Warne's feat

Sir, — Five hundred wickets in Test cricket, looks unbelievable for a spinner from Australia, which always had pace-dominated attacks. Shane Warne has now joined the 500 club. At this great hour, we shouldn't forget the contribution of two players in his life, Mark Taylor and Ian Healy, who helped him grow into a successful bowler. Though he had a few lows in his career nothing can take away this great achievement of his. Cricket needs characters like him. Shane Warne is one of the living cricket legends. May he conquer many more peaks.

Pankaj Kumar, Chennai * * * The tough Aussies

Sir, — At a time when expressions such as historical, standing ovation etc. have lost significance, the Aussie victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test had some meaning. Yes, it was historical, the Aussies deserved a standing ovation. They brought back the real significance of Test matches.

Though the PO(I)NTING factor was the key in the recent limited over tourneys under different conditions, it is debatable whether in Test matches it would lift a rather listless Aussie bunch. Hats off to Ponting.

Ponting and the Aussie way has silenced the critics who gave little credit to all their recent achievements. A new captain, last minute changes, stop gap players, etc. brought them to the top.

One hopes that this continues and will be a lesson to India.

Bhagawath Viswanath, Bangalore * * * Wake Up ICC

Sir, — The game of cricket has become anachronistic. Millions of people around the globe don't talk of cricket. Even in England and West Indies cricket has become weak. There are more soccer players than the cricketers. Is ICC, the ruling body, still ignorant about what is happening to cricket. In my view, less time consuming games always draw more people. So the ICC must think about what it should do.

The sponsors are a valuable lifeline and TV networks have enormous clout because they connect viewers and corporates, who put money into the game. But how this can be enhanced without redesigning the gameis to be thought about. In England cricket is struggling to keep its place. The present generation is now focussed on less time consuming game. Cricket at the moment is not getting the prominence it was once getting. There is a woeful dearth for talent too. And as the quality slips, it is difficult for the sponsor to arrest the interest.

To generate optimum interest and money from the fans and sponsors, the ruling body should bring in changes. One suggestion is to have a unique 25 overs cricket shoot out which will bring the marketing men back to the fore. Now, the game will take less than four hours and at the same time it will boost the interest.

Then there should be tournaments for non-Test playing nations on a 25 over basis. Then the game will genuinely turn global. At the same time the prize money should increase to bring fresh talent. People will certainly prefer cricket. And the gentleman's game would earn the name, global sport.

Rafique Sanamacha, Cachar, Assam * * * Defence exposed

Sir, — The recent pre-Olympic qualifier exposed the Indian hockey team's defence. Despite all the hard training India lost the 1-0 lead in the pool match against Belgium some seven minutes before the final whistle.

Over and above no incisiveness and zest was seen up front. Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur were only at their half best. Perhaps Dhanraj's absence was also felt.

Thanks for the perspective — The hockey scene in India (Feb.28). Indian women's hockey team is a gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games, Afro-Asian Games and the Asia Cup too.

So, they must have been considered for a wild card entry for the Olympics.

A.G. Kanetkar, Mumbai * * * Excellent coverage

Sir, — I am a regular reader of The Sportstar and I take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent coverage of all games and matches. From the days of B.M. Chakrapani, I have been listening to cricket commentaries. I have heard Henry Blofeld. He is a true professional commentator. For a long time he is not been heard.

His language fluency, tone, ball by ball coverage and a sense of humour — are all good. The last time I heard him was when the World Cup was played in India. This is to request the authorities concerned to bring him back.

John Andrews, Coimbatore

Sir, — We are reading The Sportstar from 1994. The Sportstar, is by far, one of the best sports magazines in India. The coverage on various sports, is excellent. We have a special liking for your pictures also.

Now, the new designed cover and the personality pages look very attractive. We will welcome action photos on the cover too.

Nishanth, Nisha, Kochi