Honesty never pays
Sir — How times have changed! What is surprising in the report, “Price Pramod paid for a ‘friend’”, Feb 16), is not the fact of Pramod Mahajan’s close relations with Reliance, but that his open acknowledgement of the same cost him his seat in the cabinet. The message Mahajan’s sacking sends out is that it is all right to be friends with the Ambanis, as long as it is kept under wraps. In effect, this amounts to penalizing honesty — not that Mahajan is the most honest of people. But the close relations between politicians and big business are hardly a big secret, and Mahajan is not the only politician the Ambanis are reported to be close to. In fact, it is rumoured that one of the reasons for Reliance’s unprecedented success is its close relations with all parties across the political spectrum. That Reliance might have benefitted from this friendship with the minister — however much Mahajan may swear by the excellence of the Reliance cellular network — does not seem too far-fetched as well. But hey, wasn’t that par for the course'
S.M. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — Why is Dinesh Mongia not allowed to open the innings outside India as he does in India' Why bring him in at number seven when he is a natural opener' Cricket-lovers must have observed how consistently the captain, Sourav Ganguly, has been failing. Ganguly is supposed to play spin well, and be uncomfortable against fast bowlers. So why does he not come lower down in the batting order' Is it just because he is captain' In this, Ganguly should learn a lesson or two from Stephen Flemming. The New Zealand captain — not a regular opener — came in to open the batting against South Africa and went on to score a century chasing a huge total of 307 runs and leading his team to victory. Why can’t Ganguly, a regular opener, play the fast bowlers effectively' South Africa’s Gary Kirsten batted lower down the order in the interest of the team, against New Zealand. If a strong team like South Africa can do this,why can’t India'
In the bowling department, Jawagal Srinath has been struggling for some time. Shouldn’t he be rested and a chance given to someone like Ajit Agarkar' Rahul Dravid has been asked to keep wickets. Would it not have been better to give the opportunity to a youngster like Parthiv Patel, who has shown that he can also bat'
Mayank Almal, Calcutta
Sir — Last September, the entire nation was going gaga over the performance of “Sourav’s tigers” in the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka. The “men in blue”, everyone said, were the only real contender, besides Australia and South Africa, for the World Cup. Six months later, we beat our heads as to why a team, with batsmen of the quality of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Virendra Sehwag, cannot even bat through the full quota of 50 overs' And what happened to “crisis man” Mohammed Kaif' It seems that the disastrous performance in New Zealand has made our cricketers forget the basics of the game. If the Indian captain has any self-respect left, he should lead his players back home before they face any further embarrassment in South Africa.
Sandip Dhole, Calcutta
Sir — The anger of crores of Indian cricket lovers at the team’s disgraceful performance in the World Cup must be conveyed to the team. Our cricketers have sacrificed national pride by concentrating more on acting in mega-budget advertisements than on honing their skills. The campaign to boycott products advertised by the cricketers reflects the people’s spontaneous anger.
The Union government should recall the Indian team, out of respect for the people’s feelings. If India is penalized because of this or a ban imposed on the Indian cricket-team’s participation in international matches for a few years, then so be it. Also, cricketers must be banned from appearing in advertisements.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — The Indian cricket team is not much of a “team”. It is simply a bunch of individuals who have come together for their own gratification, and is thus easy meat for the professional cricketers. It is time we ceased to be enamoured of Indian cricket.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — The opening partnership of Virendra Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly did well, all through last year. So why did the Indian team management change the well-established batting order for the World Cup' The very first match against Holland showed the perils of changing the order — eight runs were scored in the first six overs. But even so we persisted with the changes in the second match against Australia, forgetting the importance of a good start in the first 15 overs.
Also, Sachin Tendulkar seems to have become more of an anchor nowadays, rather than a match-winner. He can fulfil this role even if he came in at three or four down.
B.K. Chakrabarti, Ranchi
Sir — Since members of the Indian cricket team continue to get lucrative advertising assignments even if they play hopelessly, the main aim of most of them is to stay put in the team and make their millions. Performance comes a distant second. Cricketers should be banned from endorsing products. Further, the Board of Control for Cricket in India should not function as a commercial body; its management should pass into the hands of reputed players of unimpeacheable reputation.
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta
Sir — As an expatriate living in Australia, I look forward to the Indian cricket team’s matches against Australia. Naturally, we support India and tell our new-found friends how skilful and professional the Indian cricket players are, only to be laughed at. After the recent pathetic efforts of the Indian side against Australia we can now see the reasons why the Australians have no respect for this side.
The solution to this continued lack of performance is simple — replace all non-performers. The latter can then proceed to take on modelling or advertising careers and leave the hard task of playing good cricket to those who love the game and who love to win. Perhaps the BCCI can start with the Indian captain.
Richard Saviel, Highgate, Australia
Sir — Look dispassionately at the Indian team’s recent performances — we lost to West Indies at home and again to the Kiwis in New Zealand, not scoring more than 200 in any match, and barely managing 204 against Holland! Even Bangladesh’s batting seems sturdier in comparison! They lost four wickets in the first over against Sri Lanka and then managed to almost equal India’s score against Australia!
Let’s face it — our team has a nonperforming captain who has failed with the bat in the last one-dayers. He is more adept at offering excuses for his failures and those of his team, than getting his footwork right. It’s time Sourav Ganguly took a break from the game. Getting into the “Super Six” seems a distant dream now.
Rahul Dutt, Calcutta
Sir — Australia has been playing like the world champions they are. Now Sourav Ganguly can say that there is no disgrace in losing to such a team.
Bijoy Menon, New Delhi
Sir — Losing and winning is part of any sport, provided we show some spirit. The Indian team seems to have none of it.
Sharad Singh, Calcutta
Sir — The best punishment for the players would be to choke them of the supply of easy money by not buying their advertised products. It would make them work hard to get back their reputation for which they are appreciated by their millions of fans.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — Going by its current form, the Indian team’s performance during its England tour seems like a flash in a pan. With games against Pakistan, England and Zimbabwe to come, India has little hope for miracles.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — The Bangladesh-Sri Lanka qualifying match underlines the need for some sort of yardstick for countries participating in the World Cup. The yardstick could be anything — a total less than 150 runs perhaps' After all cricket has become so commercialized today that there is money not merely in winning but in also appearing in the World Cup.
Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi