Google+

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Selfless Steve Smith shows India why the milestone obsession is useless..............

A double century is a pretty rare occurrence for everyone with the exception of Don Bradman. The legendary Australian batsmen scored 12 double centuries in just 52 matches.
But it hasn’t been quite as easy a milestone for others to achieve. Mohammad Azharuddin will forever be stuck on 199. Sachin Tendulkar played 200 Tests and managed just six double tons – the same number as Ricky Ponting. Brian Lara managed nine in 131 Tests. Kumara Sangakkara has stroked his way to 10 in 129 matches and is the only man who has a realistic chance of breaking Bradman’s record, which has stood since 1948.
The point of this all is that when you get a chance to score a double ton – you simply grab it with both hands and don’t let go. But somebody try telling that to stand-in Australian skipper Steve Smith.
On the second day of the Boxing Day Test against India, Smith showed that a milestone counts for little when your only focus is winning a Test match. Getty Images
On the second day of the Boxing Day Test against India, Smith showed that a milestone counts for little when your only focus is winning a Test match. Getty Images
On the second day of the Boxing Day Test against India, Smith showed that a milestone counts for little when your only focus is winning a Test match.
At the end of the first session, Smith had made his way to 128, his third century in three Tests. Brad Haddin had done most of the scoring – on his way to 55 – before being dismissed. Mitchell Johnson (28) gave him good support and then Ryan Harris stepped up to fill the breach.
After lunch, Harris started playing some shots. It allowed Smith to continue playing his game – taking the singles and turning over the strike.
Gavaskar, in the commentary box, said that Harris looked set for a century. But what nobody mentioned was that Smith looked pretty set for a double ton as well.
However, his steady progress received a bit of a jolt when Harris was dismissed after making 75. Smith was 155 off 279 balls at this point.
He suddenly decided to go into top gear. He hit a four in the next over, a six in the over after that before another four in the third over after Harris’ dismissal. Then, he smashed Ashwin for three fours in one over.
From 155 in 279 balls, he sped to 192 in 304 balls – 37 runs in 26 balls. All this as he was nearing his first double century.
Then, he got out – trying to play a scoop shot... at 192.
"I was going to declare at tea, so I was trying to get as many runs as we could before then," Smith said. "I think 530 is a nice total for us. It was pretty fun to be honest. Batting in general is always fun though. It was nice to be able to play a few shots at the end and try to get the total up as high as we could. It was good fun."
Now, imagine an Indian batsman trying to do the same? Imagine an Indian batsman (other than Virender Sehwag) having fun so close to a double ton.
Take yourself back to Multan 2004 when stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid’s decision to declare left Tendulkar stranded on 194.
"I assured Rahul that the incident would have no bearing on my involvement on the field, but off the field, I would prefer to be left alone for a while to come to terms with what had happened," Tendulkar wrote in his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way.’
"I was shocked as it did not make any sense. It was Day 2 of the Test match and not Day 4, as it had been in Sydney, a month earlier... I calmly put my batting gear away and asked John Wright for a little time before I went out to field because I was feeling a little tight after batting for so long. Inside, I was fuming.”
It was also Day 2 at the MCG. But Smith, who was captain himself, didn’t think twice about letting go of the opportunity to get a double ton. Instead, he selflessly thought only of the needs of his team.
Contrast this with how Murali Vijay (99) batted in Adelaide and succumbed to the nervous nineties. India and Indians have attached far greater importance to these individual milestones than need be.
At the end of the day, it is only winning that matters in a cricket match... the number of fifties and centuries will count for little if we can’t achieve that goal. In his own way, Smith has taught the Indian team a lesson that one can hope at least someone noticed.