Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, CRICKET WORLD CUP 1999, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , , , |

Aus_S Waugh10


He came into the Australian squad as an all-rounder during the test series down-under versus India. He was a member of the team that won the World Cup in 1987. Within a few years, he lost his place in the test team to his twin brother who scored a century on debut in the Ashes of 1991. The player is Stephen Rodger Waugh who went to become one of the best batsmen of his generation and also one of the best captains in the game.

Following his exit from the team, Steve had a change in his approach to batting. The comeback into the team witnessed a different batsman who started to score runs in torrents. The opponents seemed to bring the best out of him and no one can forget the double hundred in the West Indies in 1995 that gave Australia the Frank Worrell trophy after a long interval.

Some of the most famous innings of Steve Waugh have come in the longer version of the game.For someone who batted down the order, big scores in the one-dayers were not always possible.

In the Reliance World Cup of 1987, Steve Waugh could not make a big contribution with his bat but on more than one occasion, took crucial wickets. Waugh was a very clever bowler who varied the pace much to the surprise of the batsmen. In the semi-finals versus Pakistan at Lahore, Waugh scored 18 runs off Salim Jaffer in the 50th over of the Australian innings.Those runs proved to be the winning margin for the Aussies. Later when Pakistan batted, he took a couple of wickets.

In the Wills World Cup of 1996, Steve Waugh had a few memorable outings like the half-century versus New Zealand at Chennai. In the semi-finals at Mohali, he produced a great delivery to stop Brian Lara who was well set to take the Windies to the finals.

But it was the ICC World Cup of 1999 that saw Steve Waugh’s emergence as a great captain.The Aussies had to really sweat it out after the initial stages.It was in the super-six match versus South Africa at Leeds that the famous Waugh magic came to the fore.It was a now-or-never match with Australia needing to win in order to have any further say in the tournament.

South Africa made 271 with Gibbs making a century. In reply, the Aussies had a poor start but Waugh went for the shots making a 50 off only 47 balls.When on 56, Waugh had a reprieve, thanks to Herschelle Gibbs.Legend has it that Waugh made a comment to Gibbs about the drop. Waugh went on to make 120 and took his team to the semi-finals. After a couple of days, the same two teams contested the semi-finals which ended in a tie and the Aussies went to the final on a better run-rate.

Waugh was not picked for the World Cup of 2003.He had to make way for new and younger players.But no one can question the part played by Waugh in the making of a strong Australian team.

I was fascinated once to learn that Steve Waugh played with a bat that was shorter in length in relation to the bats used by other players.The famous red hankie in the trouser pocket and the worn out baggy green are still fresh in my memory.

More than the style it was substance that was more important.

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Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003, IPL | Tags: , , , |


He first came into the picture when the Indian team was at the receiving end on a tour game in England facing a county side. He had the great ability to hit the ball to great distances. The same person also toyed with the Indian bowling on a tour to down under. He had the opportunity to play for England but declined in order to play for Australia.

For most of the Indian followers, he became a hate figure following the on-field events involving Harbhajan Singh.

It was only when Andrew Symonds got into the Australian one-day side that the world started to take note of the prowess of the man. Not only could he bat but also he was a tremendous fielder and a more than useful bowler. Symonds was powerfully built and when song could take on any bowler in the limited overs contests.The dread locks gave way to the clean shaven head and yet there was no change in his style as far as cricket was concerned.

He had a disastrous start to his test career facing the likes of Muthiah Muralitharan on the turning wickets of Sri Lanka. Symonds was dropped from the test team while he was a regular for the one-day team. He got a lucky break to play test cricket once again and he scored a fine century versus the visiting English team. However, things began to become difficult for him as the cricket administrators were forced to take disciplinary action following many ‘incidents’. All these culminated in Symonds not being picked up for the Australian sides and he announced his retirement from the international game. These days, he is a freelancer for the different teams in the T20 competitions.

The ICC World Cup of 2003 provided the platform for Symonds to display his talent in a big way. The defending champions Australia faced Pakistan at Johannesburg and Wasim Akram sent back Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden back to the pavilion early in the game. Damien Martyn also could not trouble the scorer as he was bowled by a Akram special. Jimmy Maher was out to Waqar Younis and only Ricky Ponting was holding fort tackling the Pakistan bowlers when Symonds came to crease.

Within no time the shots began to flow from the bat of Symonds and the pressure was on Pakistan. The ball kept racing to the boundary with the fielders joining the ranks of the spectators. Even the dismissal of Ponting could not deter Symonds from attacking the bowlers. Symonds made 143 runs from only 125 balls. The Pakistan bowlers had no answers to this onslaught and the frustration was reflected when Waqar Younis was stopped from bowling following two beamers bowled at Symonds. Thanks to Symonds, the Aussies scored 310 runs and Pakistan fell short by 92 runs.

In the semi-finals at Port Elizabeth, the Australians took on Sri Lanka. Chaminda Vaas had the Aussies in all kinds of trouble with excellent support from Aravinda DeSilva and Sanath Jayasuriya. None of the famous batsmen could stay long at the wicket and there was a real possibility of Sri Lanka upsetting the top ranked team. But Symonds had other ideas and in a display of controlled aggression scored 91 from 118 balls. This was a slow effort and Australia laboured to 212 from 50 overs. Following a rain disruption, the Sri Lankans had to score 172 runs in 38 overs. They could only score 123 and the Aussies went to the finals for the third time. In the finals versus India, Ponting and Martyn trashed the Indian bowlers leaving very little for the likes of Symonds.

Symonds was a part of the Australian team that won the World Cup again in 2007.By this time, he was an established member of the squad who had many years of top class cricket left in him. But things did not go according to the script and now when Australia is desperate to re-establish its superiority, Symonds is on the sidelines.

Symonds would have been a wonderful addition to the Australian side for the World Cup of 2011.His ability to clear the boundaries would have been a great asset on the smaller grounds of the subcontinent.

It is a pity that a man with so much ability would be restricted to the IPL and other such T20 events.

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Posted on February 14, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , |


He came on to the international scene as an unknown and surprisingly, was made the captain of the team. He was tall and lanky and unlike many left handers, did not show much grace at the crease. But with the passage of time, he showed tremendous application as a batsman. If I remember correctly, Fleming decided to open the innings in the test matches on a tour to Sri Lanka and went on to make a double hundred.However, it is as a captain that he showed great skill and at times plotted the downfall of much more accomplished teams and opposing players.I remember a series played in Australia where he employed a specific field for Damien Martyn and the batsman got out playing the same shot on more than one occasion.

I am talking about Stephen Fleming. It was not an easy task to lead the New Zealand who did not possess any great players after the retirements of the likes of Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe. It is to the credit of Fleming that at times the Kiwis made a mockery of their standing in the international arena. The battles with the traditional rivals the Aussies were always something to look forward to even when the Kiwis were beaten.

The 1992 World Cup with Martin Crowe at the helm saw New Zealand make the best use of the home conditions with the team going all the way to the semi-finals. But in the later editions, the team could not make much of a progress despite the sterling performances of a few individual players.

Few gave a chance to the team led by Fleming in the 2003 edition of the ICC World Cup. But one innings from Fleming showed his intelligence much to the chagrin of the home team, South Africa at Johannesburg.

The Proteas were under great pressure after the narrow loss to the West Indies. They had to win in order to have any chance of going forward in the tournament. The team led by Shaun Pollock scored 306 with Gibbs scoring 143. All the bowlers suffered including the likes of Shane Bond and the normally reliable Daniel Vettori.

The target of 307 was always going to be something of a mountain for the Kiwis to climb. But then there was always a possibility of rain intervening and the DL method deciding the outcome of the match. This was kept in my mind by Fleming and he went on to play shots. Always the Kiwis were ahead of the required runs and when the rains came and put a halt to the proceedings, the Kiwis got home comfortably. The home team was caught unawares about the score they had to defend and let Fleming to call the shots.

Stephen Fleming made 134 in only 132 balls and controlled the chase beautifully. Testing my memory I recall one incident where the ball ricocheted off the bat of Fleming following a throw from a South African fielder. Normally, the batsmen don’t run but Fleming calmly took the runs on offer.It might have been unsportsmanlike, though not illegal but it just shows the determination of Fleming to win.This innings was called the ‘innings of a lifetime’.

I have read somewhere that Fleming was a student of Economics and that is how probably he mastered the technique of getting the best out of his team with limited resources. It is all the more satisfying since yours truly also is a student of Economics

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Posted on February 11, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP 1999, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , , , |


He was considered one of the finest fielders at the position once graced by Jonty Rhodes. On his day, he could take apart any attack out of the ground.

Recently, he came out with a tell-all autobiography that did not show his teammates and the coaching staff in a good light. He also was not ashamed to reveal his weakness for the good things in life.

He was infamously part of the few players who confessed to taking orders from Hansie Cronje to throw away matches. After the ban, he came out with the jersey having two 0s on it to signify his intentions of starting afresh.

As far as the World Cup is concerned, Herschelle Gibbs is best remembered for the dropped catch that gave Steve Waugh and his team the opportunity to go all the way to winning the Cup. The innings of Steve Waugh and the dropped catch overshadowed the fine effort of Gibbs with the bat earlier in the day at Leeds. Gibbs made 101 and this helped his team to post a score of 271. The match was inching towards South Africa until Gibbs in an attempt to hurl the ball into the air dropped it. Steve Waugh took full advantage of the reprieve and made the South Africans pay dearly. It is said that Waugh had a jibe at Gibbs for not just the catch but the World Cup being dropped. The Aussies beat the Proteas and went to the semi-finals where the same two teams came face-to-face.

With Shaun Pollock putting up a great display, the Aussies could only muster up a score of 213.This was not a target beyond the reach of South Africa even when the Australians had bowlers of the caliber of McGrath and Warne. Gibbs was playing well until he was bowled by a Warne special and South Africa found it difficult to score. Even Klusener’s late heroics could not help the team and match ended in a tie. The Australians went to the finals on the back of their earlier victory over South Africa.

In the World Cup of 2003, South Africa faced New Zealand at Johannesburg. South Africa needed to win the match to progress further in the tournament since they were defeated by the West Indies. The home team was off to steady start and Gibbs was in his elements taking the Kiwi bowlers to the cleaners. He made 143 off only 131 balls with 3 sixers. South Africa scored 306.

The target of 307 was always going to be a difficult one for the Kiwis. However, the New Zealand skipper, Stephen played the innings of a lifetime. Rain caused a reduction in the number of overs and the Kiwis were always ahead of the required runs as stipulated by the DL method. South Africa lost again.

Gibbs finished on the losing side twice in the World Cup even when he made great contributions with the bat. Of course, Gibbs made amends during the famous chase of 434 versus Australia.

Gibbs would be the first person to admit that the World Cup was a much greater stage than any other.

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Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003, WILLS CRICKET WORLD CUP 1996 | Tags: , , , , |


Few players have in the modern era have been as entertaining to the true followers as the left-hander from the tiny island of Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, I am talking about Brian Charles Lara, the only man to have made 400 in a test innings and 501 in a first class innings. His highest score before the quadruple hundred was 375. It was a pure delight watching Lara bat whether in a test match or in limited overs. But he could never be a part of a World Cup winning team.

But there have been a few innings from the flashing blade of Lara that spelt doom for the opponents in the World Cup.

Lara was a part of the West Indies team that took to the field in the World Cup of 1992 but apart from the half-century against Pakistan there was very little from him. But by 1996, Lara was clearly the most accomplished batsman of his team. The team was not a favourite but managed to reach the semi-finals.

In the quarterfinals the West Indies took on the mighty South Africa at Karachi. Few gave the West Indies any chance considering the Proteas had it very easy against all opponents in the earlier matches. The West Indies batted first and made 264 with Chanderpaul and Lara scoring the bulk of the runs. Lara played as only he could, scoring against all the bowlers with his 111 coming off only 94 balls. The ball kept eluding the fielders and speeded away to the boundary on both sides of the wicket. Worse, Jacques Kallis a very reliable catcher, dropped Lara and the batsman took full advantage of the reprieve. Once these two batsmen departed, the innings folded for a score that was not seemingly enough. However, the South Africans have been showing us again and again as to why they are called the ‘chokers’ and they fell short of the target and were knocked out off the World Cup.

In the semi-finals, the Australians struggled to score freely against the likes of Bishop, Walsh and Ambrose. The West Indies seemed to have the match in their grip until Lara tried to manufacture a shot and was bowled by Steve Waugh. It was only then that Warne took over and hastened the demise of the West Indies. But for that fateful shot, the West Indies could have been in the final.

There was very little of note as far as Lara was concerned in the World Cup of 1999.By 2003, there was little expected from the West Indies. South Africa was the host and even as the team was just rebuilding following the aftermath of Cronjegate, the West Indies was not considered much of a challenge.

The hosts took on the West Indies in the first match of the ICC World Cup of 2003 at Newlands in Capetown. Gayle and Hinds departed early and Lara took to the crease. He received good support from the other batsmen like Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Hooper. Lara made 116 and the West Indies put up 278 runs on the board. Lara started cautiously, but as more time was spent at the wicket, the shots started to flow from his bat. Once again, the ghosts of the past caught up as South Africa fell short of 3 runs. This defeat did not knock South Africa out of the World Cup but as things transpired was one of the factors for the first round exit of the hosts.

A month ago, Lara expressed his desire to take part in the Indian Premier League much to the surprise of everyone. The team owners had other ideas and decided not to ‘buy’ Lara. Does Brian Charles Lara require the approval of the ‘chaddi’ cricket to cement his place in the hall of fame?

Wah Lara, kya mara!

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Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , , |


In recent times, India has won matches both at home and away, thanks to the emergence of quick bowlers .One such instance featured the match between India and England in the ICC World Cup of 2003 at Kingsmead, Durban in South Africa.

India batted first and made 250 a score that seemed defendable considering the difficulties of batting second under the lights. But there was anxiety over the ability of the Indian bowlers.

Marcus Trescothick was snared by Zaheer Khan and the other opener Nick Knight was run out. Then it was the Ashish Nehra show all the way. The left-armer from Delhi was always regarded as a talent but then has the uncanny knack of getting injured at the most inopportune time. However, on that balmy night, everything paled before the magnificent show put up by Nehra. He made the ball and the English batsmen dance to his commands. The balls to dismiss Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart are still fresh in the memory. There were 6 wickets for only 23 runs and that sealed the win for India despite some typical powerful hits from Flintoff.

In between his bowling, Nehra had a brief stint of throwing up his food and drink but there was no respite for the English. On one occasion, the speedgun reported a speed of over 150 kmph much to the surprise of everyone. Even if there was some error, nothing can be taken away form Nehra.

The showing of Nehra seemed to have brought some relief to the minds of the followers of Indian cricket who were fed up with their batsmen brought down to the knees by the swinging ball on tours to England.

Hope Nehra comes up with a similar spell in the ICC World Cup of 2011 even as the conditions at home are radically different from those that evening at the Kingsmead.

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