Advertising spunk and focus | india | Hindustan Times
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Advertising spunk and focus

Bizarre things happen on a cricket field but surely this was as weird as it gets. Initially I thought, the mistake was mine, writes Amrit Mathur...

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 01:34 IST

Bizarre things happen on a cricket field but surely this was as weird as it gets. Initially I thought, the mistake was mine, my eyes were deceiving me, or perhaps I was watching the wrong tape.

But Rahul Dravid clobbering Bracken over long off for six, then reverse sweeping Katich for a boundary --- this in a Test match ! --- was stark reality, no dream sequence from a Hindi film. Point is: Dravid is unfailingly composed/collected/correct, he goes out to bat in Tests after taking out a long lease, wanting to occupy the crease for a few years. So why this abrupt change? Why this crazy dash?

Actually, Dravid was enjoying himself, as other Indian batsmen have done for a month, delivering big and smashing huge hundreds. For long they were trashed for submitting meekly when overseas, slammed for being flat-wicket bullies. Now they want to advertise their talent, and what can be better than teaching the cocky Aussies a lesson.

The series has been fantastic, remarked Bob Merriman, Australia's cricket chief, happy with the response from sponsors and spectators. Encouraged by this, Merriman is keen to explore the possibility of annual exchanges between the two sides provided they fit into the ICC schedule.

Former captain Allan Border gushed about the Indian batting. Border thought Laxman was extraordinary, and wondered where Sachin would reach five years down the line.

That, of course, is difficult to tell; Border's record (of most Test runs) will, in all likelihood fall, but his distinction of captaining close to hundred Tests could last another hundred years.

Early March Border is visiting India to promote the Cricket Academy as part of Australia's great push to export its cricket expertise. Already, its professionals are everywhere (Rod Marsh in England, Geoff Marsh in Zimbabwe, John Dyson in Sri Lanka) and if plans work out, Cricket Australia's franchised outlets will be like McDonalds, present all over the cricket globe.

But the Test series proved there is a huge market for Indian cricket as well.

The all-time record crowd at the SCG may have come for Steve Waugh's sendoff but went back enthralled by Sachin's mastery and Laxman's awesome fluidity.

The Indian team is sparkle and spunk but also professionally focused.