Monday, May 17, 2010

T 20....World Cup 2010...England scale the summit...finally

The English had invented the game of cricket & it was in the green turfs of England that the first ever World Cup cricket was held in 1975. Since then, every four years, there has been a World Cup to play for across the globe; the ICC Champions Trophy got introduced in the late ‘90s & then in 2007, even the shorter format of T20 has been introduced……each of them, a popular event, watched by billions across, with fervor & excitement….the game becoming more & more intense.

Through all these years, there have been various champions, starting with the legendary West Indies winning the ’75 & the ’79 tournaments on the trot before losing to the mercurial Indians in 1983. Australia has dominated the tournaments from there on winning most of them. With Sri Lanka and Pakistan winning the World Cups in between & then New Zealand & South Africa claiming the Champions Cup, it was only England, amongst the premium cricket playing nations, who had nothing to display as a summit winner.

And this time around, the English team, played like a team possessed, a team which believed in its capabilities even in duress, a team that was quietly willing to extend every sinew of their reserve energy, a team that had only one superstar in Kevin Pieterson, who excelled consistently, & had all others contributing around him to add to the core strength. The team did not let hiccups of a rain truncated loss to the Windies or a near loss to the rookies Ireland, create any panic. The team was methodical, disciplined & had the rare belief in themselves that separates a Champion from the rest of the pack. While the world was anticipating heavy weights like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Australia to win the tournament, the English, kept their job at hand simple & straight. The think tank of skipper Paul Collingwood & coach Andy Flower (remember the elite batsman from Zimbabwe), did a wonderful job of keeping the players fit & focused, both mentally & physically. The batting revolved around Michael Lumb & Kiewswetter at the top with Pieterson & Collingwood following, keeping Eoin Morgan & Luke Wright to do the finishing rights. In the bowling department, it was Sidebottom, Bresnan, Broad & Swann excelling with the white leather to send jitters in the rivals camp. The fielding was above par, with each of the eleven players willingly throwing themselves at the ball…..the rivals had no chance to breathe or relax. This team seriously meant business. In the end, they were the deserving champions, & looked every bit of it. What seemed like an outlandish joke two weeks ago had turned itself into a reality. Pieterson, was deservingly the man of the tournament. He also managed to fly back to his wife in between to see her deliver their first child…..a proud moment indeed.

India, under Dhoni, played some unbelievable cricket. The team boasting of enough & more match winners, strangely never bunched together as a team. All the players in the squad had played in the recently concluded IPL3 & therefore had enough match practice under their belt. But, having won the initial round matches with elan & ease, the men in blue probably took things too much for granted. The captain cool suddenly, looked completely out of sorts & the team just withered away, snatching losses from their opponents, as if the desire to win was not there. Barring Raina, most of the players looked jaded & out of shape. It was a tournament, which Dhoni & Co would like to forget in a hurry… was simply nightmarish. For the first time since he became the captain of India, the punt chances taken by MSD has gone all wrong, & he has to take the brunt of the same. The team looks sure to face some serious revamp & changes.

The Aussies, overwhelming favorites in the finals, were very good & consistent through the tournament. After defeating Pakistan in a stiff semis, they looked almost sure of mauling their Ashes rivals, but they were against a resurgent English side, which was the better side on the day. Skipper Clarke would rue missing out on winning the finals, the only tournament, that the mighty Aussies have not conquered as yet.

The hosts, Windies, as usual faltered to deceive. The only memorable win for them was against the Indians, where Gayle blasted them to a resounding victory. The cheering & ever dancing crowd, kept screaming & guzzling beer, but the somehow, the team was patchy & eventually lost out. The only consolation could be that they defeated England, the eventual Champions, though it was a rain truncated match.

Teams like South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand lacked consistency & faded away one after the other.

So at the end of a fortnight of intense cricket in the picturesque Caribbean’s, finally the Union Jack fluttered all over & the barmy army got their first ever major Silver ware in the arena of cricket….The T20 World cup – 2010 will now be in display in the English dressing room. Inspirational Paul Collingwood led England team has finally buried all the demons of being the regular under performers in the past.

Kudos to the victors……