When the Clock turned back: Reliving Test Cricket

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Image credits: Pixabay

South Africa did in the Feroz Shah Kotla test, what had never been done before. South Africa in the Final Test match against India became the team to score the least runs after playing a 100 overs in an innings. Although, the result was predictable, Indians winning the Test by a massive 337 runs, and consequently the Nelson Mandela test series 3-0. South Africa did not go down without a fight, for the first time showing some pride in the series lasting 143.1 overs with great determination.

The final test of the series began amidst a fair share of controversies. Delhi had itself been unassured for a (long) time to actually play host to the game. The South African captain Hashim Amla, and the ICC itself had expressed its disappointment with the pitches being offered. Many former cricketers had also expressed their concern over the pitch issues. While that is another debate. The question in everybody’s mind leading up were if the final test will at least live up to the expectation of the series being a “hard fought” one.

Virat kohli on the other hand had been open in his views in regards to the complaints. After the final game in Delhi, Virat Kohli has stuff to back his views. He has consistently remarked that the wickets which will be offered in India will be turning wickets, but adding that runs could be scored if the batsmen applied themselves well. The test in his hometown certainly proves him spot on.

While, the the initial two and a half days of the final Gandhi-Mandela test went in similar fashion as the rest of the series, with bowlers dominating. The difference maker turned to be Ajinkya Rahane. A splendid,  127 runs in the first innings, and Rahane became the first centurion in the series. A century – which seemed obscure in the Test series thus far. India posted a score of above 300, but when South Africa came in to bat there was certainly no difference-maker. Ravindra Jadeja, continued celebrating his national callback, picking another 5-wicket haul.

However, the last past of the series turned out to be one, which seemed some long-lost thing. India even though having a sizable lead, decided against enforcing the follow-on. Coming back to bat, the Indian batsman faced the wrath of Morne Morkel initially, the top-3 having succumbed to the lion-hearted fast bowler. When things look blurred, the Skipper joined the Centurion from the first innings, and formed a partnership to take pride. Virat Kohli missed his 1st century falling 2 runs short of getting into the nervous 90s, Ajinkya Rahane, however joined the elite list of Indian batsmen to score centuries in both innings of the Test. A list where Virat Kohli is already a part of. Rahane, and the Indian innings finished with him getting to three figures. A target of 481 to win, or 5 sessions to play out for RSA was set. Hashim Amla’s men chose the latter.

In the final innings of the tour, the Proteas decided to drop anchor, and the stage was set for some real old school Test Cricket. Opener Dean Elgar departed early, but his partner, Temba Bavuma certainly impressed one and all with his effort in his 34 runs stay, more importantly playing a 117 balls. Hashim Amla carefully batted for 244 balls, scoring 25 runs. Then, AB Deviliers came, and AB Deviliers – the man with the most magical range of shots in Cricket, batted like “The Wall”, putting up an innings lasting for almost 7 hours and 297 balls scoring 43 runs in procession.

FAF Duplesis, too fought for 97 balls, before missing a straight ball from Ravindra Jadeja. Duminy did not last long, succumbing to Ravichandran Ashwin. Dan Vilas added something to his runs tally, if only 13 of them facing 50 deliveries. While, the tail didn’t have an answer to Umesh Yadav, meant South Africa could not draw the game, but for the first time this series lasted more than 4 sessions of play with great resilience.

[Cricinfo Scoreboard]

While, South Africa put up an awesome fight, bringing test cricket to life, playing with dead bat, with utmost grit. It also raises questions. Some fans would definitely want to query about why South Africa couldn’t show the same fight earlier in the series. Were the wickets that bad? Was the bowling unplayable? Maybe, the final innings says that the South Africans batted in an ordinary manner, while the wickets demanded some application. The innings from Rahane will get the Indian batting to instigate themselves about their batting on spinning wickets. The series also has shown that the South African batting has too many spots to be covered.

The Indian bowling has had a wonderful time in the series, picking wickets at will, but again Ishant Sharma has went through 3 tests without much adding up in the wickets column. While, he did not have a lot to do, but when times did demand him getting wickets, he couldn’t answer the call consistently enough. Umesh Yadav will sleep well after his balls made batsmen dance at the national capital of India.

This Test match must have been a welcome sight for many purists of the game. Finally a Test lasting the 5 days it is supposed to. At last the stuff talked about is not the pitch, nor the value. For once, the thing in consideration is the battle between bat and ball. For fans, this serves as the ride back to the ‘nostalgic’ days of Test Cricket. The form of the game might have an unpredictable future, but pleasingly for all involved, a day of some TEST cricket, where the day provided much more than quality “entertainment”.

Cricket after Phil Hughes’ tragedy

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[Image credits: Pixabay]

An incident shook the cricketing world in 2014, a tragedy shocked world cricket. Here’s what a fan feels about it. A tribute to Phillip Hughes.

The Eoin Morgan injury.

To recall the summer of 2015 as special for the Englishmen would be nothing but an understatement. England surprisingly overcame the kiwi challenge at home, and that too in style. Then, Alistair Cook and co. won the historic Ashes, again at home. This was the resurgence of English Cricket following the World cup debacle. The ODI series followed the Tests, the series was even, both team winning two games each. A summer filled with some exciting cricket, lots of Aussie retirements it had been. Another chapter to Cricket’s ultimate rivalry was seeking an enthralling closure.

The 5th and final ODI of the one-day series is set at Old Trafford. The Englishmen struggling after loosing early wickets. Mitchell Starc bowling to (kill). The 7th over of the innings. Morgan and Bairstow at the crease. The ODI skipper on strike. And, Eoin Morgan gets hit on the helmet of Starc’s bouncer bowled at 90mph. Morgan clearly not well. In a matter of moments, he is surrounded by worried Australian cricketers. The physiotherapist runs in. After initial checks, Eoin has to walk back to the dressing room, hurt, but more disappointed as the moment was a game changer.

As Morgan walked out, it was Australia’s game to loose from then on, which they didn’t. England lost the rubber match, but adding salt to injury and more worrying news was Morgan suffering a concussion. The injury brought an early end to his 2015 season.

The Phillip Hughes tragedy…

It was the same game – Cricket in the 2000s. It was the same game in the 1980s and 90s, it has always been the same sport since the British introduced it to its Colonies. But, yet something is different in the 2010s then any other era. It was a Sheffield Sheild match at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) in Sydney. The date was 25th November, 2014. Batting on 63 was Australian left-hander Phillip Hughes. Sean Abbot bowled a bouncer which freakishly hit Hughes on the head and the rest as said are sad memories.

The young man left the world. A remarkable career ended only after promising hints of excellence. A family lost their light. A friend could do nothing but curse the bouncer he bowled to his beloved.

A journey back in time. The days when chin-music was a case of excitement. The ball poured fire. So much that a ‘BodyLine-Series‘ became immortal in cricketing history. When the Windies pacemen would tear apart batting lineups with pace and bounce. When, the Ws (Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis) along with a fierce Shoaib Akhtar would dismantle batting line-ups with the same lethal weapon. The viewers loved the sight of men bowling Short-balls at breathtaking speeds. The batsman getting hit was a sight common in the game. At times (although very rare) even welcomed by cheers. All that changed with the Phil Hughes tragedy in the Australian summer of 2015.

The Aftermath…

Batsman getting hit by Short-balls are not fun anymore. Not even for the bowlers. Testament to that fact was Old Trafford. When, Morgan walked off the field in the Manchester ODI. Starc was left the most distressed person on the field. A contrast to times when a batsman getting hit was considered a win mentally for the bowler. It’s not that Cricket weren’t played by gentlemen before or there aren’t tough guys playing the game anymore. Just the realization of Cricket after-all being a part of life. It was always an unpredictable sport but the uncertainties increased more as Phil took his place among the immortals. Cricket will always exist, Bouncers will always remain a part of it. But, Cricket somehow will never be the same as Phil Hughes will ‘Rest in Peace’.