Interview of Cricket Fans – 54 – Australia

Tell us about your early memories of watching Cricket. How long have you been following this sport?

Well, being an Indian, you start following cricket as early as you can. But it was the 2003 World Cup which made me an avid follower of this game and thus, became a die-hard fan of the Australian Cricket Team. The way Ricky Ponting played in the finals, made me his fan and I was in awe of him ever since.

Have you been fortunate enough to watch any Cricket match live in a stadium?

I have seen several matches live in the stadium. Be it travelling to Bangalore for the India-Australia Test match, Women’s international matches, watching Ranji Trophy and other domestic matches at the Wankhede and many IPL games. But my most favourite one was indeed the India vs Australia ODI at the Wankhede, where the Aussies won by a whopping margin of 10 wickets, it was quite pleasing.

I was wearing my Australia jersey to that game and expectedly, many were surprised to see an Indian wearing an Australia jersey in this game, especially it was of Steve Smith.

Your thoughts on The Ashes? It’s considered as apex cricketing rivalry in history.

For any Australian or English fan you’d ask, they would rate this series above anything. When it comes to Test cricket, it’s about winning the Ashes over anything. So you would understand it holds so much of importance for these two countries. Look, we might get competitive tournaments here and there but when it comes to battling out for the little Urn, these two teams bring out their absolute best. So for me, it has to be the most important series.

Your favourite Australia vs India rivalry, tell us your two favourite matches/series between these two teams in the longest format of the game.

Australia and India have become rivals in cricket for a few years now. There was a time when Australia used to literally dominate each and every country but the fact that the Indian team now sometimes start as favourites even when playing against Australia shows how competitive these two sides are.

Honestly, my most favourite India vs Australia encounter was the 2017 Pune Test match. India started as big favourites but the way Steve Smith played that knock and then to win the Test match on a rank turner was very special. Australia might have lost that series but the way these young lads fought throughout was quite commendable during that tour.

The other series I liked particularly was from the 2014-15 summer. After all that emotional incident after Phillip Hughes’ demise, the way Australia played and won that series was extremely satisfying. That summer started in darkness for any cricket fan rather, but when you see your team winning, it lifts the morale and then the way they won was again satisfying.

Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli, best Test batsman vs best all-format batsman. How do you think this battle will pan out in the upcoming series down under?

It’s going to be the most awaited battle. The two best batsmen of this era going against each other, you know things are going to spice up literally. As much as India would want Virat Kohli to lead from the front, Australia would bank on Steve Smith. Of course, I would back Smudge to score a lot of runs and would simply hope it is one of those rare series failures for Virat. Kohli enjoyed the success last time he toured Australia, but again Australia didn’t have Smith at that time.

Australia, like India, have not been dominant in one format and that is T20 despite them having their respective franchise-based T20 Leagues, what could be the reason in your opinion. 

There are several reasons, and these two T20 tournaments are structured in two different ways. India has a window for IPL but the Big Bash is played during the summer and that is why you don’t see many international stars who part of the national squad, not taking part in the tournament. It does give you a chance for many youngsters to prove yourself but when it comes to national selections, only those who part of the national squad get the first preference more often than not.
And when it comes to IPL, you will see many talented players everywhere but somehow they don’t make it to the national side. There is a lot of competition in the IPL and you don’t get many chances after your failure so you simply shouldn’t judge only based on IPL performance. These two countries might as well play with a different team altogether only for this format, as there is plenty of talent.

5 World Cup Trophies – the most number of World Cups by a team – how proud are you of this stat? Can you share your memories of any World Cup victory that you like?

The most pleasing stat, isn’t it? Ask for any cricket fan, winning the World Cup is the biggest thing in limited-overs and when you win it five times, you know you dominate this format!

As I said, I started following cricket religiously since the 2003 World Cup so that World Cup will always remain special for me. Especially how Australia won, without losing a single game and the way Ricky Ponting led throughout the tournament, damn it was too good. 2015 was quite special too, that summer was very difficult but in the end, Australia won the trophy and dedicated it to Phillip Hughes, made it even sweeter. I remember I was at work, I was quite nervous as Australia had lost just one game in the tournament and that was against the Kiwis, but the first over by Mitchell Starc set the tone and the Aussies never looked back.

Aus vs Eng, Aus vs Ind, Aus vs NZ, Aus vs SA, Aus vs WI, Aus vs SL – It seems like whichever team Australia play, they already have a rich cricketing history shared between the respective team or opposition, what is the secret of their success in your opinion? What makes the opposition say that beating Aus in Aus is almost equivalent to winning the World Cup?

For years we have seen Australia dominating in each and every country. They play ruthless cricket and their success proves that. For any team to be successful, the core has to be strong and Australia invests a lot in the grassroots level. You must have seen this with the women’s team as well. Not many countries do that, they might have the best facility available for the national team but when it comes to having proper facilities right from your club level cricket it does make a lot of difference in developing yourself as a cricketer and it changes the whole cricket eco-system. And that is why Australia is ahead as compared to these countries.

Beating Australia in Australia? For any cricket team, it has to be one of the most challenging things. India might have done it recently but Australia were without they two key players. Overall, if you’d see not many teams taste success in Australia. Even winning a single Test match is quite difficult as you play on those bouncy tracks, those big stadiums, the fans, and all this does make a difference for any touring side. And perhaps that is why beating Australia in Australia might just be equivalent to winning the World Cup.

Tell us your experience of meeting Ricky Ponting.

The happiest moment of my life! I wanted to meet Punter ever since I saw him play and he became my role model straightaway. Every single thing he did, I was always in awe of Ricky. So it was during the IPL when I went to meet him, he was a bit busy as there was a Mumbai Indians match in a couple of hours and he was the coach. So he saw me standing with his book, he knew I was waiting for him. So he called me and I couldn’t believe it. He signed the book wrote my name  and I was carrying a Ponting jersey so he signed on it as well. It sent shivers down my spine as I was actually with him. I mean I couldn’t believe it. You just meet your childhood hero and get stuff signed from him, click a picture. What else you want as a fan?! I was quite lucky to meet him a few more times after that as well but the first time I met Ricky, that moment will always remain special to me.

What is your all-time Australia/India XI?

This is something I find it very difficult. To choose players across eras, or across decades rather. But I think this below team might just be the GOAT team among players who have played against each other.

Matthew Hayden
Allan Border
Ricky Ponting
Steve Smith
Sachin Tendulkar
VVS Laxman
Kapil Dev
Adam Gilchrist
Shane Warne
Anil Kumble
Glenn McGrath

Thank You Vaibhav for this comment on my previous post.

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