The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Super farce, not Test
- World XI batsmen obsessed with Super Series sponsors’ promo line

Sydney: The World XI has taken the sponsors’ promotional line, ‘Keep Walking’, too seriously: The batsmen kept walking back to the pavilion, on the second afternoon, reducing the first-ever Super Test to a farce.

Barring Virender Sehwag (76), Jacques Kallis (44) and Andrew Flintoff (35), nobody made a noteworthy contribution ' Rahul Dravid even failed to score ' and the World XI batting time was a mere four minutes more than a scheduled one-day innings.

Actually, the biggest names negated Flintoff’s excellent effort in the morning which helped force an early closure of the Australian first innings. The last four wickets fell for 14 runs, adding next to nothing to the overnight 331 for six.

However, by stumps at the SCG on Saturday, the hosts were ahead by 221 with nine wickets standing. Now, only one team can lose.

Shane Warne was, of course, superb. Yet, given that the six specialist batsmen had the weight of 483 Tests behind them, the World XI ought to have handled the bowling better. In fact, a streaker attracted more attention than the so-called big guns.

Sehwag admitted that the national team-type emotions and intensity wasn’t coming through. But, then, we’ve been hearing that since the Johnnie Walker-sponsored Super Series got underway with the three ODIs in Melbourne last week.

“I’ve just come off a discussion in the dressing room... We realise the importance of the third day and the World XI will come back hard,” Sehwag, who is “very upset” at having missed a hundred, said.

Repeated failure on the part of such five-star rated batsmen either means they’ve collectively hit a terrible patch or, worse, aren’t interested ' Brian Lara, for example, has managed no more than ten runs in the entire Super Series.

Obviously, coach John Wright has failed to enthuse the lot and technical director Sunil Gavaskar hasn’t been able to inject a dose of professionalism. It’s another matter that most may question whether the Laras need to be administered such a shot.

Frankly, the World XI captain should have been Michael Vaughan and not Graeme Smith, who doesn’t come across as inspirational enough. Not that he alone is being saddled with the blame.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the International Cricket Council brass is regretting scheduling the Super Test over six days. Given the level of competition, a fourth-day finish is on the cards.

If that does happen, the present generation probably won’t see another edition.

Meanwhile, from being a passenger throughout the Ashes, Stuart MacGill emerged more successful (four for 39) than Warne and called for “somebody to understand” that both leggies could be fielded on a regular basis.

“Why can’t we have a (regular) partnership'” MacGill asked. The answer, though, is unlikely to come straightaway.

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