This probably is the best time to write this, since it was just last night that Australia lost the Natwest Series to England. I have always been asked, not by one, but, almost by every single person I've ever known as to, Why I like the Australian Cricket team so much. There has never been a single reason that I could pick.The reasons that I'm going to list out are probably the closest I can come to, to elucidate exactly why.
Coming from where my folks have loved various sports, I loved the team everybody else did, and supported the Indian cricket team just like, Dad or my cousins, aunt's and uncle's did but, that was only till, I actually understood the game and the morals accompanying it.
It dates back to the 1996 World Cup..The Aussies had a couple of close games, but made it to the final which they lost eventually. Under Steve Waugh's leadership, they won the 1999 WC which was one of their greatest achievements since they had their backs to the wall and had to win 7 out of 7 matches to make it, and they did. Under his captaincy, the Australians reached a record of 16 test match wins in a row as they reiterated a few years later, under the captaincy of Ricky Ponting. After Ricky Ponting was handed over captaincy in 2002, the Australians won the 2003 World Cup having been unbeaten the entire World Cup, which is a brilliant achievement which was replicated exactly in the 2007 World Cup.
Their achievements have been outstanding through the years now but, that is NOT why I am a fan. As a teenager, there have been times where I've looked for a respite and they were the reprieve, from my enclave. They became an inspiration of a different sort, which has kept me going ever since. The match that caught my attention was, the must-win game against South Africa in the 99 WC, wherein Steve Waugh played a match winning century to take Australia home. Ever since, I have been bowled over by the determination and grit of these lads! They are ever prepared to take up any challenge that coerces them in any possible way. They are one of the most determined and optimistic people I have ever come across and it has just made my stand stronger over the years. They have always maintained such equanimity during distress and have emerged out of those circumstances as winners. It is not only victory, literally, that makes you a winner always. Over the years, I have witnessed that, they never harp about a loss nor do they bask in the glory of victory for more than those few hours of reflection after a match, because they know tomorrow is a different day and the task is the same. Acceptance of the reason for a failure, makes you a potential winner.
They have such robust personalities that whenever I find myself in dire straits, I stop and think, what would someone like a Ricky Ponting have done if he was in my situation? I do get an answer and I know what I need to do, be pragmatic. It could come across as insanity to most, but, that's me! I'd have to say, Ricky Ponting has had a tremendous influence on me,most because of his 'never give up' attitude! He emanates an aura of inspiration! He has inspired his team to such great extents, it's amazing! He has maintained Australia's position, still as one of the best teams after the retirement of the greats, like Gilchrist, Hayden, McGrath etc. Only a improbable leader can do that! Ponting once said to the newbie Peter Siddle,'We play matches to win or lose, seldom to draw them.' It is something I can never forget, ever. There's either victory or failure; nothing in between and it is true. A draw is a compromise because of the inability to win, but it is not victory. I believe in it, with all my heart.
Matthew Hayden was to be dropped from the 2007 world cup squad given the slump in his form, but he was given a chance. Critics contemplated the close of his career, but what happened in the WC, was no secret. He was the highest run scorer in the WC! Adam Gilchrist, just when he was going through one of the darkest times emotionally, comes out and scores a double century. Just when a denigrator thinks it's smart to pick on Ricky Ponting, he scores a double century to prove him wrong. Just when Shane Warne is termed 'overrated' by an opposition captain, he culminates into the greatest spinner in the world. Just when Brett Lee is said to be losing track, he rips through the line-up of the opposition to win his team the match. Just when everybody has lost hope, we have a Mike Hussey to save the day with an unrealistic win! Steve Waugh, an acolyte to John Buchanan, pushed the Australians to raise the bar of cricket being played, which they succeeded in doing. Every endeavor they take up has a new lesson in store for me.
Arrogant, haughty, egoistic are what many have termed them to be; they have been deplored time and again. But, I haven't seen humbler, unpretentious and people as modest; bearing in mind the magnitude of their achievements and acquisitions. It is not arrogance, just sheer determination to prove the cynic wrong! After having met 28 Australian cricketers; including Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, etc. I have realized how untrue those accusations have been. They are the most charming people I have ever met. They have made me feel special ,a simple fan amidst those millions out there, as special as anyone ever has. They don't need to make people feel special, but they do. Whether it is Matthew Hayden thanking me for my support and love, or Adam Gilchrist saying I have a beautiful name, or a Mike Hussey saying he will do all he can to win because he hasn't seen such a fan, or a Brett Lee saying, 'Thank you, darling', singing and says he remembers me, or an Andrew Symonds acknowledging the love and appreciation, or a Mitchell Johnson saying he hopes to see me the next time he's here, or, a David Warner replying to my text message; it is the most beautiful feeling when the people you love unconditionally, never expecting anything in return, give you THAT! A small little thing like that can make a cyclopean of a difference.
When you don't expect anything, whatever comes your way brings you happiness, seldom otherwise.
Why I mentioned earlier, that it is the best time to write this and answer the question that I have always been asked, since it is extremely conspicuous that I love the Aussies is that, yesterday, while they played England, they were defending a meek 212, which gives them a moral disadvantage from the start of the second innings. Though I am optimistic most of the times, I gave up on the thought of them even coming minutely close. But they did not. England who were ,crumpled to within a short span, giving ME HOPE, but what I didn't realize is Australia played with the hope and were in pursuit of a win, right from the start which is why they even got there, and never gave up on TRYING. They eventually lost, but the fact that they had managed to even get there, to that position and that they tried, everything within their possibilities, that nobody ever could've done, makes them winners.
They have won such matches earlier that everybody took for granted as a lost cause, wherein they've defended a total of 174 against Pakistan in a Test match and grabbed 3 wickets in the last 3-4 overs to bag the Sydney test against India. Both the matches were otherwise a lost cause, that would've concluded as a win and as a draw respectively, but they converted both into victories. That is why John Arlott, an English journalist wrote, "Australianism, means single-minded determination to win - to win within the laws but, if necessary, to the last limit within them. It means where the 'impossible' is within the realm of what the human body can do, there are Australians who believe that they can do it - and who have succeeded often enough to make us wonder if anything is impossible to them. It means they have never lost a match - particularly a Test match - until the last run is scored or their last wicket down."
I believe in this with every working sense in my system. They have added color to the gallery of my dreams. I do not regret one iota of all the support, love and respect I have for them! They have inspired me to realm of the extraordinary and have helped dig out the best in me, without even realizing it. I will never forget the impact these lads have had on my life and me,no matter what!
Faith and belief in what seems, the unfathomable to everyone around me, are the only orbit to my dreams!