Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cricket Australia : End of an Era

I wrote this in my old blog in August of 2005, when England beat Australia in an Ashes game(something that happens only once in a blue moon)

As the gutsy Australian opener Justin Langer wrote in his column in BBC.com...

[..] in the bigger scheme of things it is one of the best things that has happened in international cricket for a long time[..]

No kidding. It takes a lot of self-confidence to say so, Justin !
As a cricket lover i have seen the Australians rise from the 'ashes'. I guess it was Bob Simpson and Alan border who built that formidable Australian side of 1987 which went on to win the Reliance World Cup in India. Thereafter there was no looking back. There was of course a minor dip in Australia's fortunes when Australia failed to reach even the last four of 1992 world , which incidentally was played in Australia. Barring that brief period Australia never looked easily beatable. I guess except for South Africa under Hansie Cronje, none of the teams really stood up to Australia's professionalism on the field. Their mental toughness has been un-matched ever since.

It takes a lot of foresight and planning to build such a temperament and attitude. Bob Simpson almost redefined the way one-day cricket was played. He threw his weight behind untapped areas of fielding, physical fitness, running between the wickets and discipline.No wonder teams like Windies,Pak and India who depended largely on just the batting/bowling skills of their players started looking increasingly inadequate against the Aussies.

The Australians ooze a silent confidence with their body language. Aggression is their second name. They play hard. But all this was not procured overnight. They actually build this step by step.Remember the tied match at Chennai when Ravi Shastri almost gave us victory. That word "ALMOST" has been our bane. The same word was applicable when we "ALMOST" beat Australia in 1992 world cup; when Steve Waugh even after dropping a catch of last ball had the cools to make an accurate throw at the keeper and run the lazy Sreenath out.

But to be fair to India, we have given Australia a run for their money from time to time. Whether the famous VVS Laxman series where he turned around a lost cause into a sweet win or when Tendulkar bull dozed Waugh's team out of Sharjah's dessert storm.

The Aussies have seldom failed to live up to their reputation. They have the last two world cups in their pockets and are likely to be the favorites for 2007 with their current form.

But as like in every sport and every team the downfall of Australia will come. The West Indies seemed indomitable and unbeatable not so long ago. They were the kings and rest all the other teams competed amongst themselves to come distant second. Their domination over the game was absolute. It was complete. I always argue that Clive Lloyd's team of late 1970s and early 1980s was the best cricketing side ever.

But as with Lloyds team when the key players started retiring one by one leaving a vaccum, the same fate is likely to hit Australia. Warne and McGrath are likely to retire sooner than later and Australia might need to build a second-rung of players who will fit in their shoes. Thats easier said than done. Off course Ricky Ponting is still young and very able skipper.

I would like to see England,South Africa and West Indies build up a formidable challenge to the Asians to see a balance in cricketing world. Cricket was much better when these teams were playing well. Today somehow it has become more asian and lost some of its lustre.


How things change in less than four years. Cricket India is truly in the saddle. SA just beat the bejesus out of Australia. Ricky Pointing has a slipping grip over his captain ship and Australia has no formidable player to replace him. Hayden just retired so did Gilchrist, Warne,McGrath in last few years.

For someone who saw the Rise and Rise of Australian cricket, this is a bitter-sweet moment. I was a great fan of their professionalism. They probably gave the world some of the best cricketing moments we ever saw. Australians brought the glamor, the life, the pace to modern day cricket (Kerry Packer and Co, a salute to you). They truly were the pioneers of the game in a lot many sense.

But as with life, it is true for cricket. No great force can sustain for ever. It happened to the mighty Windies, it has happened to Australia. For me the writing on the wall is clear - "It's official. The Australian party is over".

But for all the great entertainment provided by the Aussies (and I am sure they will continue to do so in future as they re-invent themselves) this a royal salute to a great cricketing nation. You guys, gave us Cricket like we always wanted. Fun, Fast and Hard Core.


Rathchakra said...

Yeah, the Goliath is falling. But, Professionalism and Australia - The team known for most number of sledging, on field racist remarks.

kautilya said...

nah! I'd still say they were / are a very professional outfit.
Regards to sledgin and racist comments, other teams don't have a sterling record either, Tendulkar's infamous "spin" of Harbhajan's 'Monkey' to 'Maki' notwithstanding.

Botham and Co have routinely taunted Aussies with the "prisoner" comments and the famous Viv Richards passed some of the most insulting remarks against Larry Gomes, his own team mate (as he happened to be a Gora)

Racists comment is not Aussie monopoly, and I don't believe, other teams are holier than thou. That's the very nature of sports.

All teams including Indians should learn to play hard ball on field and also become more confident about their own respective races instead of being cry babies all the time. IMO.