‘Relentless’ – the word that I choose to describe the Aussie performance this World Cup. You may add many more. The team deserved to win, the logic simply being, only the best team deserves to and will win. And if anyone had thought that this team was past their finest moments, they should have stepped aside and accepted the fact at least by now. The reality is that this is the greatest team that has ever played on the cricket field (from whatever cricket that I have had the privilege to watch, enjoy and comment upon). Rubbishing aside our dreams and aspirations of ‘Let this Cup be won by anyone but Australia’ that all of us were hoping for, they showed that such miracles happen only when you least expect them to happen and definitely this was not the occasion. Yet, just before coming into the World Cup, they were battered by New Zealand and England and people (myself included) jumped the gun to say that their dominance was on the verge of declination. The hallmark of greatness is to prove yourself when people write you off. They did just that. They were there to beat, to show the world that they are the best. There was no retreat whatsoever.
The sheer weight of their performances translated into thumping victories against all opposition right from game one. Going through their list of victories, it was a manifestation of what we are accustomed to from them - ‘The Aussie Spirit’. Against no team did they look even a touch rattled, leave alone the prospect of losing. Commanding individual performances broke the backbone of their opponents and when the Aussies sniff a chance of victory they wouldn’t let go of it. On a big stage like the World Cup when it mattered the most, their batsmen, bowlers delivered. No better example than ‘The Pigeon’, Glen McGrath. A stand out quality which some of the modern contemporary greats and geniuses must take cue from. Irrespective of how great a player is, his record wouldn’t speak much if the achievements didn’t help his team win. For, cricket is a team game.
Agreed, their players may not be the best when it comes to their attitude on the field and sometimes off it too, sparking unnecessary controversies through some unwarranted comments. But, who doesn’t have flaws? I feel that this is no reason to not accept this team as one the greatest ever. Interestingly, if only this team could play Clive Lloyd’s West Indies or their own Bradman’s Invincibles, would we get to know if they are the best ever. Fortunately or unfortunately, that wouldn’t be a possibility. Each of those great teams has left a legacy that’s characteristic to the era in which they reveled. Not to compare each one of them might be the better way to go about.
If Steve Waugh built the team, setting the foundation for reaching immeasurable heights, his successor has made sure they have very much reached the summit. It remains to be seen how this current team copes once their senior players, many whom are past their 30’s retire from the game. But their effective cricketing system which has and still generates quality cricketers, wouldn’t come a cropper like other cricket organizations around the world. It would continue to churn out some of the most talented players. The fact is, in Australia, the game just receives the appropriate amount of attention it should without much hype and hoopla. Cricket is cricket there, just like any other sport. Adequate infrastructure and facilities focusing towards honing the young talent has scripted the success story of their cricket. Perhaps it’s a reflection (the inverse) of the state of affairs in the cricketing bodies in the sub-continent and a few other countries where it has become more of a ‘business of brands’ with too much of commercialization playing spoilsport. It would be in the best interests of the game if cricket is treated as merely a sport. Only then would players understand the value of playing for the team instead of treating it as a ‘profession’ and as a means of making money. This applies to the cricket fan too. We should stop over-reacting to the events related to cricket. Let the game be the ultimate winner.
Learn form the Aussies…
Play with Passion.
Play with Pride.
Play for the Love of the Game.