Australia’s backfiring strategy a good lesson for Ponting and the boys

2008-03-08 00:00

FROM the moment the Australians started playing the man and not the ball their campaign started to veer off track. It was a lesson Ricky Ponting and his players were loath to learn but by the end of the summer they had suffered grievous losses on and off the field. India went home with heads held high and talking boldly about claiming top spot in the rankings. Australia were left to lick their wounds. Apart from the results, the most telling events were Shaun Tait’s troubled retreat and the unexpected early retirement of Brad Hogg. It hardly told a tale of harmony at t’mill.

Whatever the right and wrongs of the Sydney showdown, the fact remains that the Australians lost their equanimity and never recovered. Even now, months later, the events of that turbulent contest remain as stark as a mountain lit by a falling sun. Dreadful umpiring prevented the Indians taking a grip on the first day and thereafter the tension between the teams was palpable even as the match became ever more gripping.

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