Over the years, opinion has been divided on whether the artificial turf has caused standards to plunge in the sub-continent. Astroturf, self-pass, short corners are changes that have favoured the Europeans and Australians more, hence their success in recent years.
Attitude, a key element in any sport, is something that critics of modern hockey seldom speak on. Yet, it is the crucial divide between defeat and victory.
Ties Kruize, the Dutch manager, had told HT on how victory, regardless of defeat, should be a team’s main focus. “We have just one strategy. It is to win. We are a professional side and the right attitude and spirit is expected of us.”
On Monday, the Pakistanis did the opposite. Despite coming up with a decent performance that saw them restricting Australia’s win to 2-1, drooping shoulders and exhausted faces was all that one could notice.
Instead of pondering over their shortcomings and taking solace from the few positives, the players chose to blame the schedule for the lacklustre performance. “We have been practicing for a long time now. Several camps coming into the World Cup and the alternate day schedule has fatigued the team,” said Rehan Butt.
Perhaps, he forgot that the other teams too have the same schedule. Mid-fielder Waseem Ahmed, who is appearing in his fourth World Cup, reiterated Butt’s views. He felt the best way to return to form was to get some rest. “A break once we return home will be an apt way to identify and deal with our weaknesses,” he said.
Australia mid-fielder Rob Hammond highlighted the difference in attitude when he said a berth in the semifinals did not mean slackening the pace.
“It is a huge stage and we would like to finish on a winning note. We are a professional side and cannot point to fatigue as a handicap,” he said after the game against Pakistan.