Sydney is Clarke’s Ground

Posted: January 7, 2012 by binisajan in Cricket, India in Australia 2011-12, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

 Bini Sathyan

The one moment that will remain etched in memory forever from this Test is the satisfied smile of Ponting after rising from the dirt on completing his century. He runs for a non-existent single, dives into the crease to save his wicket which brings up his hundred. Then he rises from the pitch with mud all over, smiles at himself, smiles once again at his captain and then waves his bat to the stands. For the great batsman that he is, it was literally a rise from the dirt, defying all who bayed for his blood. Ricky Ponting is back.

Clarke ensured it remained his Test by knocking over Tendulkar. © Getty Images

Ricky is a changed Ponting now. We cannot find the aggressiveness in his batting which was his hallmark. The arrogance on his face has given way to a sense of calm. But the true Aussie steely determination underneath could not be hidden by that calm. He simply refused to die away. And what a comeback he has made. 60, 62 and 134 in three innings in two different pitches when the ball swung in and out and where the greats of Indian cricket struggled to make a mark.

He had come in at a time when Australia was in dire straits. Two wickets down for 8 runs. Later he was joined by his captain, Clarke, whom he had nurtured as a pup. Together they rebuilt the innings. They kept things simple. They were careful not to swing at anything that moved away. And dispatched all things that came their way. Soon everything seemed to change. The Australians started to bat with authority. They made the pitch look like a batting beauty. The Indians lost their way. The captain looked lost. He started forgetting basic things like field placements in accordance with who was bowling and to whom. The fielders started chasing balls instead of attacking them. The bowlers lost interest. And India lost the test.

Clarke matured. He knew that his responsibility did not end with his century. He went on and on and on. From century to double to triple and still kept going. And on 329 when many records were in sight he declared the Australian innings. A country obsessed with individual records, we Indians are still wondering why he did that when there was glory awaiting him at each step. Whether they are not fond of individual records, or it is putting team before self or it is their ruthlessness will be a debate which will rage for some time. But Clarke made it clear that his task was to ensure that his team won. And that task was accomplished easily, with the Indians more than willing to surrender meekly.

When many were expecting Tendulkar’s hundredth hundred during the hundredth test at SCG, Clarke came down and played the innings of a lifetime. He joined Ponting when India had the noose around their neck. Then Clarke came up with his epic innings which is the biggest ever score at SCG. And when the little master threatened to create the three figure magic, Indian hopes of another epic innings were crushed by Clarke himself when he came in to bowl and sent back Tendulkar making sure that this will be known as his Test. Now that’s leading from the front. First he resurrected. The he built. Later he towered. And finally he destroyed. And made sure that the SCG belongs to him.

Just like Ponting there was another great Husseya.k.a Mr. Cricket, who also played a superb innings and made sure of his Test place in the team! Mr. Cricket had to do something for survival and he just did not do something. He supported his captain till the end and in the process produced another great innings.

The Indians did not learn from their failure in the last test. They failed not because they are not good. But because they just did not learn. Just like in the first Test, they kept fishing at away moving balls or perished due to lack of patience. The Australians on the other hand showed how to build an innings. After watching three great innings from close quarters for seven sessions, neither were they inspired nor did they learn anything from this. Any hope of an Indian revival if there would be anything was here. Though Sachin and Laxman did look good, it did not matter. As good does not do any good when what is required is something that will better the best. And that did not happen in Sydney. The Indians went down and under.

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Comments
  1. A Cricket Fan says:

    In fact today I was surprised with the news in http://www.hindustantimes.com/Cricket/CricketFeatures/Sachin-s-son-is-bowler-in-the-making/Article1-790078.aspx

    Sachin’s son practiced with the indian team, is this true and allowed? Till now I was under the impression that Indian cricket team was a proffesional team under BCCI. I dont think such things are encouraged in good professional organisations.

  2. Well written Bini. The title should have been different as the article is not entirely about Clarke.

  3. bini says:

    Thanks Prasad. Felt so.

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