Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And the loser is...

Well, I have been toying with the idea of blogging for a long, long time; perhaps even before Cricket Australia’s downfall began. But, in the race between my zeal and lethargy, the latter always dominated. (and people say that laziness does not win you anything, hah) Anyways, when you got only a few people left in Bangalore, and work load isn’t that much, what do you do? Sorry ----, but I didn’t want to watch porn. (Some people will know instantly whom I’m referring to, while for the others it could be anyone or no one, so don’t bother trying to fill up the blanks). I’m not denying that I AM good at ‘nothing’, I still am – u don’t lose your knack after over two decades of practice – but thought, for once, would give this a try.

So, Ashes ‘09 finally got over. Micheal Vaughan had correctly predicted a 2-1 win for England, but I doubt he actually believed it. His prediction would probably have been different had he been asked to bet on it. But you do get the feeling that Glenn McGrath believed that his predicted 5-0 whitewash for the Aussies would actually transpire. Poor McGrath had probably forgotten that he is no longer part of the Aussie team.

Anyways, a 2-1 loss it was for the Aussies and with that they now find themselves at no. 4 in the ICC cricket rankings. They’ll probably climb back given that their next test assignments are home series against the West Indies and Pakistan. But for the time being, their wounds will be sour. Ask Ponting about that! Mind you, I still don’t think that England were the better team in the competition. It is just that they capitalized better on the opportunities that came their way. But the bottom line is that the Brits will keep the urn for the next 18 months.

Aussies lost, and you found celebrations coming from all corners of the world. Mind you, none of them were celebrating because they wanted England to win, but because they wanted to see the Australians reeling. Australia has always been a team people love to hate. Whenever there is a match between Australia and Some Team,, the entire cricket-following populace, barring the 23 million Australians (and maybe the 115 million sheep they have) will root for the “Some Team”. Why is that people revel when the team from Down Under are going down and under? Perhaps, because while they were on song they destroyed, sledged, hammered every team that came their way - shattering their confidence, slaughtering their egos.

If I were to choose one turning point in the Aussies’ dream run, I would stick my neck out and go for Sydney ‘08. Their fortunes have surely reversed after all the drama surrounding the test. The first nail in the coffin was planted by the Indians at the WACA immediately after the test, a ground which the Australians cherished as much as Shane Warne used to cherish baked beans before their tour of India in 1998.

The Australians have always come in for heavy criticism before, during and after the tour for their unsporting ways. Some of this they deserve, and some they don’t. I mean when they were on top, they really were on top of their game playing a brand of aggressive cricket (something the likes of Dhoni would never dare – remember the Mohali test against England and the Nagpur test against Australia?). And talk about gamesmanship, haven’t we seen umpteen number of times, the likes of Gilly, Steve Waugh and the others applauding the opponents when some one came up with something special? Haven’t we heard enough generous praises being lavished on a rival cricketer by an Aussie contemporary? Shane Warne was the first to acknowledge that Sachin gave him nightmares (when he was not dreaming about girls). How many times has Micheal Artherton praised Glenn McGrath in public? Did the Indians give something close to a look of respect to Ponting when he manufactured that blistering hundred in the World Cup finals, which was responsible for the shattering of a billion dreams?

Another thing for which the Aussies deserve due credit is that they never allowed their emotions to get the better of them in the cricket field. I can’t recall a single incident when an Aussie bowler allowed himself to shout at a fielder who misfielded in his bowling, or even dropped a catch. One incident that immediately springs to mind is Adelaide in 1999 during the time when Agarkar was on a duck collecting spree. (Inside informers have told me that he actually went to Jumbo to barter names. If there was anyone who deserved the name “A NIL”, it was him). During that tour Agarkar provided the opponent bowlers ample hattrick oppurtunites. On one such occasion, Warne dropped a sitter at slips of the batsmen (was either Srinath or Kumble) which denied Flemming a hattrick. All Flemming did was smile at Warnie. Having seen ample of Srinath and Kumble, one can safely guess what they would have done if confronted with a similar situation.

Ahh, I didn’t ever think I would ever write or say anything in defense of the Aussies. But in an obituary, you do write the positives about the person. And I sincerely hope that this is an obituary and, like many others don’t want to see an Australian resurrection. And moreover, all these players are history now. All we are left with is Ricky Ponting and Micheal Clarke (and would have been left with Symonds only if his prudence was one-hundredth as good as his cricketing skills).

Ponting was candid enough to admit that questions will be asked of him. While he was sitting in the press conference with his wounded lips, you could not help but feel for him. (Life had come a full ‘circle’ for him at ‘The Oval’ - the Harmison bouncer in 2005 which has left a permanent scar on his face, and now this); and like a wounded tiger would, he announced his intent of coming back to the Oval and England in 2013. But will he be at the helm till then? I know a captain is as good as his team is. But then…With England on 58/3 overnight in the second essay, he did start the day with as many as three fielders on the boundary line. But then… In Nagpur with Australia just having got more than a foot on the door, he did allow Dhoni and Bhajji some breathing space, and in turn, choke him. There is no way you could have imagined a Border or a Taylor or a Waugh ever do that.

Well, it has turned out to be longer than I had intended it to be. Hope you have made it this far and hope to see your comments. Untill the next time, so long.

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