Yorkshire honours Tendulkar

G. VISWANATH

AUGUST 21: The story goes that four of the legends of Yorkshire cricket never see eye to eye. So it was a surprise when the likes of Freddie Trueman, Brian Close, Raymond Illingworth and Geoffrey Boycott agreed to share the stage at a function convened by the Yorkshire committee to officially inaugurate the Eastern Stand at Headingley. Their presence at the function was put down as a rare show of unity. Each one of them was a wonderful cricketer in his time. Trueman was a great fast bowler, Close a courageous captain, Illingworth a good allrounder with a shrewd brain and Boycott a great opening batsman. The fifth Yorkshire legend was India's Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian batting genius became the first cricketer not born in Yorkshire to play for the team in the County championship in 1992. He made a short speech saying that he was never able to realise the ambition of making big runs at Headingley. Yorkshire County is in a bad way. It is feared that it might have to declare itself insolvent should someone not bail it out of trouble granting a loan of 5 million pounds at least. Headingley now has a brand new 34-room lodge that will raise revenue. There are also 32 hospitality booths, one of which has been named after Tendulkar.

August 22: England's team sponsor, Vodafone, invites the Australian great Richie Benaud to present special prizes to captain Nasser Hussain for playing his 75th Test (at Headingley) and scoring a century at Lord's, Michael Vaughan for scoring centuries in the Lord's and Nottingham Tests and to John Crawley who made a hundred in the second innings of the Lord's Test. All the three received silver bats from Benaud. A subject that was discussed at length was the support extended by the England captain to the Indians and other cricketers around the world with regard to the controversial ICC player terms for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and the World Cup in South Africa. Hussain had said that, "it was an expression of solidarity to some players around the world, some of the very special." He said that his team was not signing the contract. "Future England players need to be protected from the issue of image rights. But there are issues to be sorted out and we are not signing the contract," he said. Subsequently, the ECB announced that it was signing the 'Participating Nations Agreement' and that it would have negotiations with the International Cricket Council.

Sachin Tendulkar addresses the gathering at Headingley. To his left are Yorkshire greats Ray Illingworth, Fred Trueman and Brian Close.-N. SRIDHARAN

August 23: Sourav Ganguly is in form, swatting Andrew Flintoff's short balls like flies and lifting left arm spinner Ashley Giles for sixes. Ganguly likes to come down the pitch and lift the ball over the straight field, which was what he did once, but the ball landed on the head of a retired schoolteacher, 65-year-old John Button. Button tried to catch the ball, but did not succeed; instead he was left bleeding and was rushed for medical attention. He did not need stitches. Button said that he was never good at cricket. At the press conference the same evening, Ganguly enquired about his health and wished him well.

August 24: A day earlier Manchester United had observed silence in memory of two schoolgirls, Holy Wells and Jessica Chapman, who had been kidnapped and killed near Cambridgeshire. The entire nation grieved and the two cricket teams joined the nation in observing two minutes' silence. It was a day when former teammates Michael Atherton and Darren Gough met at Headingley. Gough has not played a single Test match for England this summer, but he is optimistic that he will be ready for the Ashes series. The England selectors are likely to meet after the Oval Test against India to select the team for the tour of Australia. Gough who has always been a favourite of the crowd at the famous Western Terrace at Headingley saw the match from the balcony of the dressing room.

August 25: England is in trouble. Michael Vaughan who scored a brilliant 197 at Nottingham felt that his team could save the Test, but conceded that India's energy and tactics have been extraordinary. "We saved the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's when everybody was writing us off and we have to do it again. But Headingley does get a bit worn out and there is some uneven bounce. So it will be difficult. We need our own game plans and we must be positive. Alec showed you could get on top of their bowling."

Vaughan was part of the England think-tank for the Test match because he plays for Yorkshire. But he was proved wrong as India pushed England to the edge and beat them hollow the following day.

August 26. Hussain refuses to blame the bowlers squarely for his team's defeat. "They all have natural lengths, The conditions were so good for our type of bowling at Auckland, Nottingham and Headingley. It has happened three times. But we have to take collective responsibility." He admitted that England was outplayed and that the Indians played near-perfect cricket. "The pressure is on them to win at the Oval. They have to make history there," he said.

August 27: Some of the Indian team members do not travel to Derby. Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer and Venkat Sai Laxman go to Old Trafford, Manchester to see the European Championship League match between Manchester United and Zalaegerszeg. There is confusion, meanwhile, in England (also India) following a report that the Indian players have agreed to sign the ICC's Player Terms. Their spokesman, Ravi Shastri, denied having made a statement that the players have agreed to sign the contract in its present form, which imposed restrictions on personal endorsement.