Crash! Bang! Thud!
I’ve been brought down to the ground. Two days ago I had gloated over Australia’s exit from the World Twenty20 and their apparant inability to adjust to the shortest format of the game. Today, here I am, confronting the reality that the team that I support, the World Champions, haven’t been doing a great job in Twenty20 cricket either. To borrow a phrase from our dear friend Calvin, “Reality continues to ruin my life.”
India were the pre-tournament favorites, with every opposition captain calling them the team to beat. However, two straight losses in the Super 8 stage have sent them packing. I’d be lying if I said the losses didn’t hurt. But, what hurt more is the kind of teams India lost to. Losing to Australia or South Africa would have been acceptable but what rankles more is that we lost to West Indies, a side that has been in terminal decline since the time Viv Richards retired and the Poms, a celebrated bunch of whining underachievers.
On paper, India had a very strong batting line up, with some massive hitters of the cricket ball. On paper, the bowling was incisive too. More importantly, all these players were ‘Twenty20 hardened’, having gone through the grind of the IPL. So, what went wrong? Where did we lose? How? Continue reading
Monday, June 8, 2009. A seismic shift was taking place in the world of Cricket. The Australian cricket team, which had straddled International cricket like a Colossus for the past decade, crashed out in the first round of the ICC World Twenty20. The old order was crumbling. For the first time since 1992, an Austrlian team failed to progress beyond the first round of a World Cup. No one wept…outside the boundaries of the land down under that is. Fans around the cricketing world rejoiced and celebrated, the mighty Australians were brought to their knees.
But was this Australian team really mighty? A large majority of the great players of the past decade, who had lent an aura of invincibility to the Australian team had retired; some did it on their own accord while others were forced to. Despite the the Australian selectors’ bellowing from the rooftops that they had already identified replacements for the great players, the fans, the media, and most importantly opposition players knew that the so called replacements were mere pretenders. Stuart Clark is McGrath’s replacement, they insisted. He bowls exactly like McGrath, comes close to the stumps, has a high arm action, and bowls wicket to wicket, they said in all seriousness. I’m sure they will win the World Poker Championship hands down, if only they cared to participate. Haddin was supposed to be Gilchrist’s replacement – he can hit the ball hard. Only if he can connect! Clarke was Mark Waugh’s replacement. I am dreading the day they call James Hopes, Steve Waugh’s replacement. He can bowl medium pacers and can bat lower down the order you see. Continue reading