Sunday, Aug 14, 2022

A Two-Day Hit And Giggle

I simply can't come to grips with the fact that one of the world's best stadiums resembled that very park which could not even be trusted by the amateurs. Players who have participated at this level know that this was a stuff up of the highest order


Australians of all types loved it, I even had text messages from people renewing their faith in Test cricket because for two days they could not leave their seats or cars wherever they were witnessing the gripping spectacle which was the fourth Test.

However, if I wanted to see a two-day hit and giggle, I would rather watch 22 low grade clubbies go round the local park. I simply can't come to grips with the fact that one of the world's best stadiums resembled that very park which could not even be trusted by the amateurs.

Players who have participated at this level know that this was a stuff up of the highest order and thankfully the fourth Test wasn't a decider.

India fought back well not only from the series loss but also a tough first innings batting and finally threw the shackles away to play reasonably naturally. Laxman at three and Tendulkar, took control of the high class Aussies for just long enough in the second innings.

If ever the Indian team are to be world class they must learn to play like this when a win is crucial especially against the champs. They can start again now against the South Africans in a bid to become better cricketers. 

I was part of the Australian team which won a dead Test against the champion West Indies in 1991 and grew enormously in confidence from there on. We competed much better in the next series two years later at home only to lose by one run before finally defeating a rebuilt developing side in 1995.

Continued improvement, especially consistency is paramount now for the Indians, if they are to be feared worldwide as a team.

This crunch series at home for India produced turmoil in so many different areas and must be addressed for cricket to be successful in a world stronghold. Groundsmen being told what to prepare by administrators and captain of the home team and not bowing to those requests.

The Nagpur wicket, which was the greatest source of such controversy, was the best of the series which included equally batsmen and bowlers of all types.

The final wicket being a disgrace, hopefully because of incompetence and not underhandedness. Television rights are probably being considered in court rather than being celebrated in the glow of a great series.

The most influential problem for India for this series however was their injury toll accompanying the lack of batting intent. I have never seen a team encounter such a debilitating list of absentees for a major series. Australia, so well prepared and tough, realistically should have won as easily as they did.

We have to look harder in a low scoring match to discuss good performances but there are plenty to highlight from Mumbai. The umpires are the first to rate a mention from me. They were strong, respectful, decisive in tough circumstances and skilful.

Pressure packed decisions in low scorers must be nerve-racking but Dar and Koertzen impressed. The mastery of tough conditions by batsmen was going to be brief and fifties will rate highly by the men who scored them.

Remarkably it was Tendulkar for India, who has picked up fewer bats than me in the last months, who found his feet and thoughts of old returning. Martyn for Australia has been full of answers to whatever the spinners have tried. Back foot deflections, down the ground power and always so calm building partnerships with batsmen and tailenders alike.

I would be interested to know just how the spinners rate their stats from Mumbai. Michael Clarke loves to bowl but that will never happen again I bet.

Harbhajan produced what everyone has been expecting and this pitch was so bad that even in-form batsmen could not begin to employ the plans that had worked so well in the series.

Murali Kartik will grow from this match. He tried different paces, flights and spins superbly and cracked the top order quickly.

No one could overlook the super cool debuts of Dinesh Karthik and Nathan Hauritz either. To wicketkeep so crisply in such tough conditions to the hardest of spinners was spectacular by Karthik.

It was sparkling and fresh to see some levity behind the stumps and he really wanted every ball. He had his helmeted head and eyes over everything, even the balls that were full and down legside in the rough. Tremendous performance which disguised the fact that it was his first.

Hauritz was the same, using the receptive conditions with variety. Mixing flights, pace and amounts of spin to go with the natural variation. It would be easy to simply get them in there repetitively, but he was better than that and grabbed the chance to demonstrate his athleticism with Laxman's caught and bowled as well. Another five overs batting by the rookie would have seen him take Australia to victory too.

It is a real shame that the game's infrastructure has robbed the spectators and purists of another 2 or 3 days of excitement. But congratulations to the Indian team for a thrilling win, please take and kickstart a campaign to become better because you are the favourites of so many around the world.

It always gives me goosebumps to see the passion of Indian crowds and Mumbai's atmosphere was the best. A huge thanks to the colourful people who constitute the crowds in India and I hope you don't have to be part of too many more hiccups.

An easy Test is probably the best finish to a series which has been decided. Two days effort instead of five is pleasant as a player when you are looking for home. The players will never admit to that but now that it is over, they will be grateful for the extra time to ready themselves for their upcoming series. They will be tough series too and ones I am looking forward to very much.



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