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.
January 20, 2009
There’s been so much I’ve wanted to write about while I was away- Pietersen quitting, Dravid scoring not the least- so here’s my random rambly attempt to catch up.
After eight months and not too many runs, Rahul Jammy Dravid scored his second century of 2008, one that came after much media speculation, blogger deriding and what not. I remember that innings rather well and was fortunate to be able to catch that given my schedule at that time. I recall a feeling of painful dread that set in when I watched Dravid take guard that day, knowing at the back of my mind that the umpire’s finger may go up any time. Reconciled to what seemed only to be a matter of time, I was only hoping please, let it not be a duck. Interestingly, that day, it was not be a duck! Dravid build the innings, almost cringingly. I remember the early parts of that innings to be slower than “Dravid slow” and more poking-ly than ever before, but for fans who did not relent, we got to see a fairly good innings. Was this vintage Dravid? No. But after the 60s, it was soothing. Runs seemed to flow painlessly, albeit slowly. We got to see the wristy flicks and late square cuts that we hadn’t see Dravid play since that blistering innings at the Bristol ODI in India’s 2007 tour of England. After several months, this Dravid fan was happy, just plain happy. What was most fitting was Dravid’s press conference after the century. In characteristic fashion he thanked those who supported him thought the tough year for it seemed that they had almost “gone through the journey with” him. That to me is classic Dravid! Join me in wishing Dravs a very Happy Birthday (belated thought this might be).
Pietersen steps down as England captain
If only India held the legal rights for changing captains for every drink of water, it seems we have passed that on for the world to relish! England’s captaincy woes in the past couple of years remind me of India’s Azhar-Sachin-Azhar-Sachin days. It’s a pity what happened with Pietersen, for I thought his daring leadership was England’s best chance to regain the Ashes. Strauss, whose form seems to show signs of return, will be again burdened with captaincy, thus making the England top order a bit more vulnerable than before.
South Africa win Test series 2-1 in Australia
J P Duminy starred in a record 4th innings run chase that would have made all those who wrote off Test cricket to eat crow. What a scintillating innings, what daring batsmanship! One cannot discount captain Smith who set it all up with an almost trademark innings. Australia have a long way to recovery now. While there are chinks in the South African armour – as we saw in the 3rd Test match – they seem to be bigger in the Australian armor. This series will make Australia’s upcoming tour to South Africa a very interesting one to look to.