Thursday, September 08, 2005

Warnie!! Warnie!!

There have probably been some great test series that I have not seen/followed that can claim to be the best test series ever, but since I seriously started following cricket over a decade ago, there has not been any that can run the current Ashes close. Ind-Aus 2001 comes close in terms of sheer drama but this Ashes is still better if only because it has already been more than 4-test matches old without a single dull day.

There have been so many great moments and great performances that its next to impossible to single out any one thing that made this Ashes such an incredible experience, but there have been players whose stature has gone way up in my opinion due to this series. Flintoff, surely, is one as he has almost single-handedly provided this England side the sort of aura that I could never imagine them to have. But head and shoulders above everyone else stands Shane Warne. With ball and, unexpectedly, with his bat he has wrested the initiative back from England on so many occasions over last month that I have stopped waiting for that off-day from Warne which one expects from every champion every once in a while. So much so that every Australian doomsday prediction in this series - and there have been more than a handful - has come with the qualifier: unless Warne has a say once more. And he has, on every such occasion.

The fifth test is here. First day of what is probably a match as significant as any world cup final, if not more. McGrath comes back to the team but doesn't make much of a difference. England are again off to a great start and what happens? Warne comes in and - first day pitch or not - takes five to stop England from completely running away with the match. As I write this England are 304/7, nothing to be ashamed off, but considering that they could just as easily have been 400+/2 had Warne decided to have an average day for any spinner on a first day pitch, it has been as significant a day for him as any over the series. What a player!!

And lest I forget. What a series!!! WHAT A SERIES!!!

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