Bravo Sachin

SACHIN TENDULKAR ... back with a bang.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

With reference to your Cover Story `The cricket nut' (Sportstar, Sept. 23), there is absolutely no doubt that even at this age Sachin Tendulkar retains the dewy-eyed wonder he showed 16 years ago. We are all relieved to see him return to international cricket with a bang. With the two good knocks in the DLF Cup, I am sure he would have silenced his critics.

N. Viswanathan, Chennai Disheartening

India's performance in the World Cup hockey event was very disheartening. India has long ceased to be a serious contender in the sport. Though winning the gold medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 was admirable, it must be viewed in the light of the absence of top teams such as the Netherlands, Pakistan, Germany and Australia, who boycotted the Games.

No doubt the advent of astro-turf affected our performance, but we have now had 30 years to set this problem right by adapting to the surface. We really need to do some soul-searching. The blunt comments of the FIH chief about the state of Indian hockey reveal a frustration that is rarely so open in international sporting circles. The Sports Ministry must attend to this problem immediately.

The days of political patronage in sport are coming to an end. Sport is serious business and requires serious inputs from committed players with proven international experience.

P. Nair, Hyderabad Change approach

I have been following hockey since 1960 and have seen how Indian teams have slowly declined over the last many years. Watching the World Cup live, I analysed the reasons for this decline. I appreciate that we are now in the 21st century, however, consider the following:

1) At the World Cup music has now taken over the game, every time there is a penalty corner, a goal etc., 2) Players are now wearing protective gear. This leads to time being wasted while getting set for penalty corners. I recall some great players who played barefoot, 3) Players now rush to the umpire for any reason and TV replays are the in thing. Where has all the respect for the umpire gone? 4) Where are all the great passes and stick-work? Now it's all reverse flicks, tennis shots and high scoops from one end of the field to the other. 5) The number of substitutions has also gone up.

And the list goes on and on.

Today, the more physical teams, which have learnt the art of playing on the synthetic surface, are the ones that are winning. India should change its approach and start playing in these conditions at the grassroot level. In other countries the players are given all the facilities and they don't even play on maidans. The Indian players, no doubt, have good training facilities now, but these facilities should also be made available at the grass root level. Otherwise, there is no way they will be successful.

Brian R. Peck, Singapore The greatest

The retirement of Michael Schumacher opens a whole new debate: Who is the greatest sportsman of the modern era? We have Tiger Woods, Pete Sampras, Muttiah Muralitharan, Roger Federer and Sachin Tendulkar among many others. I would, however, vote for Michael Schumacher, simply because he was in a sport that put his very life at risk. Considering the risks run by a Formula One driver, Schumi is the greatest of them all.

Duke Jonathan Jeyaraj, Hyderabad