Tuesday, December 28, 2004

England 2K

Not withstanding India's robust performances Down Under and the conquest of Pakistan at the start of the year, the international cricket story of the year has to be the re-emergence of England as a force to reckon with, at least in the longer version of the game. Having showed signs of promise early in the new millennium, they did not quite escalate their game to the levels that the Barmy Army may have hoped for until this year. They summarily dispatched a depleted New Zealand side and expectedly made short work of hapless Zimbabwe, but their walloping of the West Indies, admittedly one of the weaker sides around, was stunning. This was a West Indies that was showing some signs of revival, at least on the batting front. To win seven out of eight tests against them surpassed all expectations anyone may have had, including Vaughan and his men. England have always been a hard working and professional side, but Nasser Hussain was instrumental in instilling a toughness and competitive edge that was missing since the Botham, Gatting, Gower and co era, when there was talent aplenty. That he never won any popularity contests obvious didn't really bother 'Bunny' much. That attitude could come in handy when they take on the all conquering Aussies in next summer's Ashes, a series that is already being hyped up. England are well aware of what they would be dealing with, and must be firmly grounded about the prospects. The Aussies, though, will need to watch out, for they would be playing worthy opponents. Ironically though, the English media tried their desperate best to ensure that the Zimbabwe issue was the top story. Of course, they never had qualms about their cricket team touring Pakistan, a known (?) sponsor of terrorism. But that is a whole another issue, for a whole another forum. - NK

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