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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