Irfan short-changed

As reported in one of S. Dinakar's South Africa Tour Diaries, Irfan Pathan, an all-rounder with great potential, is really going through testing times.

More than anything else, this player of proven talent needs a dose of confidence, which would be at an all-time low now thanks to the short-sighted move of the team management to send him home to "recapture form in domestic cricket."

What is incomprehensible is the timing of this decision as after coming home Pathan did not get more than one extra Ranji game! Team India's long-term interests would have been better served by keeping Pathan in the side till the end of the tour. That would not have done any damage to his `sense of belonging' in the team, which is so vital to a player trying to regain his form.

If the powers-that-be were trying to convey some message to the non-performers in the team, then they chose a wrong player for such an exercise. For, Irfan is a long-term prospect, with oodles of talent. He needs to be handled properly in his hour of crisis.

Suresh Manoharan, Hyderabad Two great bowlers

Shane Warne and Makhaya Ntini: two great bowlers of this generation. Though their bowling styles could not possibly be more different, they have had to face similar hardships.

Drug scandals or defaming court cases, they have definitely had a fair share of these. One's journey has ended, while the other's is just back on its tracks. And not only have they buried their sorrows, they have also gone from one achievement to another. Warne retired with 708 wickets, while Ntini has just shown what he is capable of.

Aparajit Basu, Rishi Valley Stupendous feat

What a start to New Year 2007! Congratulations to Ponting and Co. for the 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England. A poignant note was also struck with the retirement of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer. Warne is currently the highest wicket-taker (708) among all bowlers and McGrath the highest wicket-taker (563) among pacemen. Who can possibly replace men of such talent? But don't underestimate the Aussies. They will certainly find someone to fill the void as they play cricket as a team game and not as a means to project individuals.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad Warne's retirement

We know that every good thing has to come to an end one day, but our mind refuses to accept that something we admired and cherished for so long will not be there any more.

Shane Warne's retirement from cricket would have brought a vacuum in the hearts of fans all over the world. He is a legend. He gave life to an art that was dying a slow death. My heart breaks when I realise that I will not be able to see Warne release his googlies and flippers anymore. I thank him for making the game rich with his unlimited talents.

S. Asokan Boulogne-Billancourt