I stopped watching cricket keenly after Sachin’s retirement. I felt the game was losing its class. Australia’s visit, I believed was one of the most disgraceful series for cricket; chasing 350 regularly with that ease!!! The game had slowly become entertainment and batsmen centric with no respite for the bowlers. Pitches tweaked to suit the false ego of the unseasoned yet statistically superior Indian team, minimal away matches and off course the T20 kept us and probably cricket in a bubble of pretentious progress. I was oft labelled unpatriotic for supporting the underdogs struggling to fathom the spin and the top order onslaught of the Ghar ke sher (Own Den’s Lions)
Then came that spell by Deyl Steyn and cricket decided that it had had enough. The celebrated double centurion opener could not make contact with the ball till the third over. The bald belligerent guy with the handlebar moustache could not seem to end his love affair with the point fielder. Eleven guys in pink had brought India down with a thud. The whole outing could be summarised by the short exchange of words between Steyn and Rohit Sharma in the second test. Rohit replied to Steyn’s provocation, “come to India and we’ll see how you fare!!!” I loved that series. I thought we played way better than I’d expected and that such a series was a necessary jolt to learn especially keeping the Australia world cup in mind.
What transpired simultaneously was a monster with the horseshoe tash that shamed the inventors of the game beyond near return; a perfect revenge for the earlier Ashes whitewash! Now here too we saw home advantage come into play, but the team that won, was better in all fields. It wasn’t about outscoring the opponent but about demolishing it in every aspect- aggression, patience and intimidation.
Both of the above mentioned victors met at the former’s den and after ages we saw two Goliaths going at each other and finally one beaten at home. The series went doen to the wire with the Kangaroos just edging the Proteas resilience. I believe this marked the beginning of a new era, especially in test cricket, an era where the entire game is given respect, where old school hard core fast bowling is your spear and the shield of a backfoot defence is no longer termed ‘Boring’!!!
Before SA we had just one away test series in the past two years and that too against the Windies. We rarely find a top team being defeated at home. With the latest development I hope that changes and the game truly becomes International. It is time we think about the quality of the game more than the capital it brings in. A movie like Wolf of Wall Street is fun to watch, but it never deserves an Oscar 😛