Vantage point

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The (Relatively) Ignored Legends

Before this World Cup, the most asked question was, will either of the two legends of our times, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, finally be able to win a World Cup for their sides? Those two captured imaginations like few ever have, and it seemed almost tragic that neither of them would.

In all this excessive attention on those two, people forgot two more legends of our time who will undoubtedly be remembered for generations to come. And those two legends finally extracted their pounds of flesh from the World Cup.

Gilchrist and McGrath have been parts of the previous two wins. But 1999 was all about Waugh and Warne. While Ponting dominated the 2003 World Cup final. But McGrath and Gilchrist, two more once-in-a-lifetime legends who so influentially won so many victories had never really been associated with World Cup wins.

Gilchrist decided to have his slice of the legend pie, and how! 149 off 104 is special even in a normal match. In a World Cup final in a truncated match, against a quality bowling attack, it is downright historical. It wasn't just the strike rate, but the audacious mastery which we have come to associate with him that took my breath away. Sure, he is not as consistent now as he once was. But in terms of really battering oppositions, and that too when it counts towards the result (sorry, Lara), few come close.

Then there was Glenn McGrath, dismissed as a relic after he announced his test retirement. After he was smashed around the park effortlessly by the Poms and the Kiwis in the run-up to the World Cup, not only did people say that he should have retired completely, but also brought up the point that he had never been as much of a danger in the shorter version of the game as he had in tests. He responded by picking up 26 wickets, the highest by any bowler in a single World Cup.

Yes, it is tragic that Lara and Tendulkar will retire without ever having won the big one for their sides. But Gilchrist and McGrath retiring without truly owning a World Cup, not just being one of the team, would have been tragic as well. Thankfully, that tragedy was averted.

For now let us just congratulate the Aussies, and shake our head at the stat that by 2011, that team will have gone 12 years without losing a single World Cup match.

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