From the publishers of THE HINDU

The Steve Waugh sacking

Sir, - The Australians are well known for their ruthless attitude, on and off the cricketing arena. Now, the Australian selectors have exhibited the typical hard-headed approach by axing Steve Waugh from the shorter version of the game. This decision may have come as a real surprise to some of the die-hard fans of Steve, because Steve was not only one of the elder statesmen of Australian cricket, he was also one of the most successful leaders of all time.

But, for the Australian selectors, performance is the key for any player to hold his place in the side. Their decision might have been prompted by the fact that the Australian team's performance in recent ODI matches has been topsy-turvy and Steve Waugh's performance with the bat has also been very inconsistent.

Thus, however great a player might be, he should not take his place in the side for granted. So, the Australian Cricket Board have set an absolutely right precedent and other cricket boards should strictly follow in their footsteps, especially our Indian Cricket Board.

SOYUZ CHANDA, SIVASAGAR, ASSAM The Hussain hype

Sir - I have been following your articles on the recent India-England series.The Hussain hype that you have propagated along with columnists like Ted Corbett beats me.

It's true we Indians have a team of superstars. While Hussain may get the Brownie points for being the brain behind Giles' guile how come not even one voice was raised when Sachin got himself stumped? It was a very poor shot and the best batsman in the world could have certainly done better than that. What about Sehwag and Laxman? If you can't handle mediocre English pacers in India and those from Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe then you should walk out of the team instead of letting the opponents walk away with all the glory.

I think your comments on Hussain's genius are too far-fetched. The phenomenon which best explains this English team is the law of averages. A side which keeps on losing left right and centre has to break the rule for once... and that's just what they did, not to forget the traditional Indian hospitality where giving in to the guests' demand is quite common.

RATUL MUKHOPADHYAY, BY E-MAIL Bring Robin back

Sir - Watching the Indians choking in their run chases in the last two ODIs against England, there was a feeling of Deja-vu.

But it wasn't as bad as this always. Between 1997 & 2002, India won many close matches batting second including some memorable cliffhangers in the last over.

In these years there was a certain player who has 23 not out innings to his credit, who came in to bat in pressure situations & made a habit of fighting hard. He is the holder of a meritorious but unheralded record viz - being at the crease the most number of times for India when the winning runs have been hit in the last over.

This hard-hitting player is the unsung hero, Robin Singh. The selectors have been hasty in discarding him. But more than that one feels sorry for our team because they never had a better finisher at the death. He is one of those players whose decent statistics do not reveal his true worth to the team.

If his removal is because of his advancing age then the selectors have missed the point completely. Robin Singh has always shown that age is a state of mind. If even now, there is nobody in our team who can run faster between wickets or field better than him, then where is the question of being young or old?

Is it too late to include him now? Definitely not because the World Cup is just 11 months away and Robin's fitness, fielding & catching have always belied his age. It must also be remembered that his bowling Economy Rate is below five and his medium pace would also come in very handy in South Africa.

ASHISH NAIK, MUMBAI A journeyman at best

Sir - Whenever I read the ubiquitous news items about Jeev 'Milkha' Singh, such as the one appearing in your issue of 16.02.2002, I try to go looking for the records of his actual achievements, and am left astounded by the precious little he achieves (usually featuring in the lower or bottom half even of second-grade golf tournaments) for the amount of press coverage he gets. At best he can be called a journeyman, one of the nice guys who straggles along with the champs to make up the numbers. To take his name alongside with Paes-Bhupathi, Anand, Pillai, Gopi Chand or even some of the middling good cricketers is a disservice to their real achievements, as compared to his 'hype'.

Why, the last time he was in town, at the Hero Honda Classic in Delhi, he as usual only flattered to deceive.

Secondly, even 'journeymen' rise and shine at times - like Johansson, the new Australian Open champion, featuring in the same issue.

Our journeyman does not; the only way an average Indian sportslover or sports historian would remember him is as the son of the other famous Indian journeyman, Milkha Singh, who has managed to keep the hype of his 'also-ran (4th) status' on for more than 40 years!

Mr. Brijnath, I am sure there are enough up and coming sportspersons in India where even your false-praise would be more deserved.

ABHIJIT ROY, NEW DELHI