As Australia move closer to the top, Rajasthan too climbed a mountain though of a lesser height. The success story of both teams is interesting yet totally dissimilar. One was achieved through meticulous planning, the other a result of honest work and pure luck.
Australia's journey from the depths of defeat started with a brutally honest review. Pride stung after successive slumps, Cricket Australia (CA) opted for change to turn things around. They created a clear roadmap and took decisive action.
As part of the purge, radical changes were made. The CA appointed a new captain (Michael Clarke), new coach (Micky Arthur), new chairman of selectors (John Inverarity) and a new director for high performance (Pat Howard). The focus was to build a new 'team culture' by investing in players who had leadership skills and brought value to the group in addition to normal cricket skills.
The plan worked, results improved in a spectacular fashion and players demonstrated positive energy and superior intent. Suddenly, negativity surrounding the team vanished, seniors started performing and young stars put their hands up when it mattered. With this change, Australia again became a team of gifted players with attitude and arrogance.
Rajasthan's surge is equally stunning but, compared to Australia, the reasons for their success are different. Their march is not based on a grand vision or a well-written script. Instead, it is part accident, part good fortune. At one stage, early in the season, they did everything wrong and were battling to avoid relegation. But, in the end, they thrashed a vastly superior team to win the Ranji title.
This success is amazing considering the off-field turmoil in cricket governance, absence of top players or big time support staff. But Rajasthan had large hearted, talented players who benefited by feeding off the experience in the dressing room of intelligent senior pros. Captain Kanitkar's cool is such that even MS Dhoni could take lessons from him, Aakash Chopra is internally driven and RR Parida has exemplary focus.
Learning from them, Vineet Saxena and Robin Bisht made runs in abundance while Pankaj Singh, Sumeet Mathur and Rituraj Singh struck telling blows with the ball. Australia and Rajasthan highlight the charming aspect of sport that, ultimately, it is a lottery. Aussies approach cricket as a science but for Rajasthan it is a matter of faith - a team that played and prayed together.
The writer is an administrator with an IPL team and the views expressed are his personal