Friday, November 03, 2006

Revival of Australia, West Indies Rivalry

Declining Indian Cricketing Fortunes, Resurrection Of West Indians

Nothing succeeds like success. The old adage seems to be working wonders for the West Indian team. With their new found energy, they are blazing a new trail. I have not yet seen a team being a rank outsider, dethrone the defending champions and send them to oblivion, ever since Kapil’s Devils upset the applecart of the greatest team ever in that unforgettable 1983 World Cup final at Lord's.

Lara's team is now destined to inflict the same kind of wound that Kapil's team inflicted on Lloyd's two time defending champions more than two decades ago, when they take on Australia at Mumbai, on sunday in the Champions Trophy final. No one gave a chance to West Indies in spite of their warning in DLF Cup.

It is now official that Australia and West Indies are the top two teams of the cricketing world. In a way India should be praised, for it indirectly helped revive the old and long forgotten rivalry between Australia and West Indies. After 1975, Australia and West Indies have not contested in a major final. We let them do that in DLF cup and now again in Champions Trophy.

In a way it is good for the cricket. I am sick and tired of this rather hype of India being number two behind Australia and the only team that can give them a run for their money. I believe West Indies has got more ammunition and on top of that, they can win without even requiring their leader and the star player, Brian Lara, to score. It is now clear that West Indies can now claim to be the only team that can give Australia a good fight.About the disastrous journey of the Indian team both in DLF Cup in Malaysia and Champions trophy at home, the less said the better.

Too much importance has been attached to a small number of players who get to keep their positions in the team due to past glory. And they fail to perform when needed.On any day, I would rather watch India win a tournament final without Tendulkar, Sewhag, Dravid and Dhoni. I would rather have just average players like Balwinder Sandhu, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Yashpal Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath and Syed Kirmani, as long as they can bring us a trophy like they did in 1983. No high profile coach, no high profile captain, no high profile batsman like Tendulkar. Just plain and simple team work.

If I get a chance to meet Kapil Dev, here is what I would like to ask him: “How and what did you do to achieve such a great win? How did you bring out such amazing output from those average and low profile players in 1983, to dethrone the then World Champions, whose team was full of star players? And how did you achieve that while defending such a paltry total?

I think India needs another Kapil Dev to take them out of their current misery. I don’t mind even if he comes out of his retirement. With the current mindset of the team and their insipid and inconsistent performances, India should prepare for a very long dry period. Especially, if the current selection committee chairman, Dilip Vengsarkar's observation of not having enough bench strength and lack of talent among the players to reach the International level is true, then it would be even longer as most of the Indian stalwarts are at the end of their careers.

Its been twenty three long years since West Indies failed to reach a World Cup final. They never came out of that shock treatment given by Kapil's Devils. Though they ruled the test cricket while King Richards led them till his retirement, lack of talent and shortage of players to fill in the voids left behind by players like Lloyd, Richards, Roberts, Holding, Garner, Gomes, Dujon and Marshall left West Indies climb down the ladder and made them easy pushovers for every major test playing nation whether palying in test cricket or in ODIs. As Tendulkar's presence did not fetch a World Cup for India so did Lara's presence in West Indian team. This proves the point beyond doubt that even though the brilliance of individuals may win the battles its the collective team work that wins the War. At last West Indies is showing it in abundance than their Indian counterparts.

How long it would take for India to reclaim their past glory is a question best answered by Indian cricketing authorities, team members and the Indian cricket fans who seem to always enjoy a century by Tendulkar or a quick-fire fifty by Dhoni or Sewhag, rather than an Indianvictory as in the DLF Cup match against West Indies.

There is now a great possibility that the King of One Day International Cricket may very well end his career without ODI’s most coveted trophy. The World Cup.

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