Exclusive – Arsenal need three more signings to challenge for the title, claims former Gunners captain

first_imgFormer Arsenal captain Frank McLintock believes the club are three players short of a Premier League title push.The Gunners have already signed Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and David Ospina this summer, as they look to improve on their fourth place finish last campaign.Defender Thomas Vermaelen is set for the exit door though, with both Manchester United and Barcelona interested in the Belgian’s services, while Arsene Wenger was forced to rely heavily on French striker Olivier Giroud last year.And McLintock, who skippered the north London club to the double in 1971, claims his former side must dip in to the transfer market again.“Arsenal need three more players to be serious Premier League title contenders,” he told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show. “They need a centre-half, especially if Thomas Vermaelen is going, a big central midfielder and a centre forward.“They were in a prime position last year to push on and win it [the title]. Giroud scored 22 goals last season, which is not bad at all, but he’s not a top centre forward. He did a good job but he was exhausted towards the end of the season. Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott are not centre forwards.“We also need a big central midfielder. There’s a lack of height in Arsenal’s team and they always seem vulnerable at free-kicks and corners. Arsenal need a big Patrick Vieira type.”last_img read more

‘Conquered England? Someone wanna tell Zlatan it’s a Mickey Mouse cup!’ Reaction

first_img1 Back in January, Zlatan Ibrahimovic claimed it had only taken him three months to conquer English football.Then, following his winning goal in the EFL Cup final, the Swede was not shy to sing his own praises again.“After seven months I have two trophies with this club,” said Ibrahimovic.“There are other clubs that didn’t win for 10 years. I’ve won what they won in 10 years, so I’m happy with that.”But while Ibrahimovic is scoring freely for United, not everyone is convinced by his ‘conquering’ of the EFL Cup and Community Shield… Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored winning goals in the EFL Cup final and Community Shield last_img read more

‘What Wembley curse?’ – Spurs fans react to Champions League win over Dortmund

first_imgTottenham lifted their Wembley curse by securing a memorable 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.Spurs have struggled for form at their temporary home, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men put all negative chat to one side to gain a potentially crucial three points in Group H.READ MORE: Tottenham 3-1 Borussia Dortmund: Spurs stars rated and slatedHarry Kane stole the show on the night as he announced himself on European football’s biggest stage with a fine brace of strikes.Tottenham face consecutive away trips to APOEL and Real Madrid in their next round of Champions League fixtures.And it is for that exact reason why fans feel this result could be the start of something special.talkSPORT takes a look at the best reactions from fans online… 1last_img read more

Tottenham give 6,000 season ticket holders access to new stadium at fan event

first_img Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Today we host our fan familiarisation event at #SpursNewStadium, where 6,000 Season Ticket Holders will be exploring the South Stand and podium areas. pic.twitter.com/5qVqMNBcLp— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 16, 2018The lucky season ticket holders would be exploring the south stand and podium areas.There have been several delays to the opening of the stadium on the site of the old White Hart Lane.And on Wednesday Tottenham announced their Premier League game against Manchester United on January 13 would be another held at Wembley, where they have been playing home fixtures since leaving their old ground at the end of the 2016-17 season.The club also said in that statement they were expecting an update from contractors in the week commencing January 7. Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card punished Tottenham issue immediate ban to supporter who threw cup at Kepa Tottenham have held a “fan familiarisation event” at their new home on Sunday giving 6,000 season ticket holders a chance to see the project.The club’s Twitter account posted four images of the ground on Sunday morning ahead of the event. Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won #THFC’s new stadium looks great 👏[ 📸 via @PatCoughlan_] pic.twitter.com/ZypXnF9QsE— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 16, 2018 no dice Redknapp calls Son ‘petulant’, but Holloway says red card for Rudiger kick was ‘soft’ View from my seat 🤩🤩 #THFC #SpursNewStadium pic.twitter.com/UefRjH4SUk— TomBytner (@TomBytner) December 16, 2018 gameday cracker This place is AMAZING! Can’t wait to come home 💙💙💙💙💙 #COYS #SpursNewStadium pic.twitter.com/rewJzQHeSw— ♚ Suzy (@SuzyLilywhite) December 16, 2018 What every Premier League club’s fans dream of this Christmas targets REVEALED REVEALED OFF Wow wow wow #SpursNewStadium pic.twitter.com/cr60LpVmhM— Glenn Atkins (@GlennAtkinsIET) December 16, 2018 Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT My son has been been waking up every morning and logging straight into the webcams ever since it was just a building site – today he gets to look around 😍 #SpursNewStadium pic.twitter.com/E5n86LLJCp— Lily🎄Mrs.O⭐️ (@uberlily) December 16, 2018 “The past few months have been spent rectifying issues with the critical safety systems,” Tottenham said in Wednesday’s update for fans on their official website.“We are pleased to report that progress has been steady and we are now into the integrated testing and commissioning phases that take place ahead of the application for a stadium safety certificate.“Testing is being conducted both during the day and night and our contractors will continue to work during the Christmas period. Barring no further significant issues we should then be in a position to schedule test events.“This does mean therefore that we need to confirm that our Premier League home game against Manchester United will take place at Wembley.“We shall receive a status report from our contractors in the week commencing 7 January 2019 and will update you thereafter.”However, despite the delays, the fans who were given the chance to have a look at the new home seemed very pleased with the nearly finished project. Below you can see some of the best tweets from these Spurs fans. Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January Latest Tottenham Hotspur News BIG PRESENTS UP TOP last_img read more

Charlton’s Lyle Taylor has more goals than Premier League big guns in 2019

first_imgIf Taylor continues his red-hot form, he is bound to attract interest from rival clubs in the January transfer window, and with less than a year left on his contract, Charlton boss Bowyer admits it will be impossible to keep him. Addicks fans will also have a right to feel concerned after Duchatelet sold then-top scorer Karlan Grant to Huddersfield for £2million last January.Grant, similarly to Taylor now, was in the final year of his contract.The Charlton faithful will hope Duchatelet does not cash in on Taylor, and instead, offers him a contract which reflects his vital contribution to the team. Lyle Taylor has been in superb form in 2019 Getty Images – Getty ⏱️ Losing 2-1 away from home with only a minute on the clock.🥅 Penalty awarded, step up @lyletaylor90.😎 The @CAFCofficial man is cooler than the other side of the pillow. #CAFC pic.twitter.com/t4etLnMJmj— Sky Bet (@SkyBet) August 18, 2019Taylor’s form in 2019 has been so good that he is up there with some of the Premier League’s most lethal forwards.Since the turn of the year, Taylor has scored more league goals than Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Only Norwich’s Teemu Pukki has more league goals this year, with his hat-trick against Newcastle last weekend taking his league tally in 2019 to 18.Taylor may be playing in a lower league than all the big-name strikers, but it’s a highly impressive statistic nonetheless – particularly considering he was turning out for Falkirk in the Scottish third tier only six years ago. Getty Images – Getty But Bowyer does not seem too optimistic.On Wednesday, he said: “I think it will be impossible to keep him.“We started discussions (about a new deal) before the deadline, but it’s tough when you have other clubs offering what they do in this division.“How can we compete? We can’t. That’s the reality of it. But we have him at the moment and he’s scored four in four. I’m just going to enjoy working with him while I can. 3 How Lyle Taylor’s league goals compare to the Premier League’s deadliest strikers in 2019 Taylor netted for Charlton against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night in a 1-1 draw Lyle Taylor (Charlton) – 16 goalsSergio Aguero (Manchester City) – 15 goalsSadio Mane (Liverpool) – 15 goalsRaheem Sterling (Manchester City) – 12 goalsPierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – 11 goalsMohamed Salah (Liverpool) – 10 goals LIVE on talkSPORTcenter_img Lee Bowyer guided Charlton back to the Championship last season 3 3 Charlton’s Lyle Taylor is the hottest striker outside the Premier League at the moment.The 29-year-old has scored in four successive games as the Addicks remain unbeaten in the Championship this season. Getty Images – Getty Norwich vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORTDerby vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2Sheffield United vs Leicester (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2Liverpool vs Arsenal (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORTSwansea vs Birmingham (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2 “That’s the nature of the game, if he goes and scores ten goals between now and January, someone will obviously come in with probably more than what they offered in the summer.“For me, he’s a 20-goal-a-season striker no matter what division. The way we play suits him because it isn’t just his goals. His physicality, he holds the ball up.“He’s got everything. We’re going to try and sign him but it’s going to be hard. It’s a difficult situation.“It’s a difficult one, because he’s a very good striker and everyone wants good strikers.“I’m just thankful we’ve got him now because the owner did us a favour and turned down a big bid for him. He can only keep scoring.” One of the bookmakers’ favourites to go down, Charlton sit in fifth place after four games – largely thanks to Taylor’s prowess.It could have been so different for Lee Bowyer’s side had Taylor left for Brentford on transfer deadline day earlier this month. Unpopular owner Roland Duchatelet finally did something positive for Charlton fans as he rejected a series of bids from Brentford – the latest worth around £4million – for their talisman.A free transfer signing from AFC Wimbledon in the summer of 2018, Taylor scored 21 goals in his debut campaign at the Valley as Charlton won promotion to the Championship.And the step up to the second tier has not fazed the Greenwich-born Montserrat international, who has netted against Blackburn, Stoke, Barnsley and Nottingham Forest already this season.His penalty kicks have also become the stuff of legend at The Valley. Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week last_img read more

Kilmarnock reject Sunderland bid for defender Greg Taylor

first_imgKilmarnock have rejected a bid from Sunderland for Greg Taylor.The left-back is valued at £3m but the offer from the Black Cats was less than £1m, STV has learned. Taylor, who won his first cap for Scotland against Belgium in June, has also attracted interest from Celtic. The Scottish champions have made an approach to Kilmarnock for the defender but Sunderland have made their move with an offer.last_img

Halloween Time Expands to Cars Land and Buena Vista Street in Fun Ways

first_imgAlso, for the first time, the Cars characters will be donning their Halloween “car-stumes” as they prepare to go “trunk-or-treating.” Mater will be wearing his vampire or “van-pire” outfit, while Lightning McQueen is dressed as a super hero. Cruz Ramirez will get dressed up as a pirate, Red the Fire Truck will appear as a clown and DJ will be a punk rocker.In addition, two of the attractions will see fun Halloween themes. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters will become Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween, an all-new spooktacular dance celebration where Luigi and Guido will entertain with Halloween twists on traditional Italian festival songs like the “Terror-antella,” “The Chop Top of Carsoli” and more. Over at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, the ride will become Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree, where guests will whirl around the graveyard to the tune of creepy new songs and fun haunted twists on favorites such as “Monster Truck Smash” and “Welcome to Radiator Screams.” Halloween Time is slated to run through October 31 at the Disneyland Resort. Looking for Halloween-inspired treats? You’ll find them throughout the park!Bat Wing Raspberry Sundae at Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream – white chocolate-raspberry swirl ice cream with raspberry splatter, blood-red sprinkles, whipped cream and bat wing cookieSpider Silk Ice Cream Sandwich at Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream – a black macaron with charcoal-tart cherry spun ice cream topped with popping candy and drops of raspberry sauceSleepy Hollow Cupcake at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe – red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, raspberry drizzle and Headless Horseman chocolate decorationGreen Apple Spell Lemonade at Smokejumpers Grill – lemonade, green apple syrup and cherry dropsMonstermallow Donut at Schmoozies – flaky, croissant donut in the shape of Mike Wazowski from “Monster, Inc.,” filled with marshmallow cream“Ghost”-ly Pepper Nachos at Cove Bar – ghost pepper-marinated flank steak with green tortilla chips, topped with ghost pepper cheese sauce, black beans and avocado-tomatillo salsaPumpkin Raisin Bread Pudding and Anchor Blood Orange Blondie at Pacific Wharf CaféSlow Burnin’ Mac & Cheese Cone at Cozy Cone Motel – fresh-cooked pasta with spicy red pepper cheese sauce, served in a Black Cauldron Cone and topped with crushed chile-cheese puffsCar-achnid Pot Pie at Flo’s V8 Café – chicken pot pie with dried cranberries and butter-crust spiderPurple, green and orange-colored Churros, Mickey Bat Cookies and Candy Corn Cotton Candy found at locations throughout the park Share This!Disney California Adventure is absolutely getting in on the Halloween fun this year. With the brand new mission on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! called Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark, as well as fun new decor for both Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, it’s sure to be a spooktacular time! With Halloween Time rapidly approaching (it starts on September 15), we have a brief glimpse at what Guests will be able to expect this year.First, the main entryway for Disney California Adventure will be seeing some already announced Nightmare Before Christmas themed decor, but that’s not all. There will also be a new 10-foot-tall statue of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow! He will be holding his jack-o’-lantern head and will haunt Carthay Circle. If you’re a character fan, you’ll want to catch Mickey Mouse dressed as a bat, Goofy as a ghost, and Daisy Duck dressed as a witch. There will also be new, themed background music that further creates the appropriately eerie, but still fun, mood.©Disneycenter_img ©Disney But to me, the best part of Halloween at the park will be found in Cars Land as part of their Haul-O-Ween! Here, each place will be decorated for the season, like at Fillmore’s where he’s showing off his Jack-Oil-Lanterns and ghostly folk art. Find Sarge displaying his “pump-kins.” Guests will also see a Spider-Car spinning webs all over Flo’s V8 Café.©Disneylast_img read more

The Web is Undead

first_imgThe Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology curt hopkins Tags:#mobile#privacy#web#Web 2.0#Web Culture Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Over-reaction is endemic to discussions of the Web. Over-enthusiastic proponents – Millennialists – seem to be convinced that every burp in online tech, every new tool, every momentary trend, every relocation of a dialog box on a popular site, hails the onset of a Brave New World. On the other side, Professional Doomsayers play the part of sweaty Cassandras, scritching manically at their bespoke hairshirts, bravely warning the hoi polloi of the certainty of their bleak oblivion. This time around, what with the wholesale collapse of the Web on everyone’s lips, let’s take a look at the latter. Let us, with grave mien and bowed head, earnestly regard those things Webesque which have been proclaimed “dead” in the last few of years and shuffled, permanently, off the e-mortal coil. Harden your hearts and sharpen your stakes. We could be here a while. The Web The latest technological obituary comes courtesy of Wired. It’s the Web itself. The whole web. The reason? Order. Siloed networks like Facebook and brand-specific tools like iPhone apps are gaining more and more ground. At the same time, platform-agnostic tools like blogs dwindle. So, let’s bid a fond adieu to the woolly frontier of the wide-open Web and get ready for a charming, cultivated garden, I mean, an autocratic Prussian labor camp. Privacy Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (re. above, “Web”), declared privacy dead earlier this year. Coincidentally, Mark just so happened to be the funeral director. Privacy dying would make Facebook’s relentless Jerry Ford-like series of stumbles a clever, far-seeing strategy instead of an atomic cock-up. Unfortunately, privacy’s personalnurses were clustered around him and managed to slap on the shock paddles until he was on his feet again. Web 2.0 This one has died a couple times. Last year, Tech Crunch declared Web 2.0 (also known as the social web, the read/write web, the live web, the webbity-web-web web) dead. The term anyway. That’s a fire that seemed to leap back up a bit with the advent of talk about Web 3.0 (or the semantic web). It’s a phrase that may not be used actively by many in the industry, but it describes a moment in the development of the Web and I’d be surprised if it ever really goes away. Four years before the TC post, ZDNet proclaimed Web 2.0 so dead it never actually existed in the first place. (I wonder if these folks ever feel like the guy with the sign proclaiming “The End is Nigh!”)Mobile WebRussell Beattie of Mowser (formerly Yahoo) declared the mobile Web as a whole was done for. Michael Mace declared that making native apps for mobile was a dying undertaking. But the mobile web’s growth has since been described as “explosive.” And mobile apps are arguably the single largest growth area in the Internet.PrintDon’t. Just don’t. center_img Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Related Posts last_img read more

Microsoft Brings LinkedIn to Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#Microsoft#news#social networks#web frederic lardinois Related Posts A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditcenter_img Depending on where you are in the world and what profession you are in, Windows Live Messenger is either a professional tool you use every day to keep up with your colleagues or something only teenagers would use. Starting today, Messenger – which Microsoft is already positioning as a social networking client – will become more appealing to professionals, as Microsoft is introducing a deep integration with LinkedIn in the U.S. Thanks to this integration, Messenger users will not just be able to send status updates to LinkedIn and view your colleagues updates, but your Messenger and Hotmail contacts will also be kept in sync across the Windows Live and LinkedIn platforms.In addition to the Windows Live desktop and web apps, Microsoft’s Messenger app for the iPhone will also now offer support for LinkedIn. Microsoft’s Mission: Integrate the Best Products – Don’t Reinvent the WheelAs Dharmesh Mehta, Microsoft’s director of product management for Windows Live, told us earlier this week, the company has no interest in building its own social network when tools like Facebook (which is already integrated in Microsoft Messenger and Windows Live) and LinkedIn perfectly good alternatives. Instead, Microsoft is not focused on integrating these services into its own applications. For the most part, these integrations are built on top of open APIs and standards, though the LinkedIn integration also includes some “custom coding,” as Mehta described it. Besides the ability to see LinkedIn updates in your Messenger and post them directly from the application, the most important new feature that this partnership introduces is the unified contacts list that allows you to easily send an email to one of your LinkedIn contacts from Hotmail, for example. Thanks to this, your LinkedIn contacts are now also available in other Windows Live apps like the Photo Gallery. Due to the nature of LinkedIn, you probably don’t want to send a lot of photos to your LinkedIn stream, but, as Microsoft notes, this allows you to easily tag a photo with a contacts name so that you can “put a face to a name.”Of course, you can also use the Windows Live web service to push updates to LinkedIn, though it is probably best to remain vigilant about which updates are appropriate for LinkedIn and which should go to Facebook instead. In addition, you can also syndicate your LinkedIn to your Windows Live feed, so that your friends who are not on LinkedIn can see your updates there.Bonus: More Hotmail UpdatesEarlier today, Microsoft also announced a number of new features for Hotmail. Among these, is the ability to send very large attachments (up to 10GB) by uploading the content to SkyDrive, in-line video support for Dailymotion and Justin.tv, as well as the ability to see the status of your US Postal Service, UPS and DHL packages right in your mailbox (assuming the tracking number is in the email). Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…last_img read more

Greed, ego, complacency turn Team India into ‘losers’

first_imgOn the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in,On the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in to ask if he was expecting any visitors. “I am expecting all of you. May we discuss why we are in this mess?” he said. No one dropped in.Perhaps the cricketers, having already lost the Test series 0-3, were thinking of the auction for the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), scheduled in Bangalore on February 4. In the T20 capital of the world, ipl earnings have become critical for top players since the cash-rich league started in 2008. What began as a frivolity has become the primary interest of cricketers tempted by wealth rather than motivated by national pride. The brand value of ipl in 2011 was $3.67 billion (Rs 18,350 crore), according to a Brand Finance report. The sideshow appears to be taking over the main event.In 2011, Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, 38, earned Rs 9 crore each from playing the fourth edition of IPL for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians respectively, while Gautam Gambhir, 30, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders, earned the highest last year, Rs 11 crore. This was almost five times the amount they would have earned from playing Tests, one-day internationals (ODI) and T20s in 2011. Top Indian players in Grade A get an annual retainership of Rs 1 crore and earn Rs 7 lakh per Test, Rs 4 lakh per odi and Rs 2 lakh per T20 match. In 2011, some cricketers played, on an average, 15 Tests and 30 odis, earning a maximum of Rs 2.25 crore in match fees.advertisementMahendra Singh DhoniIn this new commercial culture of the game, there is little incentive for good players to raise their game and become members of the elite club, Team India. Take Yusuf Pathan, 29, who is yet to play a Test but earned Rs 10 crore by playing ipl for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011. Or Robin Uthappa, 26, uncapped in Tests and who played his last odi game in 2008. He earned Rs 10 crore from Pune Warriors. Contrast ipl earnings with what cricket boards hand out to their players. Cricket Australia’s highest paid player gets around Rs 7 crore. The maximum annual contract fee paid by the England and Wales Cricket Board is Rs 3 crore. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav, 24, is a classic example of divided loyalties bred by divided royalties. He is a Grade C player in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) contract system and gets Rs 25 lakh a year. In 2011, he earned Rs 3 crore by playing for Delhi Daredevils. His ipl value in 2012 will multiply after his impressive showing in Australia. At its best, IPL can be a force multiplier for a young cricketer with promise. At its worst, it can be a deterrent to performance for a player who is avaricious and lazy.Cricketers alone are not attracted to IPL lucre. So is their governing board, the BCCI. In 2010-11, BCCI earned Rs 1,667 crore in revenue-Rs 973 crore came from ipl. Sixty per cent of BCCI revenues come from TV and TV loves the Indian Paisa League. IPL-4 had an average TRP of 3.91, the lowest for any season. Even that was better than the depressing TRP figures for the first three Tests between India and Australia-0.89, 0.7 and 0.6. Set Max earned Rs 900 crore from IPL-4 from about 60 days of the intense cricket circus, with ad rates of Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 seconds. The India-England series, billed as a fiery face-off, earned Rs 100 crore for the broadcaster ESPN Star Sports, over 24 days of cricket at Rs 80,000 for every 10-second ad spot.”Even selectors know that the players want to earn the maximum as quickly as possible. No one is worried about Test losses,” says former Indian coach Aunshuman Gaekwad. “Everyone wants a slice of IPL,” adds former Indian bowler Manoj Prabhakar. “IPL brings loads of money, Tests only get you the contract money and match fee.”A sullen Team India after losing the last Test against Australia in Adelaide.IPL often breeds greed and it has led to angry debates when players appeared to have chosen club over country. Take Gambhir, who sustained a shoulder injury during the World Cup. He went on to play all 15 matches in IPL-4 despite knowing he was not fit. He then dropped out of the West Indies tour where he was to captain the ODI side and eventually had to return home after two Tests in England when the injury flared up.As if that was not enough in the deadly mix that is killing the soul of Indian cricket, there is ego. And it begins at the top, with the man who scripted India’s success at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, icc World Cup in 2011 and helped India become the No. 1 Test team in the world. After eight successive defeats in Tests (India lost 0-4 in England in 2011 immediately after the World Cup win and 0-4 in Australia), he is looking like a loser, and a sore one at that. Minutes after Australia pulverised India by an innings and 37 runs to wrap up the series in Perth, Dhoni refused to lead the team to the ground for the prize distribution ceremony. He had to be persuaded by coach Duncan Fletcher.advertisementClick here to EnlargeDefeat has turned the A-team of Alpha Males into a B-team of Bored Passengers. There is little camaraderie on the field, at the nets, or in the hotel. It hasn’t helped that some in Team India have openly aligned with vice-captain Virender Sehwag, 33, thinking he will soon be made skipper of the Test side. There have been several rumours to this effect but Dhoni has made no effort to tell bcci President N. Srinivasan that he is troubled by them. His attitude during defeats has also been distant. Once known for his morale-boosting SMSs to players, he has remained confined to his hotel room with wife Sakshi. Srinivasan is aware of the heightened talk about a rift. “I have heard of some ego issues in the dressing room. These two (Dhoni and Sehwag) are competent enough to iron out their differences, if any,” Srinivasan told India Today.But Dhoni’s unhappiness runs deeper. In private conversations with friends, the India captain has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the selectors led by former skipper K. Srikkanth. “I have often told him he should voice his concerns but doubt he will talk,” says Arun Pandey, Dhoni’s partner in Rhiti Sports Management, which handles his endorsements. “I wonder whether he can put things across bluntly. No one speaks his mind in the Indian cricket team,” argues Santosh Lal, longtime friend and member of the Jharkhand Ranji team.Dhoni has dropped broad hints. On the first day of the first Test against England in June last year, he unstrapped the wicket-keeping pads and started bowling after Zaheer Khan, 33, picked up a hamstring strain. Khan’s injury had left India with three specialist bowlers for the rest of the match. “It was risky to have an injury-prone Zaheer in a team that has four specialist bowlers,” says former India captain Kapil Dev. “Why can’t he speak to the selectors?”Click here to EnlargePerhaps because they don’t listen. Consider the England fiasco in August-September 2011. Despite his warnings not to include injury-prone cricketers, the selectors name Khan, Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, 31, and Harbhajan Singh, 31, in the squad. They were declared fit when their names were included. But trouble started almost immediately. Khan was the first to go after the hamstring injury, followed by Gambhir two Tests later. Sehwag, who batted with buds in his ears, was eventually diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. More exits followed-Yuvraj, out with a fractured thumb, and Harbhajan, who picked up a hamstring injury. “Selectors must be answerable to the board,” says Gaekwad.In England, the Indian cricketers, having won the World Cup and having played the fourth edition of IPL, seemed complacent. Suddenly, Test cricket was not important for the cricketers. “England was one big party, it was not cricket,” says ESPN commentator Harsha Bhogle. The Indian team for the four-Test series Down Under was chosen on November 26 in Mumbai. Dhoni tried hard to push Tamil Nadu batsman Abhinav Mukund, 22, and Harbhajan, but both requests were turned down, as also his demand for a vote in the selection process. The five selectors-Mohinder Amarnath, Raja Venkat, Narendra Hirwani, Surendra Bhave and chief selector Srikkanth-were reluctant to remove “creaking gladiators” V.V.S. Laxman, 37, and Rahul Dravid, 39, from the side. Tendulkar was considered an automatic inclusion. Retaining all three is not mere sentiment. bcci knows television viewers tune in to watch familiar faces.advertisementDhoni’s leadership has suffered. Gone is the game-changer who, as former Australian skipper Ian Chappell puts it, “took bold decisions”. In its place is tentative experimentation. Dhoni went with an all-pace attack in the Perth Test, dropping off-spinner R. Ashwin, 25, to include debutant pacer Vinay Kumar, 27, who was pasted all over the ground. “Dhoni was definitely not in command in Australia,” former Indian coach Gary Kirsten told India Today from Cape Town.A frontline spinner, if included in the side, could have saved the day for the team at Perth. Much of the blame should be shared by the new bowling coach, South African Eric Simons. Head coach Fletcher has not helped with his stoic silence. Paddy Upton, the team’s motivational speaker, left with Kirsten. The fielding has been dodgy but no one questioned the role of fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan. The team skipped practice as many as four times during the Test series. Pictures of them relaxing on the beachfront in Melbourne instead of sweating it out in training solidified the sense of drift.The message to the cricket fan is clear: wealth breeds indifference. Ironically, money may well be the imperative that wakes BCCI and persuades it to act before the slide becomes a swamp. The BCCI cannot make money out of a defeat-prone team. The BCCI working committee is meeting on February 12 and at the top of the agenda should be a list of fix-its. Sourav Ganguly, chairman of the BCCI technical committee and a commentator, has been asked to attend the meeting for a larger role in shaping national selection.Perhaps Dhoni sees in adversity an opportunity to ensure that BCCI splits the captaincy so that he can focus on the shorter versions of the game. That appears to be his plan, as evident from his comment on January 31: “Captaincy is just a position I hold. If there’s a better replacement, he can come in.” He had earlier hinted at retiring from Tests on January 12 to focus on the 2015 World Cup. There may be pressure from family. His father, Paan Singh, says in Ranchi that “my son will not cling to anything. I will ask him to quit. We have enough”. Also, as his first coach in Ranchi, Keshav Ranjan Banerjee, says, Dhoni has told him he has little patience for Test cricket. He certainly doesn’t want to keep wickets in Tests, says long-time friend in Ranchi, Shabbir Hussain. In fact, the BCCI annual general meeting in Kolkata on October 26, 2011, discussed the issue of split captaincy but did not come to any conclusion. There is talk though that Dhoni’s no-Test agenda has Srinivasan’s complete backing.So, will IPL kill Test cricket in India? It will definitely tire the players. Since the World Cup campaign ended on April 2, 2011, India have played 10 Tests, 20 ODIs, and three T20s. Australia, in contrast, have played seven Tests, 11 ODIs and two T20s. Don’t forget many of them have not had the distraction of attractive cheerleaders who are “walking porn”, glamorous after-parties and team owners determined to milk their investments. No wonder the champions of 2011 are looking like the hapless losers of 2012.-With Kaushik Dekalast_img read more