Three teams; three teams who won, and won with grit and grace and such passion; three teams with new faces and old faces, innovation and inspired captaincy, who played cricket with the joy and energy the great game both creates and deserves; three teams who had gone through tough times, and yet, when the test was faced, faced it with winning conviction.
Rajasthan, Australia, and Pakistan...
You have showed us how to not only play cricket, but how to win cricket, but bat both straight and slanted, with deliveries both subtly spun and viciously hurled, with catches taken and runs saved by committed effort, and by runs taken when the opponents least expected them.
And you were smiling and leaping and shouting as you did so – often at the other team, but more often to each other, with each other. When your bowlers made the lap of honour after claiming a victim, the entire team joined in – a celebration not only of the moment, but of shared trials and tribulations.
And off the pitch, in the planning and coaching and practicing and exercising, there was a combined strategy of knowledge and inspiration, and veterans explained to newcomers, even as newcomers outran veterans; and coaches were not grim faces, but smiles and backslaps and constant companionship; and the team knew and felt these emotions, these subtle and obvious guiding words and hands and hearts.
And on the pitch, all three captains lead not only with bat but even more so with leadership which combined advice from other seniors, and an alert awareness not only of the present state of the game, but the state of mind of each player, young and old alike.
And in doing all this, all three teams defeated opponents who were, on paper and on past record, superior to them, and defeated them with such total conviction, that thoughts of a comeback or even a fightback just did not arise.
Tamil Nadu, India and England – these are the teams that were defeated; they did not lose, they were defeated.
Three teams full of such talent, such experience, ripe with veterans and flashes of new talent, but three teams which could not face the test, not when it really counted, really mattered.
Cricket, the most artistic of team games, the most individual of team games, is played and won with a certain energy, a certain passion for the moment; for, in a moment a partnerships ends, a wicket falls, a catch is dropped or taken. In a moment. So victory is a series of combined moments where an entire team is passionately involved, awaiting an individual moment of brilliance. Thus, to maintain that energy is far from easy; for, in cricket for many hours an individual may have nothing to do with the flow of the game — and then, suddenly, be the star of the moment.
To maintain that concentration – for seven hours a day – requires a passion which is unique to cricket, and it requires such physical and emotional fitness that only the very best can truly maintain that passion for the entire length of a match.
But Rajasthan and Australia and Pakistan did...
And a special note of congratulations to Pakistan – a team which had fallen as far down as any team could ever fall, and yet they have climbed back, on foreign, neutral soil, which they have made their own. May they continue to play clean and keen cricket, and prove to the world, and themselves, that they are true champions of the great, great game – the game of cricket, and the game of life...