Monday, August 15, 2005

Old Trafford

I followed every minute of the exciting last day at Old Trafford on Test Match Special on BBC radio, and frankly, I have chewed on the last vestiges of my poor nails (courtesyEdgbaston) and I am now down to half a thumb and forefinger. First, a word of praise for the TMS team. Back in India, ever since ESPNSTAR entered our lives, about 1991-92, practically every major cricket series has been available to watch. While there's no denying the incredible amount of cricket knowledge this brought, what with the amazing expert teams of commentators, pitch reports, key tests, etc. , TMS took me back to the good old pre satellite TV days when I, all of 8 years, used to tune in to BBC radio on SW transmission to catch test match broadcasts and to MW transmission for Ranji trophy match broadcasts. The TMS team consisting of Christopher Martin Jenkins, Geoff Lawson, Graham Gooch, Jon Agnew, Vic Marcs et al. transported me to the action at Manchester in a way only truly great radio commentators can. Laced with typically dry English humor (the asides on the supposed row between Warney and Punter were particularly hilarous), and interspersed, for good measure, with keen insights into the edge of the seat excitement at Old Trafford, it was a truly wonderful experience. Thank you TMS!

Now, on to the match. Punter showed more character than I would have given him credit for. Blame it on his mateship with Mark Waugh during the latter's playing days, and his love for a good punt, but I have always looked at him as too much of a weak character to stamp his authority on this great Australian side as a leader. I mean, you just looked at Steve Waugh's side and said that, yes, that was HIS side. Ditto for Taylor and AB. In his early test matches as Captain, he had the experience of Darren Lehmann (Yuck!) to guide him, but coming into the Ashes, his tactical and decision making abilities seemed about as solid as a politician's promise.
But anyway, his 156 was the stuff of legend, the kind of stuff that Steve Waugh built his persona on. He will probably never be a Taylor or a Warne as far as tactics and strategy go. He might never match Steve Waugh for sheer force of personality, decison making and ability to inspire men. But today he has gone some way towards proving that he CAN be a leader of men, given eough time. I see, rather, I hope for another period of decline for the Aussies to match that of early-to-mid 80s, and the romantic in me almost willing Punter to guide them out of the rut, flinty eyed and grumpy, much like AB did.
A word on Warney too. The flawed genius or the wizard, no matter what he is to you, there is no denying the fact that he is the greatest champion in the world today, Tendulkar,Lara and Dravid notwithstanding. No one I have seen in the last 20 years of watching cricket has come close to influencing test match results with as much regularity as he has. Ball, bat and mouth, he just has it all. The media has not been kind to him, nor has Cricket Australia, in denying him captaincy, but when he is gone, the game shall not hold half the charm it does now, as far as I am concerned.
And finally, a word of appreciation for both the sides enacting this great Drama, and opening the eyes of the football crazy English nation to the excitement that even a draw in cricket can offer.


Blogger Minal said...

I visit your blog daily! You ought to know that:-)
True about what you say about Warne
and Ponting. For the first time I saw myself back Ponting and seeing his innings as I said that was the one innings why Aussie needed to salvage a draw.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Mangesh said...

Great work man, u shud think of some sort of cricket journalism as an alternative career. Maybe when u get bored with high voltage!

Chal, just dropped in to say HI.. :-)

1:41 AM  
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1:04 AM  

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