Friday, June 02, 2006

Quick to deify, quicker to condemn

Knives will be sharpened and brickbats merrily hurled in wake of the Indian teams batting performance at the end of the first day of the First Test match against West Indies.

231 for 9 in 88 overs does not look good. But then most of us appear to assume that the opposition has nothing to do with how the Indian team performs. So, if you read any report of the days proceedings, I can guarantee that the writers will talk about the batsmen "throwing their wicket away", "playing loose shots", "feet not moving", "tailenders showing how it is done"...etc. Very few will focus on the fact that the West Indian bowlers induced these moments of indecision from the batsmen with a brilliant display in the field.

I thought the day's play was engrossing and the pitch curator deserves some credit for making an even-steven pitch. No matter how long a batsman was at the crease, he was never really set. All day there was swing, seam, and spin for the bowlers who knew where to pitch the ball. Like a spider that sets a trap, Lara set his ring of fielders and waited. Give credit to the bowlers, too. No matter how good a batsman is, he is only as good as the bowler lets him be (with the occasional exception). Bradshaw had an awful day and, not surprisingly, he was hit around the park. The others had a great day and they reaped the rewards.

We need to ease up a little bit and enjoy the tightness of the match, something that ODI's fail to evoke except on the rare occasion.

A little perspective will not hurt. For example, in 1999 Australia toured West Indies for a 4 Test series with a new captain - Steve Waugh. At the end of the first day the Australians, after winning the toss and electing to bat, were 174 for 6 in 90 overs. Yes, the Aussie team that would go on to be called one of the greatest Test teams ever was 174 for 6 in 90 overs. They went on to make 269 in 121.3 overs. No great shakes and not too dissimilar to India's current position, either.

The point I am trying to make is that we (Indian fans) tend to behave as if the Indian team is plunging to great depths everytime they fail to post a 400+ score. Things are not always hunky-dory, even for the best of teams, so why should our performance be any different. The Aussies eventually went on to win the Test match.

Most of the West Indian bowlers showed how to do it. Can the Indians duplicate it? Either way, I shall be very engrossed in tomorrow's proceedings.

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