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The Not-So-Super Series.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Oct 08, 2005
Its still early days, but it appears the fates have conspired against the ICC and their grand plans for the ‘Super Series’ between world champions Australia and the Rest of the World.

Certainly the first two matches at Melbourne’'s Telstra Dome failed to inspire much interest among the spectators. And the pathetic batting in the first match by the cream of the world’'s cricketers was also a big let-down.

Personally, as mentioned before in these columns, I am disappointed by the way the ICC is bandying about this ‘official’ tag. Next week will see the first Test match in 128 years not involving two countries and I find this unsettling. No other world sport governing body sanctions official status to such events.

Apart from that particular issue, some of the wind was taken out of the sails of this concept with Australia'’s defeat at the hands of England in the Ashes series. It means that though the Aussies continue to be ranked number one in the world, —England is close behind in second place—, their air of invincibility has been punctured.

Although the home side looks determined to erase the blemish of the Ashes setback and has registered two quick wins. The World team on the other hand is only be playing for individual pride and records. What else can possibly motivate a cricketer, apart from monetary gains, unless he is wearing the colours of his country?

It is interesting that both the Aussie vice-captain Adam Gilchrist and selector and former captain Allan Border have raised this issue, though the ICC would not be too pleased with their candour.

Also, the absence of Sachin Tendulkar was a big blow for the organisers as he is still considered one of the world’'s leading batsmen and would have brought extra star quality to the series.

Cricket fans outside of Asia (where ODIs are dominant) tend to be somewhat traditional and in this regard the timing of the series is also suspect in the eyes of Australian spectators where the season takes off only in November. That may account for the poor turnout for the matches.

And while playing cricket indoors under a giant roof eliminates the rain factor—, that bane of cricket around the world, —it also takes something away from the atmosphere associated with a cricket match, both literally and figuratively.

Here again cricket’'s traditional aspects takes a beating as weather plays a key role in the way a match is conducted, the elements affecting both batting and bowling in numerous intriguing ways.

The two previous Rest of the World series which were sanctioned by the ICC (they had first-class but not Test status) were played in England in 1970 and then in Australia in 1971-72. England were trounced 4-1 while Australia were beaten 2-1.

Whether this will be an annual exercise or not depends much on the response to the remaining ODI and the ‘Super Test’. Although early indications are that this could well be an experiment that backfires, the ICC deserves some credit for at least giving it a try.

 
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