The Frat Pack
How much have we heard and read about India’s “fab five”? The numerous and mammoth achievements of Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble and the name heading almost all cricketing records – Sachin Tendulkar, have amazed the entire world how one team can consist of so many masters of the game in the same generation. There is however a similar group of legends less discussed about but can rival and maybe even outperform the “fab five” in terms of talent and contribution to the game. This faction of men hail from the country of Australia and may not be able to match the flair and number of personal batting records the men in blue have accumulated (mainly due to the fact that Tendulkar has a majority of them under his belt), they certainly have one area which they are worlds ahead which is probably the most important factor in any sport – the number of wins.
Here are the members of this frat pack : Adam Gilchrist, not many would disagree that he was the most entertaining player in the history of the game. His clean striking of the ball matched his athleticism behind the wicket. His game single-handedly blew out Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup finals. With the most dismissals as a wicket-keeper and over 9,000 runs in One Day cricket, Gilchrist would be every captain’s first choice as wicket-keeper batsmen in the shorter versions of the game. His contribution to Australia’s formidable Test side was also significant.
Matthew Hayden, at top of the order gave every bowler a reason to worry. His power was unbelievable and his opening stands with Gilchrist and Langer in either forms of the game were the key to the Australian domination. Even at the end of his career his game looked as refreshing as ever. He proved that by being the leading run-getter in the 2007 World Cup.
Then there was Shane Warne – the genius. Playing most of his cricket down under where the wickets aren’t as spin friendly, Warne has over 700 wickets in Test cricket. His incredible World Cup 1999 semi-finals bowling display against the Proteas was key in attaining a place in the finals. Despite his problems off the pitch and the 2003 drug fiasco which led to his absence in the World Cup, Warne proved that performance on the pitch is what makes a true legend.
Glenn McGrath, is the most economical and accurate pacer modern cricket has seen. He had the knack to keep runs down to a minimum and pick out wickets at the same time. His famous “corridor of uncertainty” have been the doom of many. McGrath retired from ODIs in style after receiving the player of the tournament award at the 2007 World Cup, also becoming the bowler with the most number of wickets at World Cups.
Last and definitely not the least is, Ricky Ponting – the leader of the pack. What a career he’s had so far! His achievement as a player can in some sense can be considered greater than that of the Tendulkars and the Kallis’ of his time because along with his ability with the bat he has had the pressure to lead one of history’s greatest side. 3 world cups as a player, 2 as a captain is a dream, but a reality for Punter. “ Behind every great team is a great leader,” and Ponting has led from the front.
Together these Australians were the mightiest warriors of cricket’s strongest army. They were not just the muscle of the invincible Aussie side but the bullies of the entire cricketing world who have left no nation and surface unconquered.
Now this era is about to come to an end with the slow exit Ricky Ponting is making from international cricket. Every cricket follower would remember the Australian days of dominance in all forms and would be mighty pleased that the sport is no more a one-sided affair. Though it is more entertaining to live in a world of competitive cricket, it may take years before a side like this Australian one will emerge and bring out the true beauty in the game and provide a display of all-round excellence.