December 31, 2010

There can’t be a better way than ending the year on a high. India and England must be feeling on top of the world after their recent Test victories against South Africa and Australia, respectively.

India’s great comeback in Durban underlined the quality and depth of their team. More importantly, it showed that India have several match-winners in their squad. More than his runs, VVS Laxman’s application should be a lesson for the youngsters. Laxman’s ability to stand tall when the chips are down is commendable and that is why I keep saying there is no substitute for experience.

Sachin Tendulkar has hogged the limelight in the series against South Africa for his runs and records, but I think Laxman, Zaheer, Harbhajan and even Dhoni have made great contribution for the team’s success. India have looked like a complete team and if they are No. 1 in the world, there are enough reasons for that.

Before the South Africa series started, I was a bit iffy about how India would play on seaming wickets, but I am happy India have proved me wrong. They are looking confident and even if Cape Town produces a green-top, a buoyant India will be up for it. South Africa better watch out.

Down Under, England have definitely surprised me with their terrific all-round cricket against Australia. England have shown what team cricket is all about. Quite like India, the team spirit is showing in their batting and bowling and ahead of the World Cup, these are great signs. Unfortunately for Australia, things have not fallen in place.

The Aussies would have now realized that without the likes of Shane Warne, Mathew Hayden, Glenn McGrath, it’s not easy to win against quality sides in Test cricket. After the star players retired, the Aussies have struggled to bring in proper replacements and their bench strength is very weak. The problem with Australia is that apart from Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey, they don’t have the batsmen to combat real quality bowling.

The media has been hard on Ponting, who has been clearly out of form. This is Ponting’s third Ashes loss and he has got to face the music from every quarter. Punter is a great player but he too succumbed to the pressure and stress of paying in the Ashes. Ponting’s future is certainly in the dock but I still feel he is one of the greatest players we have ever seen. You must respect a man like Ponting and he must be backed and encouraged.

Pakistan’s opportunity to close the year on a winning note has been dashed. The T20 series loss in New Zealand just goes to show Pakistan are still not playing as a unit. Lack of experienced players and seaming conditions in New Zealand are certainly not helping their cause. I get the feeling that without the likes of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, Pakistan will always struggle against quality sides. There is lack of leadership and direction in the team and the boys are just not playing to their potential. If this continues, I am sure that they will struggle in the co`ming Test and ODI series.

Here’s wishing my readers a very Happy New Year. Sachin Tendulkar wins my vote as the top cricketer of 2010 and I am sure we have not heard the last of him. The New Year is full of cricket and I am looking forward to some nail-biting action. God Bless!

Courtesy: www.espnstar.com


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