Huge bonus up for grabs
Leaders Bagan wary of BSF
Bagan to appeal AFC ban, fine
A psychologist is more important: Asif
India likely to send 65 to Olympics
7 chargesheeted by RCTC

Mumbai, Feb. 28 
In keeping with its practice of rewarding series wins, the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) has announced a Rands 500,000 (around Rs 35 lakh) bonus should Hansie Cronje�s team win the two-Test series.

The South Africans are already one up, with the second (and final) Test beginning in Bangalore from Thursday. While the bonus bit isn�t new, it actually is quite a packet for a two-Test series.

According to Dr Ali Bacher, the UCBSA�s managing director, the team will also get a Rands 200,000 (around Rs 14 lakh) bonus should it win the five-match one-day series which begins in Kochi on March 9.

Of course, regularly awarding bonuses is one way of keeping players even more happy. Another is paying for their wives� airfare and accommodation in specific series/tournaments.

For instance, none of the wives will be seen during the India tour, but all will join the team in Sharjah, within days of the India assignment ending. Significantly, where the wives will/will not go is mutually decided at the annual meeting between the UCBSA and the players� representatives.

That meeting, usually in April at the end of the season, also reviews contracts awarded to top players. Those on contract get a monthly �salary� so, even if they aren�t picked for national duty, they will still make a decent packet (ranging from Rands 21,330 to 23,725).

Meanwhile, talking to a select group of newsmen, Dr Bacher said a high-powered Steering Committee had been constituted for the 2003 World Cup. It has ten members, five from the UCBSA and five from among the �most cricket-passionate� corporate heads and legal luminaries.

The Committee, which will meet in early May for the first time, is headed by Jakes Gerwell, who was the director-general at the presidential office during Dr Nelson Mandela�s tenure (1994-99). He was also cabinet secretary.

Dr Bacher revealed that two of the 12 venues, in South Africa, could be non-regular centres where the expatriate population is high. One venue under consideration is Chatsworth, near the Durban Airport, where the Indian community dominates.

If all goes well, one of the India matches will be awarded to Chatsworth.

The other non-regular centre being considered is in the Eastern Cape region, around 50 km from East London. �We are looking at two stadiums there, and could settle for one,� Dr Bacher pointed out.

Special assignment

Incidentally one-time quick Corrie van Zyl, a specialist bowling coach with the South African team, has signed a two-year contract with the UCBSA to exclusively look after the �new� crop of fast bowlers.

�Pretty soon, Corrie will chalk out a programme to develop the quicks who could step into Allan Donald�s shoes� The good thing is that the emerging bunch includes six-seven Blacks� For us, it�s hugely encouraging as fast bowling will, in years to come, remain our top strength,� Dr Bacher remarked.

Dr Bacher, predictably, is hopeful Donald will be around till the next World Cup.    

Calcutta, Feb. 28 
When the top team comes up against the woodenspooners on the homestretch of a gruelling league, it�s often the former who is under greater pressure.

�We can�t let our guard down, because even the bottom-of-the-table team is capable of an upset or two in this league,� Subrata Bhattacharya said today, soon after Mohun Bagan�s preparations for tomorrow�s National League showdown with BSF at the Salt Lake Stadium.

If the Mohun Bagan coach is wary of complacency creeping into his camp, he was also left counting some missing men.

Goalkeeper Sandip Nandy, stopper-back Hussain Mustafi and Abdul Khalique have to sit out the match after having picked up two yellow cards.

Arpan Dey, who has only had about half-a-match in the League (when Nandy was injured in the Dempo match in Goa), will have to play. Debjit Ghosh will, in all probability, move down from his roving role in midfield to fill the vacant slot in deep defence.

Mohun Bagan will, of course, want to play to their strength � and it lies at the other end of their line-up. In Igor Skvirin, Jose Barreto Ramirez and Stephen Abarowei, the green-and-maroon ranks have arguably the most potent strike-force in the League. It has looked even more dangerous because of Bagan�s midfield, where the speed of James Singh, the hard work of R.P. Singh and the ballskills of Basubeb Mondal has been a treat to watch.

By their own admission, BSF have come here to snatch a point from the League leaders. �Let�s say we�ll be very happy to take back a point from this match; a win will come as a huge bonus,� coach Shyam Kumar said today.

BSF, currently in 11th spot, just above Dempo on goal-difference, have little to lose and it showed in their fight against East Bengal when the Calcutta team won on a couple of injury-time goals. A great deal of how they fare will depend on how they cope with Barreto. The Brazilian spells danger every time the ball is with him.

Gauranga Pal, who not to long ago scored very regularly for BSF, is still around though he usually does not get to start these days.

The pressure to win will, of course, be on thehome team.    

Calcutta, Feb. 28 
Mohun Bagan is smarting under an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decision to �punish� them for their failure to host the home match against Japan�s Jubilo Iwata in the Asian Club championship last year. The Calcutta giants have decided to appeal against the decision and, if that does not let them off the hook, they may want the state government to pay for it.

The AFC slapped a fine of $ 3000 and a one-month ban on Mohun Bagan for failing to hold the match in October last year.

Club secretary Anjan Mitra is also cut up with the way the issue was handled by the AFC.

�They never asked us to explain our stand before taking the punitive action,� Mitra said. �We have not received any official intimation from the AFC so far. But once we receive the letter, we will appeal to them to condone our punishment as we were in no way responsible for the match not being held,� he added.

�I�m not concerned with the fine because we are yet to receive $ 11,000 from the AFC for organising and winning the first-round match against Muktijoddha.�

He said the club may go to court demanding compensation from the state government should they be forced to pay the fine. �The police permission was not given, how can we be penalised for that?�    

Mumbai, Feb. 28 
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) move to approach Geoffrey Boycott/Barry Richards for the coach�s job has revived a �hot� debate: Should one from overseas be recruited?

Former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal, for one, sees nothing wrong. Provided, of course, the appointee has better credentials than candidates available at home.

�Qualifications alone should count� And, really, there�s no harm scouting overseas,� Asif told The Telegraph.

In Mumbai for both a personal (wife has a lengthy shopping list for weddings in the family) and official visit (in connection with next month�s triangular in Sharjah), Asif added: �I would, though, emphasise teams in the sub-continent probably need a psychologist/motivator more than a coach. We are, after all, largely really looking to get the best out of human beings.�

Asif explained: �As players in our region are so naturally gifted, they actually don�t require a coach. Rather, they need somebody who�ll instil the importance of discipline and not getting complacent.�

According to Asif, there was a tendency among players in the sub-continent to get overconfident, assuming talent alone will get them out of a corner.

�It doesn�t work like that and, no matter how gifted the players, there can�t be any compromise on discipline� As they make the big league on the strength of skill, not so much hard work, they think they can do without that.�

Asif added: �My assessment is that players of our region lose form because of a lack of confidence and, possibly, a dip in commitment. It�s not so much because of technical flaws� In any case, I�ve always believed nobody with a flaw will make the highest level. Even if he does, he�ll straightaway be exposed.�

Commenting specifically on the latest PCB move, Asif said: �If the PCB indeed is thinking of Boycott or Richards, they are thinking on the right lines. Both, for instance, are highly respected. However, the ideal person would be somebody associated with cricket and, who also has a degree in psychology or a related subject.�

Asif, though, agreed the PCB wasn�t doing anybody any favours by thinking of replacing Intikhab Alam, the sixth coach in the past 12 months (after Javed Miandad, Mushtaq Mohammed, Wasim Raja, Richard Pybus and Mudassar Nazar).

�It�s another matter that, in the first place, the PCB ought not to have gone back to Intikhab� When you�re looking to the future, don�t go back� But, having already made so many changes, the PCB should have thought of continuity. We keep talking of continuity in the team and with the captaincy. But, it�s just as important there be continuity where the coach is concerned.�

Asif, meanwhile, informed chief selector Chandu Borde, former chief selector Bapu Nadkarni and Maninder Singh will be the Indian beneficiaries during the March 22-31 tournament in Sharjah. Pakistan�s beneficaries are Saeed Anwar and Moin Khan.

The money which would have gone to the third beneficiary ($35,000) will, instead, go to the PCB which will distribute that among former players who don�t meet the beneficiary criteria.

Incidentally, in a fairly recent development, both the Indian and Pakistani Boards get a sum of $20,000 (from the CBFS) for their respective benevolent funds.    

New Delhi, Feb. 28 
India is likely to send a 65-member squad to the Sydney Olympics. This was stated by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi today.

The number of participants would increase if the women�s hockey team qualifies. The men have already made the cut, having won the Asian Games title.

Others to have qualified are boxers Suresh Singh, Jitender Kumar, Gurcharan Singh, tennis players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, shooter Anwar Sultan Khan, two rowers in the coxless pairs event, and weightlifter Kunjurani Devi.

Badminton stars Pullela Gopichand and Aparna Popat and rider Imtiaz Anees are also favoured to qualify.

Asian Games bid

Kalmadi informed that a letter bidding to stage the 2006 Asian Games in Delhi has already been sent to the Olympic Council of Asia. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit have supported the bid. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, minister of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, is the chairman of the bid committee.

Kuala Lumpur, which staged the 1998 Commonwealth Games, is the other contender. A final decision on this will be taken either during the Sydney Olympics in September or in a special meeting in Pusan, in November.

It was also announced that several top officials including Asian Football Confederation secretary general Peter Velappan will visit the capital from March 2-4 to inspect the Afro-Asian Games venues.    

Calcutta, Feb. 28 
The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) has charge-sheeted seven workers on three counts, according to a source. The RCTC action came after the rest of the city racing season was suspended yesterday following the cancellation of last weekend�s Turf Invitation Cup owing to labour trouble.

The source revealed that workers were charge-sheeted for leaving their place of work while on duty, for their �illegal assembly near the paddock� area and for �personal slander� demeaning CEO, secretary thus bring disrepute to the institution in front of dignitaries on February 19 when the Police Commissioner�s Cup was being presented.

Charge-sheets will have to be respond to within 72 hours. Those charge-sheeted were not available for comment.    


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