Dissecting England’s misery, point by point
Officially it is called the Harris Park, but the locals in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, aka Little India, refer to it as the Pind. Close to the Pind is Centenary Square. It has several names — chowk, baithak or panchayat — but serves one main purpose. It’s where elderly Indians, parents of first generation of immigrants, spend most afternoons when their children are away at work. Some have flown in to baby-sit grandchildren, a few are here to see their sons settle in a new country and others are awaiting Permanent Residency (PR).
On this lazy, partly cloudy Wednesday morning, the quaint-little Chowk looked idyllic. If framed it could very easily sell pension plans. Toddlers were sleeping in prams, ‘3-feet nothing’ brats ran into fountains and two neatly divided groups, based on gender, talked just about anything under the harsh Aussie sun.
But mostly, as a regular Chowk squatter says, the conversations are about “aches and ailments” and “going to India.”
By early afternoon, peace at this ‘adda of oldies’ would get disturbed. It started with ICC parking a double-decker bus with World Cup colours. They went on to set up a couple of canopies and a temporary stage. A sparkling white mini-truck that distributed free ice-cream would also materialise. In front of the microphone was a guy with a strong, clear voice and a guitar but he wasn’t the rock star. That would be Michael Vaughan, in shades and ICC T-shirt.
In the audience would be men in sparkling white kurtas or in safari suits and sports shoes. They sat cross-legged on park benches overlooking the lawn where the ladies in colourful saris were huddled, and also Vaughan.
This was ICC’s effort to engage the Indian diaspora in a cricket chat. Certainly, not the crowd they had in mind but the show would go on. Actually, Vaughan ended up speaking like they do at the Chowk. A day after England’s calamitous exit from the World Cup, Vaughan too spoke about “aches and ailments” and “going to India”.
Vaughan would start by talking about the pain of watching his countrymen going home early. “Are you hurt?” is the opening question.
“Yeah, I am passionate about England. I care about the team. We have been stupid in our approach to think that the game hasn’t moved forward. Even if England had performed well in this World Cup, it was miles short of where the other teams are. It is a different brand, a different mindset,” he would say.
Towards the end, when asked for solutions, the Yorkshireman wished that the English board allowed its players to play T20 leagues abroad. “They should have been allowed to play five years ago. I am a big believer in Twenty20 cricket. Our bowlers need to be exposed to the likes of MS Dhoni more often, the likes of Maxwell more often rather than bowl to them once in a blue moon and get surprised by that.”
In between he gave reasons for yet another of England’s Cup debacle. His list, in his words, as follows:
* They picked a defensive team. The batting order that looked more accustomed to Test form rather than 50-over cricket.
* Pacers have not got the lengths right. For some reason, England’s aren’t bowling as quick as some of the other teams. India now have quicker bowlers. (Bangladesh’s) Rubel Hossein, bowling at 148, clicks. England don’t seem to have that kind of bowler, which is a worry.
* Ian Bell, Morgan, Broad and Anderson haven’t been at the races.
Eoin Morgan isn’t the first to face post-World Cup brickbats, nor the first skipper to land at Heathrow with a pall of gloom over a depressed nation. He just gets into a crowded Hall of Shame that has Nasser Hussain, Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, not to mention David Beckham and Steven Gerrard. It’s a nation of Henmans and cricket hasn’t yet been able to find its Andy Murray or Mo Farah, somehow. With time it might, but till then the Cup will mean brim-full of anger and regret.
Vaughan acknowledges England’s record: “For 20 years, England has been a poor one-day team. My group that we had in 2007, we were poor. In 2011, we were poor. Go back to 1999, we were poor. ‘96, Sri Lanka battered us in the quarterfinals. We were poor. It was really in 1987 where England were good in one-day cricket but I guess there was not as much competition in those days.”
He wants a churning in England cricket, wants to throw young players into the deep end and hopes that the ‘Big Bash’ kind of league that ECB is planning in 2017 will change things.
Not convinced, you ask: Are you guys too correct? “Yeah, I agree,” he says. “I think we play too technical. I think we look to take ones in the middle period rather than boundaries. There are a lot of young players who have this kind of fearless approach. They need to be given opportunities and given the freedom to express themselves.”
Not far, the brats, Little Indians, are getting that opportunity. The weak one bounce throwdowns from aging hands were being whacked, cross-batted with eyes shut, to the fountains. “Bapuji, Dhoni aane waala hai?” the 3-foot nothing asks innocently, before running to fetch the wet ball.
Source:: Indian Express