September 19, 2013
The Mighty Australians will be remembered as dominant, destructive and unkind.
An era of spectacular cricket full of freedom, entertainment and enthusiasm exhibited by a phenomenal side has finally begun to rust and deteriorate. In the high school history classes we were taught how the legendary empire of Vijayanagara saw its reign peaking, with might of its defense and immeasurable wealth and then tragically falling down dusted to the graveyard, with desolation.
Back in the mid-nineties while we were growing up, the Aussies saw a sudden surge in their quality of cricket. They produced hostile bowlers with likes of herculean seamer Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming, Jason Gillespie, and later the furious Bret Lee. This was energized by their top class batting order in the form of ever dependable Mark Talyor, the Waugh Brothers, the brutal Adam Gillchrist, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Justin Langer, Michel Bevan and the all time great leg spinner Shane Warne. By the beginning of 2000’s Australia had already ascended up the rank ladder emerging as the top side in all formats of the game.
Moreover the great players were replaced by great players, soon Mathew Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Michel Clarke followed the bandwagon. This also resulted in some major triumphs including world titles in 1999, 2003 and 2007. They whitewashed England in the Ashes, tore apart South Africa and blew away India and Pakistan. Most of the times considering the might of the Aussies, opposition lost the series before it had begun. With more success, money and status, the Australians lost the human touch prevalent in Cricket and their sportsmanship was at deficit.
But a major drawback stamped their foreheads; the age factor. This is what they failed to forecast in their glorious times. Even during the peak of their cricketing triumphs, most of their stars were already in mid thirties. And as expected, the side lost its Midas touch, as once their stars bade farewell.
Throughout their dominant days, the Aussies invariably became one of the most fearsome sides ever in the history of the game, and at the same time the most disliked. So what could have been the reason behind this paradox?
Shooting a few decades back, the West Indies of 70’s that boasted of tychoonic pace spearheads and thunderous batting force had rather different accomplishment. Being the deadliest side in the days, didn’t hamper their image in world stage. They build up considerable fanbase all around and pulled the crowds to the stadiums wherever they traveled. One upon other, they exceeded brilliance, led by the calm and articulate Clive Loyd, kick started by the maverick opening duo of Haynes & Greeneige, bolstered by the enigmatic Richards, and massacred by the high voltage pace attack of Holding, Marshall, Garner, Roberts, and Croft.
It didn’t matter how they tormented the host teams, knocking their heads with moronic bouncers and smashing their bowlers to stands, the crowds cheered every moment of it. They were largely seen as icons, in some corners of India they were idol worshipped and never to forget those leading Bollywood ladies who dated these Caribbean greats. It was an era of celebration of Caribbean cricket.
So what made the windies of yesteryear so adorable to the public? It had to do with sheer attitude. The windies never crossed the line from being aggressive to abusive. Their game exhibited greatest flamboyance in all three departments and even at the helm of their cricketing glories, the windies never lost their foothold on earth while sweeping the skies. Their excellence blended with humility, and their hunger for victory never came at a price of opposition’s dismay.
In the nineties the Windies saw a steady drift in their performance, suddenly their bowlers got hounded by opposite teams to all parts of ground and hence the Caribbean domination in World cricket was over. This slumping slide of a once known great side from roof top to the floor drew many sympathizers. Many pitied their down bottom position in the world stage, and the fans kept backing the side whenever it manged to pull out rare victories. At some point, where the Windies threw out occasional upset triumphs somewhere in 2004 champion’s trophy and the 2012 T-Twenty World Cup, the world admired with jubilance.
But the case of Great Australia’s fifteen year world domination, speaks of many ills. Their only ambition lay on winning at any cost. There showed no mercy for a fighting opponent, there was absolutely no rapport with the crowd and no friendly gestures.
The yellow jerseyed Lions roared, eye-locked their opponents, chased them and gruesomely tore them apart into pieces and eat them without slightest mercy. When they had finished their opponents, they jumped upon eachother with overreacted joy, like a bunch of high school boys. Over a period of time, they developed gruesome aggression, bad attitude, intimidating behavior, degrading their global reputation to a considerable extent.
While an opponent batsman counter attacked, they used negative tactics, with annoying glares, sledges and covert appeals. Even when they were totally convinced that the ball had grounded before a catch, or ball had kissed the bat before hitting the pads, they never shied away from hauling and pressuring the umpires to raise their finger. The worst episode of this hostile attitude erupted during the 2007/08 home series against India. The second test at Sydney ended with tense thriller drama and the succeeding couple of weeks saw emotions and frustration from both sides. Leading Cricket columnist Peter Roebuck wrote a hard criticism of Australian attitude in the Test match demanding skipper Ricky Ponting to step down and urging Indian Team to pack their bags.
As the roaring Lions departed from their services, and returned to the den, the cubs have failed to live upto their masters. The new comers seem like wild cats against the roaring lions. The aggression, attitude and hunger for win are greatly lacking. And the World loves it. Nobody seems to sympathize with woeful washouts Aussies have suffered of recently at the hands of their eternal enemies India and their traditional rivals England. The empire has fallen, and decaying badly. Unlike the Great Windies of Seventies that is remembered with esteem and cheer reverence, The Legacy of great Australia will be remembered as one of being dominant, destructive, inimical and unkind.
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