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Sight Screen

Monday, June 06, 2005

What is superglue for a team?

Taking advantage of the lunch break at Sabina Park to browse a few of the Ashes related stories, and this one threw up a question.
The Aussies will apparently tour France, to visit memorials dating back to World War I.
The idea is that if the battles of the past can be absorbed, then those of the immediate future can be put in their proper perspective

When Steve Waugh led his team to India for his assault on the Final Frontier, almost the first thing he did on landing in Mumbai was get in touch with locals, and ask them questions. Not about the form of Tendulkar or whether the pitch for the first Test would turn, though.
What he asked, was about the city, the people, the ethos, the meaning of what it meant to be a Mumbaikar. Faisal and I were among the ones he and the rest of the team talked to; in the days that followed, we took several members of the touring party around to a very eclectic mix of places: the brothel district Kamathipura; dhobi-ghat; Shivaji Park, where they went to watch cricket in its nursery, and ended up being mobbed...
They would hear of some place, and call, asking if we would take them there. And everywhere they went, they were full of questions, about life in that environment, about the people and what they did, what made them happy and what made them sad...
What does any of this have to do with preparing for such a crucial Test series, we asked. The response was, we like to understand the places we visit; we like to get under the skin of the people, find out what makes them tick. The more we understand, the more at home we feel -- and that feeling helps us play better cricket.
When they visit India, the Windies party; England, South Africa and New Zealand stay in their hotels, whiling away their leisure time pool-side, or in shopping in a controlled environment. Only the Aussies shrug off the 'dust and grime and crowds', perennial laments of the other tourists, and immerse themselves in the country and its people.
What I wondered then, what I wonder now, is how far has this gone into make the team what it is? How far has it helped bring about that famed spirit of unity, that one-for-all-ness that is such a defining trait of Aussie sides? What do you guys think?

4 Comments:

  • Prem,

    Few years back, Steve Waugh had taken his team to Gallipoli (in greece/Turkey?) where a lot of Aussies had died (along with folks from other nations) in WW1.

    I'm sure the Aussie administrators/strategists would've put in a lot of thought as to organize trips of this sort.

    Sriraj

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13:48  

  • I guess excellence is not a part-time job.

    By Blogger roublen, at 13:50  

  • If I am not mistaken, though, Australia has not always been like this though. They were part of the usual 'subcontinent is full of dust grime and stomach ailments' brigade. it is the last few years that have seen them embracing tours here with wider arms, trying to understand their hosts.

    For one, I suppose this had to do with their desire of excelling in India. The new hub of cricket (ate least economically and following-wise)had to be conquered, and to be comfortable on the pitch they had to be at ease off it.

    Secondly, this is probably part of a larger phenomenon of shrinking distances between culture. In these times more people would like to explore and understand diversity in the world. Open mindendess and discovery are not alien words for people around the globe. Cricketing tours are an opportunity to discover, and the Aussies are amongst the first to grab this opporunity.

    By Anonymous akr, at 01:06  

  • Akr,

    I would say that the actual rejuvenation of Aussie cricket started in that fateful Ashes '89 series (was that '88) -- I belive, they wiped England 4-0. Trust me, that was almost a coming out party for them.

    If you recollect, Australia was the favorite team in both the 92 and 96 World Cups. They have been pretty consistent since that Ashes tour. People credit their turnaround to the 87 World Cup -- I disagree. They were not expected to win. It was expected to be between India and Pak (and trust me, India had an excellent team , at least on paper).

    It is to their credit that Australia, in the last 15 odd years changed their 'attitude' towards S. Asia. They did a complete 360 and instead of behaving like ignoramus wusses, they decided to tackle the sub-continent head on and the results are there for all to see.

    So, this has been an on-going project for more than a decade. Brings me to the point that Prem had made some days back -- the importance of a country's administrative set-up. It is slowly dawning upon me, as to how effective administration can conctribute to a team's good performance.

    Sriraj

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:25  

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