The Australia I love

On a fateful day in March 1992, few hearts were broken and a lifelong relationship for a young kid started, with a team that scraped through with the skin of their teeth. It was the second one-run win for the team against their opponents in a World Cup setting

 

I was too young to realise  the vagaries of the rules in the rain-hit matches. They favoured Australia more than India in that game. What I realised, though, was the importance of the game. It was one of those days where my father put a stop to the ad-guess game, as we called it. As my father sunk into despair after the match, I found a new hope- Australian cricket team. It didn’t matter to me that they were out of the tournament before the semi-finals

 

Cricket is a team game but there are individuals whom you find yourself drawn to, more than the others. From that day on, I had at least one person in the team that I looked up to. Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, and believe it or not, even Phil Hughes were, to a name a few, that I looked forward to watching

 

My adulation on the team was enhanced by some of the reports that I read in those days. A common adage in those days, while describing the Australian cricket team was “Give them an inch and they will take a mile”. Another report from my favourite magazine- The Sportstar said that, on a football field Germany had the capability to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and it was Australia in cricket that were capable of bouncing back from death. Exaggerated, but not exactly untrue

 

It was in the run up to the 1996 World Cup that the fondness turned into fixation, primarily because of two men- Mark Waugh and Shane Warne. The final of that tournament was one of three occasions that I cried for the team

 

Watching the 1999 World Cup semi-final was another occasion that I was driven to tears at my cousins place in Bangalore. That fateful backhanded flick by ME Waugh ensured that they were wiped. My belief in the team grew stronger with the win in Port Elizabeth, draw in Adelaide, winning the series in Caribbean, chasing a difficult total in Hobart

 

What I did not ideate was that these players might retire. When they started to retire, one after the other, I still had someone in the team to look up to. The last couple of years have been particularly difficult as a supporter. There were winning situations thrown away in Nagpur, Cardiff, Mohali and Brisbane. The bowling never looked so weak, the batting was never so brittle

 

There were times when I had been abused for being a supporter of the team. I bore it proudly, knowing the fact that the team I supported ruled the cricketing world. When they crashed out of the World Cup in 2011, all of my friends cumulative frustration of previous defeats was unloaded on me. I bore that too, thinking what goes around, comes around

When Cape Town happened, people thought that I would finally make the switch. I switched my loyalties only once before, from Roger Federer to Rafael Nadal and that was because Federer cried or rather, I felt that Nadal drove Federer to tears

 

With three and a half hours to go for the Boxing day Test, I am not predicting a series line but what I want is a few more people to look up to. Whatever be the result, my loyalties will continue to lie with one cricket team that I have ever loved- Australia

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