It was gloomy, discouraging and kind of lonely at the Gabba on Saturday. The vastness of the empty stadium was overpowering enough to instil a sense of solitude in a newcomer with the grey afternoon sky adding to that feeling of unease. Cricket was strangely far away from the mind at a venue that has witnessed many a great match including the first tied Test in 1961.
Scattered around the deserted and massive interiors were small pieces of history, mostly recapturing the high tides of Australian cricket. From the pictures of some of their legendary greats to some of their several moments of glory — the emphasis was more on the past.
The present, a critical time if you are Indian, was conspicuously absent in those dimly lit passages, almost coaxing one to forget about it.
The sight of the Men in Blue running around the ground shooed away the boredom that was threatening to overwhelm.
Here too, was an attempt to look at the future. Yuvraj Singh faced the media instead of captain MS Dhoni and he began: “Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are top players whom we'd miss, but the team we've got here is the best we could have. This is the team that won the Twenty20 World Cup and this is the future.”
In almost the same overpowering manner in which he had smashed the ball out of the park six times in an over in South Africa, Yuvraj drew attention to the present with this reference to the future. This is actually the new Indian team that is trying to break away from the illustrious, immediate past and trying to chart its own course without seeking refuge in history. This team wants to look ahead and doesn't mind ruffling a few feathers.
What Dhoni's boys, with the odd veteran in their ranks, are trying to achieve shouldn't be treated as an isolated case in the history of sport. The problem is, this initiative to test the young ones is taking place in a situation that is not normal.
Australia are tougher than any opponent they will come across and with an undercurrent of bitterness of the last few weeks still remaining, the world champions are expected to be extra eager when it comes to playing India. They will have that added urge to come hard at the visitors and prove that however mighty their board may be, there is only one boss when it comes to playing cricket. There is displeasure among their players, and the way they tried to come out of it by decimating India in the T20 tie, the only thing that can be said is that the signs are ominous.
In this regard, the Commonwealth Bank tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka, will be as daunting a test an Indian team has faced in the recent past, if not tougher. With an eye on the future, the next few weeks will show how tough Dhoni's boys can get when the going gets tough.
‘Sourav exclusion baffling’
PTI adds: Ricky Ponting does not doubt the potentials of the youngsters in the Indian side but the Australian skipper said he is little baffled by the absence of Sourav Ganguly in the visitors' squad.
A day before the tri-series opener, the Australian said he wanted his side to be wary of the young Indians. But at the same time, he couldn't help but express surprise at Ganguly's absence.
“As we saw in India last year, these young guys can do a good job in international level. There is also experience in the form of Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Virender) Sehwag, Yuvraj (Singh) and (Gautam) Gambhir. We would see these younger players shine at different times right through this series. But I am surprised that Sourav Ganguly is not in their line-up, that he is not around,” he said.