When locals were made to take notice of the Indians

G. VISWANATH

AUGUST 14: "Let's hope for the glorious August sunshine to make the visit of our illustrious guests, a memorable one", was the prayer on the lips of the Essex County's commercial manager Dave Comely. The man who brings all the sponsors for the game must have been happy with the number of runs scored with India's Shiv Sundar Das and Virender Sehwag playing shots that might not have been seen at Chelmsford.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly hoists the tri-colour on Independence Day. The Indian team Manager Ranga Reddy is on the right.-N.SRIDHARAN

Comely was also happy that Essex was showing improvement in its performances reaching the final of the Benson & Hedges championship in which it lost to the Bob Woolmer coached Warwickshire and the team is well placed in the Norwich Union League.

Essex is one of the Counties that has been encouraging people to become members of the Club. The County has a major patron in Mark Anderson, who is part of the social whirl of cricket that is so important to English cricket. The four-day match against India was an important event for the County and Comely made sure that residents of Chelmsford took notice of it.

August 15: Indian cricket team celebrates Independence day at Chelmsford. Sourav Ganguly is given the honour of hoisting the tri-colour. The entire Indian team lines up before the dressing room to sing the national anthem. Manager Ranga Reddy ensures that sweets are distributed.

This was not the first time Indian cricketers celebrated such an important and historical day on foreign soil. Many times they have found themselves in Australia, West Indies and South Africa on January 26, during Republic Day. If they are travelling in England in the second half of the summer, they are bound to be in England on August 15.

Harbhajan Singh, who bagged seven wickets in the match against Essex, was the most sought after cricketer. He will be representing Lancashire in the 2003 County championship.-N.SRIDHARAN

August 16: Harbhajan Singh is a popular man in England. The followers of the game in England appear to have developed a liking for him, not because he sports a patka and bowls with a funny action, but because they feel that the Indian off-spinner is going to be their own when he turns up for Lancashire in the 2003 County championship.

There were quite a few Counties which had approached Harbhajan, but Old Trafford showed more interest than the others. Sussex and Worcestershire, too seemed to be in the race, but Lancashire finally grabbed him. The young sardar took seven wickets in Essex's first innings. The important thing was after getting a beating in the second Test at Nottingham, Harbhajan bowled well for 30 plus overs and was among wickets.

Anil Kumble being mobbed by some Asians and locals during one of the breaks.-N.SRIDHARAN

August 17: The security personnel moved swiftly into action to escort Anil Kumble back to the dressing room. It was just that the leg spinner was returning from the ground during one of the breaks when he was literally mobbed by some Asians and locals, who wanted to get close to him for a picture or autograph.

It was a rare experience for Kumble, who has been nursing a calf strain since the first Test at Lord's. He has been spending more time with Andrew Leipus and Adrian Le Roux, working out in the gym and bowling in the nets all with good intentions of returning to competitive cricket.

India played the second Test without Kumble which made the tour selectors retain the same seam attack of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Ajit Agarkar. Had he been fit either Nehra or Agarkar would have been dropped.

August 18: England receives the news of Craig White's abdominal injury in a business like fashion. White who missed his second Test century against India in Nottingham became the seventh player after Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick, Alex Tudor, James Foster, Simon Jones and Marcus Trescothick to make himself not available because of injury.

England expresses doubts about using Andrew Flintoff as a bowler. It is reported that he has decided to postpone a hernia operation to help England clinch the series at Leeds. The England selectors however get the first good news from Caddick after he had played two first class games for Somerset. He is straightaway picked in the England squad of 13 for the third Test.

Senior players - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble - having a discussion about the ICC 'Players terms contract'.-N.SRIDHARAN

August 19: The Indian team informs the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that they are not ready to sign the 'Players Terms contract' for the ICC events in Colombo and South Africa. In a statement they say that it's not they who are boycotting the ICC tournaments, but the latter, which is boycotting them.

On the same day they cite reasons for refusing to sign the contract with the ICC which the world's governing body for the sport has stipulated is a must for a player to take part in the Champions Trophy in Colombo and also the World Cup in South Africa. The players inform the BCCI that the ICC regulation would adversely affect their personal endorsements and that by signing an agreement with the Global Cricket Corporation, the ICC has taken the players' rights away from them.

August 20: Steve Waugh says he is not certain about the 'Ashes' captaincy. The Australian is here to play for Kent in the remaining part of the County season. "My goal, beginning with Kent is to go out there and enjoy my cricket once more. I want to see the beauty in the game again. I have not played for six months and I want to score some runs as a lead-up to the forthcoming series."