South Africa vs. Australia – too much being made?

March 12, 2009

I understood the euphoria when South Africa won a series in Australia. What I didn’t get was the hype. The media was abuzz that this South African cricket team is the best and is perhaps #1. I had my doubts, but kept it to myself, for criticizing South Africa at that time would have been tantamount to dissing the IPL. There were definitely chinks in their armor. They were too dependent on Smith and Amla. It takes more than just two phenomenal batsmen to forge a team that will consistently and comprehensively beat others. If anything was proved in Australia’s tour of South Africa, it was this.

After Australia  has beat South Africa now, the euphoria has turned. Two newbie Aussie batsmen have been made stars, Phillip Hughes being  one of them is sacreligiously likened to Don Bradman. My issue is not with the analogy but the haste in declaring legends. Why are we in such a hurry? The guy has scored what one century? Ok, he might be young, but I find such analogies – both the likening to Bradman and the “catch ’em young” propaganda – ridiculous to say the least.

Moving back to my original point that too much is being made about South Africa and Australia, that South Africa beat them in Australia, does not mean that they are the best. The Australian victory now over South Africa also does not justify their ICC #1 ranking. The rankings –  like many other things concerning the ICC – need to be drastically revamped, for now it is far too dependent various external factors. Australia are nowhere near as consistent as they were in the last decade, nor are this set of individuals of that calibre. As for South Africa, their side of the late 90s with the likes of Klusner and Donald was certainly special, and would have been the best if only Australia weren’t as good, or some dark elements in that South African side didn’t fix matches.

To me, this Australian victory is nothing other their revenge over the Saffers. It doesn’t mean, prove or justify anything else.

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Dream Team XI – ODIs

July 5, 2008

While watching the bore-fest Asia Cup in fragments, I have been thinking, what would be the best ODI XI ever? I must add here that “ever” for me would probably go back 10 to 12 years, not more than that. Here is my eleven:

  1. Virender Sehwag
  2. Mathew Hayden
  3. Rahul Dravid
  4. Steve Waugh (c)
  5. Sachin Tendulkar
  6. Adam Gilchrist (w)
  7. Lance Klusner
  8. Wasim Akram
  9. Shane Warne
  10. Glen McGrath
  11. Mutthiah Muralitharan/Anil Kumble

12th man: Allan Donald

Honorable mention: Sourav Ganguly, Waqar Younis

Here is the reasoning behind the selection. The openers must be aggressive run getters. I almost made Sachin the opener, but somehow felt uncomfortable about Hayden and Sachin batting together; nothing serious, it just didn’t seem to fit. Besides, Sehwag as opener, when he doesn’t throw his wicket away can be rather demoralizing to the opposition.

Dravid has always been my dream #3 batsman, one who could steady the batting whether the team is 8-1 or provide spine when on 110-1. I wouldn’t pick anybody else for the part, maybe Ponting (but not on current form) and only if Dravid is unavailable. Waugh at #4 is another dream pick. Besides, Dravid and Waugh batting together would be interesting to watch, that too when the former being an admirer of the latter. I made him captain for his skills and the respect he is likely to get from the team.

It’s hard to pick an ODI side without Tendulkar. Ideally, he should either open or bat at #4. But having picked Waugh, I didn’t think any other position would be apt for him. Yes, Sachin at #5 could prove problematic, given his ordinary stats for #4 in ODIs. But I’m not quite sure what to do here.

Gilchrist plays as wicketkeeper and at #6 is bound to deliver a good amount of punch. Klusner plays as all rounder. The legendary Akram must figure in any dream team for his tact with both the new and old ball. As a better batsman, he bats above Shane Warne, who is another must-pick. I picked Glen McGrath for his impeccable line and length and chose Murali and Kumble to pick from depending upon the kind of variety required. Donald is my 12th man as I assumed we are playing on spinning track. On a green track, I would lose one of the spinners.

Team composition is a bit bat-heavy, especially with Klusner at #7, but these folk to me are legends.