Remembering Lala Amarnath on his Birthday

EVEN AS the India cricket team gets ready to play against New Zealand on Friday (September 11) and thus start another season of non-stop action today, there is a reason to pause and pay tribute to an Indian cricket icon, Lala Amarnath.

The legendary cricketer was born at Kapurthala in Punjab on this day in 1911. Nanik Amarnath Bhardwaj better known as Lala Amarnath, one of the great figures in world cricket was born on September 11, 1911. He belonged to a very simple family and took the world by surprise, when he scored 109 runs while playing for Southern Punjab against MCC in the year 1933-34. Wisden quoted his innings as “A Brilliant Display.” His performance got noticed and he became a star with a century on test debut at the genteel Old Gymkhana ground in Bombay.

Despite his performance, he had to sit out of the national squad for more than 12 years. The simple reason being that he raised voice against the dominance of royal figures and their supporters prevailing in the Cricket scenario of India those days. But after the nation got Independence, he led the Indian Cricket Team to the tour of Australia. In the year 1952-53, he led India to first series win against Pakistan. He played his last Test match against Pakistan at Kolkata in December 1952. Amarnath scored heavily in domestic circuit but couldn’t replicate the same success on International stage. He scored 878 runs in 24 tests and took 45 wickets. The figures are very ordinary, but they do no justice to either his spasmodic brilliance or his enduring influence.
It was his influence that made his two sons Mohinder and Surinder to takeup cricket as a career. Mohinder Amarnath later played a vital role in India’s triumph in 1983 world cup. Amarnath was called an icon by Atal Behari Vajpayee and his knowledge of Cricket was impeccable. In the later stage of his life he acquired widespread affection as the nation’s leading source of cricket anecdotes.

As a Cricket fan, I pay my respect to this great Cricketer on his birthday.

Interference in Team Selection: Story of Sports in India

Cricket in India is more than a sport. It is a religion which is followed by billions of crazy fans. This popularity has increased the flow of money in the sport as well. This can be attributed to the success of the team at international level and tremendous marketing strategy. The introduction of Indian Premier League last year changed the careers of many aspiring cricketers in terms of monetary compensation.

As the sport has grown in the country so has the competition. There is a very stiff competition for selection in district, state and national team in all categories. And this cut throat competition has lead to corruption in the system as well. The corruption is very much prevalent in the various sports played in India. The influential people in the association have ensured the selection of “their wards” in the team by hook or crook. We have come across various stories in newspapers. But perhaps for the first time the players have revolted for such malpractices against the association.

Indian Cricket Star, Virender Sehwag has made allegation against Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) for manipulation in the selection of Delhi under-16 and under-19 team and Ranji teams. Sehwag had lashed out against the DDCA administration on Sunday. “It has often happened that four selectors get together and vote for ‘their’ players, leaving the chairman of the committee and me defeated,” he said. “Especially when I am on national duty, they put pressure on the stand-in captains and the interference becomes more rampant.” There was allegation leveled on Sehwag as well that he has been allotted 23 acres of land by Harayana Government and thus he wants to leave Delhi and represent Haryana in the upcoming Ranji Trophy Tournament. But later few other senior and former players backed Viru thus giving ample of reasons to affirm that what Sehwag is saying is true. These names include Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Aakash Chopra and Mithun Manahas.

“There’s a need to bring about transparency in the selection process. If things don’t improve, I will not hesitate to move out of Delhi this year itself,” Gambhir said. Nehra, meanwhile, said this was probably the DDCA’s last chance to set things right. “The manner in which the DDCA functions, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to leave Delhi. I think this is the last chance for the association to clean up their mess. For two years, when I was injured, I didn’t hear one word from anyone, and the moment I made my comeback, they are all looking to cash in on me,” he said.

Mark Twain once said- “It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” As a Cricket fan, I am in full support of the players who have shown moral courage to speak for the legitimate. If they are very genuine in their allegations then they must be supported and backed. They have shown courage to take on the association directly. Mind you, it requires lots of guts to revolt but someone needs to do that to keep things right. DDCA must ensure that it sorts out matter with the players and must not act reluctantly by allowing players to leave. Instead the nepotistic should be taught a lesson. This is an issue which concerns all the sport in country and it will be good for sporting fraternity if they can show such courage and stand for what is just.

It is a fight not against the system only but also for the ethics and well being of the sport as well.  If such corruption is allowed then many young dreams will die young and many careers will finish before they start.

Baljit Singh: The case of Life being Cruel!

LIFE CAN be cruel. Just when you start feeling that everything has fallen in place, the next moment something unexpected happens. The hard work you have put in becomes zilch in a moment. This is what has happened to star Indian hockey goalkeeper, Baljit Singh. Baljit sustained a career-threatening eye injury while he was practicing at a camp at Pune. Baljit’s right eye’s retina, cornea and lens were  damaged. Baljit underwent an eye surgery at New Delhi’s AIIMS hospital on July 18, but doctors have not promised too much.

It has been ten days since he was operated, but it appears that vision has not yet returned to the injured eye. In an interview to the IBN, Baljit said, “I feel scared that if I don’t recover in time, it may be difficult for me to come back to the game and be fit for the game again.

And if this doesn’t get better – the visibility, then the future seems very dark for me, as far as the game is concerned. I am very worried about this.” The young player was seen as the pillar in the Indian hockey team. His absence would have an impact on the team’s overall performance as well. He was awarded India’s Best Player at Punjab’s Gold Tournament last year. And since then he has never looked back. He was in prime form with high fitness levels and was raring to make a big name for himself. The stage was set but this injury has taken away his chances. A promising career and a great talent is in danger of being finished before it really took off.

All I can do is hope and pray and hope for his recovery. I hope that Baljit will get the full support of the Indian Hockey Federation and the sports ministry. He must be provided with the best treatment available so that his dream does not die young.

Revival of Test Cricket

India is always considered as a cricket-loving nation. India’s journey to fame of cricket was not so easy. Fans worship their favorite cricketers next to God. Recently, there was news that the MCC and ICC are worried about Test Cricket, and think its in trouble. Yes, there is no doubt to it. We all know that Test Cricket is a real talent test for any cricketer in the world. But what I see from here, test cricket will eventually become somewhat similar to the proverbial goldfish swimming in a bowl, players playing in an empty stadium or for the benefit of those who can subscribe to media carrying the highlights.

Don’t Blame BCCI & ICC:

For those, who are constantly criticizing BCCI and ICC for introducing IPL. I really don’t understand how a two-year-old baby of cricket can destroy 130 yr old tradition of cricket. In England T20 is played from a long time, why not cry for that?

I am a big fan of Test Cricket when it’s played at the highest level but that doesn’t mean I just shun off other versions of cricket too. I doubt any T20 would have given you the thrill the last moments of the drawn Ashes Test or the Test-saving innings from Laxman-Dravid against Aussies.

Makeover: There are many ways that ICC shall adopt so as to make test cricket amazing and pull the attention of cricket lovers back. Here are some of the ways I would suggest.

1.      Introducing an International Test Championship

2.      Making sporting pitches, not the deathbeds for bowlers mostly seen on the subcontinent

3.      Allow substitutions to make it more interesting at least in the 3rd and 4th innings, so teams can adapt mid-way. Imagine defending a 120 run target with 7 bowlers

4.      Allow day-night versions of test cricket. The crowd will start pouring in.

5.      Performance-based points/payments for Test cricket.

Although some of the above-mentioned points seem to be ridiculous at first glance, but you never know which might hit the jackpot.

We need to make sure that Test cricket will not die – but will change and become more exciting.

What do you think? How can Indian cricket play a role in reviving the oldest form of cricket?

Postpone IPL: Is it the only solution?

IPL or Elections

There is a national debate going on throughout the country, whether the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket tournament scheduled from 10th April 2009 should be postponed due to security concerns as the dates clash with 15th general elections  or to  go with both events simultaneously. Recently, our home minister voiced concern over terror threats on both of these events.

Earlier, it was believed that terrorists would never attack cricketers or cricket matches in the sub-continent as it will bother the sentiments of this cricket crazy part of the world. But, the Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team disproved this conventional notion. And looking at the impact of those attacks, any fool can predict that the next terror strike could be on the high profile cricket event IPL to be held next month in India. And it makes it even worse for security agencies that this event of tremendous public interest clashes with another major event with heavy public involvement – the general elections. For a huge democratic country like India general elections would be the event of utmost priority and no cricket tournament is bigger than elections. The constitutional requirement is that the general elections to the Indian Parliament were due before May 2009, which has to be fulfilled. So it is very much clear that elections are going to be held as per there schedules.

If we look at arranging both the events simultaneously then it will be a tough job for our security forces.  Making security arrangements for the elections in the rural and urban areas is always a very difficult task. And also, the level our political parties can go down to in the crucial election periods if there are lapses in the security arrangements is not a very big secret. And to conduct polls in such a huge region, we require our entire force. So it will be tough for our security agencies to protect IPL at the same time.

West Bengal and Punjab already said that go for IPL if you don’t want security for elections, Andhra and Delhi denied the security while Maharashtra and Rajasthan asked for central forces, which means they are not providing the state police forces for IPL. There could be another reason behind this stand taken by above states. Most of these states are Congress-led and it may be the anxiety of Congress not to step down before Sharad  Pawar, who’s the honcho of cricket in India along with a ministry in UPA cabinet  and can also be playing the major role in preventing the professional judgment in above matter. Also, the IPL chief Lalit Modi is close to Vasundhara  Raje (BJP). We have seen what happened to him in Rajasthan as soon as the government altered from BJP to Congress in Rajasthan. T he stand taken by these states might be just an extension of that. But, no matter what, the security of the life and property of common citizens along with the pride of the country, should not be put up on stake. If we do not postpone IPL and go on with these two major events simultaneously with some changes sought by IPL organizers and if there would be any attack on any event due to lack of security, then this will be a major setback for us. As we are hosting some major sporting international events in upcoming years, including the Commonwealth Games(one of the reasons of Delhi’s fast track development) and the Cricket World Cup 2011, our authorities should be much more careful and sensible in taking such decisions.

Taking a look at the other side of the coin, if we go on to postpone IPL, it will be a win for terror groups and looking at IPL’s prospect, a large commercial loss as they are just one month away from the tournament. It will be close to impossible for organizers to hold this event at some other time of the year, as ICC’s schedule for international teams would keep most players out of it and climates then would not favour the game. One more thing we should not forget that cricket and IPL earn some reputation for India, though they are not bigger than our democratic identity

What’s the bigger picture here? What’s the issue of concern here? Is this politics or is this security concern?

Whatever it is that is happening, what is more important here is a sensible decision that all the concerned authorities need to consider in benefit of all.

So, we have to find some alternatives to the concerned situation. We still have some amount of time and better cricketing infrastructure at our hand to manage the tournament. Ultimately, it is the home ministry who’s doing to decide the faith of IPL. The picture will be all clear in few weeks. But, I still feel that security should be given prime concern and elections are utmost important than any cricket tournament. We hope that our home ministry and IPL organizer come up with a more professional and practical solution.

What is your take on it?

Dhoni plays it straight

India’s captain brings an uncomplicated, honest approach to cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a forthright, straightforward cricketer unburdened by the baggage that generally accompanies a man onto the field, thereby restricting his outlook. At once he is intelligent and simple, aggressive and canny, tough and respectful. He did not come to cricket as a youthful dreamer but as a young street rat. He did not arrive with high expectations or parental pressure or anything of that sort. He was not a favoured youth plucked from the masses and put through the academies and tracksuits and felicitations that await prodigies, condemning most to a life half lived. He enters the arena with one thought in his mind: the uncompromising pursuit of victory. It is a liberating, empowering simplicity. And it is going to take India to the top of the rankings, and without an excess of celebration. Dhoni brings to Indian cricket not hope but expectation. It is the bravest force in sport.

Dhoni has taken to cricket and leadership without fuss or fear. In a land of gods and legends he has not sought permission to lead. The captaincy was bestowed on him by authorities who recognised the power of the clean slate, the potency of the uncluttered thought. Of course he has an ego but it works on both a greater and lesser scale than the common run. He is happy to lead or serve, does not need the game, has no romantic illusions about it, might just as well be racing bikes. Cricket and Dhoni met by accident not design, took a look at each other and decided they could get along. It’s not that Dhoni cherishes the game or is obsessed with it. Nor is it merely a means to an end, a vehicle for an uncovered talent. He just plays it exceptionally well. Accordingly he can look it in the eye.

To him it is a job as much as a game, a profession as much as his passion. And he came to cricket as Dhoni the man, not Dhoni the boy cricketer. He plays hard because he lives hard. He fights to the last because Ranchi boys do not quit or cry. He plays a ruthless game because with every bone in his body he wants to win, because that is how games are played back home. He celebrates victory because he is proudly Indian, not because he is against anyone else. History has not touched him, with its movements and its Wisdens. He is not post-colonial, he is post-politics. Its not that he challenges notions of India; he is not a philosopher or an economist. He is modern India.

To him Indianness is not a cause. He is a patriot not a nationalist. With his unparaded affluence, his composure and laughter, and his rags-to-riches story so easily told, he is modern India, not a land of a thousand dreams but a place of a hundred possibilities. As a contemporary Indian he senses that life is to be lived. As a modern Indian sportsman he knows that matches are not to be played but to be won. His rugged bottom-handed batting gives no ground to aesthetic sensibilities. It is the unspoken message a rising generation was waiting to hear. Indian cricket is lucky that the call came from a full-grown man.

Cricket comes easily to Dhoni because he was not overwhelmed by it. It was just the game he happened to play. Captaincy comes easily to him because he did not pursue it. He was born to lead but in his boyhood no one thought along those lines, or took themselves that seriously. After all, Dhoni and his pals were growing up in ignored Jharkhand, in forgotten Ranchi, surrounded by each other, making the best of things, laughing a lot, enjoying whatever thrills and spills life had to offer. He was not a boy struggling to break away from a restricting background, was not unhappy, had not been defeated. Always he has been able to focus on matters in hand – the next skylark, the next ball. Throw him at a wall and he will not break.

It was Dhoni’s lack of defined ambition that made achievement possible. Frustration messes with the mind. He lived the life of a typical outstation youth: active, audacious, not bothering so much with books, getting on with life, never expecting it to fall at his feet. He came to cricket as might a passenger at a train station, reached captaincy, runs, fame and riches not as some ruined child or as a street urchin destined to cover himself in bracelets but as a grounded and gritty young man for whom wealth was a consequence and not an aim. He wanted to rise, but on his own terms; he was not hungry enough to sell himself short. He is Obama in white clothes.

Throughout his surge he has remained the same. Certainly he dresses sharply and speaks fluently, for a man does not want to embarrass himself or his constituency; but his essence has not changed. He gives the impression that he’d be just as happy with his school pals. Indeed he goes to see them whenever he can. It’s not that he is afraid of success or publicity or glory. To the contrary he has embraced them all. Just that they do not mean that much to him. He does not get carried away, keeps things in their rightful place. His Dad operated a pump. His character has deep roots.

Dhoni’s primary skill as leader lies in his ability to forge his side into a united force with one thought in mind. As India takes to the field, they form a huddle and he talks to them, mighty and meek, old and young, famous and obscure – none of it matters to him; all are treated the same, all are playing in a team. Players respond to him, trust him, and he does not let them down. When a paceman sends down rubbish he does not rant or rave or scowl but points out that “everyone has an off day”. Judgment is left to the priests. Players like him because he does not make a fuss, or get flustered or back down or yet confront. Misfields, dropped catches and other mishaps may occur and he takes them in his stride. Because he has faith in himself, he is able to convey faith, and without any clapping or backslapping or other artifices. Because he fights so hard he is able to instill the same attitude in his charges. Because he works so hard with gloves and bat he is able to coax long stints from his pacemen and long innings from his batsmen. Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan have bowled entire sessions; Virender Sehwag has been willing to deliver lengthy spells.

Ruthlessness and daring, an unusual combination, have been the main features of his captaincy. Previously India may have been defiant, even cynical, often charming, but they were never quite as ruthless as they have been under Dhoni. His 8-1 field set on the third morning in Nagpur was as uncompromising as it was unsettling. It was a civilised version of Bodyline. His India did not so much as pretend to play by the unwritten code. Overnight the team had been in a tizzy as the Australians had scored freely. Dhoni could feel the match slipping from his grasp and had to respond. Nor did he so much as contemplate half-measures, instead instructing his pacemen to aim well wide of off stump – a plan they loyally and precisely executed. Australia did not accept the bait and the game ground to a halt. It was not pretty but it was effective: 42 runs in the session. Australia lost momentum and never recovered.

On the final day India again fell back under an Australian assault. Despite the loss of three early wickets, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey were able to push the score along at five an over, well above the required rate. Realising he was losing control, Dhoni sent four men to the leg boundary and ordered his spinners to bowl down the leg side. Although not against the rules of the game, the tactic offended its spirit. It was also a mistake, allowing experienced batsmen to collect runs without taking risks.

To make matters worse, Dhoni and his team dawdled to such an extent that only 21 overs were completed in two hours. As far as cricket was concerned, it was not a pretty sight. Indeed Dhoni was lucky that wickets started to fall and the game ended gloriously. But it was the unsentimental conduct of a single-minded leader prepared to stand his ground come what may. India was better served than the game, a viewpoint that may sound pompous in the hour of glory. Dhoni did not appreciate criticisms but then he was not a spectator.

These shortcomings pale into insignificance beside the achievements of a remarkable man who arrived from nowhere and with nothing except a lot of power, strength and ability. No one saw him coming. Boldness not meanness has been the hallmark of his captaincy. As much can be told from his leadership of the one-day side. Just that he has not yet embraced the rhythms and responsibilities of Test cricket, has not convinced himself that it is the ultimate expression of the game. Indeed, he withdrew from India’s last overseas Test tour.

That will change. Dhoni will come to understand that Test cricket is the greatness of the game, that the rest is a rush. For now it is enough that India has found its next cricketing leader. Certainly the community can absorb the loss of their fading champions without fearing for its future. It is in safe gloves.

–Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It
 
Source : CRICINFO

Are we happy and fit as a nation?

Just when we were wringing our hands at the prospect of a blank medal tally at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra hit gold. Certainly, the gloom has lifted.

But this is actually the perfect time to ask an unsavoury question: should we allow our sporting self-esteem to be linked solely to what a handful of our athletes do once every four years? Don’t get me wrong. Bindra’s feat should make us proud.

But should India aim for an outcome in which a fraction of Indians excel while the rest of us wallow in sporting mediocrity and are content to bask in reflected glory? While there is much to admire in countries like China setting goals and methodically going about achieving them, are we beholden to adopt the same set of goals just to keep up with the Joneses? The bottomline: do we want lots of Indians to be fit and love sports, or just a few people who can bring us medals, while others remain impervious to any physical and outdoor culture? Maybe the two aren’t as ‘either-or’ as they seem. So what could our goals be? Instead of pouring all our financial and other are sources into developing world-class athletes (which we don’t any way), why not start from the bottom up? Inculcate a love of fitness and sport among Indians from an early age by creating more open spaces, playgrounds and parks, with relevant programmes.

More than China’s galloping medal tally, I admire the way its government has encouraged cycling as a preferred means of transport, which reduces pollution and allows a large number of people to keep fit. We should also carefully choose the activities we want to encourage.

These need not be competitive, a feature we seem to think is indispensable. We could help foster in children a love of hiking, by setting up various clubs in schools – the way another Olympic-underperformer Israel has done.

Indigenous contact sports like kho-kho and kabaddi could be developed even if they aren’t part of international sporting events. Above all, we should develop the self-confidence and self-belief to chart our own course.

So, while we wait for more Abhinav Bindras, we could have a happier, fitter India.

Source: Yahoo

Abhinav “Goldshot” Bindra: Ends Drought in Olympics

Abhinav Bindra

ABHINAV BINDRA created history on Monday morning (August 11) when he won India’s first ever individual gold medal in Men’s 10 metre Air Rifle Shooting Competition in Beijing Olympics. Bindra shot a total score of 700.5. Bindra scored a massive 10.8 in the finals and that is something unthinkable. This is India’s first gold medal after a gold medal in hockey in 1980 Moscow Olympics.
In the ten rounds, Bindra shot 10.7, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.5, 10.5, 10.6, 10.0, 10.2 and 10.8 to clinch the gold. Bindra started the finals in third position but improved his performance and consistently shot well to claim the first place defeating China’s Qinan Zhu. Finland’s Henri Hakkinen faltered on the final shot and finished third.

The 25-year old lad from the capital is also Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardee. He finished joint-fourth with Romania’s George Alin Moldoveanu in the qualification round. The duo had a score of 596/600. The drought of gold medals for India is over. Bindra has made the entire nation proud. The feeling of national anthem being played at Beijing is thrilling for the country. The entire country erupted in joy and celebrations when the reports of his great victory flashed across the television channels. Emotions are high in India, as tearful people welcomed this great news.

This gold will prove to be morale booster for the entire Indian contingent and we might have many more medals heading our way.

Image Courtesy: www.hinduonnet.com/…/20060819007703601.jpg

The Revival of Indian Hockey: Finalist of Sultan Azlan Shah

Indian HockeyThe unexpected has happened in the Hockey. With all news coverage going to IPL, we have completely forgotten the Hockey being played somewhere. After missing the berth in Olympics this is some good news for hockey fans in the country. The ouster of KPS Gill has proved to be the lucky decision as India moved to finals after the gap of 12 years in the prestigious Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament. It’s a moment of glory for Indian hockey, after the decline witnessed in the past few months.
The young Indian team today beat Malaysia in the last league match by 2-1 to sideline arch rivals Pakistan and enter the finals at Ipoh in Malaysia. Shivendra Singh (9th minute) and Sandeep Singh (10th minute) scored goals very early in the match and that put India in the driver’s seat in the crucial match and they maintained the lead till the last minute before Mohammad Amin Rahim shot a goal in the last minute in the Indian post. The victory was essential for India because if the match would have ended in a draw it would have benefited to the Pakistan to reach in finals because of the better goal difference.
India gathered 12 points from their six matches and will take on Argentina, who have finished with 14 points, on Sunday in the finals. India lost to Argentina by 1-5 in the league clash.
India started the tournament on a sorry note by losing the first two matches against Argentina and New Zealand but then pulled up their socks to turn things around and the win over the hosts was their fourth consecutive victory beating Canada, Belgium, Pakistan and Malaysia.

IHF Suspended- A Welcome Move

K P S Gill’s 15-year tenure as the hockey boss came to an unceremonious end with the Indian Olympic Association removing him by suspending the IHF and appointing an ad-hoc committee, headed by former Olympian Aslam Sher Khan. The ‘unanimous’ decision to suspend IHF was taken at an emergency meeting called by the IOA following the sting operation which caught Secretary K Jothikumaran purportedly accepting bribe to select a player in the national team.

The ad-hoc commiittee will have hockey greats such as Ashok Kumar, Dhanraj Pillay, Ajit Pal Singh and Zafar Iqbal as the other members.

“It is a painful decision that we made today. But it had to be taken since there were corruption allegations. We have taken the decision after discussions with former Olympians, captains and all those who have played for India,” IOA President Suresh Kalmadi told a packed press conference.

“Gill was there (meeting) throughout. It was a unanimous decision and no one spoke against it. We have great respect for K P S Gill and it is not personal. Jothikumaran did not come unfortunately, we wanted to hear him. It was an opportunity for him to present his case,” he said.

Indian Express

A Glimpse into the Past (Hindustan Times dated 29/04/08)

THE INDIAN Olympic Association (IOA) repeated history after 32 years by suspending the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

It was in 1974 that the IOA had suspended the IHF for the first time after the Federation International de Hockey (FIH) had disaffiliated it following a series of disputes in the federation.

The IOA began managing the hockey affairs and the country’s participation in the 1975 World Cup was possible due to this development. Eventually, India went on to become world champions.

“There were disputes in the IHF and taking a serious note the IOA suspended the federation towards the end of 1974. The-then Punjab chief minister, Giani Zail Singh, offered to host the team’s preparation for the World Cup and thethen IOA president, Raja Bhalendra Singh, accepted the offer,” said Balbir Singh, who was named administrative officer of the camp and was later made chief coach-cum-manager of the team.

Balbir recalled, “The camp was held at the Punjab University and everyone extended their support for the cause. I took charge of the camp on November 14 and the only practice session I missed was on the afternoon of December 29 when my father was cremated. That was the passion we had towards our national sport.”

“After the IHF’s suspension, we became the world champions. Let’s see what’s on offer this time,” said the triple Olympics gold medallist. “In 1975, every player contributed his best and we won the title. If everybody gives his best, we can again become world champs.”

On the latest development, Balbir remarked, “Change is always for the better and our system was demanding this for a long time. It has finally happened. Hopefully, it will be towards the betterment of the sport.”