Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epimetheus Speaks...



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(For those that are not aware, Epimetheus is the greek God of excuses and second-guessing.)

India managed a comfortable draw, demonstrating that the mental strength acquired over the last several years is real. They proved that it's not simply a Laxman rearguard that is responsible for their famous chases and saves. The evolution of the Indian side into a team is complete.

Since the transition that can be traced back to 2001, began in earnest, fans have wanted India to dominate. Unfortunately, India couldn't find that fast bowler or the metronome that would have made the team complete. Zaheer has out-performed his physical abilities and given India the solution to it's fast bowling quandry. But it was clear that India missed the Steyn and Lee kind of bowler in the third innings of this test match.

Kallis had to play a superb innings to rescue South Africa from what looked a sure defeat. Harbhajan bowled his best spell abroad, but without Zaheer or Sreesanth contributing from the other end, it came to nought. Let this rekindle the debate about Swann vs Harbhajan. The Swann honeymoon appears to be over, just like the Ajantha Mendis one was done as well as Harbhajan's own after the 2001 epic series. Swann is a good bowler and he will re-invent himself, but he still has to earn his place in the hall of fame.

For India, the highlight is the manner in which Gambhir and Tendulkar overcame Dale Steyn. We were very lucky to have witnessed fast bowling of such class. I have not had as much pleasure watching opposition bowlers since I saw Marshall and Holding in 1983 and Wasim Akram in 1999. It takes very special talent and discipline to overcome such ferocity. The Indian teams prior to 2001 would have simply crumbled under such onslaught. Several instances come to mind, chief among them being Barbados in 1997.

South Africa's safety first approach also demonstrated the respect they had for India's batting might. India rightfully retain their ranking.

In another country, England smashed Australia and it appears that Australia will take a while to recover from this. Australian cricket is resilient enough to be reborn in future. But a Bobby Simpson-Allan Border story is unlikely. What shape the new story will take would be interesting to watch. But Michael Clarke doesn't appear to be the one who can lead this outfit out of the darkness. They may go through what England went through with Atherton first and Hussain later before finally coming up with a team capable of giving the good teams a run for money.

England have a complete outfit too. When Broad returns they will have an embarrassment of riches. Given how their batting might has evolved, they may have enough time to groom a good replacement for Collingwood. Bell will obviously move up the order and that's probably a good place for him to be. Alistair Cook has arrived big time and has set the pace to pass Tendulkar's record of test centuries. Comparisons are odious but he delivers consistently. He may not match Tendulkar's poetry in motion while batting, but he is a huge pleasure to watch.

In AB DeVilliers and Cook we have two greats in the wings to take over when Kallis, Dravid, Tendulkar and Ponting call it a day.

9 comments:

Golandaaz said...

They had a God for that? Wow!

South Africa basically paid tribute to India by stretching it beyond 250.

India were far close to winning this than they ever were to losing it.

In fact while lasting 90 overs seemed daunting; they never looked like losing at any point on Day 5.

For someone who was predicting a 0-3 durbing of India; this performance by SA tells me why they might never be #1. You have to win home series for that. Neither England nor South Africa seem to have that home advantage that they feel confident exploiting.

India do so did Australia. While winning on the road is good; winning at home should be a given.

Harbhajan will go down as a great bowler. His recent form is/was an area of concern. His play is more balls, grit and adrenalin than skill...off late

In fact had we won the last test, the difference maker would have been Harbhajan's grit.

Swann too is a real deal and lately bowling better than Harbhajan

I think this summer India will take the same team to England. No ones retiring. Ishant needs to be discarded for the short term and asked to lean back as he ands. His technique is all wrong.

We need to invest in Irfan, Munaf or RP.

We will have to outthink England. On paper they have a better bowling attack.

Tees Maar Khan said...

Nice one.

At the end of Day 4, I was predicting a "tumrel" run by the Indian batsmen and all but out by lunch-time. And was I proven wrong or what !!! What they showed was exemplary. A crubling pitch and Steyn gunning for your heads isn't a very pretty picture. But they stood up pretty well.

Tendulkar...hats off to him.

Dravid seems to be on the decline with his below par average in this series. And more so because he always got out after decent starts. Very un-dravidish !!!

Bowling is a big concern. Bhajji and Zaheer are the only 2 permanant fixtures. The other 2 slots are up for grabs.

As for #1, India-SA in India was drawn and now this one is drawn. India seems to be superior. Maybe some head-to-head comparisons, with other major teams in recent times, will provide a logic to why that would be.

Golandaaz said...

TMK,

Actually the pitch was not crumbling....that means our own bowlers' 4th day performance was not all that bad.

If you are tipping your hat to SRT then what about JK. If you look at his numbers he is Sachin and Zaheer combined into one. He is as good a batsman as Sachin and as good a bowler as Zaheer Numbers wise. I he were Indian, there would be a Kallis Baba temple

I think this drawn series will put a stop to all talk of India not deserving to be #1. Because SA themselves acknowledged it when they batted on and on well after what would have been a safe target to defend.

Anonymous said...

"India managed a comfortable draw, demonstrating that the mental strength acquired over the last several years is real."

Right said, Vidooshak! Personally, I believed they had it in them to secure an honourable draw...and I was a little disappointed on reading that you thought SA may even win by tea! But all's well that ends well. :)

Also, don't you think it's too early to extrapolate Cook's form in this series and say he's on course for Sachin's mountain of tons / runs? Let him score more than a 1000 runs / year for 2 or 3 times before anointing him.

Golandaz, c'mon man, you're sounding South African! :) Coz I agree that Kallis' contribution for SA in Test cricket is comparable to Sachin's for India...but Kallis is certainly not in Zak's league as a bowler! Zaheer is a proven match-winner with numerous 5 wkt hauls and 1 10-wkt haul...while operating a lot on the subcontinent. He's also a bowling leader who inspires and guides the younger seamers to higher performances...as exemplified in Durban. Not to mention the beauty of his skill with old or new ball...and his craftiness in setting up batsmen.

So you could call Kallis the Sobers of this generation, as Harsha Bhogle has...even though he's not the most attractive batsman. But SRT+ZK, he is not. (And btw, you would acknowledge that aside from his Test batting, it is his ODI magnificence, and the impact he has had on Indian cricket and the masses that Tendulkar is idolized like no other)

"I think this drawn series will put a stop to all talk of India not deserving to be #1." That I fully endorse!

Cheers!

-BP

Golandaaz said...

Anon (BP) -

Much before Harsha called him the Sobers of today. We had written a piece on JK and called Sobers the Kallis of his time. Read it if you get a chance. Its on the Opinions On...series on this blog.

I am just suggesting that JK = SRT + ZK on numbers alone.

He has as many runs as SRT at the 145 match stage and as many wickets as ZK give or take 30. People tend to view JK only as a batsman and forget that he also is a substantial bowler

likeatracerbullet said...

Calling Cook as the next great is a little premature...I would rate him if he can reprise this performance in tougher conditions against better opposition

Anonymous said...

Golandaaz,
You make a fair point that some people view JK only as a batsman and forget about his bowling contribution. And I will check out your piece on him.

But still, I feel your equation is unfair to Zaheer...after all, the man has over 270 wkts in 78 tests, while Kallis has his from 145 tests. Further, let's not forget that in 2010, Zak WAS VIRTUALLY AS GOOD AS STEYN! Both averaged ~22 / wkt at a stunning SR of ~40!

And ZK has been such a lion-hearted leader for India. So I get what you're saying...but still, it hurts! :)

And speaking of lion-hearted performers... I thought Gambhir was magnificent too. What a gutsy fighter! He's really stood up for India in both Tests and ODIs over the last 2 years. I'm sure even non-Indian cricket watchers will respect him more after this series.

-BP

straight point said...

i won't rate abcd performances in the series at all... the only innings he played was when the wicket was at its best and our bowling at its lowest...

i am surprised you dint mention gambhir who is (also) most likely would be the name we will hear most and for positive reasons... :)

Vidooshak said...

Great comments all.
Cook has set the pace with the number of centuries that he has scored and the burden he has shouldered. I think there was a cricinfo piece comparing age and centuries scored. I'm not suggesting that he is going to replace Tendulkar's status. Simply that he could pass the test centuries record.
ABDV didn't do much, but I still feel that he has time, talent and verstility to get there. It's a risky choice, but I'll take my lumps.
I agree that Gambhir deserves to be there. In a team of Tendulkar, Laxman and Sehwag he tends to be overshadowed, but once Tendulkar leaves the stage, I think Gambhir will be the mainstay around whom Sehwag and others will express themselves.