Torino president Cairo admits he overpaid for Verdiby Carlos Volcano10 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveTorino president Urbano Cairo admits he overpaid for Simone Verdi.Toro coughed up €22m to sign the winger from Napoli.“We finished seventh and chose Verdi right away,” he told Tuttosport.“I asked Napoli, through my friends Branchini and De Laurentiis, whom I called personally. It was a very wrong move on my part because if you contact a President in person, they make you pay more.“So much so that [De Laurentiis] told me they couldn’t sell him until they found a replacement. We also considered some foreign options, but Verdi was our man.“We took him in the last few minutes of the transfer window, making a major effort. In any case, I gave [Napoli] a €22m gift that I’ve never even given to my wife.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
Are Rahul Dravid’s men world beaters?
It is a trade practice that would not impress a union man. It is a truth whose profoundity would not impress Rahul Dravid.The sports media’s simple operating principle, the manager of the Minnesota Vikings team was once told, is: “When you lose we make fun of you. When you win,,It is a trade practice that would not impress a union man. It is a truth whose profoundity would not impress Rahul Dravid.The sports media’s simple operating principle, the manager of the Minnesota Vikings team was once told, is: “When you lose we make fun of you. When you win, we make fun of the other guy.”For the Indian cricket team, fun has pretty much fled the building and the jokes are coming back at them with all the sweet intent of a Makhaya Ntini opening spell. There’s the batting order jokes (“think of a number, yaar… arre, any number…”) the process jokes, the flexibility jokes. The only unfunny element here are the numbers-two ODI wins from 10 matches (seven of those against the resolutely flaky West Indians).BREACHED WALL: DravidWithin a week, the Champions Trophy, cricket’s biggest event outside the World Cup, will sweep into our living rooms and the world’s best bowlers and batsmen will be asking questions of India. The logical question to ask in turn is: Are the men in blue going to be, like… er… embarrassing? Unlikely because at home, India are a force multiplied.But the graph of this reforged team has taken its first dive, most inconveniently, when the world has come knocking. The first year of the Dravid-Greg Chappell combine was marked by heady success and high altitude vocabulary-the latter only makes for a barrelful of cheap shots today. It may not be the moment for a full-throated chrous of rhetoric and condemnation. But a raising of the eyebrows? Surely.Click here to EnlargeThe Indian team must question its assumptions of not so long ago or it will have them questioned by its adversaries. That its batting line-up can chase speeding bullets anywhere, anytime, that all problems could be solved by drafting in a slew of young players and shunting out fusty grey beards with bad attitudes, bad knees and long memories.Solutions work in their own time and space. Old ones are rarely the answer to new problems. Today, India’s new problems in the middle are plain to see-not enough runs from outside the old fortresses of Tendulkar and Dravid, the unravelling of performances from Irfan Pathan and M.S. Dhoni (two players key to plans) and the search for stability in the bowling attack.The reasons these issues have come to exist amongst the young men who play for India, how they have been handled and the dynamic that exists inside a team. On the outside though, the professional interpreters of maladies judge by the evidence of their eyes. For a team hardsold as being based on ‘youth’, India’s last six Man of the Match awards have been shared between Dravid, Yuvraj Singh (twice each) and Harbhajan Singh, the sixth going to S. Sreesanth, who is not in the Champions Trophy team. Former India bowler Javagal Srinath has pointed out that 10 bowlers had been tried in a year without a core of even three being identified. Former Test batsman Sanjay Manjrekar wrote after watching the younger Indian batsmen in the West Indies, “Is there a rush to become a dashing match-winner as against merely a humble servant of Indian cricket?” Former India keeper Saba Karim has noticed a trend where players are failing to deliver on what jargon would call their “main skill”- batting and bowling. He says, “Talent, fielding and eagerness to learn is fine, but as a batsman you have to be willing to stay at the wicket, deliver the match-winning score.”More the reason to find and cement in the ‘glue’ players. None of the younger bunch have quite Dravid’s accomplishment. Even the most experienced among them, Mohammed Kaif, it appears, is adrift. Karim is most disappointed about the failure of most of the batsmen to adjust to wickets that ask for a plan B involving shot selection. Given Chappell’s encyclopaedic and microscopic grasp of batting, Karim said he expected the Aussie’s deepest impact to show here.Many look back to the second ODI in Kingston earlier this year, when Yuvraj Singh was bowled by Dwayne Bravo with two runs to win, as the moment India’s ODI team lost its mojo. Dravid’s men have won only one of nine matches since, now unable to shake off poor early season batting form. There is no telling though whether that intangible called ‘form’ feeds into confidence or if the process actually works the other way round.A former member of the team says, “It’s not about form, it’s about getting results. If you’re not careful, you can turn ‘form’ into an excuse… and that feeling can go through a team. When you are struggling, it is more important to remember you have a job to do and then try to do it -ugly if you have to.”At the start of a season that will define this team, India has not narrowed the gap between planning and execution to Australian-style efficiency but has widened it. The Champions Trophy may bring India back to where they were early in 2006. But the clock is ticking and the rest of the world has no intention of standing still.advertisementadvertisement
India-Pak Test series: Team India shakes off recent turmoil to face Pakistan
With the bat MS Dhoni, VVS Laxman, Rahul DravidSo Shoaib Akhtar is beating his chest and M.S. Dhoni is responding with the old, “Oye, see you in the maidan.”Each captain is insisting that the other’s team is the favourite and the two coaches are no doubt in front of their,With the bat MS Dhoni, VVS Laxman, Rahul DravidSo Shoaib Akhtar is beating his chest and M.S. Dhoni is responding with the old, “Oye, see you in the maidan.”Each captain is insisting that the other’s team is the favourite and the two coaches are no doubt in front of their computers studying the correlation of quantum physics with the trajectory of the doosra.Commentators are brushing up their manovygyanik dabaavs or zeheni maslas (psychological pressures/problems) and security agencies are running through monotonous checks, which may or may not include the food tasters from two years ago, called in to take one, absurdly, for the other team.India versus Pakistan – this adrenalin-and-testosterone-fuelled emotional disturbance – is upon us again. This time, without the trappings of history and homecoming that made India’s 2004 tour significant beyond sport. It is now at its most basic: bare-knuckled cricket tempered by a mutual understanding of what it means to play the game in this heated part of the world.”The Pakistani team knows for a fact that India will be a stro nger side on their soil than England was.”ANIL KUMBLE, LEG SPINNER Our most recent memory of the face-off is from last winter when the visitors from Pakistan drew the Tests 1-1 and caned India 4-2 in the ODIs. Doubly strong at home, Pakistan have just demolished England, world cricket’s wannabes brushed aside by the subcontinent’s most potent bowling attack.India have begun to stir slowly, a not unfamiliar team taking shape for the season’s main assignments: Pakistan away and England at home. Recent news from across the border has led to the familiar nervous flurry of 20 questions: Has Shoaib really got it together? How did they get so good? Are our batsmen on top of their game? Does our bowling have real teeth?advertisementAnil Kumble is not the kind to get frazzled by silly questions, even when talking on a hands-free while driving through Bangalore’s rush-hour traffic. “Pakistan knows that India is a stronger side in Pakistan than England is,” says Kumble, who took 15 wickets in three Tests (average 25.9 runs) on the last tour.He will return to Pakistan 15 short of 500 Test wickets, but will count his booty only when it is all ended. “We must not forget that when Pakistan toured we dominated all but two sessions,” he says, his forcefulness a reminder that beating Pakistan is not nuclear fission or psychoanalysis or even fervent prayer.Pakistan may be buoyed by their performance against England but the Indians own a successful blueprint. It was based, says captain Rahul Dravid, on discipline. On playing the first day of every Test exceptionally well, says Kumble.There is a clarity within the core of the team which is reassuring after the bluster from Pakistan and the soaring fog index now present in Indian cricket. V.V.S. Laxman, a man so far removed from hype he might be allergic to it, says, “Big totals in our first innings are key.”Laxman has been doing his share of practice on green wickets at home in Hyderabad, making it a point to put in plenty of early morning hours in the chill and damp, when the ball seams more. It is as close an approximation of the conditions he will find in Lahore and Faisalabad.The cooler weather will help Pakistan’s bowlers bowl longer spells, says former leg spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan who splits the odds as 55-45 to Pakistan. India travel with three leftarmers and Ajit Agarkar, but its two-man spin department stacks up stronger.Intikhab Alam, former Pakistan captain and coach, is in favour of playing both spinners. Alam says, “A world class bowler is good enough to bowl on any wicket. I don’t think you can play in Pakistan with one spinner.”The Pakistani press will try to play up the Ganguly affairAlong with putting their mind to finding the perfect balance in the bowling, Indian cricket’s perennial dilemma, the team management will also have to address the minor matter of Sourav Ganguly. The diplomatic negotiation required to figure out where he fits into the playing XI and whether at all he can would stump South Block.”The Pakistani press will pounce on this so everyone concerned has to keep a low profile at the start of the tour,” is former India coach Madan Lal’s advice. Not just the press, Pakistanis everywhere are agog. Alam, now coaching Punjab, suggests, “This scenario is not easy, it is not possible to have harmony in the team after these events.”advertisementSivaramakrishnan would like all concerned “to behave like adults”. He suggests tackling the issue in cricketing terms: “Exactly like an innings which begins with a zero with yesterday’s score forgotten”. It will take some doing as there will no doubt be a few sets of gritted teeth, ruffled feathers and dented egos around. Sometimes the past cannot be forgotten.Sometimes, maybe, it should not be. To a cricketer, the past contains experience and memory, useful tools for what may lie ahead. Those on the 2004 tour did what no Indian side before them could. The power of its memory has not dimmed for some men who were with them on the trip.Manager Ratnakar Shetty, a university professor of chemistry in his regular life, remembers the day India chased 290-plus in the fourth ODI while trailing 1-2 in the series. When four wickets fell for very little and things got tight, Shetty began to fidget. Around him there was complete calm.”Arre relax, professor,” one of the players leaned across and said, “Kaif ko aana hai (Kaif’s got to bat). This match we can’t lose.” They didn’t and sure enough Mohammad Kaif played his part. India would hope its team has packed some of that old assurance in its luggage. Kumble says India has done precisely so for a few seasons now. “You carry a lot of confidence with you by the very fact of winning outside the country.” He has watched India mature as a travelling unit over his 15-year career and says, “It is always difficult to build a foundation. Once that is done, getting a structure up is easy.”Over the next six weeks, India’s structure as a touring team will be put under its most severe stress test yet.