With the balance of power inextricably moving away from ‘down under’, it is going to be a most exciting season for cricket pundits and players the world over. The all mighty Australians have been beaten by not one but two emerging giants and the race is finally on for the number one spot in test cricket.
Baggy Greens’ dominance of world cricket is finally over
For well over a decade the game of cricket has lost some of its lustre, primarily because of the total dominance of the baggy greens over the rest of the cricketing fraternity but with the recent test wins by both India and South Africa, things are clearly about to change.
In cricket the captain has a more profound effect on the success of his team. He is not only expected to be well versed on the tactical side of the game but he is also expected to be able to lure the very best out of his charges, a trait that is more psychological in nature. This is all apart from his own performance with the bat, ball or gloves.
A great cricketer very rarely evolves into a great captain but the ones that do carve their names into the annals of history for all time. It is not unusual for a captain to exhibit tactical acumen but the ones that have both sound psychological insight and leadership skills are the ones who endure and generally lead their teams to the top of the log.
Ricky Ponting faces a new challenge without all the stars of yesteryear
Australia’s Ricky Ponting has had an outstanding run as captain. Of the 53 tests he has led Australia, he has clocked up 36 wins, 8 losses and 9 draws - a 67.9 win percentage. He is arguably moving into the most difficult part of his tenure simply because of the dramatic change of personnel in recent times and it is going to be fascinating to see how he copes under the added pressure of leading a bunch of rookies instead of the star performers of yesteryear.
Ponting is the consummate professional on the cricket field as he exhibited when he ordered his bowlers to pelt the injured South African captain, Graeme Smith, on the final day of the third test in Sydney but he is rather loathe to pay tribute where tribute is due, a character trait that does not endear him to cricketing fans outside of his home country.
MS Dhoni on the charge to greatness
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one of the most exciting and skilled cricketers to come out of the subcontinent in recent times but unlike the other greats of the game like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, Dhoni has proved to be an outstanding captain too.
Dhoni has won four of the five tests he has captained India in but the one series win that will have eclipsed all others in importance is the one against the Australians. Dhoni’s 80% win record is head and shoulders above all the other incumbent captains but he is still relatively new to the job and only time will tell whether he will take over the reigns as the leading international cricket captain.
South Africa’s ‘Captain Biff’ growing in stature
South Africa’s Graeme Smith has to be earmarked as a possible leader in the race for the hot seat of cricket. He seduced the notoriously difficult Aussie fans and was applauded long and loud by the locals for his unbelievable bravery in the third test in Sydney.
Smith has won 33 of the 66 tests he has led South Africa in and has claimed 15 draws, reflecting a 50% win record. What makes Smith’s tenure as captain a little more difficult than that of his rivals, and consequently so much more impressive, is the transformation policies introduced following the demise of apartheid. He not only has to satisfy the legions of cricket fans by continuing the Protea’s winning ways but he also has to satisfy racial quotas in an effort to appease his political bosses.
Apart from pulling off a recent series win in Australia, Smith has also managed to maintain an extraordinary batting record as captain and his safe hands in the slips have not let him down. All in all the man best known as ‘Biff’ has grown in stature and experience at the helm of SA’s cricket team.
Pietersen’s untimely demise robs cricket of an eminent captain
Sadly the furore around the captain and coach of England has robbed international cricket of a man who could arguably have led England into a brave, new cricketing world. There is no doubt that Kevin Pietersen, if left to his own devices, could have propelled English cricket right to the top of the pile but his untimely demise has left a gaping hole in the international sport.
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Article Added on Friday, January 30, 2009
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