Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Sydney Test - Lessons and Impressions

The second test between Australia and India at Sydney was eventful. It provided an unlikely result. However the match will be remembered for things other than cricket. The racism row, the atrociously bad umpiring, the Aussie penchant to win at any cost, India’s habitual capitulation under pressure, and what’s now a regular feature of post match analysis – glorifying the victim archetype that the Indian team has become.

Not everything was bad. VVS Laman was glorious, Tendulkar redeemed himself, Hayden and Hussey performed as efficiently as they can and Symonds batted well under pressure. But what made one sit up first was the Australian code of winning – one rule for others and another for themselves. When they sense a kill, they throw everything that’s decent and sportsmanlike to the winds. For a team that’s credited with having begun sledging and refining it to a fine art, they are remarkably coy and sensitive when it comes to anything thrown at them. Come on guys, grow up. Call it racism, call it whatever- this is a man’s sport and we’d like to see them behave like men – not whining like schoolboys. One thing’s clear – the Aussies don’t like to take what they dish out. They’ve lost a bit of that champion sheen now and are showing signs that they are rattled. (I’d love to see Sehwag, Sreesanth back in the next match and India giving Australia a hiding at Perth-no idle fantasy, I believe they have the firepower to do it if they get their act together.)

And for Mr. Proctor, it is time someone reminded him that the world is not a white man’s paradise anymore, so don’t slap racism charges here on us Asians because you think we are easy prey. We are not as dumb as you think so be prepared to get a bit more than what you dish out.

The umpires certainly need to be cooled off for a year for the bad show. You seriously can’t get paid to do jobs like that. Maybe, someone should actually investigate if the Bucknor-Benson duo’s integrity has not been compromised. It’s the not first time its happened so maybe its worth a visit for the anti corruption guys at ICC.

It would certainly be better for India if Bucknor was kept off Indian matches for a while (just as Hair was kept of Lankan matches). And I seriously doubt if Benson would have checked with the fielding side’s captain if the fielding side was Asian or West Indian. He must be relegated to the Sunday leagues games where such partisan work is best left. But the probe is not a bad idea since there are enquiries galore anyway.

Alright let us now, leave the external factors alone boys. You cannot hide behind bad umpiring and racist charges because you have yourselves to blame. No excuses for losing a match that could have been drawn even with two batsmen not being available fully. You are becoming the victim too often. I’d like to see the Indian side take on Australia and show some fight especially in the light of what’s going on. If Kumble can show grit as a batsman to save a test, so can the top six. Focus on the game, focus on the result. The one way to fight Aussie arrogance is to beat them in their own backyard, if not deny them the pleasure of winning. Come on guys, you could have turned the first match into a better game (you could have won with our fabulous batting lineup), you could have saved the second easily. Now after all this, please do find that something within you and come out blazing and beat the Aussie in the third. Get Sehwag back, let Rahul play at three or four, Sreesanth comes in and Irfan. And go for their throat fellows. The only way to beat them is to push them on the backfoot and keep going for their throat all the time. It’s a street scrap so get into it with all guns firing from the first ball. No warm up nothing. Change tactics. Get that final match.

Whatever happens don’t come back without claiming your honour. Treat them separately. Umpiring is bad - so fight it separately in appropriate places. Racism row, alight fight it where you have to. But when it comes to playing cricket, beat them so there’s no more talk. Remember how they shut up after the T20 loss in Mumbai.
There are no excuses. There are no victims. Nobody will remember the umpiring. We remember performances. Courage. Skill. Heart. And victory.
Do it. For pride. And for honour. We’d like to see blood and sweat, guts and gumption. We don’t care if you win or lose but don’t come back without giving them the fight of their lives. Which could very well be the fright of their lives.
Remember, bullies crack up first when someone stands up to them.

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