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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Waugh’

A Decade After The Cliffhanger at The Edgbaston

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

It is hard to believe that cricket has traveled a lot from the 1999 World Cup. The pace has increased dynamically with the introduction of T20, however the sweet (or bitter) memories of the semi final between Australia and South African 1999 persist. Players have changed in both the sides, notwithstanding the presence of a few veterans. Australia has conquered the cricketing world in that yonks, which include 3 successive World Cup triumphs. The proteas, on the other hand have had ups and downs and reinforced their ‘Chokers’ tag on several occasions. The wound has not yet healed for the proteas.

Shaun Pollock sent back Mark Waugh in the first over of the match to give SA a brilliant start. Adam Gilchrist played in an unusual but effective way to take 68 runs on a deteriorating track. Finally, Jacques Kallis ended the patient knock from the Australian glovesman and South Africa gained the upper hand. Captain Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan forged a 90 runs partnership before a low-order hiccup reduced the Australian score to a below par 213 runs. Shaun Pollock claimed 5 wickets and Alan Donald finished with 4 wickets to give South Africa a definite chance to win the match.

Gibbs and Kirsten started off well and added 48 runs for the first wicket before Shane Warne came to dismiss both, and picked 3 wickets in just 8 balls! Match started to go in favor of Australia as a direct hit from Bevan found Daryl Cullinan short of his crease. Jonty Rhodes joined Kallis to rescue and consolidate the innings. After 40 overs, SA were in a comfortable position of 144/4, requiring further 70 runs from 60 balls. Paul Reiffel dismissed Rhodes in the 41st over to break that important partnership. Shaun Pollock made a quick fire 19 runs, which included a six and a boundary from Shane Warne’s over before he fell to Damien Fleming.

As expected, it went down to the wire! In the final over, 9 runs were needed and the man on strike was the hard-hitting Lance Klusener. He clobbered the first 2 balls of Damien Fleming to the fence and South Africa was just short of a whisker from reaching their maiden World Cup Finals. It all ended in the fourth ball. Steve Waugh had put all his fielders inside the 30-yard circle to pressurize Klusener. He pushed the ball down to the wicket and went for a run. Alan Donald, the non-striker was watching the ball and didn’t see Klusener running. He started off late and before he could complete the run, Adam Gilchirst clipped the bails off to end this cliffhanger.

Australia then went onto become the World Champions after demolishing Pakistan in the final at Lords. Lance Klusener was adjudged as the Man of the Tournament. After a year, in 2000, the South African captain Hansie Cronje was found guilty of match fixing and received a life ban. On June 1, 2002 an air crash in the Western Cape ended the life of South Africa’s greatest ever captain.

This match is considered as one of the best ever in the history of cricket. The reason perhaps is that the world hasn’t seen a match like that afterwards and is eagerly waiting for a similar one.

Fall From The Summit

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

When we put the performance of Ricky Ponting as a captain in perspective, statistically, he is slightly below Steve Waugh. However, it hardly reveals the current form slump of the Australian Team. Andrew Strauss, the captain of England has asserted that the Australians no longer have the aura, which their predecessors possessed.

Australia has played 50 test matches till date since January 2005, out of which they have won 31 test matches, which is not a bad conversion, either. However, after the retirement of Glenn McGrath in 2007, Australia has played 25 test matches and they could manage to win only 12 tests with a bleak success rate of 48 %. In this period they even suffered a demoralizing defeat from the hands of India by a whopping margin of 320 runs and suffered innings defeat twice in a duration of 8 months.

Although Australia is going through a patchy period, their captain Ricky Ponting is still considered as one of their best captains ever with 2 World Cup triumphs under his belt. As far as captaincy is concerned, Ricky Ponting has helmed Australia to victory in 38 out of 59 Test matches. His preceding captain and one of the best captains ever, Steve Waugh has led Australia in 57 Tests and managed 41 wins out of that, which is slightly above Ponting’s feat when we go statistically.

Does this analysis hold any logic? To be very frank, it doesn’t.  After Steve Waugh took over the captaincy from Mark Taylor, the Australians evolved as a very formidable team under his leadership. He infused ruthlessness and professionalism in to the team and made the difference. Ricky Ponting was lucky in his early stages as the captain because he had players like Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath and Warne who were in their peak form and could change a match by their individual efforts. This is perhaps the problem faced by the current Australian team. They don’t have any match winners apart from the seniors and lacks a consistent strike bowler.

Matches have become even more competent as the teams have realized the fact that Australia are brought to earth and are more vulnerable than before. We can perhaps relate this to the great West Indies in the early 90’s but it will be too early to make a call on this. If we go by the lines of Andrew Strauss, Australia no longer holds the ‘favorites’ tag and will face stiff challenges in the 2009 Champions Trophy and in the 2011 World Cup, where Australia defend their title

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