Yawn. Australia has won the World Cup. Again. The final was a pretty much a one-sided affair. Millions of hearts were broken since the support for New Zealand was massive. Indians wanted New Zealand to win because Australia had ousted us from the tournament. And the others wanted New Zealand to win because, frankly, it’s getting boring to see Australia win all the time. Reminiscent of Michael Schumacher's winning streak in the early 2000s. Borrriiingggggg…
India had a stellar World Cup. We set a world record by claiming 70 wickets in 7 successive matches. We were unbeaten until we faced the only team that could defeat us. Post defeat, it’s that time when we claim that the Indian team is incapable of matching international standards. Again (Yawn?). Dhoni is destroying Indian cricket, Kohli is irresponsible, Anushka Sharma is a bad omen… blah blah blah blah blah.
Not to sound like a prophet, but I had sensed that the final would be between Australia and New Zealand by 19th February itself. And after the dog fight between Australia and the co hosts in the league matches, I was certain that Australia would be world champions again. Don’t ask me why. The explanation will put you to sleep.
Many Indians are disappointed because we couldn’t beat Australia despite having spent 95 days in the country. I’m not. We were beaten by a substantially better team. And this trend of Australia being dominant in world cricket (not just over India) will probably even outlive us. Why? Well, it’s because of the difference in quality of cricket - not just international, but domestic too.
See, the Australians are driven by excellence. Nepotism, red-tapism, preference to the minorities and other petty squabbles don’t plague them. ’Perform or perish’ is their mantra. And did I mention the military-esque discipline? How else do you explain a match winner like Andrew Symonds being dropped? And they train bloody hard - physically and mentally. This is why they not only play spectacular cricket but also raise their game many levels when the pressure increases.
Watch the KFC T20 Big Bash and other domestic Australian matches, and you will be stunned by Australia’s talent pool. Their domestic players are better than the international ones of most countries. And yet, most of those guys never make it to the international team. Can you imagine the quality of the international players then? Australians don’t just want to be number 1 compared to their rivals. They want to be better today than their own yester-selves. If other international teams are a 6, Australia doesn’t aim at being 7.5. They aim for a 10, which is why they are always above 9.
India, on the other hand, is driven by vested interests. I’m not talking about the current cricket team - it’s the best ‘team’ we’ve had since I can remember. And those who believe that Dhoni is the captain of the best team, please remember that MS Dhoni has made this team the best. Which of these players would you called match winners about 6 years ago - Kohli, Rohit/Mohit Sharma, Dhawan, Ashwin, Raina, Shami or Jadeja? And how many of our players were considered among the best fielders in the world?
MS Dhoni has brought about a fundamental change in the way players think. Contrary to your belief, politics does not decide which player makes it to the team. When asked what it would take for India to win more tournaments, Dhoni promptly responded, “10 men who are ready to stand in front of a moving bus if I ask them.” And he doesn’t want them to do something because he demands it, unlike most corporate bosses. Dhoni has an in depth understanding of the game which is beyond your and my mortal brain’s comprehension. His vision and ability to bring out the best in each player has made India an outstanding cricketing unit, one that we are proud of.
If there is something wrong with Indian cricket, it is the IPL and domestic cricket. Here are some stats: Between 2007-08 and today, Ishant Sharma has bowled 240+ overs in domestic matches and 220+ in the IPL. 500 overs! 3000 more balls! That’s more than what I have bowled underarm all my life. Shami, Zaheer and Mohit Sharma are overworked too. And before you go around blaming only the IPL (though I would rather have the IPL banned too), keep in mind that domestic cricket is also contributing to pushing fast bowlers towards the brink of breaking down physically. If a bowler declines domestic obligations citing lack of rest, the domestic boards start grumbling saying things like “since you play for India you don’t want to play for us anymore”. You get the drift, right? India doesn’t have the infrastructure to support fast bowlers or promote budding talent, despite the BCCI being the world’s richest sporting body. All India has is greed and selfishness. And that is why our fast bowling department sucks.
I hope that this post has made you realize that we didn’t lose the semis because of false shots or cracking under pressure. We lost to a team that has been virtually invincible since more than a decade now, even after all the veterans retired. This match was more than the Indian cricket team being beaten by a superior team. It was a reflection of the Indian culture’s demolition at the hands of a superior one.