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Strauss has led by example

india Updated: Aug 09, 2009 00:54 IST
Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar
Hindustan Times
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Michael Clarke's brilliant century and a near ton from Marcus North saved Australia the blushes in the third Test and gave them hope of salvaging the series. It was Clarke's second consecutive century and will no doubt enhance his chances of leading Australia if they lose the series and Ricky Ponting is made to relinquish captaincy.

Of course, Australian selectors are seldom known for knee-jerk reactions so common in the subcontinent, but even they would be hard pressed to retain a captain who has lost two Ashes series in England.

But for that valiant effort from Clarke and the much underestimated Marcus North, Australia would well have been on their way to losing the Ashes. Some may say that, after the perfectly legal delaying tactics employed by England in the first Test, it was fitting that Australia denied them victory in the third Test.

They will also not give credit to England skipper Andrew Strauss who allowed Australia to substitute a wicket-keeper after Brad Haddin broke a finger during warm-up after the toss had been made and team sheets exchanged. It was a great sporting gesture by Strauss and restores faith in the goodness of this great game.

Like Strauss, it is the skippers who have to show the way, and this is where one feels confident that India will do the right thing. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has shown that one doesn't have to go up in appeal every time the batsman plays and misses a ball as some of his predecessors did. No wonder, when it came to close calls, the umpires would not favour India because they were fed up of the keepers appealing even when it was palpably clear that the batsman was nowhere near the ball. Dhoni does encourage his players for extra effort but it is not after each delivery, for sure. Time will tell if Ponting will also play the game like Strauss, though his past record doesn't seem to suggest that. He, however, deserves congratulations for becoming the highest Test run-scorer for Australia when he went past Allan Border's record in the first innings of the third Test.

The players who say they don't bother about records are simply shying away from landmarks or do not want to publicly accept it as that would invite criticism of just playing for themselves.

So, the next time someone says he doesn't bother about records, just take it with a fistful of salt.

But it must also be clarified that, unlike in athletics, no player plays for records. They happen.

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