Drugs not a big factor

K. Srikkanth

It was a welcome piece of news when I heard that all the Indian cricketers have cleared the dope test. The Indians have always played the game in a fair manner and it would have been extremely surprising had any of the players tested positive.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) will be randomly testing players from all teams during the World Cup, and it is good on the part of the ICC to have some sort of a regulatory system in place.

Having said this, I am not sure whether drugs are that much of a factor in cricket, which is more of a cerebral game. It's entirely different, in say athletics, where the consumption of drugs can be extremely beneficial in events like sprints.

Even in games like hockey and football, where there is constant movement, with the ball travelling, almost non-stop, from one part of the ground to the other, drugs can enhance a player's performance.

In cricket, though, it may not work, for after every delivery, the players do get a rest, and, in that sense, you don't require the same amount of stamina as in some other faster games. In cricket, other aspects like concentration and technique play a much bigger role.

There may have some stray cases of a few first class cricketers in England and Australia coming under a drug cloud, however, they would have consumed it more out of a need to try something new than taking it as a performance booster.

Coming back to Indian cricketers, it is good that they will have a fairly lengthy camp in South Africa ahead of the World Cup.

This will enable them get used to the weather and the nature of the pitches.

But for the tour of New Zealand, I would have liked the Indians to have actually travelled to South Africa about two weeks earlier and spent even more time making themselves familiar with the conditions.

Importantly, the Indians will be playing about two or three practice games before the World Cup starts and this should be used to try out various combinations. The opportunity should not be wasted.

I remember before the World Cup '83, we took on New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the minor counties in practice matches and that put us on the right footing. The beginning of our triumphant campaign really.

There is an unsettled look about the present Indian side because of the lack of a regular wicket-keeper batsman and a genuine all-rounder. We have to make a conscious effort to make up for these shortcomings.

We still have to find the right formula that is so essential to win the big matches. We have to pick `horses for courses.'

Even if a player performs in a match, he can be left out of the next game, if he is less likely to succeed against a particular opposition, on a different pitch. That is the kind of attitude we should take with us to the World Cup.

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