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Aussie Approach - 'Never Satisfied. Forever raising the bar.'
by Partab Ramchand
Oct 18, 2007
The comparison with what happened 24 years ago is startling but to be candid one could almost see it coming. In June 1983 India shocked two time champions West Indies to win the World Cup. A few months later the West Indies came over for a scheduled tour and proceeded to hammer the Indians into submission winning the six Test series 3-0 and making a clean sweep of the five-match one day series. It was clear that the West Indies had come on a revenge mission and accomplished it.

This time as soon as the Australians commenced their tour one could make out that they too were on a revenge mission. The Indians had surprised them in the semifinals of the Twenty20 World Cup on their way to a notable title triumph and the Australians did not take too kindly to the defeat. They had fancied their chances of adding the Twenty20 trophy to their bulging kitty. Having been denied the chance they landed in India keen on handing out retribution. And like the West Indies they too achieved what they had come here for.

Along the way they drove home some points. The first was that Twenty20 is very different from Fifty50. The luck factor is far too apparent in cricket’s newest and shortest version. Sure the Indians were deserving winners for after all they defeated England, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan on their way to the title. But certain fortuitous factors will always be around in Twenty20 given its format. In Fifty50 there is much more tactical skill and matters of strategy involved and it is here that the Australians always excel. These qualities were seen in abundance during the short tour.

The title of one of Steve Waugh’s book underlines the Aussie approach. Penning down his observations of the 1999-2000 season the then Australian captain titled his book ``Never Satisfied’’. That aptly sums up the Aussie approach. They are forever raising the bar, always looking to up the ante with their relentless pursuit for excellence, their sheer professionalism, athleticism and fitness. In every aspect of the game the Australians have raised the level of the game to a new realm. As Ricky Ponting himself put it succinctly at the end of the hat trick of World Cup triumphs in the Caribbean ``We are never happy and satisfied with our performance and levels and continue to challenge ourselves to improve. We played unbelievable cricket all through and did not even have a close game in the competition.’’

For some time now comparisons have been made between the present Aussie squad and the all-conquering West Indian teams of the 70s and 80s with fans arguing as to which has been the greater ODI squad. The fact remains that however awesome Clive Lloyd’s outfits were they never accomplished a hat trick of World Cup triumphs and indeed they faltered at the final hurdle while aiming for this achievement when India shocked them in 1983. The comparisons have been made at both Test and ODI level and while the arguments may continue as far as the longer version of the game is concerned I think the time has come when they should cease as far as limited overs cricket is concerned. The Australians as I have said by their relentless pursuit of excellence have taken cricket to a new level by which future high standards will be judged.

It must also not be forgotten that the competition now is that much more intense than it was in the formative years of the World Cup. But no matter how much the opposition raise their standards, the Aussies are always ahead in terms of strategy and tactics, skill and fitness, on field performances and mental strength. Overall there is little doubt that the insatiable hunger for success has not diminished over the years. When it comes to the crunch or a challenging situation there was always someone who would raise his hand and be up to it. And the tour of India proved this. They played matches without Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Stuart Clarke, they were without the likes of Mike Hussey, Shane Watson and Shaun Tait for the tour and yet they won by a comfortable 4-2 margin that could well have been 5-2 had the first match at Bangalore not been a no result because of rain. There were many performances that underlined the relentless Aussie pursuit for excellence but if I had to pick one moment that symbolized this it would have to be Mitchell Johnson’s penultimate over in the Nagpur game. To bowl a double wicket maiden at this stage with India still in with a chance to win when the over started - 28 runs were required, the hosts had five wickets in hand and Dhoni and Uthappa were really going for it – was the performance to outmatch everything else.

There is no point in being too harsh on Dhoni and his men and some critics have gone overboard in picking holes. Perhaps the Twenty20 World Cup triumph saw them lose their perspective. But then this was Fifty50 and the Indians lost to a vastly superior squad. Overall they did well only to see the Aussies raise the level of their game a notch or two every time. That’s the bottom line.

 
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