Here in the subcontinent, it’s pretty tough to imagine the selection of a young blood instead of a legendary cricketer who has decided to retire from international cricket after a particular series. But in countries like South Africa or Australia, no individual is bigger than the interest of team…..
Shaun Pollock was the man to laugh the last laugh in the three-nation World Series Cricket down under back in 2001-02. It was a pretty unexpected result as because, just a few weeks back, Steve Waugh’s ruthless boys devastated the Proteas by 3-0 victory in the much-hyped Test series. But as soon as the limited-overs series commenced, astonishingly, Waugh’s men could not even qualify for the three-match finals and Pollock’s men outweighed Stephen Flemming’s bits-and-pieces, but stubborn unit to lift the trophy.
Just before the tour to South Africa in 2002, Cricket Australia axed Waugh from ODI captaincy and appointed Ricky Ponting as the new captain. There was not even a place for him in the side. Despite leading Australia to their second World Cup win in England and a year later scripting an absolute purple-patch in the history of Australian cricket, Waugh was axed for a failure in one series.
The Australian think tank who are always considered to be visionary and practical enough, thought otherwise, while emotions poured heavily when Waugh was axed from 50-over side. They thought, Australian cricket cannot progress with an ageing Waugh and thus, for the sake of a better future, they need to make hard choices. In fact, they were correct. Till 2007, Australian cricket only grew stronger and stronger under Ricky Ponting.
The Australian hierarchy knows how to minimize emotions while taking any important decisions.
Just before the start of four-match Test series between South Africa and Australia, Morne Morkel, the lanky fast bowler from the rainbow nation, decided to hang up his boots after the end of Test series. Fans and critics expressed their sadness and blamed Kolpak without even trying to think, the big man was ageing and losing his vim day by day.
Morkel was greeted by the Durban crowd with cheer but sadly, Morkel was a shadow of the past. He ran in, but erred in line and length time and again. The leader of the attack in absence of Dale Steyn was not even able to play the supporting role of Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj.
The think tank of South African cricket decided to play someone deserving than Morkel. Morkel was left warming the bench in dressing and witnessed Lungi Ngidi dazzle in style. Ngidi’s line was testing and he beat the batters with pace. He struck in the crucial juncture of the match: a dangerous looking David Warner was castled with sheer pace, a threatening partnership of 42 between Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon was ended and then, development of another stubborn resistance by Paine and Josh Hazlewood was ended by him.
South Africa were not at a loss by selecting Ngidi instead of Morkel. They were not overshadowed by the emotions of the man’s last Test series. They went the Australian way – minimizing emotions as much as possible and gave the benefits of team more importance.
The selectors and officials of a cricket team always find themselves in the soup while taking any sort of decisions. They have to face the heat from public and press, but still, they don’t shy away from taking sterner but practical steps. It’s never easy to make, hard choices, but life is such, you have to go for it. The Australian, South African, England and New Zealand officials show all of us, how tough choices are made.
Sadly, such sort of thing is quite unimaginable in the subcontinent. Especially in Bangladesh, where a player is always rated bigger than the team. Just imagine the Bangladeshi selectors decides to go for a young blood instead of a legend who has decided call it day after the end of a particular series. Boy, the reaction of general public and press would have been volatile as emotions matter more than the benefits of team here.
But, that should not be the way and the scenario must change.
South Africa’s decision to play Ngidi instead of Morkel had been a good one.
South Africa reminded us the old saying, no individual is bigger than the interest of team yet again.