushilani (SAP I), Behala Youth vs Victoria SC (Rabindra Sarobar), Barisha SC vs Salkia Friends (SAI III), Calcutta Police vs Garalgacha SC (Md Sporting) Matches from 3:30 pm

   

 
 
RANDHAWA AMONG THE TOP STARS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5: 
The second leg of the Indian Professional Golf Tour begins in Bangalore Wednesday with the Hero Honda Open South. The meet carries a prize purse of Rs 10 lakh. The winner will be richer by Rs 1,62,000, while the runner-up stands to gain Rs 1,12,000.

The tournament has attracted a full strength field. They include the likes of defending champion Vivek Bhandari and twice Hero-Honda Masters winner Jyoti Randhawa.

Also in contention are thrice Champion Golfer of the Year award winner, Mukesh Kumar, Royal Springs Open winner Digvijay Singh, Indian Open winner Vijay Kumar and the rest.

Also adding glamour to the field will be Uttam Singh Mundy, Arjun Singh, Indrajit Bhalotia, Ali Sher, Calcutta’s Firoz Ali and Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, apart from Rahil Gangjee, according to information reaching here.

The event, over the Karnataka Golf Association course, is being managed by the Tiger Sports Marketing, and sponsors Hero Honda will present a ‘Passion’ motorcycle to the golfer who cards the first hole-in-one in the main professional four-day event.

   
 

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