New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Not for nothing Australian Jamie Dwyer has been the World Player of the Year five times and when he talks of Indian hockey there has to be an element of truth in what he says. He sums up India's game in a one-liner: They swing from sublime to ridiculous in a matter of 70 minutes.
Dwyer, who has been named world's best player in 2004, 2007 and then for three years running from 2009, himself had exposed chinks in India's armour very often. He thinks they can address the problem by working with top overseas pros in the upcoming inaugural Hockey India League (HIL).
Dwyer, a star attraction at the HIL, excites the Indian show, though he has played in the Spanish, Dutch and German leagues.
"The HIL looks like a great concept with around 50 top internationals figuring in it, and the kind of money being spent by the franchises makes it more exciting," Dwyer told IANS.
"I arrived in India last week and have been travelling all over since then for various team commitments. It is great to see hockey players earning well," said Dwyer, who was bought for $60,000 by the Jaypee Punjab Warriors to captain the side in the month-long tournament beginning Monday.
The 33-year-old is expecting a much higher level of competition in HIL than what he has seen around the world.
"It will also be great for some of the young Indian players," said Dwyer, adding that it will be a challenge for the local talent to match the pace of international names.
As the professional leagues across Europe are much longer than HIL, it will be a challenge for Dwyer to galvanise the team.
"That surely is going to be tough in the initial games and same goes for all the sides. But I am confident we will get used to the grind as the tournament progresses," said Dwyer, whose famous extra-time goal against the Netherlands helped Australia win their first Olympic gold in Athens in 2004.
A co-incidence: Australia's coach at Athens, Barry Dancer is the coach of Dwyer's Punjab Warriors.
How will the HIL benefit Indian hockey?
"India have got to adopt a style that suits their lifestyle and culture. They have to be a lot more consistent than what they are right now. Whenever I play them, they are unbelievable in patches and look hopeless in some parts, pretty much like Pakistan. They are not going to get back to the top in the next couple of years. With proper planning, you have to wait for 8-10 years to get the results."
Dwyer doesn't want to dwell on too much on his achievements and wants to carry on playing at least till 2014.
"I am still enjoying the game. I hope to be around for the 2014 World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Then I will take a call on my future."
(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)