The Bigger They Are.......

As I watched the delirious celebrations of the English Cricket team after it outlasted the Australian team to win the Ashes, a certain amount of vicarious pleasure buoyed my spirits as well. Strangely, though, I also felt an unusual sense of pity for the Australian team members. The heady days of Australian dominance when they battered the wits out of every team on the planet are yet to fade from memory even as the team stood with forlorn faces staring at the excruciating result of a series that was purported to be one of sweet revenge. The arrogance and conceit that had made Australia the Bete Noire of world cricket with that undisputed aura of invincibility have suddenly been ground to dust. Ricky Ponting’s men looked just so vulnerable in defeat that pity was but a natural and spontaneous emotion that welled up in me at that moment. The Australian game of aggression, intimidation and mental disintegration had claimed many a foe with uncanny precision, and an innocuous English team was yet the softer of the many targets they have had the pleasure of impaling in their impeccable history of conquests galore. As the series gathered momentum, the Australians turned on the heat on their seemingly hapless counterparts, both on and off the field. Yet, wonder of wonders, they could do little to dampen England’s inexorable march towards destiny. The fear of failure dogged the great Australians more than the underdogs, and the desperation that is borne of such fear has, more often than not, presaged the fall of many a Goliath.

Life is indeed a great leveler, and cricket, in many ways embodies that great quality in its truest form. No team, no individual, has ever succeeded in rising higher in stature than the game itself. The Australians have chosen to learn the lesson the hard way. In spite of all its failings, we may yet see the great team rise from the ashes to mesmerize the world once again, but sans the traits that led to its fall, one prays.



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