Looking Back In Disappointment

World Cup 2007, the most bloated, insipid, one-sided World Cup ever, ended appositely in pitch darkness (reminding old hands of that match in Sharjah which for the first time brought into focus the farce that cricket had become in the land of the Sheikhs) with a comical faux-finish and such utter confusion and mismanagement that one felt one was watching an interdepartmental match in Jadavpur University rather than the climax of the premier showcase tournament for cricket.

With the predictability of a Dev-Anand flop, Australia emerged winners thrice in succession playing a quality of cricket that has possibly never been witnessed on a cricket field. As Ponting said, the Australians had raised the bar in each successive World Cup, if in 99 they lost a few matches before winning the Cup, in 2003 they managed to stay undefeated and in 2007, they never even smelt a whiff of defeat unleashing 200-run /10 wicket defeats on their hapless opposition with amazing overpowering skill.

And this was what made it even more painful. Because you wanted this arrogant bunch of foulmouths to taste defeat, to have to eat humble pie, to stand at the presentation ceremony with their tails between their legs. Yet they never even came close, their arrogance swelling with each outing, their trash-talk about the opposition being vindicated after each pummelling and the smiling Ricky Ponting (who showed his racist colours by pushing down Sharad Pawar at the ICC trophy presentation ceremony, something I can bet he would not have done to a British official handing him the trophy)’s victory speeches, match after match, confirming that nice guys never finish first.

Noone symbolized the boorishness of the Australians more than Glenn McGrath, for whom this World Cup was a glorious send-off. Yes Glenn McGrath of the famous corridor line and unerring accuracy. The Glenn McGrath who called Sanath Jayasurya a “black monkey” and asked Sarwan how Lara’s dick tasted like—the sorriest excuse for a sportsman one could imagine. Yet there he was smiling for the cameras, on the greatest night of his life, while the “black monkeys” faded away into the darkness, struggling to hold back their tears.

Perfect the Australians are. Relentless and driven. Yes. But not champions. No never.

In conclusion, World Cup 2007 was a big disappointment and not just because my team played worse than associate members and that the victors were evil Sith lords. It was a let-down because of the paucity of great cricketing moments, of see-saw contests, of nail-biting finishes and of coming-back-from-behind escape acts . Sure there were few drops of drama and excellence: Leverock defying gravity, Lasith Malinga’s phenomenal four deliveries that almost changed a match, Gibbs six sixes, Gilchrist rising to the big occasion with the savagest innings you would see and Mahela Jayawardhene’s perfectly paced century.

But too few for my 200 USD. Way too few.

65 thoughts on “Looking Back In Disappointment

  1. Luckily I didn’t watch any match.

  2. Mrinal Mukherjee April 29, 2007 — 10:27 pm

    Great post!! Pretty much summed up what all was always there in our minds, but never blurted out.

    However, guess we could go a bit slow on the McGrath and Lara issue. Such things happen all the time and we can’t use these issues to benchmark the greatness of a player. Even Lara himself (seemingly) didn’t say some really nice things in the episode you mentioned.

    Maybe, one of the best things we could learn from this aussie side is the decency to retire from the scene even when they are in the best of forms, allowing the younger generation to come in and pick up the reigns. We got to see this on n number of occasions..Waugh, Warne and now McGrath..maybe the subcontinental teams could take a queue from this, rather than waiting for the selector’s axe to fall. Maybe thats one of the reasons for this gap in the playing standards between Aussies and the others.

    All the same, as you said, quite a dissapointing WC 😦

  3. Disppointed with your review of the almighty Aussies.

  4. Australians dominate the game like no other team definitely, but they definitely are an arrogant bunch whose fall is keenly looked forward by many. Not like the West Indian team when they were numero uno..

    West Indians were such a loved bunch really; may be one of the reasons some of them sowed their wild oat around the world 🙂 And you have Shane Warne trying the same with little success and much controversy.

  5. All this talk over the past few months (in fact, over years) about “racism of aussies” and their arrogance is nothing but whining by people who are not able to beat them. I am sure if aussies are racists, then there will be a few racists in the NZ camp or the England camp. But none raise such hype and furore because they are not world beaters. Which winning side is not arrogant, wasnt viv richards known for his arrogance? And what even if they are arrogant? They play great cricket and thats that. Even this talk of flair among the asian cricketers. Australian batsmen are hitting the bowlers all over the place, they are dancing down the track to both spinners and pacers alike, hitting across the line. A 37 year-old bowler (McGrath) is yorking a class batsman (Kallis) in a world cup semi. If that is not beautiful then what else is?

    Such derogatory talk about aussies is actually mis-directed angst. The depressing part about the current state of cricket is the yawning gap between the aussies and the others and the sheer lack of close contests. If tomorrow they start losing, who cares they are racists or not? This obsession with criticizing aussies for their arrogance seems to be not just shared by people like us, but also by people like Sunil Gavaskar who might even be having a say or two on how to run cricket in our country.

    The day is not far when australians will also start having flair (that is, if they dont already have it). Earlier, individual statistics and awards were something in which asians were on top. But now slowly even that is being taken away by aussies. Pretty soon Ponting will be past Sachin in Test hundreds, Glenn McGrath has already taken away Akram’s record of WC wickets. In ’99 Klusener was man of the tournament. In ’03 it was sachin. This time it was McGrath. So they will be winning and establishing all statistical records as well. If the people running the cricket will just be humble (which apparently they are supposed to be, considering arrogance is as alien as an australian) and learn from the aussies and raise the level of their professionalism, we will see less of such ranting and more close contests.

  6. @Vivek: Didnt watch any match? You didnt want to see whether the predictions you made on your blog came true or not? They did…right?

    @Mrinal: Its not just Lara. McGrath’s motormouth spares noone. Of course you can say its part of todays game…but it is there because the Aussies do it and because the racist ICC and its match-referees choose to do nothing about it with an indulgent “that’s the Australian”style.

    @Uday: What to say ! I think the Aussies are not champions. As pointed out by Giri, the West Indian team of the 80s were different. Their bowlers were intimidating, unfriendly but they did not stoop to remarks about wives and daughters and racist ephitets (Lehmann’s black cunt) etc.

    @Giri: Agree.

    @Pi: Yes yes very true. Whining by people who cannot beat them. It is absolutely ok to call a person a “black monkey” and to push the chairman of the BCCI off the podium (again I challenge Ricky to do that to an English official at Lords) —-its just because they are winning that people are pointing it out. If they are losing, noone would have bothered. Yea right…

    Look dude, no matter how they play nothing can change the fact that the Aussies have a large number of racist players. Thats true regardless of how they play. It is difficult to be a loser and even more difficult to a winner. Australians are bad winners. Period.

    And as to whining…please.The Aussies and the English are the biggest whiners. When the Aussies lost in India in 98 and 01 it was “Indian pitches are tailored for the home team.” But what about MCG and WACA and the Gabba? Are they tailored for the Indians or the Australians?

  7. So if aussies and english are also whiners, and we are also whiners..then all this is nothing but a mud-slinging match, and not cricket. man, how mature!
    A winner is a winner, and a loser is a loser. good or bad is all of academic interest alone.There may be few matches here and there where the loser might win a few hearts, but by and large, the cricket played by the winner will be better.
    When they whine about the spinners tracks in india, that is equally laughable and deplorable. But now they dont even need do that, because when they play in the subcontinent, nothing short of a minefield of a pitch (mumbai 2004) is going to be enuf to beat them. Rest of the matches they will win easily and the indians will just write about arrogance and lack of flair.

  8. “Rest of the matches they will win easily and the indians will just write about arrogance and lack of flair.”

    And you despite being an Indian are the exception…right? I am writing about racism also and verbal abuse which they dish out—more than any other team in the world. I am sure that protesting against being called a monkey or a black cunt isnt whining is it?

    Which reminds me of an article by Justin Langer in 2001. When some Ranji spinner subject Langer to some choice words, Langer wrote that he didnt expect this kind of language from an Indian. Sigh ! Capital whining eh guvnor?

    Incidentally,when we drew the 2003 series and nearly beat them, the Aussies very graciously blamed that on the “emotional turmoil” caused in the team by Waugh’s decision to retire and the resultant focus on Waugh during the full series. Suddenly the Aussies get sensitive just to justify their less-than-stellar performance.

    A real champion is not just one who wins, but who wins graciously. Like the West Indians.

    Minefield of a track Mumbai 2004? Spun too much? Bounced low? And what about some of the superfast Australian pitches—why arent they call “minefields”?

  9. I’m a Sri Lankan, and I’m bitterly disappointed. But I think you’re being unfair. We are all racist my friend and we all sledge. We just have to face the fact that the sub-continent’s talent and flair has come up against the brick wall of efficiency and science…AND…the fact that the Aussies have enough talent and flair as well. You are forgetting Arjuna’s antics, Kumar Dharmasena telling Law to fuck off in 1996, Zaheer Khan sledging in the Final, Akram/Waqar/Shoaib/every Pakistani’s verbal/physical malice and arrogance. We South Asians are no pouting fairies.

    Our hope is in 2011, when the Cup comes home to its fans, then on the “mine fields” of Colombo, Karachi and Calcutta, we will kick their white asses all the way back to the English jails of their birth (see…told you we are all racist). But, can i be frank, I hope India dont win. That bloody Pepsi ad is too irritating to come true.

  10. @Anthony: I was expecting the “we are racists too” line of reasoning, a rhetoric we saw used a lot during the Shilpa Shetty controversy on Big Brother. What people like Arjuna and Sourav Ganguly did was to pay the Aussies back in their own currency, because we as South Asians are too self-flagellating and subservient for our own good. The fact remains: the Aussies are the worst sledgers; McGrath being the worst among them. Warne wasnt an angel but you could see him shaking an opponent’s hand after a century or clapping —but McGrath had nothing but the filthiest abuse for his opponents —more so if they were brown or black.

  11. I would phrase my argument as “we are ALL racist”. That being said, I think this exposes a gaping hole in the rules of the game. Leaving sleding open to interpretation (i.e Sangakarra and Flintoff’s amusing comments v.s “black monkey”) leads to this mess.

    Anyone caught saying anything to the opposition team besides “great century” should be fined. I know that would make this game more sterile than it already is, but that’s the only way to resolve this racism debate. Its either that or admitting that racist comments destablize our players thanks to the “self-flagellation and subservience”. As such, though it might be under-handed it certainly contributes to victory.

    Or, we could start offering our cricketers mandatory English cuss-word classes. Another distraction from cricket in their crowded lives.

    P.S some flattery to soothe our differences, hilarious posts on the Brown-College-Experience and ur wedding…I’m a new fan..

  12. Please to not remind of 200usd.

  13. Two cents of mine…

    Agree with GB on most of the issues that this was the “worst” of the lot (WCs that is)..but neither was 03 any great… is it because AUS is going too far from any other team. May be or may be the aussies can raise their game better than anyone else (as if its not already raised enuf)
    But the problem is we are whining not because we are any less racist than the aussies but we are not getting a chance to do the same…after all it doesnt seem all that good to swear at some one if he keeps on hitting u all over the park ..remember zaheer’s failed mcgrathism in WC final last time 🙂
    Forget all that if i am pushed off the stage i shud get most angry..but pawar doesnt seem to mind ricky’s push. We see that push like pushing a brown guy away.
    And regarding gracious retirements: Healy, Waughs (both of them) were “forced” away by the selectors, Coz the “thrust from behind” was too much to handle (no intension of any puns here 😉 of the Gillys and Haydens and Husseys of the world.
    If indians have such strong “bench” may be we will also see some “gracious retirements during thier peak” too. (also some brave selectors)
    And after all history always remembers a player as he is/was. Mcgrath will be remembered both for his incutters and yorkers and devastating spells and also for his vocabulary which worked overtime.
    and at the end there will always be rulers who are different. WI team ruled the world but we still love those kings…Aussies rule the world differently ..may be we dont like them as much…but sure they are the modern kings…
    And to end by showing MY RACIST COLOURS…pls donot expect too much of a gentlemanly behavior from the aussies…coz don’t forget their history….they are just a bunch of english convicts/prisoners deported to a sandy island.
    Whadya expect from them dudes????? 😉

  14. whenever the australians complained about pitches, it was always dismissed as “naach na jaane aangan teda”. and its still true. It doesnt matter whether aussie do it or we do it. its just that now people just refuse to see the cricket they are playing, they are only intent on criticizing their arrogance and racism etc. Its probably getting magnified with all the stump mic and close up shots of their facial expression and all. There are all kinds of champions. There are the McEnroes and then there are the Borgs.

    And for every losing country is busy living in the past about the windies, its time to wake up smell the coffee. The fact that only two teams have dominated for more than 30 years is an indictment on their lack of learning. Times have changed, cricket is no longer just a pastime, there are crores of money and emotions of billions are running on it. And there is no such thing as a commercial game being non-entertaining. Its a hard fought game now and thats the way its gonna be. Aussies play with just one objective, to win. Thats all. If all the teams focussed on that than being nostalgic about how the windies were, or how aggro and racist the aussies are, there will be better contests and not a farcical world cup.

  15. I guess Australians get confused, I don’t blame them totally.

    Most immigrant Indians staying in Australia “act” docile and meek and take racist remarks as mere friendly jab further it is just not Indians, most of immigrants in Australia “act” this way.

    So when they (Australian) visit any of the immigrant’s countries they get a cultural shock….

  16. So far the pattern of the last few finals has been “South Asian team meets Australia in the finals…gets raped”….imagine…if Bangladesh make the Finals next year….and they beat Aussie…i honestly think this is possible because unlike SL, India and Pak will be playing with crap young players (with exception of Munaf/Karthik, Gul/Asif, Malinga/Chamara)…Bangladesh will have hordes of 19 yr olds who have all played Test cricket…

    The comedy, the disbelief, it’ll all be more dramatic than the Sri Lankan minnows of 96′. Ofcourse, they’ll need to imprison Whatmore in Dhaka.

  17. Isn’t it amazing that everyone is just trashing the Aussies because they are good? Sure they are racists and there’s no hiding that fact. But the on-field fact remains that Australia is better than just about everybody. How to tackle their racism: learn from Ganguly and Arjuna as you rightly said.
    Oh and about the final: one may as well have just handed the Aussies the trophy on March 13!

  18. confirming that nice guys never finish first

    Arnab I have a question. I can understand (and agree with) much of your ire against the Aussies.

    Since people have repeatedly stated we’re ALL racists, I might as well say that you shouldn’t be expecting more of the descendants of deported convicts and whores anyway.

    But, and this is the all important but; why should they not have won? Do you really believe that mediocrity should win through miracles? Because had India (or any other country) won this World Cup it would have been courtesy the prayers of a billion or some stroke of luck; hardly because of the superlative quality of playing. The nice guys haven’t done *anything* to justify their winning.

  19. @greatbong: Who wants to be happy about that kind of predictions coming true! I would have been much happier if the Cup was more exciting and if other teams provided a better challenge to Australia. I have never had a problem with the dominance of Schumacher, Sampras, Federer, Brazil etc.. all of them made the game enjoyable (to me). Somehow, and I am not sure how exactly, Australia just doesn’t seem to do it.

  20. dont you think the Aussies desreve a pat for their achievemnet, they are great & the rest of thefield ahve a long way to catch up… this sounded like ‘sour grapes’

  21. Offtopic but kind of sums up the ruthles efficiency of the Aussies and they not being the “peoples’ champs”

    From LoTR:

    Some held that they were not Trolls but giant Orcs; but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind whom they surpassed in size and power, Trolls they were, but filled with evil will of their master: a fell race, strong, agile, fierce and cunning, but harder than stone.

    Aussies do seem to have a talent for trolling though :)!

  22. Time will tell if McGrath or Ponting would be remembered for their cricketing brilliance as well as other incidents.

    Though I suppose after a while its only cricketing exploits that are recalled & anything unsavory such as a Lilee-Miandad row or a Gavaskar storming off ,etc is really not so much of a concern …who knows a different generation might think that the ‘unusual’ is cool…the maidan in front of my home has wanna-bes who stare & strike aggressive postures that Zaheer Khan, McGrath ,et al would be proud of.

    GB, was expecting something about the last overs mayhem….:)

  23. At least the match-winning performance was by the gentleman of the team who dared to walk when he edged the ball……
    I want to see the arrogant bastards whipped too. But perhaps we can learn from their aggression without the abuse.

  24. Same ol’ crap from GB…I think he will be happy only when SG hits some runs..:-)

    Mcgrath got incensed with Sarwan when “commented” about Mcgrath’s cancer-afflicted wife…how conveniently u have forgotten that part of the episode…just look at our Indian players when they take wickets..they mouth the foulest of language in Hindi (MC,BC stuff)…

    Cribbing about Aussie behaviour is old wine. Everyone is boorish in World cricket now. This cribbing about being “unpopular champions” just arises from our envy from their perfection and the relentless dominance of world cricket.

  25. I think we are confusing many things here. I just want to elaborate on some points:

    1> Racism- Yes its true that Aussies are a racist bunch. Just look at their crowds. Anyone who looks at their history of citizenship and policies will clearly see this. Its natural that players (some- not all) are racists too.

    2> Cricketing ability- Yes they are the best team and thoroughly deserved to win the world cup. This ability is a product of their system. Consider the bowling attack of NSW- Bracko, McGrath, Lee and Clarke. Now thats better than any subcontinental pace attack. the support staff, the coaching, the facilities are just unparalleled. Just listen to any Aussie commentator on TV. They have such deep knowledge of the game. Now wonder that most coaches nowadays are Aussies. Plus they are physically fitter than all teams barring South Africa who have a similar sporting and outdoor culture. The first class structure is so competitive that players move seamlessly on to the international stage.

    3> So why don’t the subcontinental teams have that kind of cricketing ability- A whole book can be written on this issue. In fact multiple books. Pitches, apathy of administrators, poor grass root level coaching, transient economies where young cricketers are not exactly sure of a living on cricket unless they go to the very top level, and the natural tendency of subcontinental people to be bad team players as evinced by the history of the region are prime reasons. Some examples, the player fueds like Kapil Sunny, Sidhu walking out of a tour in 1996 etc etc ad infinitum. But the most important flaw is the propensity of players to do anything but improve their skills and the lack of hunger and drive for success. Maybe its a culture thing. Aussies like Hayden and Martyn have come back from long wilderness and went on to become great players. The subcontinental players just seem to exude of feeling of being ensconced when they perform well to the point of refusing to be critical of themselves which leads to the inevitable self doubt and crisis when the wheel turns a full circle. The fact that there is some vital ingredient missing is proved when we fall for foreign coaches. Large number of people, insane enthusiasm and a rich board may not ensure success. The coaching apart from say a place like Bombay of select cities is very bad, and its a tribute to the players who make it from the lesser areas. The vast difference between the standards of domestic cricket and international level means that many domestic heroes are found wanting either in talent, technique or temperament on the big stage. As far as India is concerned, that was a big mistake made by the BCCI. A big coach at the top doesn’t a steady feed of backup strength and grooming of young talent ensure. Competition at the bottom results in more bench strength, which automatically means competition at the top. Matthew Hayden has not only battled opposition bowlers, but he had to fight a long war with Simon Katich to get back at the top of the ODI list after his Ashes slump. There are many other reasons like selectors whose decisions often lack integrity and the cricket management and culture in general. The saddest thing is that subcontinental teams were satisfied to win at home. Nonobjective satisfaction breeds complacency and thaws progress. The Aussies strive for more and learnt to play on the subcontinent.

    4> Australia’s rise as a ODI team- Was after Gilchrist came to the fray. Before that players like Mark Taylor used to open (remember Titan Cup). His contribution as an allrounder was only appreciated recently but what a difference he made to the Aussie side! Gilchrist’s ascent also meant Healy’s descent- which was what was required at that time. I distinctly remember the Aussie ODI side in 1998. They were at par with India and definitely not the best- that was Woolmer and Cronje’s SA. The 1999 World cup semifinal changed everything for the 2 sides. Then came players like Symonds who have made it to the all time Aus 11 side. Hayden was retained in the ODi squad just because he had a fabulous test tour in 2001 in India. And did he grab the opportunity? He swallowed it. Then came Lee as a perfect foil for Mcgrath and a stage was reached where Warne was not needed anymore to consistently win ODIs. Ponting came of age as a great ODi player after 2000 and all this meant that they were the best side going into the 2003 and 2007 World cups. They created their own aura. So when Ian Chappell laments that its a commentary on other teams that Australia have dominated so long, hes correct. Other teams waited for Australia to age and decline and paid the price.

    5> GB’s point about sledging- Is absolutely correct. Neither is he whining nor crying over spilled milk. Aussies have enough history of sledging for them not to be universally loved. So its his personal view that he wished that they lose. We all have our personal reasons for liking or disliking a team. Wi team did it without that and were a better side (at least in Tests). The funny thing about sledging is that how the Aussies dont take sledging too well themselves. The classic case is between McGrath and Sarwan. I admire Mcgrath a lot for his bowling. I think he better than Akram or any other contemporary seamer. I also believe that he was more responsible for austalia’s success than the great Warne. But behaviour is completely independent of performance.In this case, Glenn was clearly wrong. So when he says that sucking Brian Lara’s dick is OK, hes just stating whats Ok with him. Now other cultures or teams may have different thresholds and norms. What if they dont conform to McGraths standards? Sarwan was therefore absolutely correct when he referenced McGarths wife. But Glenn took it badly. “You crossed the line”, he said. Whose line? Either we remain formal or not. A similar line was echoed by Allan Border a few days ago during the Sunil gavaskar – Ponting controversy. He said something like “You lucky bastard” is just what we say in Australia, doesnt mean anything. Fair enough. But what if some team says, “I want to empty a magazine of bullets into the stomach of your pregnant wife” is a greeting in their cricketing culture? So as soon as you have some reference like David Hookes, its oh ho, shame shame etc. Its the Aussies who define the limits of sledging – thats what pisses me off – more than the act of sledging itself. Just precisely why I was so disappointed with Glenn in that Antigua test match.

    6> In fact there are many more reasons to dislike the Aussies. The Sharad Pawar incident is an example. That day too, I saw Percy Sonn almost being snubbed when it seemed that he was posing for photos with Ponting. Basically Ponting may be a great player, but hes not a world citizen like the latter day Waugh. I was at Eden in the 1987 final too. Allan Border didn’t do like that. So when people say that Federar is the true champion- they have a point. Aggro when you you are going to receive a prize is not a will to win at all costs- it smacks of a bunch of uncivilized asses. Thats exactly what GB was emphasizing.

    7> Talking of this WC- the less said the better. Starting from Woolmer’s murder, everything was bad. I have been an admirer of Aussie team and their cricket; and have followed them very closely over many years. But this team I really wished SL to win this cup. As Nasser Husain said, “Australia are the winners but cricket has been the loser. It’s not a money-making exercise, it’s about people.”

  26. Oh, cmon. Yeh baat kuch hajam nahin hui GB.

    Love them, hate them, Aussies are the best cricketing nation in the world today. Period. The rest of the world is not even in the picture. They play hard. For all that Glen McGrath told Sarwan and Jayasuriya, doesnt take anything away from the fact that there is simply no bowler like him.

    Sarwan and Jayasuriya are no saints too, so their part in that spat with McGrath cannot be wished away. Since we dont know the whole story, its better not to comment on that aspect.

    Indians could never play McGrath well. Sachin, Rahul, Ganguly included. We cant accept seeing our heroes being whacked so badly. That’s the reason why we are unable to accept the truth that this Australian team is probably the best ever.

    Its understandable where you are coming from. But lets give the devil his due.

  27. Whoa! The Ponting-Pawar episode was racist in nature….GB, you really hate the Aussies, dont you?

  28. amen to that GB! given the fact that after almost 7 years I had the luxary to watch the Cricket World Cup from my living room (which felt oh so great in the beginning), still it not the kind of cricket carnival that the crcket fans expect. I feel a little cheated after a month and I am almost regretting the time that I spent on this insipid, inane WCC.

  29. Ponting Pawar episode was definitely not racist in nature. Why should pnting want to pose with a guy he does not even respect.

  30. You put it well. Though Australia deserved this cup, they were never, are not or will be champions, because of their on field racist and boorish behavior. Its one thing to be great. Its another thing to blow the trumpet about your greatness. I think Adam Gilchrist is the only guy in their whole team who deserve iota of respect.

    As you said, they are whining winners. They are not the winners you would be proud of.


  31. Interesting Post. Being a big fan of the Australian Cricket Team, I wasn’t terribly disappointed with the world cup- other than reduced over format for the final and the foul up in the last minute. Just two gripes.

    1) I find it difficult to believe the the Australian team is racist just because a few words were spoken on/off the field(Lehman’s black c**t comment was in the dressing room). When you have player like Symonds in the team, playing a very crucial role where the captain goes to the point of blaming defeats on his absence, I find it difficult to label them racists – insensitive -sure. But I guess its a very fine line which gets crossed every now and then.

    2) In the sledging cum on/off filed behavior front, I feel(me personally) that this team, is way better that the one under Steve Waugh(although I was a bigger fan of that team). Most of the controversial incidents(apart from the Sharad Pawar issue) took place under Waugh’s leadership. Waugh’s character, off-field, allows us to excuse most of the nonsense that took place on the field.

    Mcgraths over reaction when the he was given a taste of his own medicine maybe hypocritical(he got what he asked for), but comparing “you lucky bastard” with Sunil Gavaskar’s Comment on David Hookes death is just plain absurd. Gavaskar, an Indian with probably the worst behavioral record, was trying to pull a few punches on Ponting’s men and its pretty clear who has fallen flatly on his face.

    As a culture Aussies are let say a bit different. I’d like to relate a personal experience. I live in a large apartment complex(numbers wise) and next door to us are a set of identical independent houses leased out to officials, who work one of whom worked for ford. Now being in a large set of flats, my younger brother found company among a gang of friends who always played together. Now the ford guy(from Australia) had a son who was pretty much in the same age group as my brothers friends and joined them whenever they played cricket. One such day he got into an argument with one of the kids(who is physically handicapped) and lost his cool and pushed him down. Despicable behavior- and we had to take the issue to his dad. Just imagine our shock when he told us to make things even by giving his some a beating on our own. I can’t recall the exact words – but it was something in the lines of- “why don’t you just give him a few of your own and that will teach him”. This is something unique to Australia and maybe to a certain extent New Zealand. I remember watching a political ad for one of the opponents of John Howard, where the “Presidential” Candidate was busy breaking chairs on people’s heads and guzzling beers on screen. When Allan Border says its a different culture- he really means it.

    Of course all this does not excuse any of the antics of the Aussie team, but just puts them in a slightly better perspective. But as a team- they are far ahead of the rest of the pack and its insulting that everyone’s hoping for them to loose and not for any other team to improve their standards and win.

  32. @SD: Why? 200 USD for you too?

    @Pratap: How do you know Pawar didnt mind Ricky’s push? Because he didnt go and knee Ricky in the groin or ask him is his wife was in Adam Gilchrist’s bed last night?

    @Pi: I do not think it is a matter of lack of learning. World cricket has evolved a lot over the past 15 years –it is just that Australia has produced an amazingly large pool of talent.

    @Sam: Immigrants “take” it as they can do no better, dependent as they are in a foreign country.

    @Aditya Kuber: Noone is trashing the Australians because they are good. At least I am not. I just think that just being good at the game is not the defining characteristic of a champion. That is all. Incidentally such is the way of the ICC any kind of “nastiness” on the part of non-Australia/SA/England/NZ is treated with extreme heavy-handedness by the match referees while players of the said teams, and Australia being the worst of them, allowed to get away, match after match.

    @Babelfish: I did not say anywhere that the Australians did not deserve to win because they were “not nice”. Or that a mediocre team like India deserved to because they were. All I said that it is a pity that the best team in the world is chockful of racist foul mouthed louts who fail any definition of what a true “sportsman” is.

    @Joyjit: I think they have done plenty of back-patting themselves. Why do you think I suffer from sour grapes? Am I cricket player? How does it matter to me being an Indian if Sri Lanka won?

    @Anonymous Coward: Olog-hai–>Hayden?

    @JM: The pity that people equate aggressiveness in sports with being foul-mouthed and abusive.

    @Sourya: Abusing the Australians? Ahem who would?

    @Arvind: And same old regionalistic crap from you…even in this piece Ganguly comes up. Speaks a lot about you doesnt it?

    @Yourfan2: Australian success is built upon the importance of sport in the average Australian’s life: they are an outdoors action-oriented people. The fitness of the average Aussie is reflected in the standards of their cricket team. The fitter you are, the better you can perform the basic skills that make a good athlete. On top of that, the Australians have had a good cricketing system, are totally dedicated to challenging themselves and raising their games and are singularly focussed on winning.

    @Full2Enjoy: Where did I say they are not the best cricketing team in the world ? How do you know Jayasurya for example is not a saint? Do you think McGrath abuses only when provoked or he abuses because that’s the kind of person he is?

    @Dhananjay and Sandip: It was racist in nature. Whether Ponting respects Pawar is moot…in India and as a contracted player to the ICC, he HAS to respect the chief of the Indian board of control. I dont know where Sandip works, but if the boss of a visiting company comes to make a presentation and you push and shove him, I dont think anyone is going to accept the rationale that you “do not respect him”. As to the racism angle, Ponting would never behaved like this if it was a Caucasian official.

    @Ronita: Hmm.

    @Suyog: I agree. Gilchrist is the real class act in the Aussie team. I loved Warne too….he was never mean-spirited.

    @//slash\: Interesting.

  33. I am also in uncle Sam’s land. ~200usd (or whatever the exact amount my roomate paid) to be split between him and me. It hurts, especially since I was not watching the matches and was “saving my time” to watch the super 8’s. Ato matha kharab holo ki, I think there has been no WC since 1992, in which I have watched so few matches. Not good value for “hard-earned RA”(aka sitting in coffee shop and appearing to contemplate on some deep problem) money. hehe:)

  34. I suspect the folks at Jadavpur university are going to raise strong objections to this post, and I’d bet their inter-departmental finals are closer, more hotly contested and more fun to watch than this farce was.

    But hey, it’s over. Long live cricket.

  35. Say what you will …jo jeeta wahi sikandar

  36. A bit late but anyways I went to watch India-Sri Lanka when Sri Lanka was in India a couple of months ago.I was in the first row and Bandara was standing a few metres away from us.Every once in a while(say when someone scored a run),some of the spectators would scream “arre bandar” which means monkey(since Bandara is very much brown,I guess that makes him brown monkey).Isn’t that racist?And if you may remember,Sony MAX did a re-run of the WC 2003 matches and invited particular players for some of the matches.I think it was India vs England or Ind vs New Zealand where Yuvraj Singh was saying on the set that “I kept telling them to say swear words in Hindi,otherwise we might get caught”(he said the line in Hindi).And the prominent hindi swear words involve mothers and sisters.So wouldn’t that be racist?Oops,forgot,we brown are the victims and not the villians,we can say anything.

    Those who live in glass houses,shouldn’t throw stones at others.

  37. And by the way,Ponting later apologised for pushing away Pawar.Nobody died.

  38. I guess the nature vs nurture argumnet is clearly won by the nature side when you take McGraths comments regarding Jayasuriya into consideration. What else could one expect from the sons of exiled criminals?

  39. Forgive me if I dont know anything about cricket. I came here to tell you that the banners are great.
    And before I forget, ‘demented mind’ is an oxymoron. It sounds like ‘mindless mind’. Unless that is part of the mind-bending experience you are so much bent on.

  40. @GB… good point on the tournament as a whole… in fact I’d go as far as to that it was kind of lucky that India got bumped off so early… 🙂

    On the Australians though… have to disagree with the bulk of your comments…

    “Because you wanted this arrogant bunch of foulmouths to taste defeat, to have to eat humble pie, to stand at the presentation ceremony with their tails between their legs”…
    Yes I did… I guess a lot of people across the cricketing world did… but it wasn’t meant to be and the least we can do is accept that in their own unique unlikeable way this bunch of Australians did create magic…

    McGrath and the rest of his colleagues don’t play Sunday afternoon cricket with the intention of expanding their social network… no, they play hard, play competitive, play passionately and play to win… and if that be mistaken for arrogance so be it…

    True arrogance is when a Sachin Tendulkar gets the import duty on his Ferrari waived off just because he can… when a Navjot Sidhu beats a man to death at a traffic crossing and walks away scot-free…
    stories of Ganguly, bat in hand, chasing lesser peers round the Eden Gardens, just because they had ‘dared’ to get him out… are a part of CAB folklore…

    And GB… I am sure you, with your sense of irony, realize that no matter how hard he might have been pushed… it is oh-so-hilarious to think of Sharad Pawar as a victim of anything… leave alone racism..

  41. @anonymous coward: Minor correction – it’s Uruk-hai, not Olog-hai. Gaurav Sabnis had likened Hayden to a butcher in one of his posts here http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.com/2007/03/is-that-best-you-can-do-you-pansies.html

    So Hayden = Uruk-hai seems rather apt!

    @Pi : “There are the McEnroes and then there are the Borgs.”

    Johnny Mac may have been a foulmouth in his playing days but he is not a racist. “You cannot be serious” Mac would have said, but it was never “You cannot be serious, you black monkey”! And unlike the Aussie team, he was a popular champion.

    All in all, this one felt like a depressing post and commentspace about an even more depressing World Cup.

  42. GB, I never knew that you have a crystal ball in which you gazed long, deep and hard and arrived at the conclusion that “Ponting would have never done that to a non-Asian.” Sadly for me, I dont have any such balls. Sigh 😦 I want GB’s balls (crystal balls, that is)

  43. Generally while watching cricket, I like to see the BEST team winning (Exception: India)
    I wouldnt mind a bunch of super-talented and passionate but nice guys beating Australia to pulp. But, a team of nice guys but mediocre talent defeating Australia would make me sad. The fact remains that Australia play a completely different level of cricket and they make all the other teams look mediocre in comparison. So, Australia won the World Cup. And, deservedly so.

  44. @SD: The 92 World Cup was a great one IMHO.

    @Aditya: And when they raise objections, they end up burning down some building.

    @Iceman: aur jo hara wohi bandar. Maybe thats what McGrath was telling Jayasurya.

    @Abhinav: A little curious. If Yuvraj says MC, BC while playing England so that the match-referee does not understand it, how are the subjects of the abuse (England) supposed to understand? If you argue its not the exact semantics but the tone that is offensive, well even the match referee can understand that.

    @Teabaggins: I wouldnt agree to that. Whether their ancestors were convicts a century or two ago is totally irrelevant.

    @Mutant: Yes yes it is..mindless mind…thrilling.

    @Kunal: Competitiveness does not imply foul-mouthedness. The thing is not about Sharad Pawar…it’s to what position he holds. As the head of the BCCI, he deserves some respect…I hope you will accept.

    @Dhananjay: Before you start looking for other people’s balls (crystal or otherwise), take some time to have your marbles in hand. Please 🙂 You see I do not need crystal or any other type of balls to say “Ponting would never have done that to a non-Asian”. The fact that he has been playing for so long and has yet to do it to a non-Asian is proof enough. That Lehman wouldnt say “white cunt” also doesnt require me to look at any kind of balls.

    And as to “best” I also include sportsmanship and grace into my definition of “best”.

  45. Abhinav made a pertinent point. Aas someone who has watched matches in Bombay’s stadiums over the years, I can point a hazaar instances of spectators (generally those close to the boundary line) shouting the choicest abuses (in Hindi, of course) at the opposition players. And I have seen students from the best engineering and management institutes in Bombay, indulging themselves, to the utter bewilderment of foreign players.

  46. GB, do you want to see Ponting do a similar thing against whites? Will that covince you and make you exclaim, “Wonderful example of social justice.” Sharad Pawar hardly raised any objection to the incident. Atleast, he never made his objections public. Ricky Ponting apologised for his behaviour. What next? Crucify him?!
    Probably the team that has borne the major brunt of Aussie ‘arrogance’ is England. And the last time I checked, England was a non-Asian country.
    Also, do you want to see a graceful-bunch-of-mediocre-guys-oozing-with-sportsmanship winning against super-talents? The fact of the matter is, Australia win because they play better cricket than others.

    PS: Plus, we all know how gracefully did Indian spectators behave during the ’96 WC semi-finals.

  47. @Dhananjay: “Plus, we all know how gracefully did Indian spectators behave during the ‘96 WC semi-finals”

    Pardon me. But do I see some goalposts shifting? My piece was about the attitude of Australian cricketers and not of Australians in general. The generalizations of Aussies being as they are because of their history was not made by me.

  48. @Slash- I was also a bigger fan of that Australian team. 🙂 Now coming to your point about cultures, the fact that cultures are so different actually is reason enough for people to be careful when dealing with people of other cultures. I again point to the McGrath incident. Suppose Sarwan is gay and he used to suck off Lara who is a bi. The two had a very deep and sensitive relationship till Lara scores 375 and 501 and then screws bitch after bitch. Sarwan is ditched, and he spends his time distraught and heartbroken. He also hears that Lara has dick cancer which is a big secret and this makes it doubly painful for him- he cannot make love to him ever again. So in a situation like this McGrath’s comment is exactly as bad as Sarwan’s rejoinder. But if the above story was true, its not the duty of Mcgrath to know it, just like its not the prerogative of Sarwan to know about or sympathize with Jane McGarth’s boob cancer.
    But after the incident, when you hear his wife defend the husband, the public sympathy shifts towards Mcgrath.

    Similarly, this culture thing is fine as long as no one is offended. Cunt may be a harmless slang in Aussie culture, but applied to an Asian, it does definitely intone racism. Now thats Aussie culture, but the Asians are offended. Similarly, however strange Gavaskar’s reference may have been, it offended the Aussies. So if we are to judge by the media, the Aussies are always right and offense is a one way traffic- can be dished out but never taken. Thats exactly what Saurav Ganguly did to the Aussies. Now you may call Ganguly whatever, but the fact remained that he pissed off the Aussies, as did Ranatunga. Culture is also a vague term in many occasions. Consider Richard Gere’s kiss to Shetty- if you uphold AB’s logic, then you have to agree with the right wing protest- such public acts are rare in Indian culture, right? But the point was that the person involved was fine with it- Shetty herself. So sensible people should be a bit more restrained when interacting with people of other cultures, lest they offend them inadvertently. Kissing among two French men is custom, in US its being gay.

    But this whole issue of sledging is precisely to bring people” out of their comfort zones”. See mom sis galis from Zaheer didnt affect Hayden, as he faces it in domestic cricket too. But strangely it affected Zaheer as it was he who was in unfamiliar territory. So if an Indian captain has to apply Waugh’s own theory of mental disintegration, he has to find out ways which would really affect the opposition. Hookes may not be therefore such a bad reference.

    To further clarify, I liked the jovial natured hooksie and was saddened to hear about his demise. But all this is independent of cricketing prowess. But highlighting these aspect are not at all traits of a bad loser. GB merely pointed this out. Even if India was to win this WC, the Sharad Pawar incident deserves condemnation. I can bet my bottom dollar that if Ganguly would have pushed the ACB chairman if he won the tri series down under, the reaction in the media would have been a 100 times more scathing.

    @GB- I dont need to see Aussie cricket to come to that conclusion- Ian Thorpe and the Olymic medals are proof enough. But not so long ago the scales were not so skewed. Maybe this Aussie team is just the best ODI team ever- with players like Gilchrist and Symonds who come once in many many years. But South Africa and New Zealand are as much fitter and have an equally good structure- but not that much talent and some soft mental skills (mental toughness and multidimensional) and flexibility (eg spinners) in their system. India’s current decline as a cricketing power is perhaps more due to lack of new talent than lack of fitness. A great nurturing system can make even a mediocre player a good one- Shane Watson is a proof of that.

  49. Nice summary GB! Agree with you regarding the racist and abusive nature of Aussies. Especially, the Pawar-pushing incident was a clear case of Ponting’s inherent racist tendencies coming out.

    However, I have always enjoyed watching Aussies play. Some of the best cricket I have watched over the last decade is from down under – early morning test cricket telecast from Australia is sheer joy to watch. Especially when they are thrashing my least favourite team – England. As a fan of bowlers, there aren’t too many teams that provide me as much joy as watching McGrath, Gillespie, Warne, Lee et al in action. Even when India is playing them I do my patriotic bit by supporting our bowlers when we are bowling 🙂 but once we get thrashed as normal, I turn my loyalties to Aussie bowlers and hope that they run over our pampered batsmen.

    Needless to say, I was happy to read in the paper that Aussies had won the world cup. They may not be nice people, but they play terrific cricket.

  50. Beyond Excellence there is only one place to go.
    The heaven.
    In the form of art.
    The art of cricket in this context.
    None of the aussies would reach that, never, bar gilly and warne.
    The almighty W Indians did that. That was stuff of spontaneity,not meticulous planning.
    Ever realized planning is a bore?
    You dont plan to write, dance, sing, do extreme maths or love.

  51. GB,what kind of a reasoning is that?So say if the match refree and a cricketer does not know the meaning of dick,then they wouldn’t be victims of abuse?And from what you said,MC,BC are not offensive tones just mere words.

    And if Ponting pushed some brit,he wouldn’t be racist would he?

    @Mohan-Nice examination.And how did you come to the conclusion that he “inherited” that racist attitude?

  52. abhinav: inherent != inherited. No, I don’t have any proof to show that that shove was because of his racist attitude, but like GB, I can’t imagine him doing that to a high ranking official in his own country or in England.

  53. Agree with GB……winning alone doesnt make one a champion. But its equally true……complaining alone will not avenge the defeats and the insults.

    And its futile to wait for the day Aussies give up their arrogance and racism, or for the nice boys to turn ugly. Not the kind of levelling that’ll save cricket.

    Only way to beat the shit out of the obnoxious Aussies is for other teams to work their asses as hard as the Aussies do.

  54. On second thoughts…

    Its criminal to expect Indians and Pakis to do that (match-fixing, endorsements, knocking off coaches AND play cricket….. MUCH too much to except of one team! let’s be nice to them …they are human too afterall!).

    The Kiwis cant do it …they’re too scared of the big bully next door. Not the English either. Cant expect a bunch of 11 guys from a nation that no longer cares about the game to beat the world champs. The Windies have comfortably settled into mourning the passing away of the good ol’ days, and there are NO SIGNS whatsoever that they’re ready to leave this “phase of transition’ any time soon.

    That leaves us with Srilanka and South Africa. Let all who love the game and want to delay its extinction, pray very very hard that these two teams are somehow able to up their game and play with the same consistency n tenacity that the aussies do.

    Let us also hope and pray that teams like Bangladesh Ireland, Holland, Bermuda (unexposed as they are to trappings of success or ennui), take the game more seriously and bring to the cricket grounds of the world the enthusiasm of the young.

    The Body Cricket desperately needs some fresh blood to save it from being poisoned and strangled to death.

  55. NS, agree that cricket desperately needs some fresh blood. But it is not going to come from Ireland’s and Holland’s. It is too much to hope that places where there is no mass base for cricket are going to turn out champion teams overnight. What needs to happen is to unshackle cricket from this stupid national format. Create a club league, allow players the freedom to move from team to team and that is going to invigorate the game. Take India for example. There is huge passion for the game, there are millions of young boys interested and there is no reason why each state of India can’t turn out teams like that of Sri Lanka. But it is not happening, because bcci has a monopoly on the game, they are only required to produce one average team and they are happy doing just that. There is no incentive for bcci to do anything to improve the game, to improve the infrastructure etc. Naturally, they are happy to let things go on auto pilot and busy themselves playing politics and counting money. Dismantle these national boards, create a league with some 20-30 teams from all over the world (sydney, melbourne, lahore, karachi, bangalore, bombay, delhi, kolkatta, gujarat, up, punjab, etc) and let Tait’s and Lee’s play for Bangalore or Bombay and then cricket will reach a new level of excitement.

  56. Anirban Mitra May 2, 2007 — 8:08 am

    And just to refresh your memory Arnab, the Great Ricky Ponting was kicked out(literally) of a Kolkata Night club onto the footpath by the bouncers for boorish behaviour. Some people are same on and off the field!!!!

  57. Sounds like ranting of Gavaskar about Australians.Let us admit that they are superior sporting nation.Yes, they have raised the bar, the other nations are not within a mile.I liked the way Gilchrist whipped the Sri Lankan bowlers.It is usual Gora and Kala syndrome.

  58. Mohan…the league format could be interesting, but you think the ICC can do a ‘Ponting’on the National Boards and shove them off the mountains of moolah they lord over? Not likely.

  59. Not fair GB. You don’t know enough about the West indies team of the 70’s and the 80’s. All you know is a team filled with great pace bowlers and a great team overall. But the people of that generation have a different opinion.

    My mother who grew up in that time in fact told me that the West indians were in fact really hated. She told me an example of a test match where the West Indian crowd was baying for the blood of Indians. They were screaming to the bowlers to injure the Indian batsmen. 5 Indian batsmen were injured in that match. Each time an Indian batsman got injured, the crowd cheered. This is what she said.

    The modus operandi of the West Indian bowlers was this.

    The fact is Australia is a major cricketing power right now. The West Indian team became great by their ruthlessness(and underhand tactics). Australians are no different.

  60. Nice article

  61. Nice article GB. Only taking into account your writing skills. The content isn’t very balanced (just like the Aussie mouths). I think it’s incorrect to lament the fact that a bunch of beery boorish brutes looted the treasury in such an emphatic fashion.

    The fact is that they looted it in an emphatic fashion.

    The fact that they’re beery boorish brutes can be blamed on their antecedents, their mothers, baked beans and their morning cereal perhaps.

    McGrath never asked Sarwan his preferences in penile samples during this WC. Darren Lehman didn’t enquire about Schwarzzen-female-netherlands during this WC. Ponting and his merry men behaved how they’ve been brought up to behave. It’s like lamenting the fact that Bangalor-ing US jobs to India is bad because basically we Indians like living in intellectually-enhanced and financially-weakened squalor. Hey!! Get your own low-cost model!!

    Do not in any way construe this as a justification of Aussie behaviour. There’s enough digital memory out there to hold the contents of posts written to debate that issue.

    Let’s try and beat the Aussies at their game and not at their manners.

  62. I believe other than aussie fans, Majority of the people don’t want to aussie lift the cup fourth time.But still,if you ask yourself loyally they are pretty much capable of holding the title of world champions for another four more years than a any cricket playing nation…They won purely because of their talent…salute them..
    Car Breakdown Cover

  63. Excellent post..couldn’t agree more with your review of the Aussie camp…there is no denying the fact that they have raised the bar way too much…too high for the other teams to catch up…but as you said, they just don’t act like champions…here’s my analysis on why we Indians keep supporting the Aussies – http://amitabhjotwani.com/2007/04/30/why-do-indians-support-the-aussies/

  64. I’m an Aussie and enjoy seeing Australia win (with basically the same automation as any country’s citizen watches their country’s team). I found this article very interesting. For a while I have wondered whether much of the cricketing world looks upon Australia’s attitude like Australia looks upon, let’s say, the United States sprinting team (another incredibly strong team, where the arrogance of execution is in constant competition with the arrogance of attitude). I honestly do not see any active quotes which point to insensitivity that is *exclusively* from the Australian camp – instead, it seems that virtually anyone is capable of the comments that this article has quoted. International cricket does not seem to be a happy place, there appears to be much bitterness. However, I do think there is much, much more Rick Ponting could do to insight at least a little bit of global sensitivity. His attitude towards his team has a steely systemisation, ruthless and mechanical; and is surely a significant testament to the clinical execution of the side. Still, considering that being an International cricket captain requires a lot of public relations skills – particularly International PR – Ponting could certainly take on more sensitivity to the media, even if he feels it best to remain the same towards the team.

    As someone who lives in the culture which births this attitude (as some people have commented on) on a daily basis, it is certainly understandable for other countries to see our attitude as bordering on outright racist. What I would personally say is that it is not racism, but the Australian attitude is very, very much indifference and insensitivity. We are indeed a multicultural country, but are only culturally sensitive as long as immigrants adhere to a long list of expectations to give them a “right” to live in the country (irony intended) – and most entry-people from other cultures will happily give up much of their heritage because living here was for the purpose of not being political prisoners, or earning more than $9USD per year. Our geographical isolation certainly themes our attitude, which in fact exceeds our location as our ignorance towards our Northern neighbors are disappointing compared to our short distance. I would not say we are racist (I think we are much more religiously bigoted than racially), just more completely oblivious that these issues exist, and our insensitivity fuels the fire. We’re not so much outright racist as we are totally oblivious to other cultures.

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