Shooting the Aussie down
This is not another narration on the proverbial fox’s sour grapes or the beautiful thought of catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket and saving it for a rainy day. This is a commentary on how this most intriguing game of cricket has now come to a level field where all countries can pit their skills against each other on an equal footing.

In one way there is a huge feeling of relief for the sake of world cricket. For over a decade the purists had this uncomfortable notion that the world cricket was played in three different planes even at Test level.
In floor No1, there were the Australians perched up there as the sole occupants and jealously guarding it at any expense. Without argument they deserved to be there. They had the necessary wherewithal and moreover they possessed the knowledge to exploit it. In their general arsenal they had the weapons in the calibre of Shane Warne, Steve Waugh, Glen McGrath, Justin Langer, Rickey Ponting, Jason Gillespie, Mathew Hayden, Michael Kasprowicz and Andrew Symonds to name a few. This nucleus had converted Australia into a super machine that let then cut that niche above the rest of the clan.

It was a well trained army. On a given date the majority would fall by the wayside, but, two of the soldiers would hold fort and finally give Australia that imposing look that would send the shudders up their opponents.

At the same time the game may run against the tide and be well within the reach of their opponents. But, the tiniest breach in the opposing defense may be exploited by them with surgical precision and run home the result in their favour. Over the years the Australians have done that with ruthless consistency against all the other Test playing nations. One noteworthy factor in the Australian game pattern during the past decade or more was that in spite a player of any calibre retiring, the Australian consistency remained the same.
Ishant Sharma was the best among the lot

Australia’s would be vulnerability came to be noticed during India’s last outing down under. India after going down meekly in the first Test at Melbourne by 337 runs gradually picked up and grew in confidence as the tour progressed.

Australia may have won the second Test by 210 runs in Canberra, but, this match was marred by bad decisions and other controversies that made Australia’s win trivial. Only a century by Andrew Symonds who later did admit that he really had nicked the ball earlier in the innings saved grace for Australia. Then in the third Test in Perth, India won by 72 runs, but there was more to India’s confidence that was depicted in that game.

Learning the lesson of playing against a top side without the services of Langer, McGrath and Warne who had retired before they met India on their own soil, Australia came to India to meet a well criticized Indian outfit that had just lost a series to Sri Lanka and the most of India’s demi-God character cricketers under severe pressure. Yet, bearing in mind their experience on their own soil, they preferred to call themselves the underdogs. As a matter of fact the Australians this time looked very vulnerable and not sure of themselves. Moreover they also may have felt their audacity to leave out Andrew Symonds from this tour as his replacement Shane Watson in spite of an encouraging performance fell far short of what Symonds could provide for the team.

However they did well in the first Test on a seaming wicket where the home team just managing to hold out till the final hour before the game was called off. From that point onwards it was a story of a series where the Indians dominated.

The final result in this four Test series was a 2-0 win in favour of India. However this time the Australian side looked like any other team who takes the field in the Test cricket arena. Playing on home soil, the Indians exploited the conditions to the aximum. In contrast the Australians who generally could guide their killer machine even under extreme hostile conditions fell far short of their goal.

When their batsmen failed, their bowlers followed in unison. The myth of Brett Lee-Stuart Clark being the next dominant force in cricket was shattered. In fact by the fourth Test Clark was out of the line up. The only bowler who even came up with some impact was rookie off spinner Krejza who bagged twelve wickets in his only outing as a Test player.

In contrast the Indians – including the players under scrutiny after the Lankan debacle came out and scored at will against the below par Australian bowling who neither shone in seam or spin departments.
Among the bowlers on slow Indian wickets it was the Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma who stood head above shoulders from the rest of the gang from both sides bagging fifteen wickets.

This only proves that once again the world cricket has reverted back to a level field, where no team holds sway. Around twenty years ago it was the West Indies who had the rest of the world dancing on their palm. At the time the West Indian composition looked so awesome no one in his right mind world ever have thought they would join ranks with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe a couple of decades later.

Unlike the West Indies who have to depend on the work of several different governments and their attitudes towards cricket to sustain the game, Australia has the back up machinery in place to sustain and produce cricketers of quality if the necessary talent is available.

Nevertheless, from the present trend we only can see India forging ahead with a well planed future programme that was put in place by their cricket think tank right after their 2007 World Cup debacle.
Since then ‘Midas’ has smiled upon Indian cricket. They faced one drawback against Sri Lanka; the result was the retirement of two stalwarts – Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly.

Ironically, Sri Lanka who just happened to beat India in their last meeting is in utter turmoil. In spite of nicely painted presentations by high profile officers Lankan cricket runs like a ship without a rudder. When things would go right in this cricket mad island is the guess of any one. Let us just hope when it finally arrives it would be the real thing and not another pack of incompetent jokers.
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