Barbs fly…

After the drawn 1st Test played out at Bengaluru, each team and each set of fans will probably scramble to take the higher ground in the victory-stakes. Australia will claim that it was good to start the tour off with a draw rather than a loss. The Indians will claim “moral victory” because, after being on the back-foot right through the game, they “won” by enforcing a draw. Either way, the scoreboard will always call this a “draw”! Moral and psychological victories are for psychologists, plenty of dollars being expended and expensive leather couches! A draw is a draw is a draw!

Nevertheless, the barbs and scrambling for position has commenced!

Zaheer Khan already fired the first salvo when he said, “I have never seen an Australian team play such defensive cricket, which is a good thing for us,” at the post-match interview. Is he right? He need not be. It is just his view.

I am not a big fan of players using post-match, man-of-the-match interviews to fire barbs at the opposition. It was not in good form, in my book. Podium-interviews are to recognise your teams’ efforts, applaud the opposition, thank the sponsors, collect the cheque and make a hasty retreat. Yet, Zaheer Khan did utter those words.

Instead of accepting it and analysing it as nothing more than an opinion, several radio stations here in Melbourne do what some Australians do best — mock the opposition and run them down. A local radio station continued to play a clip from his interview in which he says, “I wanted to raise my bar” and pillory the Indian pace bowler rather than analyse what he was actually trying to say about the defensive tactics adopted by Australia. Yes, nice one guys. Shallow, no doubt. But very Australian! How is your Hindi, guys, I wonder? Naah! Let’s not go there. But more seriously, I reckon that that is the best form of respect that Zaheer Khan can get! Australian media seems to hate in-your-face sports-people. Wonder why?

So was Zaheer Khan right? He need not be. It is his view. Ricky Ponting provided a strange counter to Zaheer Khan’s barb in which he attacked the number of drawn games India play and added that Australia was the only one doing the running in the drawn Bengaluru Test.

Mahesh has provided an excellent analysis to counter Ricky Ponting’s wild (in my view) claims.

If you thought that the pre-tour lead up was without much of the customary, distasteful and disrespectful Australian reporting, you can bet your bottom dollar that it has erupted like a never-extinct volcano. There are reporters erupting wildly everywhere!

Take this vitriol-filled and bitterness-soaked gem from Channel-9’s sports reporter (as reported in the Indian Express). Here are some of the gems:

  • Serial offender Sourav Ganguly firstly persuaded the umpires to go off. Then when play resumed, Ganguly made Australia’s fielders and partner VVS Laxman wait an eternity because he’d apparently ‘forgotten to put his thigh pad on’.
  • Please! Can’t you be timed out in this game?
  • The spectators were the obvious losers in the entire exercise.
  • The players got something out of it. Pedantic officials got their moment of the glory. But billions of fans and more importantly — the game itself — got nothing out of this farcical finish in Bangalore.
  • With the match in the balance, a crucial hour’s play on the final day was lost, with not one, but two stoppages for bad light — when at times the sun was shining!
  • Umpires strutted about like Emperor Penguins, holding out their light metres — a device that like performance enhancing drugs should be banned.
  • If Test cricket continues to produce farcical finishes like this one in Bangalore, this great game’s Bradmans, Gavaskars, Tendulkars and Pontings will also be soon forgotten… Even by their mothers-in-law!

I did think, at the end of day-1 itself, that Australia’s tactics defied belief. I did decry this so-called “new age cricket”. This is un-Australian, in my view. I do not like it. I do hope Australia junk this and adopt Australia’s style of positive, dominant cricket. I knew then that this new age nonsense won’t get Australia to victory! I admire Australia’s tenacity and resolve. But this new age nonsense is chanelling that tenacity and dogged determination down the wrong channel; the boredom channel. Australia needs to play like they have in the past: attractive, dominant, foot-on-the-pedal stuff. They were, instead, trying to play like India in India! Why? Is this Guru Greg Chappell gone mad? Surely, this is not a Ricky Ponting theory? It can’t be! I can understand choking four-scoring opportunities for the free-wheeling, fat, old, puffing, lazy and immobile Indian batsmen. But it was inconceivable to me that Ricky Ponting had a spread out field with 25 overs to go, with India intent on saving the game! This is new age cricket? What was the worst that could have happened had India hit 4 sixers in a row at that point?

Australian tactics in this game did leave me a bit dumbfounded. This is not quite the dominant, foot-on-the-pedal Australia that I have seen in the past. And I can’t imagine that this emanated merely from being a quality spinner short! This is, I believe, management theory and hype running amok in the dressing room.

So, in my view, Ricky Ponting did get it wrong. The match ended in a draw. I do believe that after being on the top from the moment he called the toss correctly, Ponting let this game slip from his grasp. Apart from one single session in the game — session-9 on day-3 when Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan batted — India didn’t dominate any session comprehensively! Yet, the result was a draw! This can’t be an easy pill for the Australians to swallow. And for this, they only have themselves and their “new age nonsense” to blame. What is wrong with “plain cricket”? Will someone tell me?

— Mohan

20 responses to “Barbs fly…

  1. Peter Della Penna

    I agree with the last paragraph. It is a good point. Except for that session, Australia controlled the match. But you fail to point out the poor tactics of Kumble that really stalled the match. The most exciting part of the match was when Dhoni was in charge on day 4 at the start of Australia’s second innings. He crowded the bat and set attacking fields. But when Kumble returned to the field, the life had been sucked out of the match.

  2. @Peter: You do have a point. It was pointed out to me yesterday that, after the Harbhajan-Zaheer partnership, the most exciting part of the match — from an Indian point of view — was when Dhoni captained the India team and seemed to want to make things happen.

  3. You are all wrong–jus like Ponting and Kumble

    Even the Pakistani newspaper DAWN has chosen fit to publish the utterings and mutterings of one colnel !

    I can’t wait to see the end of the series–for Dilip’s vitriolic–and accurate, of course–reply to Ganguly poking fun at his team mates’ hairstyles!

    I believe everything Vengsarkar says. He batted like Greg Chappell–in the V for the first hour–and now analyses the game like just the Guru as well.

    Kumble was unfit to play in this test–he should have withdrawn–it is Kumble that let his team and the nation down.

    And apart from not bowling more overs, Kumble underbowled Sehwag.

    A fit Chawla would have worked wonders at Bengaluru–instead of the broken down jutka pony with a crooke shoulder , a dicky heart and a halo over the head .

  4. Sampath

    You write as Sampath, Govinda, Iyengar and perhaps other handles, depending on your mood. We all know that. But one thing is constant in all of these avatars. You remain a sandwich short of a picnic in all of these.

    You shout at the start: “You are all wrong” and then do not substantiate why. What are we all wrong about? Why are we wrong? Do these things matter to you? Obviously not. You just utter these pronouncements and then move on.

    Is there even one artery in your body that responds to logical and rational thought? No don’t answer that. I know the answer.

  5. chris hutchinson

    There’s no problem with what Zaheer has to say. But his timing is odd! If ever there was an Indian ot around to do the fighting against Australia when IT’S TIME to fight it’s him.

    He was stoked with the way he and Ishant bowled – whilst Australia made 430.

    He was more than stoic in getting India back into the game.

    The last time he tried to barb his way into the Australian minds was when he sledged Gilchrist in a World Cup final. Stopping only when “big mouth” Matt Hayden suggested that going for 17 in the first over would suggest that finding his line may be a good idea.

    Indian are the favourites and remain so at NIL all!

    But trying the verbal game on Australia rarely works.

    Man of the Match yes OK! But there in the finish when it gets tough.

    Time will tell.

  6. Chris,
    I think you were the one who predicted a brutal 4 day defeat for India @ Perth Test..

    Need I say more 🙂

  7. My Opinion. — on 1

  8. Here is the link to Andrew McKinlay’s article (from Channel 9) –
    “Farcical draw like kissing mother-in-law” 🙂

  9. chris hutchinson


    I really cant recall but probably would have. But what has that got to do with this!

    Ishant stood up beautifully on a flaccid deck…. an India failed in Sydney because a whinge was deemed the politics needed to be see as hard done by.

    India will get richer and stronger. But I still cant see the wins my friend.

    Do you think that they will come with your current cricket governance?

  10. Sudhir,


    with love


  11. You can’t take so many great players out of the side and expect the same style of cricket.

  12. @JB

    Don’t agree with you. More than any other team, Australia has placed a far greater emphasis on succession planning. Pinning this weird display from Australia on the lack of a spinner or recent retirements is too seductively simplistic, in my view.

  13. I agree that australia were less attacking than might have been expected but this is a team that no longer has Gilchrist,Langer, Martyn, Warne & McGrath.

    Pointing has a poor record against India overall & in India in particular.

    Hayden’s form is problamatic

    There was one practice game.

    Lee, Johnson, S Clark & White have never bowled in a test in India.

    Compare this against an Indian team that has perhaps the best middle order in Indian history & one to rival any in history and two spin bowlers with about 1,000 test wicket between them.

    Based on that how attacking should Australia have been?

    Did India expect the test to be handed to them on a plate with reckless batting & a generous declaration?

    An India team with Sehwag who has a huge record against Australia & in form.

    Yet against this for most of the game only one team could win.

    Ponting could have declared earlier but i suggest the “miracle test” was in his miond plus the destructive capacity of Sehwag

    The game was alive for Australia to win on the last day but they weren’t good enough.

    India was good enough to fight back with the bat in 1st dig & save the game on the last.

    Fair call on the Ch 9 comments but what is your opinion of a senior player not being ready to play? Was it intentional time wasting or mere incompetence?

  14. I didn’t see a weird display. I solid batting at a run rate acceptable for every other team in the world. Between 2.5 – 3 is normal.

    No Symonds, Hayden had a poor test, no Gilchrist, no Langer. Replaced with a couple of all rounders and a blocker in Katich.

    Sometimes the simple answer is the right one. Differen’t players, differen’t strategy.

  15. @JB

    That’s precisely the point I made. It is weird to me because Australia did not win 16 on the trot by batting at 2.8 runs per over! That run-rate may be “normal”, but is that the Australia we want? If that is the case, all you can expect is “normal” results! As I said… weird.

    This is not the first time Australia has lost players. Through the years, many a great player has retired/stepped-down: Marsh, Big Merv, Reid, Boon, Taylor, McDermott, May, Healy, Peter Taylor, Greg Matthews… many more.

    Right from the Alan Border era through Mark Taylor through the Steve Waugh era… Australia has lost players. But right from Alan Border’s time, Australia has always forced the pace and set the pace. In this match… we saw a nonsense “new age cricket” display.

  16. Just a transition period. That’s all my point is.

    The team is still very good, just take a little while to adjust.

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