India-Australia Bigger than Ashes: Shastri


Melbourne, Feb 8: Former India captain Ravi Shastri feels Australia’s cricket rivalry with India has upstaged their traditional Ashes contests against England.

Speaking of the current India tour's financial benefit to Australian cricket, Shastri said it was "bigger than the Ashes." The Indian television rights to the series were huge with the triangular one-day series alone believed to have been worth about $50 million.

Former Australian batsman Dean Jones agreed. "The biggest cricket tournament in the world is India versus Australia. We will earn five to 10 times what we will earn off our Ashes series," Jones told The Age. "Television rights. It's not about bums on seats; you make your dough, about 70 per cent of your income comes from TV. It is massive."

Australia's recent dominance of the sport had fostered a fierce drive among India's young players to compete against it, Shastri said. "The young kids who are coming on the block now from India, they're right in your face, they're not overawed by names and reputations.

The bottom line is they want to compete against the best sides in the world," Shastri said at a Lindsay Hassett Club lunch. "And that's the biggest difference. Respect Australia for the way they play but we're not out there to just fill in the numbers; they're out there to compete.

And that's the attitude they bring to the table. If there's one team competing against Australia, it's India."


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    Sat, Feb 09 2008

    Ravi Shastri has always been a supporter of the young brigade. He is one Indian cricketer who has made it good even after leaving the game. I still remember the day when he was pulled up from his bed early in the morning so many summers ago as a youngster to take the flight which took him to New Zealand for his unexpected debut.

    That probably was a baptism by fire for Shastri who was called in by statemate and India captain Sunil Gavaskar all of a sudden. From then on, Shastri went on to serve the country in various ways batting in almost all positions and also adding variety with his bowling apart from being India captain too in between.

    Today, he is a versatile commentator and a rare breed who analyses the game in an interesting manner. While some commentators are a 'farce' to reckon with than a 'force' on the microphone, Shastri brings a rare and refreshing style for the listeners. After leaving the game, he has prospered in various ways including taking prominent positions in matters pertaining to cricket. He is held in high esteem by the BCCI today especially and also by other cricket boards.

    He was asked to give a confidence boosting talk to the South African team a few seasons ago when they were going through a lean patch. Shastri has always taken up for the talented and the young and promising lot. He feels that the Indo-Australia test series is now greater than the Ashes battle between Australia and England. Rightly so. He is spot on in his judgment because both the countries know where the money comes from.

    With so many youngsters getting set to get into the Indian team, things are looking good for India. Australia, already has a factory producing numerous quality players regularly through their cricket academies. India too is almost catching up on the Aussies. There will be a time shortly when the cricket battles between Australia and India will become thrillers worth going miles to see.

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