Monday, March 26, 2007

Goodbye pork pie bat

All good things must come to an end. This thing was bloody brilliant, which makes the conclusion to a magical moment in cricket all the more painful.

Sluggo delighted us with twinkling finger-spin, his stunning catching ability and his easy charm, and now the dream is over. Bangladesh dispatched the Bermudans by seven wickets. It was the minnow’s final game of the tournament. Now they are going home.

I imagine that a few hopeful Indian eyes were watching Sluggo, as the India’s needed Bangladesh to lose to proceed to the next stage. Yet, it was only an over-optimistic reverie, and another upset would have been too much for an already fantastical World Cup. In the end, Bagladesh eased home, knocking Bermuda and India out of the World Cup.

In another possible world, either India or Pakistan could dominate the international arena. Their talent should overwhelm any cocky Australian side, and yet these sub-continental sides never fulfil their potential. This is deeply distressing for the cricket fan. More ominously, however, their deficiencies are a sign of something profoundly wrong with organisational cricket at the national level.

The murder of Bob Woolmer, match-fixing, spot-fixing and structural instability has unbalanced Pakistan and injured the integrity of its Board and players. In India, disputes about central contracts, sponsorship, and the role of the coach coupled with the bubbling expectations of a billion zealous fans have also created an awkward situation for the team. Both sides are now struggling under these severe crises.

Yet, such is life. The world of business requires coping and flourishing under sometimes intense pressure. There may be obstacles, bureaucratic hell-holes, negative colleagues, or back-stabbers, but you are expected to perform under these difficult circumstances, to adapt and to tackle creatively the problems in front of you.

The Pakistan and Indian cricket teams have folded under the pressure, succumbed to their own systemic weaknesses and allowed their disparagers to affect their performance. Yes, the sides need to find stability and security, but their mental fragility must also be addressed by the cricket boards. For the good of world cricket, and also because we don’t want the Australians to win all the time. In fact, at any time.

H’mmm… This was supposed to be a post praising Sluggo, but I seemed to be ranting about other issues. Sorry. Dwayne Leverock: the King. Will we ever see his kind again?

I doubt it. I very much doubt it indeed.

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