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When Dilip Sardesai sat down for the chat, all the other chatters sat up. The former Test star pulled no punches, ripping apart the parochial methods of selection that left the Indian team vulnerable, decried Sachin's captaincy, the lack of bowling depth and called for some big changes in the team...

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:0 IST)
Today is Independence Day and as cricket is very popular in India I'm here to answer any questions regarding cricket from all you cricket fans all over the world.

Suraj (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:1 IST)
Hi Mr. Sardesai, This is a usual question. What is your comment on the state of Indian cricket?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:6 IST)
Suraj: I'm really sorry that the condition of Indian cricket is absolutely low although we have got still good players who are not being given chance to play for India. The reason is very simple because, unfortunately, we have selectors who are from five different places and some of them, unfortunately, are not able Test cricketers and, mostly, the team is picked on regional grounds. We have no dearth of batsmen, but our bowling is really poor considering international class. We have to make a real effort and try for bowlers who have class rather than mediocrity. Unfortunately, the present selection committee does not even bother to get deeper into this bowling aspect, hence our position today in cricket.

Gaary (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:2 IST)
Hullo, Mr Sardesai, why is that you are more interested in business and not in cricket administration? Is it because being a plainspeaking person, you cannot play the rules of the game as the BCCI chaps want to?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:9 IST)
Gaary>> I've already taken to cricket now seriously, as I am the selector for the Bombay Ranji team as well as chairman of Bombay's Under-19. It is true that nobody likes any person who tells them to their face what is right and what is wrong. But unfortunately I am made like that, and I don't think it has anything to do with the board.

Ashutosh Narain (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:4 IST)
Hey, Dilip, you are a brilliant reader of the game. What is wrong with Sachin? Do you think we erred by making him skipper too early?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:9 IST)
Ashutosh>> You are absolutely right. I also feel that Sachin has to learn a lot as a skipper. There is no doubt that he is one of the world's best batsmen, and we are proud of that fact. But as far as his captaincy is concerned, I am not very happy, as he has erred so many times during his tenure as a captain, which we could see so vividly.

suwarn (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:7 IST)
Hello, Mr Sardesai How is the state of Indian cricket different from our era?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:13 IST)
suwarn>> I think that cricket has changed so much during the last 25 years. Today's cricket is definitely altogether different than in our era. Firstly, cricketers have become professional because they earn so much that they think about themselves more than about the team. Secondly, in our time, we were very proud to play for our country and do well, although we were hardly paid . You will be surprised to know that when I played my first Test match, we were paid only Rs 250 for a Test match, and Rs 15 for the Ranji Trophy matches.

So you can understand that we really played for the love of the game and also for fame. Today, everything has changed. Even if you want to ask a Test cricketer to come to your place for dinner, they will definitely ask for whatever they can get by way of remuneration. Even, I am told, some cricketers have asked professional fees to go to even their own schools. So you can understand the change in attitudes between the two eras. As far as the game is concerned, there is hardly any change, and the results are speaking for that.

Somesh (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:8 IST)
Dilip: what do think about match-fixing allegations?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:15 IST)
Somesh>> I think it is very difficult to fix a cricket match as it is a game of 11 players. But at the same time, there cannot be smoke without fire. What I can feel is that some friends of cricketers might have asked their opinion about the match, and that does not construe that the cricketers are involved in match-fixing.

Raj (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:10 IST)
Hello Mr Sardesai, What changes do u think need to be made to the Indian team? Do we need more bowlers or all-rounders? We seems to have a lot of batsmen (at least on paper!!)

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:25 IST)
Raj>> The position of Indian cricket today is that I am not that much worried about our batting as about our bowling. Of course, it is bowling that is very important, as you can only win a match if you take 20 wickets.

Unfortunately, on good wickets, we do not have the bowlers who can take 20 wickets, so it is very imperative that the selectors must, I repeat, must think before selecting a bowler. Unless a bowler has class, one should not select him because it takes time for the bowler to reach that level and therefore, it is important that we pick a budding bowler with promise and persist with him. We have always boasted of our great spin bowlers. Unfortunately, today we have none. I mean none, including Kumble, who is a good bowler when the wicket is turning or dicey. Hence, we have to select and look for this bowling slot. We have been taking average bowlers like Joshi, David, and by doing so, we have wasted the last two years without producing any good quality bowlers. I still feel that Raju from Hyderabad is definitely a very good bowler, but he has never been handled properly and a spinner wants more encouragement and more confidence from the captain because all spinners mature a little late. I will still pin my hope on Raju. They have taken Kulkarni but to me, he is more of a one day bowler than a five day bowler. It is true that in today's cricket we have to have bowlers for one day and for five day cricket.

We have a fast bowler by name Rajinder Singh of Punjab and I am sure you will be hearing of him very soon. As far as batting is concerned, we are on a good wicket and it is unfortunate that we have not capitalised in this series against Lanka because our main problem today in batting is the opening, and when we take a cricketer like Gagan Khoda, we don't even give him a chance to play against Sri Lanka this series although he fared quite well in the tour match. We have not gained on this tour because Jadeja opened, and I don't think that he is your answer as an opener for five day cricket. In Bombay, we have a batsman by name Wasim Jaffer who is definitely going to show his worth in the coming season.

HP (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:14 IST)
Mr Sardesai: Why is it that India has failed to produce a single player of note in the last few years who could be compared favourably with any one of the famous four of yore?

Somesh (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:15 IST)
Dilip: Everybody is talking about lack of fast pitches in India. Do ya think India can't afford fast pitches ?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:30 IST)
HP>> Are you talking about the four spinners? SOMESH>> I think the board has taken this aspect of fast pitches very seriously, and I feel that in the coming season there should be lots of changes in the pitches. It is true that unless we prepare fast wickets, we will never be able to compete in the international arena except in India where we tamper with the wicket and prepare turners to suit our own bowlers. There is nothing wrong if we prepare turners in Tests. But in our domestic cricket, we must prepare fast wickets and it should be made compulsory for all the associations to follow this. Sometimes it does happen that because of the soil certain states may not be able to prepare fast wickets, but there is nothing like trying for the same. And I am sure the real test of our batsmen will then be known, because today, unfortunately, in our domestic tournament, we see lot of mediocre batsmen getting runs in hundreds and their techinque is exposed when they play in international cricket. I am sure the board is also very serious about producing fast wickets.

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:33 IST)
HP>> it is unfortunate that at one time, when we boasted of the best spinners in the world. Today we do not have any one of that stature. I think this is partly because of too much of one-day cricket, with the result that the art of flighting and deceiving the batsmen is no more. We find spinners whose trajectory has become too flat and gone are the days when there was that loop which would fool the best of batsmen. Today, I feel, that any spinner with a little bit of guile and loop will trouble the best of batsmen in the world, because most batsmen have forgotten the art and the technique of facing top class spiinners.

haresh (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:24 IST)
Mr Sardesai, Do you call cricket a gentlemen's game? If it is, what is the need of having a creature like Match Referee?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:35 IST)
haresh>> There was a saying that cricket was a gentleman's game. I beg to differ now, because of so much of professionalism and money involved, that one finds so many times batsmen although out, looking at the umpires. So, it is very imperative and at the same time, correct, that a match referee is there to oversee the situation, otherwise the game might go out of hand.

Dinesh (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:32 IST)
Mr Sardesai: Why your son, Rajdeep Sardesai did not join Indian cricket team??? Does he have an e-mail address???

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:36 IST)
Dinesh>> He does have an email address, but I don't know it offhand. It is not true that just by being a cricketer's son, you will become also a Test cricketer. Rajdeep had his fun as a cricketer in his young days, but I think he has chosen the right profession, and forgotten cricket.

haresh (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:21 IST)
Why do we continue with Anil Kumble despite his glaring failure over the last one year or so in both forms of international cricket?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:38 IST)
haresh>> This goes to prove that our cupboard is vacant as far as bowlers are concerned. I wish the selectors think seriously about our bowling because to me, I feel ours is the worst attack on good wickets today. So, we have no alternative but to continue with Mr Kumble.

suwarn (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:22 IST)
Mr. Sardesai, Does it mean that the cricketers today are not committed to the game, as compared to your era.

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:41 IST)
Suwarn>> No, it is not exactly like that. On the other hand, they should concentrate more, because there is so much of money involved, that it tends to become a little bit selfish. During our time, we have to concentrate more because it gives you pleasure and, at the same time, happiness for doing something for the country. It also helps to get you fame. Today, the money involved is so much that it is but natural that a cricketer is bound to be a little bit selfish, and why not?>

Rohan Kanhai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:37 IST)
Dilip, do you still play any 'Air Cricket' like the old days ?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:42 IST)
Rohan Kanhai>> And what exactly is Air Cricket? By the way, any relation of Rohan Kanhai of the West Indies?

Dave (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:19 IST)
Dilip, u r jealous of today's cricketers, b'cos you could not make money in your time

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:45 IST)
Dave>> I think it is wrong to say that old cricketers are jealous of today's cricketers because they are earning more than we used to earn. Times have changed in every sphere of life, and cricket is no exception. What I feel bad is that if our cricketers can make us proud, then we would be very happy, because I feel that it is very imperative that every sportsman must, I repeat, must get his worth during his tenure, and I am happy rather than jealous, that they are doing well today. I would have been happier, and proud, if they had done well in their own sports as well.

Amit P Narang (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:19 IST)
What was it like playing under Tiger Pataudi? I believe he played favourites...

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:49 IST)
Amit>> We have been talking about the old days, but one thing was very bad, which is still persisting, and that is the zonal system. Let me assure you that the Nawab of Pataudi was an excellent captain who never had these ideas of zonal cricketers when he came from England. But he had some friendly Test cricketers who started influencing him about the mode of our zonal system, but to his credit, I can vouch that he picked cricketers on merit. It is also true that unlike today, where the captain has no say in the matter of team selection, Pataudi had a control over the selectors. And why not? As he has to lead the side...

suwarn (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:43 IST)
Mr Sardesai, What would be your dream team for India

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:54 IST)
Suwarn>> It is not so easy to pick a dream team. However, I feel my dream team would be: Let me think: 1) Gavaskar 2) Vijay Merchant 3) G R Vishwanath 4) Vijay Hazare 5) Tendulkar 6) Vinoo Mankad 7) Kirmani 8) Kapil Dev 9) Amar Singh 10) Mohammad Nissar 11) Subhas Gupte 12) Prasanna 13) Vijay Manjrekar 14) C K Nayudu

suwarn (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:50 IST)
Sir Do you think India should have a foreign coach and a physical trainer?

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:57 IST)
suwarn>> I think there is nothing wrong in having a go at a foreign coach, because our coaching system is really bad. Take for example my Bombay - cricket is in the hands of so many wrong coaches that sometimes, we are really worried about the outcome. Hence, a systematic coaching like Mafatlal's had when they had Tyson in Bombay would be ideal, and the result is very obvious, that Bombay has a lot of medium pace bowlers at their command. Hence, I feel it is not a bad idea to have a foreign coach.

Dilip Sardesai (Thu Aug 14 1997 22:59 IST)
Thank you all, it has been fun chatting with you but I must rush now. However, I will be coming back again soon, so we can have another chat at that time. Till then, good bye...

Questions Mr Sardesai did not answer