WC 2011 has come to an end – on a happy, winning note for a billion Indians. In an earlier post I had mentioned how this event was one of the things that I eagerly looked forward to in 2011. I was not disappointed. The last World Cup competition that I seriously followed was the one in 1996 – the edition that established Sanath and finished Prabhakar. I was in college then and I distinctly remember that within a short time after the India-SL match started someone came running from the hostel informing that SL had scored 48 in 4 overs. A scoring rate unheard in those days. This time however while India did field Sreesanth, SL had neither Sanath nor Kalu and the script ended differently. And Sree can continue playing.
At the start of the tournament, I believed that India and SL were the two best teams in the competition. I also believed that India, SL, Pakistan, and one from Australia, South Africa or England would reach the semis. Instinctive, not logical. And well, I got it mostly right. Wish I start trusting my instincts more in my day-to-day life too.
Looking back, here are some thoughts on the World Cup 2011:
This was dubbed as Sachin’s World Cup. He scored a hundred and England tied the game. He scored yet another one and we lost it. This even led to a humorous picture on social networking sites declaring that India can win the World Cup only if it had 11 Sachins. In the semi-finals he tried hard to get out but ‘large-hearted’ Pakistanis wouldn’t take any of that. In the finals, India emerged victorious without any significant contribution from him or Sehwag. Surely, the game has its own ways of reminding that it still is a team game, above individuals. This is not to take anything away from Sachin. Kohli’s remark aptly conveys the sense of gratitude whole of India feels towards the Master Blaster. But it still remains a team game, above individuals.
Greg preached, Gary performed. 2007 and 2011. Contrasting campaigns, notwithstanding the contrasting conditions.
After his 175 in the first match, Sehwag declared that he was born-again, claimed that he would stay longer in the crease. After his speech though, he went back to being himself. Not complaining, just observing.
Dhoni is a good strategist. I have always respected him. That is why I am very curious to know from him why he did not pick Ashwin in the finals. Not picking him at Mohali was understandable, but in the finals? For Sreesanth? Surely Ashwin could not have bowled worse than what Sree did. He could bowl during power plays, could have fielded better and may be played a bit with the bat too. And having played with him for CSK, Dhoni knows all of these (and may be more too). So what’s the real reason? Worth understanding.
All the big hitters largely failed. Pathan, White, Pollard, McCullum, Gayle, Afridi. Mere coincidence or something more. Arun Lal’s observation “Yusuf is a victim of his own reputation” may be worth contemplating.
Kevin O’Brien. ICC’s decision to field only 10 teams in the 2015 edition may mean that we may never get to see him again for his country. Hope ICC does a re-think and decides what is in the best interest of the game. Don’t close the gate yet, it is not by any means crowded inside. We are still effectively only 8 of us. Let there be new followers.
Punter failed in his quest to become the only captain to lift the trophy thrice. That would have compensated a bit for having lost the Ashes thrice.
Murali couldn’t finish it too. He now has to remain content with 1996. Just remembered Lara, Walsh, Ambrose, Botham, Gooch, Gatting, Atherton, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble, Crowe, Flemming, Hansie, Donald, Pollock ……. talented cricketers who were never part of a World Cup winning team.
Yardy announced his depression. Piyush suffered in silence. Strauss was inspiring. Gayle, indifferent. Ross had a dream birthday. Anderson got hit by one and all. While Roach and Malinga had fond memories to take back, Smith and South Africa returned with more questions than answers. Sourav and Nasser discussed strategy, Sidhu and Rameez voiced emotions. Different people, different personalities, different experiences.
With UDRS we can now objectively judge an Umpire’s performance. Guess we will see more of technology aided decision-making in the future. And all the new terminologies and gestures by the umpires, will make cricket look ‘cool’.
But the best piece of WC 2011 was what happened off the field – the “Mother of All Matches” – or what I call the “Mother of All Strategies”. India to play Pakistan in the semi-finals and the politicians were quick to see and seize the opportunity. Cricket Diplomacy was more about protecting themselves than anything about cricket, diplomacy or peace. Man invited and Gil accepted. Two PMs constantly being questioned at home by their people. Then for about 4 days everyone forgot about CWG, 2G and other issues. The only G that featured in the news channels was Gilani. Salute Roman Emperor’s wisdom. Use sports to distract people from real issues, it still works. Tamil Nadu’s political parties’ version of that is use movies to distract people. That works too.
All in all, an entertaining tournament. The best in 25 years, declared Peter Roebuck. While I don’t know about that, I surely had a wonderful time. And so did many others close to me.