Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of an Era ?

Yesterday was a remarkable day in the history of world cricket. South Africa exposed the weaknesses of Australia to the hilt and in the process defeated them in the home series for the first time in the past 16 years. I could not watch the chase as I woke up late and learned from Cricinfo that South Africa had already won.

South Africa were in very bad situation in both the tests and with unmatched fighting spirit, they overcame all odds. It was a sensational result considering how Australia used to beat other countries like this over the past decade. In my opinion, Australia had begun their steady decline from the top when India challenged them a year earlier. Now, is has more or less led them to be the third best in the world.

One salient feature of the Australian team in the past decade was that they had players like Steve Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, and Ponting who could turn a match from any adverse situation. The lone survivor is their present captain, Ricky Ponting. He tried his very best as a batsman to avoid defeat at Melbourne, yet he failed as a captain with his weird strategies. Though he lacked the best personnel for the job, part of the blame has to be shared by him.

On the other hand, South Africa are truly the No 1 side in the world at present. Graeme Smith has lead them to a sensational win in the same manner as Dhoni had done 2 months earlier. All the 11 players as well as their bench strength is very strong for South Africa. It was evident in the way JP Duminy batted on the 3rd day of the Melbourne test. They have the best bowling line up comprising Steyn, Ntini, and Morkel backed up by Kallis and Harris.

South Africa will become No. 1 in the world officially if they defeat Australia at Sydney. I certainly feel that they can do it considering Australia has serious injury problems to Lee, Symonds, Watson, and Clark. For Hayden, it is going to be the last chance to make his claim for Ashes. He is a real fighter and it would be interesting to see how he approaches this match.

Irrespective of how the Sydney test goes, South Africa are the best in the world now and have deservedly stunned the world by defeating Australia in Australia. I just hope that other countries follow them and inflict more defeats on Australia which would do the test cricket a world of good. Next year 2009 is going to be great for test cricket as many countries are serious contenders for the top spot.

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