Indian cricketers 'over-aged prima donnas'

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

TORONTO - Call it the Nightmare Down Under. Thankfully, India’s two-month tour of Australia is over, leaving a legacy of shattered reputations, careers and controversies.

India received such a pounding that the only two players who came out of this debacle with their heads held high were Virat Kohli and paceman Umesh Yadav. The others — including maestros Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag — were a complete flop. Kohli’s stunning knock of 133 in Hobart in their ODI win against Sri Lanka was one of the finest ever seen. But Sri Lanka had the last laugh when it defeated Australia by nine runs Friday to send India home early. Sri Lanka now meets Australia in the three-match final starting Sunday.

Reports in Indian media focused on an ongoing rift between Sehwag and his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but management denied it.

Two days ago management made a further mess of things when announcing its squad for the forthcoming Asia Cup. Chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth told the press Sehwag wasn’t dropped but was being rested on advice of the team’s physiotherapists. A day later Sehwag told the media he had asked to be left out because of back spasms.

If Sehwag had asked management for rest, why did Srikkanth not tell the press about it? When pressed further by the media, he lost his composure and told them to “shut up.”

Surprisingly, Tendulkar has been selected for the Asia Cup and, hopefully, he will finally get his 100th century that has eluded him for close to one year.

It’s now been two horrendous road trips for India, following that disaster in England a few months back.

STINGING CRITICISM

In one of the most scathing reports in an Australian newspaper, cricket columnist Malcolm Conn of The Telegraph in Sydney tore a strip off the Indian team.

He described the squad as a “rabble with no redeeming features” and went as far as taking a shot at Sachin Tendulkar for turning his back on his fans.

“India cannot go home soon enough to their bulging bank accounts and flat, grassless wickets,” Conn said. He added it was hard to believe that India was the No. 1 Test team in the world for 20 months and won the World Cup last year.

“Instead, Australia has been presented with the same under-prepared shambles who lost top place on the Test table with a 4-0 flogging in England. This over-paid, over-indulged, over-aged bunch of prima-donnas should be ashamed of themselves,’’ he said.

“But when you’re paid millions to frolic about in the IPL and millions more by leading Indian companies in a rapidly-expanding economy, what does it really matter?”

Conn also took issue with the Indian management for locking their passionate fans out of training sessions. Not once during this two-month tour, Conn says, did Tendulkar make an attempt to address his fans. Would love to have read what Conn wrote following Australia’s Ashes humiliation a year ago.

FIGHTING MAD

Since New Zealand has barely put up a fight on the field against touring South Africa, two of its star players took their frustrations out on a patron in a Napier bar. Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell were dropped from Saturday’s third ODI after breaking team protocol. Both have since apologized. While this was Bracewell’s first offence, Ryder has butted heads with the Kiwi board before. In 2008 he shattered a Christchurch bar window with his fist and in 2010 he was fined for “intoxicated and rowdy” behaviour ... Marchant de Lange made a dream debut by taking four wickets to lead South Africa to a 3-0 sweep of New Zealand. The visitors chased down 206 for a five-wicket win with Hashim Amla stroking 76.

SKIPPER UNDER FIRE

Misbah-ul-Haq led Pakistan to a stunning Test wipeout of England, but that success was short-lived as England fought back for one-sided ODI and Twenty20 victories in Dubai. Understandably, Ul-Haq came under fire from the fans but he has asked the board not to overreact to the losses.

“If you change for the sake of change it will not help,’’ he said. What upset the fans was Pakistan’s capitulation in the deciding third Twenty20 match. Pakistan wasn’t able to chase a modest England total of 130, but all credit must go to England’s impressive bowlers who kept their nerve in defending such a small total ... It is now official. Former Australian batsman Dav Whatmore will take over as Pakistan’s national coach. He coached Sri Lanka to the World Cup crown in 1996.

PLEA TO RESUME TIES

India’s government officials couldn’t take their eyes off the beautiful Hina Rabbani Khar when she traveled to New Delhi last year in her capacity as Pakistan’s foreign minister. Khar is now pressing for a resumption of cricket ties with India and she is one person who could pull it off.

India severed all ties with its arch-rival following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 by militants from across the border. In the 1990s border skirmishes over Kashmir also brought relations to a standstill, resulting in the two countries playing for the Sahara Cup in neutral Toronto.

MORGAN, GAYLE LEFT OUT

Until a few months ago, Irishman Eoin Morgan was an integral member of England’s batting lineup. But in a few short months, Morgan has lost his touch and been dropped from next month’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka. And his chances of reclaiming his place for the tour of the West Indies in May also appear slim. The reason being he has signed to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League instead of padding up for Middlesex in four-day matches at the start of the English county season. Well, I suppose the $1 million or so the Dubliner will make in India should ease the pain of losing his Test spot ... Former West Indies captain Chris Gayle continues to be ignored by his board. He wasn’t picked for the squad to face Australia. Gayle, like Morgan, continues making a very good living playing Twenty20 cricket ... Pakistan’s Mohammad Aamir won’t appeal his five-year ban for spot-fixing in the 2010 Test versus England. The 19-year-old is home after serving half of his six-month sentence in a British prison.

normandacosta@hotmail.com


Videos

Photos