The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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'My sympathies are with Sourav'
- Cairns praises Sehwag's 'sound defence'
Sehwag is an amazing batsman, feels Cairns
Cairns hopes Sourav comes back soon.

Mumbai: A day after Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer heaped praise on Virender Sehwag by describing the swashbuckling Indian batsman as a modern-day Don Bradman, the Indian opener got encomiums from top New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns.

'Sehwag is an amazing batsman. People talk mainly about his attacking batting forgetting that he has got a sound defensive technique too. Without such a good defence he could not have done what he has,' Cairns told reporters here last night.

Cairns also praised compatriot John Wright for the way he has handled the Indian squad as coach till his departure from the scene at the end of the high-profile series against Pakistan.

'The success or otherwise of a coach is determined by what the players under him think about him. The Indian players have showered praise on John leaving him with a sweet taste in the mouth,' said Cairns whose career has been bedevilled by injuries.

Asked who to compare the captaincy styles of current Australian skipper Ricky Ponting or his predecessor Steve Waugh, Cairns brought smiles on the reporters faces by saying 'even my mum can captain the Australian team.'

'They are such a great team that it is not difficult to captain the squad. I found no difference between the two (Ponting and Waugh as captains),' said the top all-rounder who has decided to quit international cricket after the 2007 World Cup.

The New Zealand cricketer was in town for a product launch and to adjudicate in a contest connected with the launch.

Cairns sympathised with India captain Sourav Ganguly for the six-match ODI ban he got for Indian team's slow over-rate in Ahmedabad in the fourth match against Pakistan.

'My sympathies are with Sourav. It was a harsh decision, but that is what has been prescribed in the ICC Code of Conduct. I hope he comes back soon,' Cairns said.

About the series itself, cairns said Pakistan, usually a bunch of talented individuals, displayed team spirit in abundance for which he praised their coach Bob Woolmer.

'They played good cricket and I was impressed with Rana Naved-ul Hasan. He is a very good bowler. The team culture (in the Pakistan squad) looked stronger now. They always had talented individuals, but now looked to be a cohesive bunch. Woolmer has brought them together,' Cairns said.

He also described as erratic the statement by former Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg that Test cricket is no longer a sport because of his country's continued dominance over all other rivals and in the aftermath of the Aussies thumping win over New Zealand recently.

'It's a bit erratic like his bowling was. The Australians are arrogant. They are fortunate to be having two of the all-time great bowlers in the history of the game ' Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. When they were absent, the Australian team struggled against India (Down Under),' he said.

The Australians will still be a good team without these two bowlers but not a great outfit as proved by India who nearly beat them in Sydney (India squandered a winning chance and drew the Test series), Cairns pointed out.

Cairns also called it a wrong notion that swing bowlers did not need favourable conditions to move the ball in the air. All great swing bowlers in the past needed favourable conditions. It s a fallacy to say good swing bowlers don't need conditions in their favour.

However, he blamed the combination of one-day and Test cricket as it is now for the decline in the quality of swing bowling.

In one-day cricket if a bowler pitches it up to get swing he's thrashed. He is forced to pull the length back (and lose the swing). It is a catch 22 situation, Cairns said.

He also rubbished a past statement of former Australian great Neil Harvey that Terry Alderman was the last great swing bowler produced by that country. 'Brett Lee swings the ball at 150-155 kmph. So does Jason Gillespie. McGrath does not swing the ball. He is a seam bowler. In the past (after Alderman) there were guys like Bruce Reid and Craig McDermott who could swing the ball. See, I have named at least four bowlers to prove the statement (of Harvey) wrong,' he said.

Regarding the lack of quality all-rounders in world cricket as compared to the 1980s when there were four top ones in Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan, Cairns said it is a difficult job to be an all-rounder.

'It's a hard occupation. Players have to play 10-15 ODIs and 20-25 Tests annually. You have to be a natural (athlete) and strong in body (to be a top all-rounder),' he explained.

About his own country's standing in world cricket, Cairns said New Zealand were a better one-day side and lacked enough bowlers to do consistently well in Tests.

'We have a lot of experienced one-day players and are doing well in ODIs. But Tests are different. You need a set of wicket-taking bowlers to win Tests. We have (left-arm spinner Daniel) Vettori who is doing well.'


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