Sports | Life

A Lesson from a Great Rival

Australia India cricket rivalry has been at its best during the last dacade and has to an extent rendered the hype behind Pakistan-India bashes far behind. Of late the encounters between Republic Day sharing nation’s cricket teams have been so engrossing that the respective prime ministers have taken active interest in the goings-on, both on and off the field. Recent statements by Australian PM Ms. Gillard about Tendulkar’s 100th international century is a case in point.

Australian media also leaves no stone unturned in helping home team to score a few psychological points over the Indians, which earlier (read 15 years ago) was a reserve of Poms and the Springboks (err. Proteas).

100 100 and the Bloody Binary Dilemma (will be / won’t be this time)

By being on the centre-stage for so long and carrying a billion hopes alone, Sachin Tendulkar has already attained greatness. The 100th century hype is all but denying him the pleasure of playing the purest form of the game which by right is his.

After giving so many years to the sport, I’d say it’s his right not to be judged by what he has, or is going to, achieve. In India, we treat greats unfairly and thereby making them vulnerable. I remember my father saying it so may times that “There can not be another Vishwanath or Viv”, sure there can not be another Vishwanath, certainly not another Sir Viv. … However, it’s no guarantee that we’ll not get players similar to them or, I daresay, better than them.

For so long our definitions of “test cricket opening bat” was charted by the likes of Boycott and Gavaskar, now it’s redefined by Langer, Sehwag and Hayden, do we need to compare them? Not at all, they bring pleasure in different packages and that’s how it should be. History keeps evolving and who knows, another 400+ score may be just round the corner.

Lessons Aplenty

Coming back to Australia-India tour 2011-12, it has been deja vu all along. How many times we have faltered in the first encounter due to lack of practice matches? How many times do we see ourselves picking up and licking our wounds from a terrible defeat in the starter? Still, instead of addressing the real issues, the BCCI chooses to look other way and find answers the questions to which aren’t there at all.

Watching the matches so far these are the leadership lessons I drew from the Australian team’s execution of plans:

  • There are many plans, A, B, C etc. for each player AND every stakeholder knows them
  • Team loses a session AND comes back even harder (taking bigger risks) to make up for the recent loss
  • Leader chooses his words and timings very carefully AND takes a dig at the opposition stalwart in the moment of his utter vulnerability
  • Team creates doubts in the opposition’s mind by taking huge risks AND makes it look fashionable, so much so that the opposition tries it out and dies of it
  • Team rallies behind the beleaguered warhorse AND lets him take the freedom to choose the way he wants to play
  • No one, including the captain digresses from the per-discussed plan
  • Team functions like clockwork, irrespective of whether they are getting beaten left, right and centre
  • Rookies are given freedom to express themselves, not get bogged down by opposition’s reputation AND be verbose (towards the battered opposition i.e.) at times too
  • Killer instinct isn’t something that comes out of muttering a few mantras, it comes AFTER a few successful moments against quality opposition as a result of sustained quest for excellence
  • One team rests on the laurels of a few, the other however, forgets these things quickly AND nurtures the wounds to take inspiration
  • There’s no use of being a Tiger and go hungry for days in adversity, be a pack of wild dogs instead and collectively take down any ‘prey’, adapt if you can, AND quickly
  • Show respect by bringing in the best in you to beat the hell out of the opposition AND then tell everyone that it was required to overcome such a quality side
  • Never let an under-pressure Ace have the breathing space, they are best for us when dormant
  • Easy centuries and landmarks should never be conceded, it undermines the quality of the contest, sport suffers as a whole

Michael Clarke has suddenly scaled a notch on the captaincy table, sadly enough, likewise can not be said for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Ponting’s poor run with bat has perhaps given Clarke the much needed space to expand and be himself while the old warrior was struggling to gain a foothold back. Blessing in disguise? I’d like to believe so, and I don’t see Australia complaining at all 🙂

As I write this piece, Australia are most probably making India pay every Paisa of the Indian Rupee that they might have thought they were worth. The final point, grind the opposition to dust once you have the opportunity, do it now AND don’t let the opposition forget about it ever.

Where’s Cricket Headed to?

Team India’s decline as such is good for cricket overall, and I hope India take a lesson out of these defeats rather than feel deflated and find solace in axing a few old heads. Being a true # 1 side requires much more than sheer talent, talent per se is now a luxury more-than-less of us can afford due to the exposure and early training. True perseverance is hard to achieve (especially in the face of unfavourable results and easier alternatives) and should be pursued.

Season’s greetings, and a very happy new year to you all.

May this year NOT be the last for our beleaguered planet as many would like to believe (pun intended) L.O.L