Monday 4 April 2011

No country for old men

A random selection of arbitrary World Cup 2011 awards...

The Kipling 'If...' Trophy
MS Dhoni
After the semi-final win over Pakistan, Dhoni gave a remarkable interview in which he described how he'd had nothing to eat until he reached the ground because the hotel that the team were staying in was now hosting ICC/BCCI/government guests and they weren't able to serve him breakfast. Dhoni was absolutely calm about this, even though it's an almost perfect example, in miniature, of every committee that's ever run any sort of cricket throughout the history of the game. The real sign of a good leader is that they never pass pressure downwards - this is Dhoni's great skill as a captain. It's hard to think of anyone who could have borne so much expectation with such ease. In comparison to the off-field stuff, the game itself must be an escape. He sauntered out ahead of Yuvraj in the final like a man walking up his garden path after a hard day at work, ready to relax at last.

Best display of human fallibility
Sachin Tendulkar
Every player has had days like Sachin did in the final, striking everything out of the middle of the bat and then inexplicably feathering a wide one. Many of his hundreds would have started less well than that 18 in Mumbai, and yet he may come to see his dismissal as a curious kind of blessing. Had he scored a century, he might have had to lay down his bat and ascend through the clouds immediately, because his legend would have blotted out the rest of his life. As it is, the failure was almost Bradmanesque, and the weight of runs earlier in the tournament entirely outweighed it.

Best transformation
Yuvraj Singh
And there we were thinking he was the sulky, spoilt one...

Heroic loser
Tillakaratne Dilshan
500 runs, 8 wickets, killer beard - didn't even need to get out the Dilscoop.

Easiest on the eye
Upal Tharanga
A rapier amongst the broadswords

Most surprising out-batting of Sachin Tendulkar
Andrew Strauss
For one innings only...

Prophet in his own land
Jonathan Trott
422 runs at 60.28, 5x50, strike rate above Bell, Haddin, Misbah, Kallis and Ponting, fifth in the ICC ODI rankings. 'He was batting like a schoolboy' - Mark Butcher and Bob Willis

Best strategist
Tim Neilsen
Three fast bowlers, one spinner. 'They [India] will be answering all the questions... on the surface, about their line-up...'

Noble Sacrifice
Ricky Ponting
'There's been no tap on the shoulder'.

Best 'fuck you' hundred
Ricky Ponting
All talking done with the bat...

Best Associates player
Ryan Ten Doeschate
307 runs at 61.40, 2x100. You sure he's not English...?

Best stat
The number of World Cup matches Shaun Tait had to play before he got a bat. Australia's recent history is contained within that number somewhere...

Overall winner
The 50-over game
Any format that can contain an innings as subtle as Mahela's in its biggest game must have something going for it. Now, if we could only play a bit less of it...

Truest words
Shahid Afridi
'After this match, we will all be old men...' On Pakistan's youngsters before the India semi-final

Now, when does the IPL start...?


Cosmic Cricket Blog said...

Incredible piece!! Interesting. You have given great analysis on each player. Especially Tendulkar's 18 in final. Even I feel he timed his shot well before edging an outgoing ball.

John Halliwell said...

Great post, OB.

'Dignified acceptance of anti-climax'

James Anderson: Aussie shark killer to funfair 'hook a duck' winner

Rob said...

On Trott's 86 v Sri Lanka "a match losing innings I say" - Bob Willis