Saturday, 16 February, 2008

Khadiwale is the lad to watch: Bhave

B D Narayankar

PUNE: The present Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave appears to be under pressure after taking over the mantle of Coach Maharashtra from Chandrakant Pandit, but sounds confident of facing the challenge thrown at him. He pins hopes on crafting Team Maharashtra to reach cricketing pinnacles in coming years.
Though Team Maharashtra had a poor showing in this year’s Ranji session, he chose to talk about the positives. “The prospects of Team Maharashtra in coming years looks bright as there are many young players who had performed exceedingly well in U-15 Polly Umrigar Trophy and U-17 Plate division of Vijay Merchant Trophy,” Bhave told this correspondent at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday after a veterans’ match.
At senior level too Maharashtra has been gifted with good promising youngsters in the form of left-arm pacer Samad Fallah, right-hand quickie Shrikant Mundhe, all-rounder Harshad Khadiwale and Kedar Jadhav, he said.
“I am very much impressed by opener Harshad and Fallah. Harshad put up an impressive show against U-19 South Africa in South Africa. Though he failed to impress in his first and third match, he scored a brilliant 75 runs at Chatsworth Oval where the Indian team pulled off a 7-wicket victory. He is the batsman to watch out for,” Bhave said.
“I am also impressed by Fallah. He has a good pace and swings the ball in the air. What I like about this lad his confidence. Also there is Shrikant Mundhe. The wicket of VVS Laxman, which he took, in a Ranji match stunned even the stylish Hyderabad batsman. The ball beat his bat and rattled his stumps with a beautiful inswinger,” he said.
The emerging talent in Maharashtra, Bhave says is due to the new league format Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) had framed last year. “We formed 20 cricket districts and conducted 440 matches last year that gave us ample room to identify talents and picked up the probables,” he said.
MCA also has launched a programme of improving the infrastructure and standards of umpring at the district level since a lot of talents were emerging from these places. “We are pleased to prepare hard and bouncy pitches in Nashik and Ratnagiri where Munaf Patel started his pace journey and eventually selected for India. We want to prepare good pitches to hone the skills of both batsmen and bowlers,” Bhave observed.


Saturday, 2 February, 2008

We will bounce back: Gus Logie

B D Narayankar

The world has already written off West Indies as a competitive team, but not as yet by the gutsy West Indian – Gus Logie. He brushes aside the view that the West Indies have been in the dumps, particularly after the series loss against South Africa, both in the Tests and One Day Internationals recently.
The defeat, Gus believes, has not exposed the impoverishment in fast bowling and batting. He is of the opinion that the West Indies cricket has good days ahead in the wake of young promising players coming up on the scene. He speaks volumes of young talents.
“There is Darren Bravo, a Brian Lara lookalike, who is ready to take the bulls by their horns,” Gus says.

In the course of an exclusive interview with Gus Logie, who was in Pune this week for a practice match between his U-19 Bermuda and Maharashtra Cricket Association at PYC Grounds, said all is not lost for West Indies cricket, it would soon assume the garb of world beaters. Excerpts:

What is the future of West Indies cricket?

Nothing is lost as of yet. West Indies cricket is not impoverished. We have some good players in the side. They are young and inexperienced. We have to give them atleast some time for winning. Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarawan, John Taylor, Dwayne Bravo and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul have been on the scene for quite a sometime and they had been doing exceptionally well. I am confident West Indies would soon bounce back to No. 1 position which their predecessors had held for more than 18 years.

We have known all these players. Can you speak about youngsters which the world hardly knows.

There are lots of them. There is Jacobs, who has adapted Sarawan’s style. We have left-handed Kieron Powell. Trinidadian Adrian Barret is a real star. Darren Bravo, brother of Dwayne Bravo and Lara lookalike, is another star in the making. So we have a good crop of youngsters emerging.

Many attribute the West Indies' dismal performance in cricket to the advent of basketball. Would you buy this theory?

I don’t buy this theory at all. Cricket is still the most sought-after and popular game in West Indies. Since we get to see a lot of basketball games on television, people believe that the sport is catching youngsters’ imagination. However, I do believe passion for cricket has been on the wane a bit because of the West Indies’ dismal performance.
We don’t see the likes of Malcom Marshall, Andy Roberts and Michel Holding anymore. Why the West Indies is not producing fast bowlers?

We have had a legacy of fast bowlers. Except Marshall, all our fast bowlers were huge and well-built (Michel Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts and Courtney Walsh to name a few). We, presently have short-statured bowlers. And there is a huge difference when they deliver the ball. More than anything else, pitches have played a spoilsport for not producing quick bowlers. There are similar type of pitches all West Indies which assists spinners and batsmen. In my days, there were different pitches. Barbados and Jamaica wickets were famous for bounce and Trinidad for spin. There was variety that encouraged fast and slow bowlers. Moreover, our fast bowlers are hardly get any chance to play county cricket in England. Nevertheless, we have some good young fast bowlers coming up. Lionel Baker is a promising lad.

Going by your team's record of the last three years, one gets the feeling that there is something terribly wrong with West Indian cricket. How would you respond?

We have forgotten the art of winning. We are just competing. And that is not enough. We have been telling our players to set higher standards and work hard for improved results. Anyway, we have not been beaten at home in the past 21 years, except once.

Has ICC helped to improve cricket in West Indies?

We have certainly gained from the ICC. It allowed us to conduct the World Cup. This has borne us good fruits. I believe the West Indies Cricket Board has enough money to improve the sport. And I believe they can do it.

What about the sponsorship? Has it been satisfactory?

Yeah, when you compare to Indian cricket team. We don't have wealth like India, but we get fairly good sponsorship. It is up to the different governments in the West Indies to improve cricket by providing state-of-the-art facilities like floodlights, bouncy pitches and indoor amenities.