In that cheesy, sobby, magnificent old movie The Shawshank Redemption, there's a scene in which Morgan Freeman's character, world-weary, repentant killer Red, finally understands the protagonist Andy's love of rock-polishing. 'Geology's like everything,' he says in that celestial voice, 'it's just pressure and time'.
Whether Sachin makes that 100th hundred on Saturday, or if Murali takes a wicket with his last ball [or whether there's a real Hollywood ending, and both things happen], the CWC 2011 has been all about pressure and time.
Geoffrey Boycott was lambasted for his comments on the withdrawal of England's Michael Yardy with depression. The condemnation was merited if self-righteous, but Boycott, who was offering an opinion on radio immediately after hearing the news, was clumsy rather than thoughtless. Indeed, he went through something similar himself after the death of his mother and his sacking by Yorkshire, which made his thoughts worthy of further examination. His initial reaction was to look to Yardy's on-field performances as a cause. That's inevitable, given Boycott's own obsessive personality, but it doesn't make the point entirely invalid. Humans are humans, and it is always a difficult moment when one comes up against the limits of their ability, especially when that ability has done so much to define their self-image.
What's more fascinating is whether a team can have a collective psyche, and if so, whether that psyche can dominate the individual within it. How else do you explain South Africa? And how do they explain themselves? The application of pressure made the unit fold again. Can something as intangible as the past really play a part?
Time has proved one of the best defences against pressure, or at least experience has, and experience is really time by another name. In different ways, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar have resisted it. Experience gives you options, offers perspective. They have provided the most enduring memories of the tournament - fitting given the time and pressure they've embraced and withstood.
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