November 29, 2001

An unhappy team management and a relaxed Sehwag

Virender Sehwag
© CricInfo
Javagal Srinath
© CricInfo
The Indian team is due to leave for India on Thursday evening but it seems there is trouble brewing on more than one front. Virender Sehwag's selection in the final 14 for the first Test against England might have caused the biggest flutter in cricketing circles around the world. But as far as the team management is concerned, it is the fact that the the team announced at Jaipur on Wednesday evening differs vastly from the one they had indicated, which has raised hackles. The composition of the new Indian bowling attack, made up almost entirely of new faces, has been greeted with some emotion here in Johannesburg and one cnnot help but obseve that it surely would help any journalist looking for a juicy copy to be a fly on the wall when John Wright and Sourav Ganguly finally come face to face with the Indian selectors at Mohali.

Meanwhile, the cricketers, who are returning empty-handed as far as the silverware is concerned, have made it a point to fill their bags with goodies from the bustling malls of Johannesburg. The man in the eye of the storm that is threatening the very foundations of the ICC, Virender Sehwag, went to Mckrow, a one-stop wonder of a shopping mall at Woodmead, a suburb of Johannesburg, and indulged himself in buying some fancy stuff for himself and his family. Clad in yellow-T shirt and blue jeans he looked very relaxed.

Javagal Srinath, for his part, has though been in a sombre mood since the end of the Centurion Test. His fractured left-hand has meant that he will not play at Mohali and might be that had something to do with his slipping into a meditative mood.

Babu, as Srinath is known, is a charming character who hasn't got his share of accolades for his contribution to Indian cricket. He has often been criticised for being an underachiever in international cricket but not many realise that his acheivements have come despite hardly any support from the other end, except in 1996 when he and Venkatesh Prasad forged a formidable pair of new ball bowlers in world cricket.

A modest Babu says he was never in the same league as Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and hints that perhaps cricket fans and critics expected too much from him. He also doesn't blame media for the occasional criticism, saying he can understand their frustration given the fact that he has been the spearhead of Indian bowling attack.

Tuesday evening had earlier seen the Indian pace ace and the rest of the Indian team attend a farewell dinner at the Indian high commissioner S Mukherjee's residence, an event to which the media was also invited. Everyone had a good time, and the journalists and players spoke to one another with great understanding. More than one cricketer thanked the media for pushing the cause of the team at that fateful press conference of November 20 in Port Elizabeth an event whose repercussions have plunged the game into its gravest crisis yet.

Comments