Of bats and chats

Almost two months of cricket carnival got over today, anti-climatically as most of the previous tournaments have. Australia won the title for the 5th time, 4th time out of the last five outings in the finals. Clearly, they are a superior team. New Zealand team disappointed in the end. They folded up. Aussie bowling was good. Yet, some inexplicable shots were played. Elliott had some eight overs to hit out. He hit out prematurely, perhaps. Martin Guptill had a lapse in concentration. Played a nothing shot.

May be, if two nations host the tournament again, is it safe to predict that they would be in the final?

The thing that would remain in mind – not the big hitting of Brandon McCullum or that of A.B. de Villiers or that of Martin Guptill. It will be Wahab Riaz’s spell against Shane Watson. Who knows? Had the catch been taken off his bowling at the deep, Pakistan might well have won the match.

I enjoyed the clinical destruction of England total by Sri Lanka. Chased down 300+ wonderfully well. Kumar Sangakkara – waht a great cricketer! IN fact, their team made a match of a target of 377 against this very Aussie attack. Had Chandimal not retired hurt, who knows what might have been possible?

I did not get to watch Brenan Taylor against India. But, what a cricketer too!

IN fact, considering how badly the NZ team folded up both with bat and ball (Southee was not a match for his Australian counterparts), Indian performance in the SF stands out even more. Indians had reduced Australia from 197 for 1 to 248 for 5 by the end of  42 overs. They gave 10 per over in the last eight. India’s top pacers going for 7 per over was a bit much in the end. But, it was about 20 runs too many. That is all. Indians started supremely well. By the end of 12 overs, they were 76 for no loss! Kohli’s temperament was exposed through the induced poor short selection. Mitchell Johnson won that battle of minds.

Suresh Raina succumbed too to poor shot selection. Rohit Sharma showed character in thumping Mitchell Johnson for a six. But, he was felled by sheer pace – no shame on the batsman – the next ball. Again, showed Mitchell Johnson’s resilience of mind.

Given what Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India did against this Australian team in patches, it is clear that this Aussie team is beatable. Well, there is a catch. It requires the rival teams operating at their peaks all the time. Dhoni, the Indian captain, said it well, in his post-match conference after the Semi-final loss to Australia. They pile on the pressure and the pressure makes you do things that you, otherwise, would not.

Therefore, given that it is not possible to play at your peak throughout the match and that Australians keep the pressure up all the time, it is clear that they are way ahead of the rest. One has to give it to them, even if grudgingly, considering their too-aggressive sledging on field. I did not like the send-off that Brad Haddin gave Elliott today.

A team that gives away 4.75 runs per over in the last ten overs in a batting dominated game now has to be the best. One has to acknowledge that. So, well done Australia!

That brings us to the real issue. It is ok to go for shorter and shorter versions. If that is what the masses want, who are we  – the old foggies – to complain? But, should that necessarily be synonymous with the game becoming friendly to batsmen and hostile to bowlers? Simply put, you need bowlers to bowl to batsmen.

If the game drives many away from picking up a ball and we have a shortage of bowlers, how stupid would that be? Isn’t it equal to female infanticide that has resulted in distorted sex ratio in some parts of the world?

The sooner the game’s administrators realise that they are dumbing down the game – not so much with their shorter versions but with their making it skewed heavily in favour of batsmen – the better it will be for the game.

Mark Nicholas, in his presentation, rightly mentioned the names of some great cricketers that have adorned cricketing arenas in recent times – Sangakkara, Jayawardane and possibly Daniel Vettori too. They might be leaving one day cricket, at least. They are truly very good athletes. Salute them.

Was very surprised to read – in a Sambit Bal article in ESPN Cricinfo – the kind of after-cricket lives that cricketers in New Zealand lead.

Good tournament and good for cricket. Good entertainment. But, all good things must come to an end. Now, if only they curb the bats and the chats…

[Postscript: Well, India had a good day on 29th March 2015. India’s woman badminton ace Saina Nehwal had become the World No. 1. Congratulations to her]


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