Does cricket in the sub-continent breed selfishness?

IF giving importance to personal landmarks is the same as being selfish, then our cricketers are selfish. But it would be unfair to blame them. In India, everyone values personal landmarks — the selectors, journalists, statisticians, sponsors and the spectators. The cricketers too born and brought up here, cannot be different from the rest of us. Our team plays 35 to 40 one-dayers in a year. Can any selector possibly keep track of which batsman did what in a particular situation? The selectors (who are not full time paid selectors but honorary) tend to go by numbers and averages. The sponsors too judge a batsman's worth by his individual milestones. The mindset of the spectators is best illustrated by the comments heard when India bats, example: "He should accelerate once he gets his 100" or "Why did he throw his wicket on 90, he was so close to a century". The bottom line is that our batsmen have slowed down when nearing their centuries which proves they are human too. Hayden's comments, though not entirely correct have some truth in them needing some introspection.

Ashish Naik, Mumbai

MATTHEW HAYDEN has made some remarks against Indian players, who have good records in International cricket. This is an Australian bouncer before an important tour of India in October when they will be playing four Tests. This is their way of putting pressure on the opposition. In someway it is right and so many times, we have felt Indian players play for themselves than the team, especially Sachin Tendulkar. Whenever Sachin scores, the team loses. Whenever Sachin comes close to a landmark, he becomes very slow and that shows a sort of selfish attitude. Matthew Hayden has indirectly referred to Sachin Tendulkar as he scores lot of runs against Australia. Sachin Tendulkar needs to reassert himself and silence his critics by proving that he is still the same little champion, he used to be. The players from sub-continent don't assert themselves. Our players need to be more aggressive both on and off the ground. Matthew Hayden is lucky to be in such a talented team which doesn't depend only on him. If he would have played for sub-continent teams, he would know the pressure. No sportsmen is selfish. Everybody has his own style of playing and showing emotions.

Pankaj Kumar Sinha, Chennai

ACCORDING to Darwin's theory it is a struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. As a batsman or bowler any player has to accomplish certain things to be in the team. Have we not heard of Chetan Chauhan getting out in his nineties. He could not make a single century though he was a great opening partner. What reason can we give — nervous or selfish. L. Sivaramkrishnan despite getting six wickets successively in three Tests, could not become an accomplished bowler. They played for the team and the country. Rajinder Singh Goel took more than 500 wickets in Ranji Trophy but never played Tests. The Selection Committee never had faith in him.

K. Srivatsa, Mangalore

I don't agree with Hayden's comment about the sub-continent cricketers. Nowadays the attitude of world cricket is changing. Cricket is becoming competitive day by day. If Allan Border or Steve Waugh said such things it could be agreeable, because during their time some of the sub-continent cricketers played for records, but today all them play for the country and the team's victory. Some of the Australian cricketers make this kind of comments regularly just to demoralise the opponents. Another Aussie said something about Muralitharan and Lara's world record score was not appreciated by the Australians. As a sub-continent cricket fan I love the way the Australians play, but at the same time I don't agree with their comments. Finally I feel sub-continent cricket is the heart of world cricket and has to be given due respect.

T. K. Senthilkumar, Chennai

I think Matthew Hayden is jealous because the Asian cricketers have a brighter future. India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have won the World Cup and can boast of talented cricketers. I think this continent has the best of players.

For it has produced world class players like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Murlitharan, etc. to name a few.

If they all play for themselves then their teams could not have won the World Cup. What about Hayden's highest score, was it not for record? Was he not playing for himself? I agree that he is a great player but I disagree with his views.

Jaswinder Singh, Punjab

THE word "selfish" means concerned with or directed towards one's own advantage, pleasure, or well being without regard for others. Selfishness is not a physical attribute or congenital untreated disorder which needs to be permanent. Therefore, I would like to say that not all Indian cricketers are selfish all the time.

Few are selfish all the time, some only at times and a few almost never. G R Vishwanath and Rahul Dravid belong to the last category. (It is no coincidence that even in an advertisement, Dravid is sent to face the lion for the sake of the team). We still have a lot of selfishness on the field to account for. Why?

At a fundamental level our culture and education system reward only individual excellence. We seek Moksha for ourselves. Our media goes gaga over personalities and individual glories. All these breed selfishness in an individual from an early age. Considering cricketers' surroundings, we should be thankful that a few of them still inculcate virtues of unselfishness, generosity and team work.

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni, Pune

MOST humans are selfish, and Indian cricketers alone should not be singled out. Australians are famous for their mind games, and Hayden was just trying to provoke the Asians. Australians would definitely like to have the mental edge before they tour India. It is surprising that many people have labelled Tendulkar as selfish. Everyone has personal likes and dislikes. If Sachin voiced his opinion about declaring the innings when he was on 194 and his preference to open in one-dayers, it is his view. To label it as selfish is cruel. We fans know that in the Test against Pakistan, Sachin could have easily got to his double century as time was not a factor. Sachin's record as opener justifies his preference to open. Similarly Dravid, the best team man for India, has said: he prefers not to keep wickets, but did it for the team. Can we call this a selfish act? Certainly not! Hayden himself can be called selfish, because if he was a team man why did he go for the record score, he could have come back after crossing 300, so that other guys could score some runs.

Sunil Nambiar, Mumbai

ARE the sub-continental players selfish? Whether one admits it or not, records do matter to a cricketer and there's no harm in going for it either. But the point is that it should not come at the cost of the team's interest. Recently, Arjuna Ranatunga had to retort to a similar comment on sub-continent players by saying that Hayden was also playing for himself when he hit 380 against Zimbabwe. Well, let me tell you that Hayden scored those runs quickly and moved from 300 to 380 in just 75 balls, which proves that he didn't sacrifice team goals to break the world record. Besides, his knock only helped his team to win the game. In contrast, Sanath Jayasuriya slowed down in the latter part of his innings of 340 against India in 1997 and continued to bat even after Sri Lanka had posted a huge total. As a result, the match ended in a draw.

Sachin Tendulkar used to say that he doesn't play for records. The most important thing for him was the team's win but when Dravid's declaration left him unbeaten on 194, he was disappointed to miss the double century even though India was in a strong position and almost certain to win. So, it would be right to say that sub-continent players have usually kept personal milestones above their team.

Rajeev Mark Singh, New Delhi