New Year Thoughts - Part 1

Well another Christmas and New Year comes and goes. I can't believe it's already 2011. I mean I can remember being just twelve years old, back in 1995, standing in the reflection of my bathroom mirroring Jacques Kallis's impenetrable technique. I wondered if I would ever look as good and have a defense like his one day. Most kids probably thought when looking into the future what cars, airplanes and life would look like in 2011. Instead I wondered if I would make it on the big stage. Sixteen years on I may not have foreseen the future, but instead I am sitting writing a blog on my new Apple iPad (something we certainly didn't have back then) and, yes, things have changed somewhat. I am not playing international cricket and nor are we flying in cars yet, but for me perhaps the thing that has changed most is my awareness and the simple realisation that the older one gets the less time there is to do and achieve things. I say that at the grand old age of 27, but in sporting terms it's not particularly young. They say you're in your prime come the late twenties so I think I'll rest on those laurels as we head into the New Year and hope that some of my outstanding achievements and ambition will be realised sooner rather than later.

Anyway, on the cricket front I've been flicking between channels, during a Christmas break, watching the No. 1 and two Test playing nations here in South Africa battle it out and of course mixing that with none other than the Ashes down under. I just thought I would mention how great it is that Australia don’t feature in the top three cricketing nations in the latest rankings. When was the last time that happened? No gloating Aussie fans this time I'm afraid and I'm sure there are many English supporters, perhaps South Africans too, that will share this sentiment. I wanted to throw a few thoughts around especially as it's the start of the New Year. Watching from the grassy banks with a backdrop like no other in world cricket as the so called No. 1team in the world, India, block out a draw at Newlands in Cape Town. I sat wondering whether their status was slightly impaired given that they play a larger than average proportion of their cricket in India. We all know that the BCCI practically control world cricket, after all 80% of all cricket revenue comes from India so perhaps it’s only fitting that India find themselves perched on top of the tree. To give you guys an idea. The BCCI make roughly US$3 million per one-day game in India and about seven million per Test match. If you consider the time it takes to put together a Test match and everything that goes with it you're looking at about seven to eight days. In this time you could play three to four one-day games. You do the math. The amount of one-day cricket and T20 being played especially in India is far more than it was the previous year. So I ask are those stats really a true reflection of where India are in world cricket?

Continuing with this subject and delving into the heart of the Indian batting, a line-up which of course is almost impossible to criticise. However take Virender Sehwag for example. Here in South Africa he was a non event, almost as if he's given into the fact that Dale Steyn is just too good for him. We know he doesn’t move his feet and has great hands but is it simple enough to just give into saying that this is the way he plays? We all have different ways of coping with pressure, some tighten and stiffen up while maybe Sehwag swings and plays a shot a ball. He averages 50 plus so do we just naturally assume his greatness by this mere statistic? It does make me beg the question merely because I have just witnessed my hero Kallis play one of the most courageous innings seen by a South African ever. The way he adapted to the conditions as the new ball swung and bounced inconsistently and with Harbhajan spinning it out if the rough, it was quite an incredible innings given that he was batting with a broken rib too. I think the only batsman that has shown that sort of adaptability under pressure is VVS Laxman. He is regarded, by an important individual in India’s coaching structure, as by far and away the best Indian batsmen under pressure. The reason I bring this all up is that I see these guys boasting huge Test averages yet when the ball swings and moves they look vulnerable.

Looking at South Africa and also having just read Herschelle Gibbs ‘controversial’ autobiography, although I can’t work out for the life of me why it has received criticism whose issue were well known. Anyway, Herschelle talks about South Africa’s general conservatism and having watched the rugby team for that many years it’s definitely a tag that South African sporting teams would do well to get rid of. Again going back to that last Test at Newlands I couldn’t understand why South Africa didn’t declare the evening before given the fact that Dale Steyn was on top form and there is every chance they could have had a few Indian scalps that evening. I say this, too, given the dying nature of Test cricket, it is these types of series particularly leading up to the final game that need to live up to the hype and keep the interest going. The final day was poised for a great finale instead it petered out into a boring draw.

Published 12 January 2011