The champagne is on ice

Or perhaps “the beer is in the esky” might be a more appropriate analogy for the Australian Cricket team.

Any way you look at it, the Indian’s goose is cooked and saving miracles of even greater proportions of 2001, within 48 hours, Australia will win back the Border Gavaskar trophy and even more monumentally, win their first series on Indian soil since 1969. I have been accused of being somewhat parochial at times in the past but the truth is, I usually try to be fairly objective. I won’t be on this occasion and for that I make no apology.

It is ironic that stand-in skipper, Adam Gilchrist, is going to have the unexpected honour and privilege of leading the team to victory. It is true that his captaincy has been criticised at times during the series, especially in the first Test as Australia ground out the final few wickets, but his skill at winning the toss has been most important. Perhaps not being a devoted punter has helped him there.

The Australian effort in this series has been magnificent, especially in this Test. The batting has showed application beyond all expectations and the bowling has been top class, supported by excellent field settings, if not excellent fielding at all times. The efforts to save the previous Test, especially from Damien Martyn were superb. That innings put Australia in a good position to win that Test. Of course, we will never know but a lot has been said about the possibilities of that final, washed out day. Perhaps Australia would only be on the verge of going 2-1 up, rather than wrapping up the series. It has been suggested that the matched was placed 50-50. I think that’s crap and Wasim Akram agrees with me. Teams don’t score more than 200 to win matches in India, especially at Chennai. True, Sehwag may have had the match won by lunch, but he was more likely to have been out for 22 – as evidenced in this Test.

And now for some kind words for Martyn. He celebrated his birthday with a very determined 104 last Test. This match he scored a scintillating 114 in the first innings and is looking good, in his forties, in the second dig. You may recall that plenty were calling for his head (myself included) before the Sri Lanka tour and there was some outcry when Katich was dropped for the first two Tests of that tour. Martyn has been suspect against spin and had not scored a century for over two years. He has now scored four centuries in six Tests on the sub-continent and has played a very important part in those Australian successes.

In an amusing twist Boof “Nostrodamus” Lehman has fulfilled his own prophecy, in a way. Almost certainly, it will be he that misses the final Test, due to a torn calf muscle. It would have been interesting to see what the selectors decided as Lehman, Katich and Clarke have all preformed well in this Test. I throw Katich in there because after the Sri Lankan events, and because he has been playing at no 3 (Ponting’s position), I could not consider him safe, even though he should be. And in a further twist, if may be that Ponting will not play in the fourth Test, in which case, Brad Hodge will get his first cap.

Australia should go on to win this match and therefore, the series, their position at the top of the ICC Test table will be strengthened as they were not defending any points for this series. Unlike most series they play, they stood only to gain. The next series is at home against NZ, starting next month. That series was drawn last time and Australia stands to further strengthen its position at the top of the table.

And beyond that, looking to 2005, I’m sure that the Englishmen will have noticed that Messrs McGrath, Warne, and Gillespie are looking rather good and quite hungry for wickets.

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