July 22, 2009

Look who wants to have Freddie's baby.

Is that the difference between Freddy and Rahul?

(from March 24, 2006, Freddie vs India)

It didn’t matter who had an upset stomach, a bad back or a pulled muscle. It didn’t matter whether captain, vice captain, ace bowler, spin bowler, all were out of action. It didn’t matter how many players made their test debuts. It didn’t matter how young or old the new bunch were. Andrew Flintoff could have been the last Englishman standing and he still would have knocked the stuffing out of the Indians. They don’t call him their talisman for nothing.

The first big bang was in the summer of 2005 when Flintoff finally walked, no, ran out of Botham’s shadow - 402 runs and 24 wickets in five Tests, setting up the most famous Ashes win ever - one that captured the imagination of a nation and elevated Freddy and cricket to superstar and super-sport status. No longer was cricket soccer’s poor cousin that only suited white sahibs, old fogies and the balmy army watched. Suddenly, Flintoff was bending it like, if not better than Beckham. England was truly taking a reverse swing.

Chew on this; Andrew Flintoff: Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2004, ICC One-Day Player of the Year 2004 ICC Player of the Year 2005, BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2005, Awarded the MBE on 31st December 2005. Freddy Flintoff is all this and more. Undoubtedly, the world’s top all rounder, Flintoff is at the peak of his powers today; not content to be England’s most feared bowler and batsman, he now has the makings of one hell of a shrewd captain. Through all this he even manages one of those disarmingly boyish grins that has English lasses hooting on their Ts –“ Freddy! I want to have your baby”

However, in the 6’ 4” Big Daddy’s path stood a formidable adversary: The Wall, arguably the most dependable test batsman in the world today – how else does one explain the team’s triumphs in the last five-six years. Through these years, it might have been Sachin, Sehwag and Laxman who pulled the killer blows in tests, and got all the hot press and kudos, but rarely, if ever, any Indian win in the past few years has been achieved without a serious contribution from Dravid.

Starting in Kolkata 2001 scoring 180 to partner Laxman’s 281 against Australia; followed by match saving innings at Port Elizabeth, Georgetown and Trent Bridge, and match winning ones at Headlingley, Adelaide, Kandy and Rawalpindi – all this while making four centuries in successive innings, and four double-centuries in 15 Tests. Sample this; Rahul Dravid: Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2000, ICC Test Player of the Year 2004, ICC Player of the Year 2004. And yes, if India had an MBE, he sure would’ve had one too. But when, if ever, did you see a desi kudi in a T-shirt saying “Rahul I want to have your….”

At the start of the India-England test series, Dravid was the more experienced captain and player (a test series in Pakistan, a few ODI series and nearly100 tests compared to Flintoff’s 56); where as Flintoff had the added burden of bowling, often long spells in the hot ‘n muggy Indian summer.

In the final analysis, it might just boil down to the t-shirt quote. After all, how difficult can it be to inspire 10 men when you have an entire nation at your feet? Freddy Flintoff rode the wave, was proclaimed as Lord Rama by the press, and did the impossible – take on India in its own backyard.

Whereas Rahul Dravid at best could rely on his own doggedness and never say die attitude. Meanwhile immortals like Sachin were being booed, Sehwag was sluggish, there was no VVS to partner, the Yuvraj and Kaif selection issue was back to haunt, the Chappell-Ganguly skirmishes were on, and Kumble was the next most reliable batsman after the Wall.

Cricket has rarely been so black and white. It was two deliveries that cost India the test series in Pakistan, and another two the series against England. Two were bowled in the last test at Karachi. Two in the last test in Mumbai. All at Rahul Dravid. And in spite of everything Dravid did, he lost the test series to Pakistan and couldn’t win it against England. The final blow in the Mumbai test 2nd innings: Dravid caught by Jones for 8 off the bowling of Flintoff, who else?

In the India-England test series, two players gave it their all and some more. One had other players whom he could rely on and call his team. Think the English girls might call this bloke Freddy Teddy.


for more Freddie's babies, here you go -

2 comments:

straight point said...

yes its easier to convince players when whole nation is at your feet...

i am waiting for the day when rahul will open up a bit and spill the beans through his book...that would be some intense read...

Naked Cricket said...

Doubt RD will spill. Or for that matter, if any icon player will ever spill - BCCI will ensure they don't, too much at stake.

RD's book needs to address every aspect of his cricketing life, or it should not be written. And I think, he can write an honest account of it, without getting into a blame game.