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By Sunil Gavaskar
England’s disappointment at losing the bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup would have been made up for by the huge win over the Australians in the second Test of the cricket series. It was one of the biggest wins in the history of Test cricket between the two old cricketing enemies and gives England the edge and the chance to win a series in Australia after 1986.
Australia who seemed to have come back well in the first Test after Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin did the rescue act and gave the Australians the chance to put pressure on the visitors. However this England team certainly has a lot going for it and they in turn responded with a humungous score of 517 for the loss of just one wicket with all three batsmen getting three figure scores and Alastair Cook getting a double century.
Cook followed it up with another in the second Test and this time it was Kevin Pietersen who has been short of a big score for more than a year who got a double century and took Australia out of the game. What has been surprising is the failure of the Australian batting and that too twice on one of the better batting pitches in the world.
The bowling has not looked the same since the retirement of McGrath and Warne. The most glaring aspect is that this bowling attack of the Australians is unable to deliver the knockout punch as can be seen by the number of games that Australia have either drawn or lost from a winning position. Australia will have to lift themselves up and get back to their fighting best to come back in the series though most Australians seem to have already given up judging by the calls to ask Shane Warne to make a comeback to the team. The ten days between the start of the next Test will give England the chance to try out some new players in the warm-up game as also keep all the players match ready because an injury or a sudden illness is never far away on a tour.
James Anderson who bowled so well to rattle Australia in the first innings of the second Test has been allowed to fly back home for the birth of his child which is pretty much a modern thing though what he will do there is hard to understand. More crucially since England is in the grip of a severe winter and Australia, especially Perth, where the next Test is being played can be really hot, the change in outside as well as body temperature may not work in his favour and he is also one of those brittle bowlers who seems to break down regularly. Don’t forget that flying in and out is going to take some hours for it is not a short hop from Australia to England and back, so all England supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed that he comes back refreshed and happy and not bringing the cold with him.
England losing the bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup has expectedly brought out the knives for all those who didn’t vote for it. Despite having the Prime Minister, Prince William and David Beckham in the bid delegation England got only two votes one of which was obviously its own and went out of the race in the first round itself.
Instead of pointing fingers at others who promised but did not vote England should be looking as to why it is so unpopular among sports officialdom and not just football officials. They should have known especially since they had a professional vote asker in the Prime Minister that voters can also make promises they don’t intend to keep. If the sport has to grow then the big stage has to keep moving to different parts of the world.
For far too long has England thought that it has the best facilities to offer. It is just media hype and nothing else but the world is moving on and is no longer falling for it. The Cricket World Cup 1999 was a classic example of the double standards that exist. When the previous World Cup in 1996 was played in the Indian sub-continent the international body had been forced by the old powers to insist on certain minimum standards like a media box for at least 100 persons at all the venues. The sub-continent delivered with that and other such criteria but what happened in 1999? One of the first matches was at Hove where not only was the then ICC President made to sit in the stands but guess how much the media box accommodated? Barely more than a dozen, yes just that many and the huge Indian contingent had to sit in the stands too and do their columns. It wasn’t much better at other venues either.
Right now the ICC is sending big delegations to check out the readiness, security facilities, etc. at all the venues in the forthcoming World Cup. Will they be doing the same for 2015 World Cup?