As the World Cup approaches, the picture about which team is likely to win, and what methods they will adopt, is very hazy.
What is clear is Australia’s domination is over, but the big question is will India make it?
Talking about India’s prospects, captain, MS Dhoni, spoke like a Aussie. We, he said, are focusing on preparation and processes - performances will follow. Which translates into: we make plans, train like hell, hit thousands of balls in the net and then hope for the best.
Not worrying about results is also the typical Indian do-your-bit-and-leave-the-rest-to-God philosophy. For all his qualities, Dhoni is not a philosopher, yet there is merit in what he says. He knows cricket is uncertain, and by concentrating on process instead of performance, he is reducing expectation and preparing for the jolt that may come because no team has ever won the World Cup at home.
But there is more than just do-your-job attitude when it comes to a team winning a tournament or playing consistently.
Team morale is a major factor, and here, apparently, India coach, Gary Kirsten, has ensured the dressing room is happy and positive. Kirsten is more a man manager than pure coach, he is technically savvy, smart enough to shun publicity and stay in the background. Clearly, his methods work because he is by far India’s most popular coach ever - everyone from Tendulkar/Dravid to Sehwag/Gambhir have given him the thumbs up.
Under Kirsten, India will make all the right moves but Kapil Dev (the only one to win the Cup for India) has some original views about the science, and suspense, of winning.
The basics first: limited-overs matches are not necessarily won by top stars, ordinary players have as much chance to influence the outcome. So, don’t depend on the big ones, watch out for the lesser known street-smart performers. Second: make plans but cricket will surprise you.
Ultimately, what counts is momentum and fate, if the team feels good from inside it will happen but if the spirit is absent, performances will be flat.