A beginning!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Kangaroos tamed!

Ever since Steven Waugh took over the captainship mantle from Mark Taylor, there has been no looking back for Australian cricket. (Of course the process must have started long ago and at the root level of first class cricket). Crushing every cricketing nation like minnows, Aussies play ruthless game. Their batsmen hoist opponents for sixers and fours treating them with utter disdain. With amazing consistency and ability to extract bounce and swing, bowlers strike fear in the minds of batsmen. Be it sledging, mind-games, innovative tactics, aggression they are the forerunners. They made mockery of those who competed (?) with them, completely outsmarting them in all departments.

Only hiccup in this glorious saga came in the form of string of poor performances against traditional rivals Kiwis. ACBs reaction was impromptu. Showing thorough professionalism, they dropped the legendary Waugh twins from the one day squad. And once again, now under the leadership of Ponting, the Aussie dadagiri continued. Losses were few, and when they came it owed more to the truly exceptional performances of opponents, for example VVS Laxman’s epic 281 at Eden Gardens, Harbhajan Singh’s 13/196 in the same match, or gritty 173 from Mark Butcher at Leeds…

Not all Aussies victories were clean sweeps. Albeit rarely, their famous top ordered faltered. But they always found a hero to steady the tottering ship. Unlike other teams, they didn’t produce “pride salvagers”. They produced match winners: Andrew Symonds, Michel Clark or now forgotten Ian Harvey, Andy Bichel, Michel Bevan or hardly known Jimmy Maher. Be it with bat, ball or fielding, they produced scintillating performances when it mattered most. The scene was no different in much hyped battle: India vs Australia world cup final. The Bengal tiger was tamed by bunch of Kangaroos!

Critics hailed Aussie success, ridiculed and questioned other nations cricketing abilities. Some went on to say that Aussies should stop playing cricket and make “exhibition tour” to show the world “how to play cricket”. In the midst of the glory, that has lasted almost a decade now, few cricket pundits, kept questioning about longevity of their dominance cautioning against the age factor. ACB did not seem to bother. And why should it? The team was still delivering goods and the bench strength was superb. Provincial teams like Queensland kept confirming ACB’s faith by beating touring international teams in warm up games.

But then… then lightening struck… the team which boasted over 80% winning ratio suddenly succumbed. First in Twenty-20 cricket, against the Poms (as Kangaroos called Britishers). It followed with a remarkable game as Somerset, thanks to their overseas players, chased an improbable 343 in warm up match! Ponting tried to shrug of all the doubts as they went into the match against Bangladesh… a match that was supposed to be cakewalk. These are still early days in international cricket for Bangladesh and they were simply outclasses by England a day earlier. But the miracle happened… Aussies were made to bite the dust. Thanks to flamboyant 100 by Mohammad Ashraful, Bangladesh humiliated Australia by successfully chasing 250. Such upsets are rare; it is even rarer to see minnows batting second and winning. Chasing totals is usually difficult as the pressure mounts up on the batting side along with the required run rate. Additionally, flood lights and due factor become can mar the winning chances. But Bangladesh survived; they survived it all to pull off a remarkable win, slapping the critics who raised their eyebrows at Bangladesh’s dismal outing at international stage.

While showering praises on the Bangladesh team, the same critics have now engaged themselves in assessing Australian cricket’s future. The fourth loss in the row (the one against England), assures that their opponents victories weren’t fluke.

Of the four losses, last three involved successful run chases. That puts a question mark on ability of current crop of Australian bowlers. With McGrath not getting any younger, Warne retired, Gilliespie struggling, Kasprowicz as good as sorted out and injured Lee, there doesn’t seem a promising bowler on the horizon to carry forward the mantle. True, Australians have great bench strength, and lost-in-wilderness bowlers like Bracken, Dale will be eyeing for come back. But how many of them really have the international exposure? These now struggling bowlers have ruled so long that despite of the rotation policy they have deprived youngsters of invaluable experience. Will Australian cricket come out of this challenge with flying colors? Or will England finally manage to win Ashes back?

Keep following Natwest trophy and the test-series that follows…


Kevin Pietersen is AWESOME!!! Hats off! His statistics:

mat inns no runs hs ave bf sr 100 50 4s 6s ct st

13 10 6 649 116 162.25 619 104.84 3 3 49 22 8 0

Even if he scores just 1 run and gets out 7 times,

he can still boast an average of 50!

There is remarkable resemblance between Pietersen and guess who???
Hrithik Roshan!!! Check out

Dave Whatmore has found liking for something unique. Coach a lesser gifted team and

beat Australians… first it was Sri Lanka which later went on to win world cup…
Now Bangladesh beating Kangaroos… what is next Dave?