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Saturday, June 09, 2007

International Matches with players of different countries

The Afro-Asian Cup is being played in India currently between a below-par Africa XI and a strong-but-not the first lineup for Asia XI. The Asia XI have already won the series after the first two matches. The entire series was developed by Jagmohan Dalmiya when he was at the helm of the ICC - probably to rake in more moolah. The series is not regarded seriously by the players concerned as well as the officials of both the teams. Hope the funds collected after the series is put to good use - if that happens, atleast the satisfaction of collecting goodwill will be with the players.

Most of the top players opted out of the series - like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Greame Smith, Ntini, Kallis and others. The Board had no say in this and could not do anything to force the players to compete. This was ridiculous. The press did not feel it important to highlight the fact. The TV rights were sold to ESPN-Star at the last moment. As is an usual ritual before the start of a match, the channel did not find it important to have a pre-match ritual or a post-match discussion. The ads were also limited and the viewers had a chance to watch all the 6 balls in a over, most of the times. Surprisingly, all these matches have been given the status of a ODI - which means all the runs scored or wickets taken are considered as part of a players life stats - what an easy way to improve your figures!!!

The first match of the previous Afro-Asian Cup was won by Africa XI by 2 runs!!! The 2nd match was won by the Asians in Durban. The 3rd match became a no-result because of rains. Hence, it turned out to be 1-1 - an ideal way to start a inter-continental series. Does anyone
remember who played for the 2 sides? NO. That shows how successful it was.

This brings to mind other matches which have been played where teams had players from multiple countries playing for either side.

The famous match that I can remember seeing is a (5-day) MCC Bicentenary Test match played where Sunil Gavaskar scored 180+ before getting out - dismissed by Ravi Shastri. This had great stalwarts turnout for both the teams...This was played after Gavaskar had played his last test match against Pakistan at Bangalore.

Another match that comes to my mind was between MCC XI and Rest-of-World XI at Lords - Sachin Tendulkar played for ROW and scored a match-winning century against an attack consisting of Glenn Mcgrath, Javagal Srinath, Alan Donald and Anil Kumble, after Shiv Chanderpaul scored a century for MCC. This was the W.G. Grace Anniversary and Princess Diana Memorial match.

Of course, the more famous matches were the ones early in the 70's which had Rest-of-World against Australia. Gary Sobers in the New Year of 1972 match scored a magnificent century (250+) against an attack consisting of Lillee and co. The ROW side had Gavaskar, Zaheer Abbas, Bedi, Intikhab Alam, Sobers, Tony Greig among others.

The ICC decided to make more money - as if what they were making was not enough - to start what was called "Super Series" between the first-ranked team and another team comprising of the best individuals in the world. The series was a dismal flop, to say the least. It showed the difference between playing for a country and playing for a collective Rest-of-World XI. The Aussies won the 3-match ODI series by 93,55 and 156 runs. The test match was won by Australia by 210 runs!!! So much for competition.

Of course, these matches help in bringing together good players on one side of the match - helping knowledge sharing between various players. But, mostly, without enough support and proper planning, the concept meanders meaninglessly when it is not played as per expectations.
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