Tossing it Up by Bishen Singh Bedi in the World Cup 1992
Tossing it up by Bishen Singh Bedi in the 1992 World Cup. Ravi Shastri is the enemy in our camp. The fifth version of the Cricket World Cup got off to a flying start in Australia and New Zealand on February 22, 1992. There were all the ingredients for the expected upheavals associated with the mediocrity of one-day cricket. The 1992 Cricket World Cup spin-off of the hockey and soccer World Cups seems to me to be severely hampered by the inclusion of a cast of supporting players. This can never be said of high-velocity sports like hockey and soccer, where only the supreme artists hog the limelight. Cricket’s character is such that to differentiate chalk from cheese, the hit-and-run scramble could be easily compared with guerilla warfare, where all is fair.
The tactics of winning or losing a battle hinge on the very thin line of a collective team effort. Much to their dismay, the Aussies were unable to decipher the Auckland noise and Martin Crowe’s brilliance in the opening game between the two joint hosts. My opinion that the Aussies are not invincible stands vindicated. I wouldn’t go beyond that for the simple reason that one thing that binds the Australians together, like Fevicol does wood, is their enormous faith in their limited ability. Another reason why the Aussies are happy in defeat is their inborn ability to turn the tables when the chips are down. I can only relate this rare phenomenon to the awesome national pride that the Australians seem to possess in great abundance.
Otherwise, Graham Gooch is nobody’s fool to still rate Australians as favorites after his own team’s narrow victory over the Indians at Perth in a day-and-night encounter. Perhaps it could be a typical English strategy to lull their strongest opponents into some kind of complacency. No, I would hate to agree with my weird speculation.
The news of the Aussie setback had already reached Perth when Indians, in their horrendous outfits, were saved from the vagaries of decision-making, which go hand in hand with winning the toss. Graham Gooch called right, and there was no doubt in his mind about putting the pressure on a proven sub-standard Indian batting. To my mind, Graham Gooch has been the most positive thing that has happened to English cricket in the last few years.
It is extremely sad to say that his age is not on his side. The English captain is one of the rarest breeds, like his Australian counterpart, Allan Border, who enjoys the wholesome confidence of his contingent. I can’t say the same for any other captain in the fifth World Cup, and that includes one dictator who, once upon a time, had the Midas touch. I am, of course, referring to the greatest influence on Pakistani cricket, Imran Khan. But first, the Indian debacle in Perth. One cynic suggests that India would have still lost by the same margin even if the Indian bowlers had England all out for less than 150.
That is the kind of impression Indian batsmen have created ever since they landed on Australian soil. By this time, India should have become most accustomed to Australian conditions. If only thoughts could be transferred into positive deeds, the average cricket follower in India would not be so disillusioned. If ever a scorecard belied its figures, then the Anglo-Indian clash in Perth was surely the case. In a sordid melodramatic finish, it wasn’t difficult to pick the villains.
First and foremost, the team management deserves a kick on its back for not allowing Ravi Shastri to fully recover after the orthoscopy on his knee. On his part, Ravi defied all logic connected with selflessness. A perfect case of an enemy within one’s camp. That caused infuriated panic towards the end. Kapil Dev, Kiran More, and Manoj Prabhakar were struggling to hide their annoyance even under the veil of their helmets. The Indian vice captain’s knock, which reeked of unadulterated selfishness, had left its ugly mark on the middle and late middle classes.
Graham Gooch left the field, smirking at the Indian tactics, just as Ravi Shastri hobbled off the ground after getting out in the most unimaginative manner. Whoever certified Ravi Shastri as physically fit for the world’s stiffest competition might yet owe an apology to the nation. But seriously, if England could rest Allan Lamb for such a crucial tie, where was the rush to throw in Ravi Shastri and let the team face the consequences?
The West Indies’ convincing 10-wicket victory against Pakistan at MCG would put another team from the Indian sub-continent into the backdrop, while an exciting victory for Sri Lanka over the expected Zimbabwe has seen off the first phase of the 5th World Cup with reasonable glory. It is too early to make any concrete assessments. The eventual winner could well be whoever copes better with two white balls than the traditional red one.