Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thinking On the Feet

Anyone who watched the T20 match between Australia and New Zealand on 15th February, 2009, would agree that the real turning point - since there were more than one turning point in the match, the turning point which counted ultimately - was the spectacular catch by the Australian teenager Adam Voges to dismiss NZ wicket keeper batsman Brendon McCullum.

McCullum was going great guns by hitting 61 runs with a strike rate of more than a hundred. He and his partner Grant Elliott have, by then, added 58 runs in 44 balls for the 4th wicket. What was then required for NZ was to get 20 runs in 2 overs with 2 well-set & hard hitting batsmen at the crease & with 7 wickets in hand. When Ben Helfenhuas started to bowl his last over and the 19th of the innings, everyone in SCG as well as those watching on TV knew that this is the over where NZ will go for the win since the last over will be bowled by the miserly Bracken, who has till then given only 6 runs in his previous 3 overs, with a maiden too.

So, it came as no surprise when McCullum moved outside his off-stump to take the first ball of the over as a full toss & hit it high over long-on. In fact, he didn't even bother to run initially thinking that the ball will cross the boundary line. But, alas, cricket is a funny game & what should have been a six, has turned out to be a brilliant catch by the fielder stationed at long on. It was the Australian middle order batsman Adam Voges, who was fielding at the long-on boundary, who caught the ball inches from the boundary ropes. However, while catching the ball, he lost his balance. But, even at such a high pressure situation when win or loss was dependant on that dismissal, this cool cricketer showed his true cricketing brain. Knowing that he is going to step on the boundary rope due to loss of his balance, Voges simply tossed the ball up, stepped out of the boundary ropes, regained his balance, came back into the field, slipped on the way but regained his composure again to have caught the tossed up ball comfortably with a dive. Throughout this episode Voges kept his cool & thus turned around the match in Australia's favour because the man who got out then was McCullum who was going great guns on 61 with a strike rate of nearly 130. Of course, Australia went on to win the match by A Run. Yes. Ultimately the difference was just 1 run. But, Australia psychologically won the match in that moment when Voges caught McCullum gallantly.

Wow. What a scene it was. I simply kept on clapping while watching that scene. First of all, one should appreciate the athleticism shown by him to have caught it so brilliantly in a crunch situation like that but more than anything else, it was the cricketing brain demonstrated by Voges at that juncture, which needs to be appreciated. Any fielder could have caught that ball but then might have crossed the ropes too after the catch due to loss of balance & given away either four or six runs to NZ. That would have surely kept NZ & McCullum alive & hunting & probably led to their win too. But, Voges had other ideas & shown that Australia has got good & thinking brains even in its reserve players. This definitely reflects not only on the players but also on the coaching system in Australia which teaches their budding cricketers about the basics of the game well.

Hope many of the youngsters in India who have watched the match or going to watch that video in future, will learn the importance of knowing about the basic rules of the game & how to put it in practice when it matters most.


gopi said...

அருமை அருமை நண்பர் அருண் அவர்களே.

இதை படிக்கும் போது எனக்கு, அந்த காட்சி கண்முன் விரிந்தது. நேரிலே அந்த சம்பவத்தை கண்டதுபோன்ற ஒரு உணர்வு ஏற்பட்டது.

நீங்கள் சொன்னது சால சரி. நல்ல பீல்டிங் சைடு தான் இன்றைய நிலையில், ஒரு மேட்ச்சை ரசிக்கத்தக்கதாக மாற்ற முடியும். அதற்கு சிறந்த எடுத்துக்காட்டு, ஆஸ்திரேலியா, இங்கிலாந்து, தென் ஆப்பிரிக்கா, போன்ற நாடுகளின் பீல்டிங் பலம்.

விஜய் said...

Hello Mr. Arun,
I too watched the catch by Voges. What an amazing presence of mind. It is sad that NZ couldn't succesfully chase 151 which is a very normal total in a T20 game. They just didn't have any plan. Everybody just went for big shots and perished.

M Arunachalam said...

Gopi & Vijay,

Thanks for your comments.