A timely boost

DAMIEN MARTYN... Australia's Mr. Dependable.-

Australian supremacy in world cricket being what it has been in the last 10 years or so, the team was the favourite as regards the Champions Trophy. And that Australia won the only prominent cup missing in its cupboard came as no surprise to many of the old cricket aficionados. What's more the victory in the biennial tournament has come as a timely boost to Ponting and his men before the all-important Ashes series, where they have a score to settle with their `Ole enemy'.

Suresh Manoharan, Hyderabad Unfair to Azhar

Peter Roebuck's article on Mohammed Azharuddin was harsh and not fair. True, he may have brought disrepute to cricket, but everybody deserves a second chance in life. The humiliation he has suffered is itself a terrible punishment.

Azharuddin has repented. He is a great player who still has a lot to give back to the game, be it as a coach or an administrator. It's time the ICC forgave him.

Santhosh George, Kottayam Cut the hype

This is with reference to Vijay Lokapally's article `A walk in the park for the Aussies' (Sportstar, November 4). It was definitely smooth sailing for Australia against the highly hyped Indian team. First of all, the selection of the Indian team itself was baffling. Despite Raina's repeated failures, he was preferred. Ramesh Pawar would have been a great asset to the team with both the bat and ball.

India had a golden opportunity to qualify for the semifinals in the match against the West Indies, but our Men in Blue put up a mediocre show. Our batsmen blew away the advantage and failed to post even a total of 250 on a good batting track, while our bowlers took a clutch of wickets too late in the day. It is high time the BCCI took some drastic steps to arrest this declining trend. It should consider scrapping the contract system and pay the players according to their performance. The big money that our players earn has made them lazy. They have to be made to earn every paisa.

Vinay Mahadevan, Dubai Mr. Dependable

This is with reference to your Cover Story `On Song' (Sportstar, November 4). There is absolutely no doubt that Damien Martyn is one of the best batsmen in the world. Like Rahul Dravid for India, he is the most dependable batsman for Australia. It was unfortunate that he had a bad patch during the last Ashes series in England and was dropped (unlike some of the Indian players who continue to be in the team despite poor performances). But he bounced back and proved his worth once again.

As pointed out by the author, Martyn is definitely the scourge of the Indian team. Though Matthew Hayden's heroics in 2001 could not win them the series in India, it was Martyn's knocks which enabled Australia to realise its dream of conquering India in its den in 2004.

Capt. N. Viswanathan, Chennai Gayle force

Chris Gayle, who has been in great form in recent years, has been instrumental in taking the West Indies to the final of the Champions Trophy.

Being an excellent opening batsman and a good part-time spinner, Gayle is a big boost to the inexperienced team. I think India needs to find a player like him and use him carefully without shuffling his batting positions. This would enhance India's chances at the World Cup.

L. Prithvi, Coimbatore