Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MOHALI 2010... EVOKING MEMORIES OF EDGBASTON 2005

Over 4 and a half days - 28 hours and 10 minutes of enthralling cricket... after watching the Fates tilt their heads this way and then that... after watching men battle physical barriers of their injured bodies as well as thwarting the opposition every time they threatened to go one better... after watching myriad emotions etched on the faces of different men at different stages of the match... I am left a satisfied being

It was Test cricket at its very best, and this match ranks up amongst the very best there have been. Amongst the matches involving India, this one was the most thrilling finish to a Test match in my living memory. Kolkata 2001 and Chennai 2001 against the same opposition from Down Under do come close, as more than 2 results were possible on both those occasions as well till the very end. But this one takes the honour for me.

I know the Tied Test of Madras 1986 (again versus Australia) was brilliant... but that does not constitute as my living memory... you see, I was born a couple of years after that.

Australia have played Edgbaston 2005 against their Ashes rivals England... and they have had some thrilling draws as well against the same opposition. But for the Indian fan in me, this was a treat.

All through Day 5, my head kept going back to the great England - Australia battle at Edgbaston in 2005, where the heroics of Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz almost stole the Test from England before Steve Harmison and Geriant Jones combined to create a moment etched in history.

This match was a little different though. At Edgbaston, England were clearly the team on top through majority of the Test match. Australia came fighting back only on Day 5 to reduce the gap to 2 runs. At Mohali 2010, the two teams were involved in a very equal battle... and no side could claim to be absolutely on top of the other at any point in time through the Test. Some sessions were won by India and some by Australia, but a high number of them were in the grey areas... neither mine nor yours!

There were many moments today that were extremely special... and some of them will remain vividly clear in my memory for a long time to come. Laxman getting animatedly angry at Ojha and mouthing a few colourful expletives that I'd thought he didn't even know, the pain on Ishant's face as he was trudging off after being ruled out by Ian Gould, the horrific mix-up between Dhoni and Raina that resulted in the former being run out, the pumped up reactions of the Aussie outfit when Tendulkar's attempted upper cut ended up into the hands of Hussey at gully, Ojha's leg byes that sealed a win... oh, and there were many more!

In the end, it panned out just as Laxman had said earlier - that the Aussies don't give you an inch. And they didn't... or at least, till Marcus North's Steven Smith's (thank you, Elegantstroke for the correction) overthrow that gave India the match.

12 comments:

Aditya said...

It was cricket at its very best.

But I was so sad to see the stadium was so empty.

The new generation of cricket viewers only prefer to see Garbage Cricket (read.. 20-20 cricket)

TEST Cricket is REAL Cricket.

Please people watch tests and not the useless 20-20 tamasha

ali said...

test cricket at its best
but i wudnt say t20 is useless form of cricket what i would say is FATAFAT cricket has made the game even more intresting

Shridhar Jaju said...

Hi Aditya...

I am used to seeing the empty stands for Test cricket in India now.

But I don't think that this implies the new generation prefers only the LOI formats. Tests are equally loved and followed, if not more. The fact that the stands are empty does not imply that Tests are not followed.

The Cricinfo browsers were overcrowded as the Test neared the end. Almost every comment on various articles on Cricinfo and other places opine that Test cricket is the ultimate format. There is no doubt that Tests are the pinnacle here on blogosphere.

Tests should not be judged for their popularity on the basis of tickets sold at the ground. The fast pace of our lives now makes it impracticable to watch 5 days of cricket live. But the way we follow Test cricket even today should tell you that Test cricket is alive, healthy and kicking...

Shridhar Jaju said...

You are right, Ali! Twenty20 is not useless, but Tests are the best!

Soulberry said...

And would you believe Jaju saheb, barring Saturday, I saw this game mostly via highlights?

Umpires soured the match for me.

Govind Raj said...

The support for Test matches has not really dwindled. We have to remember a few things here as to why the attendance was so low...

1] CWG: With CWG going on, at least some attention was directed there. As far as Mohali is concerned, "Dilli Door Nahin"

2] A fear of a loss for India was the major factor. Nobody could foresee if Laxman could come out to bat at all.

3] It was a Tuesday, fairly early in the week for people to bunk office or school.

4] India - Australia Tests will have high ratings in Chennai, Kolkota and Mumbai. But in Punjab and northern parts, it is India - Pakistan Cricket that brings in crowds.

For all practical purposes, Mohali doesn't have the Test Cricket culture. To know what I mean, just look at how the crowds pile in at the Eden, the Chidambaram, and Mumbai.

I too love T-20 like I love my daughter. But I adore Test Cricket like I adore my Mother !

elegantstroke said...

@soulberry-
umpires literally made this match fascinating. Without their mistakes (some marginal and some blatant), this match would have taken a completely different shade. The human element took its course and we have one of the greatest test matches of all-time to savor.

Shridhar Jaju said...

ES, umpires made this match fascinating because they gave howlers against both the sides in this match. Had all the howlers (or even most of them) been against one side (like India at SCG), this match would have been rubbish.

We may always love this aspect called human element... but we cannot let it become too human!

Soulberry, feel sad for you! If there is one match that should have been watched live and not through highlights, this was it. But if it is some consolation, I watched Kolkata 2001 and Chennai 2001 via highlights.

Govind, you make a good point about northern India considering Indo-Pak rivalry worth more than the Indo-Aus one. I had never thought of it that way, but now it does seem to make some sense.

Freehit said...

Shri,as far as I have seen,test cricket isn't enjoyed that much by this generation.Sad,but true.
Most of my friends watch T20 and ODI cricket,but only a few watch tests.So,I agree with Aditya and hope more an more people turn up for tests.

Also,as you had once posted,showing how Mohali and Nagpur never has big audiences for tests,I hope BCCI starts keeping tests at venues other than those.

elegantstroke said...

Shri - I think the overthrow was by Steven Smith no?

I am not advocating that human element should persist and definitely for UDRS to exist. but I am saying that was a crucial factor to make the match go down to the wire. yeah you are right, the howlers were almost equal on both sides, so no one cribbed :)

Sanya - England Cricket Blog (jimmymycrushie.me) said...

Was very exciting but not like the Edgbaston Test. Both very close but the main differences were that the Ashes holds an emotional and hostoric value for England & Australian fans. Can afford to lose other matches but Ashes loses are remembered for long. Though India-England, India-Australia, India-Pakistan, England-South Africa, England-Pakistan are quite exciting too! Great to see Tests not being drawn....because of the increasing run rate in Tests, we get some results, just hope the pitches improve. Interesting post btw.

Shridhar Jaju said...

Freehit, I feel Test cricket is enjoyed pretty well by this generation as well.

When comparing to the past generations, we must note one point. The generation before this had just two forms of cricket to follow, and the one before that had just one form of cricket. So as the offerings on the platter increase, there is bound to be a bit of dwindling interest in the old stuff on offer.

But I still believe that there is quite a lot of interest in Test cricket still, even if the stands do not show it. And yes you are right... I had once posted a blog about how pathetic the turnouts are for Test cricket in Mohali and Nagpur.

And that is why I feel that if Test centres like Kolkata and Chennai are allotted more matches and even the smaller venues like Vizag, we will see once again how loved Test cricket is!

ES, thank you... I have made the correction. It was indeed Steven Smith with that throw.

Sanya, much as you love the tradition that is Ashes, my generation has started loving the rivalry that is Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Over the last 10 years, this rivalry has been the showcase of Test cricket. I know it still counts nowhere near 130+ years of tradition, but since we in India don't get to see much of Indo-Pak rivalry, we have to love and admire this contest even more.

SAVE OUR TIGER!