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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cricket: South Africa No.1, England Busy Fighting KP, India Ready!


South Africa No.1!
If you thought star-ego wars were restricted only to Indian teams—be it in cricket or tennis—you were proved wrong by what happened or rather still happening in England. Interestingly, this gives you another chance to strengthen the synthesis that basically we Indians inherit most of our negative mindsets from our past colonial masters—England! Whatever be the legacy of the once ‘masters’ and once ‘slaves’ both of these countries show the ominous tendency to sacrifice national interests or pride in the rampant inability of their respective sports managers to handle their star players judiciously. 

South Africa had just become the No.1 Test team in International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings by toppling England with a 2-0 win in the recent Test cricket series played between the two countries in England. The winning margin of greater than 1-0 came for South Africa after long sixty years. Gary Kristen shines as maybe the first ever coach to take two different teams to No.1 position—India being the first beneficiary. 

Hashim Amla!
Incidentally, England became the No.1 team by drubbing India 4-0 in the Test series played in England in 2011. South Africa won the first Test played in July, 2012 riding high on an incredible unbeaten triple century by Hashim Amla and thus routing England by an innings and 12 runs. The second Test was drawn due mostly to rains, and therefore the third Test became very crucial for England as they faced losing their No.1 position if they did not manage to win it. But by then, the star-ego war between Kevin Pietersen (KP) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was raging. 

All was not well with Kevin Pietersen since he returned from playing in the Indian Premiere League-5 during April-May, 2012. It was likely that he must have fought with the ECB over adjusting his schedules considering his high stakes in the IPL. To bring matters to a head KP announced his retirement from one day international cricket and expressed his willingness to continue in T20 cricket. The ECB rebutted by saying that he had to retire wholly from limited overs cricket and not just from one-dayers. KP had to retract his announcement later. 

Kevin Pietersen!
After the England rout in the first Test of the South Africa-England Test Series-2012 all hell broke loose on the suspicion that KP had sent some mobile text messages to South African players criticizing his own teammates and the cricket board. Text messages normally imply very private communication between individuals and no third party is supposed to know or debate them. But maybe due to KP’s South Africa-born background and his past temperamental history the woes increased manifold for him and the ego war showed no signs of abating. Either party did not want to yield an inch. 

Eventually KP was dropped from the England team for the all-important third Test and apparently there was no consideration for the possible loss of national pride if England failed to win it. A key player figuring in his team’s many wins was thrown out for petty ego hassles. That England lost the exciting third Test on the last day by 51 runs and got dethroned to No.2 position in ICC Test rankings was history. 

The ego buck refused to stop even then. Kevin Pietersen was dropped too from the T20 World Cup coming up in Sri Lanka from September, 18, 2012. This decision was taken despite knowing the facts that England’s triumph in T20 World Cup-2010 was its first ever in ICC tournaments and KP was instrumental in the team’s wins in the crucial later matches leading up to the final. The Indian Tennis story was a recent similar case when the nation’s prospects in London Olympics-2012 got compromised due to endless ego wars and pathetic mismanagement. 

A nationalist mindset would serve sports better than the master-servant one! 

 Meanwhile, the India-New Zealand Test cricket series starts from tomorrow, August 23, 2012 and Team India is definitely going to exploit home conditions to win the Series in an effort to improve its ICC Test rankings too. For the first time in 16 years India will be playing a Test without the services of both Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. The focus will be ruthlessly on the youngsters for whom skipper Dhoni has been batting so intensely over the recent years. India will also be playing a Test after nearly 8 months with the painful memory of 8 straight away losses. And, this is going to be only the beginning a packed domestic season for months ahead.

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