Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The passing of the baton !!!!!

An extraordinary year ends with an extra-ordinary event as far as cricket is concerned !!!!!. At 2.06pm local time on the penultimate day of the year, the Aussies lose a test series at home for the first time in 16 years. The demise of a great player or team is always hard to watch. And while the dethroning of the Aussies may not cause the same sense of sadness in opposition fans as that when the Caribbean greats of the 80s were toppled in 1995 (by the Australians themselves), there is still a tinge of disappointment at seeing Ricky Ponting and his men made to look so ordinary.

This, of course, should not detract from a great performance from the Proteas. For all the strides that the Indian team has taken this year, the South Africans have been the team to beat (they have not lost any of their last 10 series now !!!!). The triumph at the MCG caps off a remarkable year for South African cricket and for Graeme Smith in particular (who incidentally, has made himself a kind of a specialist in fourth innings run-chases). Remember they had come to India in the sweltering heat of April and had drawn the series there (in which the hosts were bowled out for 76 on the first morning). Then they won in England and now storming the fortress Down Under (especially at the MCG where the Australians had won their last nine tests). And while they may not quite dominate world cricket the way the Baggy Green did , they will certainly be a force to reckon with for some years to come, what with young talent like de Villiers, Duminy, Steyn and Morkel around.

And what about their opponents ?? As they officially surrender the crown, it might be the start of another transition phase. Of course, by no means will they suffer the kind of alarming and sorry decline the West Indies did post 1995, but the days of dominating teams at home would be a thing of the past. (I guess the British press would already be dreaming of the Ashes coming back ;-)). But from an immediate viewpoint, there are definitely big-time problems. Hayden seems set to be the latest of the stalwarts to walk into the sunset. There will be questions asked regarding Ponting's captaincy (not just this series but right from Sydney-gate 2008) and if he were to lose his job, then the Aussies are not exactly known for having former captains playing in the XI. And Lee has hardly looked threatening last few months. The only bright spots in an otherwise disastrous year for the Australians have been Katich, Haddin and Johnson. So clearly, places are up for grabs as they begin their process of rebuilding.

So as we set foot into 2009, the cricketing playing field appears a lot more level than it has been for quite some time !! Hope this leads to a great year ahead...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Sehwag theory !!!

After his audacious (there is no better adjective) innings at Chennai that set India on course for a historic win (and even though I am a Sachin fan and his long-awaited fourth-innings winning century was special, I did not doubt one bit as to who the man of the match was), I have confirmed my little Sehwag theory which I had held for some time now.

As per this thought, I believe that when the opposition bowler begins his run-up, the Nawab of Najafgarh is transported into another world. And along with him are transported only two other things, the ball (of course) and his instinct. Nothing else is present there, neither the crowd, the stadium, the pitch nor his own team-mates, the fielders.. no, not even the bowler !!!!.. Absolutely nothing else... In this world, he faces up to a ball which is delivered from behind a white screen. Therefore he has no clue as to who is delivering it from behind that screen (OK, at best he knows which way its going to turn or if the 'bowler' is delivering from 15 paces or 5). Similarly he is also playing on a snow-white surface, hence he doesn't any pre-conceived notions of how the ball is going to turn or bounce once it hits that surface. Then we come to the most important thing. At that point of time, in that faraway world , his brain does not have any memory cells. Therefore, he does not remember his own score, his team score, how many runs are required to win, whether its the last ball before lunch, whether he was dropped of the previous delivery etc etc. He has total amnesia. This allows him to do things which even the best genuises of this world cannot do, like going to a double-hundred with a six. Of course, this also enables him to do things which the most ordinary batsman in this world would not do, like getting trapped in front without moving his feet and getting out to an 'ugly' hoick when the team needs him to stay in the middle. He has only the instinct and the basic knowledge of how to wield a cricket bat.

So now imagine this scene in the faraway world: Sehwag is playing on a white surface and facing up to a ball delivered to him from behind a white screen. There is no living being around him. No wicket-keeper, no fielders, no crowd and no team-mates. He just sees the ball coming to him and when its within striking distance, that instinct takes over instantenously. If the ball is to be hit, he simply goes for it and hits it as hard as he can. Or in some cases, he also carresses the ball with the greatest of finesse. Only after he has played the ball does he get transported back to the earthly world. And then, of course, he might find that the ball has gone for a six over third-man, or edged behind the keeper or dragged back on the stumps. If he survives the delivery, then the same act is repeated all over again !!! Go to the faraway world, face up to a delivery from behind a white screen with no-one around and then purely rely on your instinct.

Seems simple isnt it !!!!...:-))