T20 bonhomie rubs off on big rivalry
Australia opener David Warner was batting on the centre square on which moments ago India had crushed Australia by eight wickets, and among those bowling to him were India skipper MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports.india Updated: Feb 28, 2013 23:31 IST
One was left in disbelief watching the scene that unfolded at the nets after the first Test in Chennai on Tuesday.
Australia opener David Warner was batting on the centre square on which moments ago India had crushed Australia by eight wickets, and among those bowling to him were India skipper MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh.
The session had started with Ravindra Jadeja batting and soon Shane Watson, Warner and a few other players were around the single net chatting away with Harbhajan and Dhoni.
Wonder what Allan Border, who is here for commentarythought of it. When he was captain, Border was dead against getting friendly with the opposition. He felt it took away the competitive edge.
The example of the 1989 Ashes series in England is well documented, when Australia won with a ruthless approach, deliberately giving the opposition players the cold shoulder off the field too.
Rival captain David Gower later said such was Border's single-minded approach the two barely spoke during the series.
Generally, Australia are known to come hard at the opposition. In modern times, India versus Australia has been one of the fiercest rivalries. There are many in this team who will vouch for it.
The Border-Gavaskar series has a history of ugly spats, from Michael Slater's tirade against Dravid over a catch at the Wankhede Stadium in 2001 to the 'Monkeygate' episode involving Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds in 2007-08.
The ties between the two sides hit rock bottom after that Sydney Test.
Bohhomie amongt the players
However, the IPL has helped change the dynamics, player interactions have become warmer. "There is no doubt IPL has made cricket, even throughout world cricket, to be played more fairly than what used to happen in the past.
Most guys, who just play internationally, don't get to know each other as individuals away from the game. That's one of the privileges of playing in IPL, your perceptions aren't of just what they are like on the field," Watson said.
The batsman, however, said the on-field rivalry is still strong. "I wouldn't say the intensity is gone. In the middle, we were playing it hard, as Australia always do against India.
But cricket is still very, very competitive. We don't like losing. But because of IPL, there is a lot more respect and a certain calmness in situations that sometimes in the past have got out of hand.
"For example, With Gambhir, I have have had little run-ins. But Brett Lee plays with him in the IPL (for KKR) and he is one of my good friends. So I have got to understand how Gautam is away from the game and it changed the perspective on how I react with him on the field."