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The best team doesn’t always win

There is a big difference between being the best team in a tournament and winning it. In any sport the best team occasionally returns empty-handed. And it is no consolation being labelled the best when you lose. Mickey Arthur comments.

cricket Updated: Jun 18, 2009 00:24 IST
Mickey Arthur

If you read the press and believe it, South Africa have already proved themselves to be the best team in the tournament. I understand why people are saying that. We have been strong with bat and ball in different conditions and have remained unbeaten.

But there is a big difference between being the best team in a tournament and winning it. In any sport the best team occasionally returns empty-handed. And it is no consolation being labelled the best when you lose.

We all agree that T20 cricket is the most unpredictable form of the game, that any individual can produce a heroic performance to beat a better team on a given day, but we never subscribed to the theory that 20 overs of cricket amounts to a lottery.

Perhaps we have discussed and dissected T20 cricket more than other teams, perhaps our blueprint for how to play is better, for the moment, than other teams. But this form of the game is changing so rapidly that it will be outdated by next week. We have to stay ahead of the game.

The semifinal against Pakistan presents an especially difficult challenge because you never quite know what you are up against. But we know the strengths and weaknesses of their players and have plans in place. As always you win games by concentrating on your own strengths and weaknesses rather than those of the opposition.

I know Indian cricket fans have a tendency to overreact when the team fails but I honestly think it would be a huge mistake if this team is harshly treated for failing now.

I was particularly upset to hear Ravindra Jadeja being booed by the 90% Indian crowd in Nottingham when he came out to bat against us. Sure, he struggled against England but what the hell was he doing batting at No. 4? He is 19 and has the ability and talent to become a very special cricketer. His left arm spin is much better than part-time and anyone who understands the game can see his batting potential. He should not have been thrown into a pressure situation like that. Now he needs support and backing, not criticism.

I have already heard much speculation about a South Africa-Sri Lanka final but, to be quite honest, a Pakistan-West Indies final is just as possible.