Azhar tag to Jadeja recall
Iím just observing now: Buchanan
Caution first for Tollygunge
Orissa move into final
Saddle Up set to win again

Sydney, Jan.15 
ďYou canít ask for one, youíve got to take both.Ē That, indeed, was the Boardís (unpalatable) message to the team management when it sought Ajay Jadejaís services for the Carlton and United Series.

The Ďotherí in this context, part of the package put together by the Board, but which never got delivered, is former captain Mohammed Azharuddin.

As the team management didnít agree to Azharís recall, the Board made it clear Jadeja wouldnít be sent. Dr Mark Fergusonís report, which accepted Jadeja had a shoulder problem, came in handy. Only, the report was selectively interpreted.

Jadeja got Ďpunishedí as he has always been close to coach Kapil Dev. Kapil, for those who need a gentle reminder, doesnít see eye-to-eye with one Jaywant Lele, the current Board secretary.

According to The Telegraphís sources, Jadeja was specifically asked for well before the selectors actually met, in Mumbai on December 30. ďMany times... He was talked about many times, and with different people in the Board,Ē sources revealed.

The stand-off between the team management and the Board has cost India, and not just individuals, dear. All three Carlton and United Series matches have already been lost, and elimination is at Indiaís doorstep.

However as India, Pakistan and Australia play each other four times, the tournament isnít over as yet. And, even if the team management continues to feel so strongly about Azhar, the Board can rush Jadeja: Indiaís next game, versus Pakistan, is in Hobart on Friday.

Itís significant that Jadeja has resumed playing ó he led Wills XI in the Wills Trophy. Therefore, if confirmation was needed, Jadeja is fit.

Till late this evening, though, it was unclear whether the team management had formally made a request for Jadeja. ďWe already have one additional player (V.V.S.Laxman)... So many things must first be considered,Ē explained a well-placed source.

Apparently, itís to avoid being offered the same (ďnot one, but bothĒ) package, that the team management may not be particularly keen on opening fresh lines of communication with the Board.

For the record, the Indians had a day off today. Definitely not well-deserved but, then, three one-day matches in five days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) is an awfully taxing schedule.    

Sydney, Jan.15 
Heís well over six feet in his socks, but prefers to keep a very low profile. And, while his frame suggests so, he is far from intimidating. Meet John Buchanan, the numero uno teamís coach.

Buchanan who, incidentally, played just one first-class game (as allrounder) for Queensland, spoke to The Telegraph shortly before the Australian sideís departure for Melbourne for tomorrowís match against Pakistan.

Following are excerpts

On his background

Well, I studied human movements at Queensland University, worked for the Queensland government as a recreation officer and have also been associated with the physical education industry... All that was while I was Ďgraduatingí as a coach ó the different levels. I went over to Canada in the mid-Eighties, for a few years, and did my masters in sports administration (Alberta University)... Iím a qualified teacher and have lectured (in sports administration) at Canberra University.

I took charge of Queensland in 1994-95 and thatís the first-ever season they won the Sheffield Shield. They won it once more, during the five seasons I was with them. In the same period, Queensland won the limited overs tournament (Mercantile Mutual Cup) twice, too.

On the process followed in his appointment as Australiaís coach

I went through a series of interviews. The process began in August and I was appointed on October 20.

On how confident was he of succeeding Geoff Marsh

I was confident of my abilities, I knew I had it in me to do the job... I gave the interviews my best shot. Actually, you canít do better. The rest depends on those interviewing you (the ACBís directors plus top officials).

On what got him the job

(Smiles) You should be asking the directors that... I think they liked the presentation I made, my views on coaching. Perhaps, my record as well (at Queensland).

On having to match what his predecessors achieved ó both Marsh and Bobby Simpson, for example, guided Australia to World Cup wins

I see it slightly differently... Iíve only got to build on a solid foundation. My job is to leave a further legacy... Iím currently looking at the systems and processes that exist and will try to improve things within what exists. And, within the time Iíve got (two years).

On whether he interacted with Marsh either before or after succeeding him

Both before and after... We discussed quite a few things which obviously included individual players.

On beginning with a bang: Six Test victories on-the-trot plus a handsome start to the Carlton and United Series

That wonít put us under pressure for the next set of engagements. Pressure, after all, is what you put on yourself. Itís important to just focus on one game (at a time) instead of being too worked up about what happened in the last one.

On his equation with Steve Waugh

Weíre alike in many ways and I think Australia is fortunate to have him as captain. He has a very good picture of the game, of the players, of where Australian cricket needs to go. My role is a supporting one.

On coaching a team as skilled as Australia

Iím feeling comfortable... The players have made me feel that way. Overall, I would say Iím today an observer... Getting to know the players and the team. Iím making my notes and, when we go to New Zealand, Iíll see first-hand how we perform while on tour. Itís only after New Zealand, really, that I could look at changes.

For me, itís a learning curve... Iím getting to know the most important people ó the players ó and they are getting to know me.

On a coachís role at the highest level

As the principles remain the same, I donít think thereís much of a difference between coaching a national side as opposed to handling a provincial team. Basically, itís looking at a player as an individual and not just a cricketer... Itís about providing the appropriate feedback which will enable players to work at the right things. Itís about working in harmony with the back-up support...

On his style

Iím not one to push too many of the things I believe should be happening at the moment. Itís important to first establish a relationship, thatís why Iím currently largely an observer. At Queensland, I would place my thoughts before the players, allow them to mull over it and, then, adopt it their own way.

Some ideas are definitely there, but I wonít rush into implementing them. The players must first accept what I place as changes/options.

On whether, at any time, not having played for Australia made him feel awkward

(Smiles again) No. Iím not carrying anything of the past and my appointment probably allows for a new look... A fresh perspective. Others could have felt uncomfortable or awkward, certainly not me.

On the role of psychologist Sandy Gordon

Heís a consultant, his appointment isnít full-time. But, yes, heís part of the support-system. The off-season will allow me to assess everything and, if needed, changes (in the support-system) will be made.

On whether he has admired any coach

A few soccer ones, in Australia...Iíve spoken to Ric Charlesworth, too... Then, Iíve read about some of the basketball coaches in the US... Though Iím very much my own person, Iíve been picking up bits and pieces. Indeed, Iím open to ideas as I see no harm in being exposed to what could be a fresh perspective.

On not mentioning any cricket coach

Coaching in cricket, or even cricket per se, is way behind some of the other sports. Cricket coaches are a fairly new commodity, new animals on the block... I accept some elements of Marsh, Simpson and Bob Woolmer have been interesting, but that doesnít necessarily mean they could be a source of ideas for me.

On whether he agrees with Woolmerís contention that every coach has a ďshelf lifeĒ

I do, absolutely. In fact, if I hadnít got this assignment, this would have been my last season at Queensland. After a while, being innovative (with the same bunch of players) becomes difficult. Itís different in soccer, where coaches can get players hired and fired and, so, the Ďturnoverí with new faces is always there.

On the pressures on a coach

The pressure is all created in the mind... As long as Iím doing what I should be doing, Iíll be satisfied, even if the effort isnít exactly reflected in the results.

Finally, on the general message he conveys in the dressing-room

That we all have a common goal, that we need to complement each other.    

Calcutta, Jan. 15 


Tomorrowís National League face-off between Tollygunge Agragami and Salgaocar could produce a contest of contrasting attitudes. And, in a departure from practice, it is the home team that is likely to exercise more caution.

Not one to mince words, home team coach Amal Dutta said given the teamís limited resources, only the foolhardy would attack from the start.

ďWe arenít yet bracketed as a glamour team and so, our first task is to steer clear from relegation zone. My guess is four points from the next four matches should do the trick. We will, therefore, prioritise accordingly. There is no point in going all-out for full points and ending up getting none,Ē he said today.

If the maverick coach sticks to his stand, it would leave very little to the imagination as to what gameplan the men from Moore Avenue would adopt. Caution, once again, will be the watchword and the smaller Rabindra Sarobar ground should facilitate some very defensive deployment.

Tollygunge will miss forward Seriki Abdulateef, out with two yellow cards. Dutta said the African will be supplanted by Moses Owira, his continental cousin. The veteran strategist said he wasnít contemplating changing many more.

Barring the catastrophe in Chennai where his Goan brigade was swamped 0-5, Duttaís counterpart Shabbir Ali hasnít taken a step wrong since taking over Salgaocar two seasons ago.

The reigning National League champions havenít conceded a goal in this competition thus far and are currently sharing the top perch with Goa Professional League champions Churchill Brothers. Both have 15 points from seven matches. Tollygunge have 11 from as many games.

Shabbir attributes the good run to Ďgood luckí but thatís either being very modest or very tongue-in-cheek. In a more serious vein he said he is happy with the defence but felt his teamís conversion rate has to improve.

The former India superstar rated Tollygunge ďas a good team.Ē

ďThey (Tollygunge) have made good use of the players at their disposal. The match is evenly poised,Ē he said. Shabbir too is likely to opt for a cautious start but, having quelled the East Bengal threat, would surely like to end this leg of the tour with a win.

Against Tollygunge Agragami, the opportunity to do that is as good as it gets.    

Midnapore, Jan. 15 
Orissa entered the final of the 22nd sub-junior national football tournament, beating Bihar 1-0 here today. They take on Bengal Monday.

Orissa got the winner in the 28th minute when Niranjan Das converted a penalty, awarded when when a Bihar medio foul-tackled Orissa forward Sk Hayat.

Bihar pitched in for the equaiser and wasted several chances. Off counter-attacks, Orissa too wasted chances either side of the break.

Luck was not with Bihar, their Avinash Thapa even failing to convert a penalty. The penalty was awarded when Bihar forward Chhoton Oraon was tripped.    


Much improved after his recent narrow win, following an accident in Pune, jockey Pesi Shroff is set to guide Jaggi Dhariwalís prized-trainee Saddle Up to another victory in the Magnasound Millennium Eclipse Stakes Of India in Mumbai on Sunday. SELECTIONS 1 pm: Amorosa 1. Pink Floyd 2. Fortuneís Wheel 3. 1.30 pm: Great Pasha 1. Heís My Dasher 2. Cocktail 3. 2 pm: Brave Venture 1. Henki 2. Minneapolis 3. 2.30 pm: Gay Minstrel 1. Crystal Girl 2. Cafe Noire 3. 3 pm: Prince Nicholas 1. Indiscretion 2. Amusing 3. 3.30 pm: Anthology 1. Feel The Force 2. Femme Fatale 3. 4 pm: Saddle Up 1. Great Investment 2. Running Flame 3. 4.30 pm: Celestial Light 1. Resplendence 2. Baccarose 3. 5.15 pm: Luni Junction 1. All Majestic 2. Truluck 3. Dayís Best: Brave Venture Double: Amorosa & Prince Nicholas    


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