Now that the Australians have beaten two teams from the sub-continent in successive World Cup finals, it’s time for the losing finalists to sit back and see what makes Australians so superior to teams from this part of the world.
When I started playing international cricket 18 years ago, the Australians were hardly a force to reckon with. I remember playing a tournament in Australia in which India and Pakistan were the finalists, while the hosts did not even make the semi-finals. However, in two years they went on to win the 1987 World Cup, and have been the best team since, pretty much through the rest of my career.
There are three main reasons for this 15-year period of supremacy — good administration, good domestic cricket and good bench strength. All these are connected, and it has to be said that this superstructure was not erected in a day. There was vision from the start, and when one great player called it a day, there was always a replacement at hand.
The greatest example of this vision that exists in Australian cricket is evident in the smooth manner in which one captain has taken over from the other. When Allan Border handed over the reins to Mark Taylor, everybody thought the former was a tough act to follow. The same happened when Steve Waugh took over from Taylor, and now Ricky Ponting is looking well capable of raising the bar even higher.
Compare this with the merry-go-round in captaincy that existed in India and Pakistan right through the Nineties. Pakistan was worse than India, but in both countries, captains were always aware that if they failed, they would be hanged without a fair hearing. This is what I mean when I say there is lack of vision in the sub-continent.
Have the Indians asked themselves: “After Sachin who' After Dravid and Ganguly, who'” I doubt whether they have, and that is the problem sub-continent teams will face till they start looking at the larger picture.
However, hiring professional CEOs, secretaries and spokesmen may show the way. They must be salaried professionals, with a specific, longish tenure. Most important, they must be answerable for their actions. Right now we have honorary posts for which elections are held. This means there are factions, and no one is really responsible for what is happening. They take the easy way out by large-scale sackings when a team fails instead of trying to figure out what went wrong and why.
Perhaps, the people in power in both countries should do some introspection. India did well to get to the finals, but they must build on that success. They must groom future players, and identify a future captain.