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Goodbye To A Legend

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Cricket has come to that period where a generation says goodbye to the legends they grew up with. A few years back the world said farewell, albeit a little later than they expected, to Sanath Jayasuriya. Last year India’s most underrated batsman, Rahul Dravid, bowed out of international cricket; and today the world prepares to say goodbye to Ricky Ponting.

Ponting has been in an up-and-down patch in his career for the past year. Averaging less than 15, he had a superb summer against India which included a double hundred before being shored up against the West Indies and now South Africa. While most supporters of the man have called for his inclusion, many others (including himself) knew that time was running out.

He did what all great sportsman do and called time on a career that was reaching its end.

Ponting can leave international cricket behind with his head held high knowing he was only second to Sachin Tendulkar in both runs and centuries, while he also has the mantle of having won three successive World Cups leading his team in two of those. He was also one of the most successful captains in test and one day cricket, and while people argue it was the team that gave him this, his record as captain speaks for itself.

Of course his career will be pockmarked with the three Ashes losses, including one at home, while a couple of hiccups against India and South Africa also surfaced in his time at the helm. His last bout as captain came in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup against eventual winners India. Ponting shrugged off the criticism to play a great hundred, but was unfortunately unable to deliver his team to a fifth consecutive final.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ricky Ponting a couple of times and from a personal point of view was certainly impressed with him. Despite having a hectic schedule Ponting took time off to get a game of golf in during their World Cup campaign in Sri Lanka. Even better was the fact that I got to play with him. The game gave me an insight in to the man off the field and away from the public spotlight.

Friday will be his last test match, and ironically it is Australia’s opportunity to regain the number 1 mantle (a spot Ponting did a great deal to secure for Australia in the first place). I will certainly be watching the match, and no doubt be hoping to see him produce that great last innings (similar to Greg Chappell) to help his team take the series and the number one spot.

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The “Myths of Cricket”

For all those who have sat down to a broadcast of a game of cricket, you would have at some point or another been exposed to what I like to call the “Myths Of Cricket”. These in reality are simply comments or ideas that commentators and the media have instilled in the viewers of the game. Below are the top six myths (I chose six to change it up from the traditional 10 or 5) as I see them.

6. “20/20 cricket is the new format that is being rapidly accepted by all those in the cricketing world”. This is a false assumption on the part of many people. while the format has brought about some exciting match-ups it has been unable to truly challenge test cricket. While many people use the example of its popularity in India, we should remember that Indians are not fans of test cricket. Prior to T20s One Day Cricket was their favourite, this is true for the entire sub-continent. Back in England, Australia or South Africa Test Cricket continues to prove that is the pinnacle sport with sellout crowds turning up at every game (take a look at the ongoing West Indies-England series).

5. “Left handers are the more stylish batsmen”. Another false theory; Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid. All three of those players are not only the best in the business, but also the most stylish to watch. On the other hand; Shiv Chanderpaul, Simon Katich and Graeme Smith are all highly accomplished left handers, but you would not want youngster mirroring them when batting

4. “A spinner needs variations”. The verdict on this argument has not come in yet, but personally I disagree with this theory. Graeme Swann (and to a lesser extent Nathan Lyon) have proven that a spinner with an orthodox delivery and good control is capable of being a match-winner. In fact Muralithan, prior to the introduction of his doosara, was considered a more lethal bowler. In this case less mean more.

3. “Fast bowlers do not make good fielders”. Ten years ago this comment would not have drawn a second glance, however, in today’s modern game more and more fast bowlers are doubling as excellent fielders. Jame Anderson for England is one such example, in fact his safe hands often see him employed in the gully or slip region. Brett Lee of Australia is another example of a fielder who is a brilliant catcher with a rocket arm.

2. “Tailenders coming out and slogging is entertaining”. This is by far one of the worst told lies I continue to hear from commentators. Gone are the days when cricketers could get away with throwing their wicket away. Muralitharan was one such player who never put any effort into his batting and more often than not swung wildly across the line. Today, apart from the iconic Christ Martin, no team possess what you would call a traditional number eleven. That being all eleven players are capable of holding a bat and contributing in way or another. In fact solid defending and grafting of runs by the tailenders are far more satisfying for the supporters, seeing a tailender play a loose shot often brings about a groan of frustration.

1. “Cricket is a batsman’s game”. This, in my view, is a blatant lie and one which must be called out every time it is mentioned. Yes the spectators love to see centuries and boundaries hit, but it is wickets that will draw a crowd to its feet, and it is wickets that will reignite a lazy Sunday at a test match. A game could be dragging on with the batsmen dominating the bowlers, when suddenly that elusive wicket comes about, the crowd is drawn to its feet and all eleven players converging on the bowler in celebrations. Low scoring games dominated by bowlers have more often than not produced a far more exciting contest than one which is dominated by the bat.

Wickets bring both the players and crowds to their feet faster than runs”