Ever since Shane Warne found his way to stardom between Mike Gatting’s legs, he never looked back. By the time he arrived in India for his first test series, he was bigger than his own Himalayan ego. Or so I thought. What else I could think of someone who brought his own food with him because India was not hygienic enough for him. Maybe he was right. Maybe not. But for me, this was an insult to the host country.
I hated him.
I know hate is a strong word but my vocabulary is too limited to find a more suited word.
I did not hate just Warne. I hated Glenn McGrath too for his “forget an inch, I won’t even give you a millimetre” attitude. I hated Steve Waugh. I hated Ian Healey.
Hatred was not restricted to just that tour. It was through the time.
I absolutely hated Michael Slater for his tantrums in Mumbai. “Showing finger to umpire and Dravid? I just hate slater”. Every time Matthew Hayden walked in to bat as if he was going to kick box everyone on the cricket ground, I secretly wished if we could hire a sniper to shoot him dead. Sniper had to be at good distance because anywhere close to him might result in sniper getting kick boxed. I hated his bully like attitude which just oozed out of his persona.
I hated Ponting for pushing Harbhajan in Sharjah. Ironically, Harbhajan got fined for using foul language whereas Ponting got scot free. How did he manage that? I hated him for getting away with that?
How do Australians do that? Always? I hated them for that.
I hated their batting which was always superior. I hated their bowling which was better than their batting. I hated their fielding which was surely better than their batting and bowling put together. I hated their attitude which, even if you ever won against them, made sure you bleed even your last drop of blood to win. More than that, I hated their complete contempt towards the word modesty. They were the best side and were not ashamed of it - something which did not come to easy. My generation was taught to be humble, always. Even if being humbled bordered on self-depreciation.
I hated the fact that my team could not play like them. Or somewhere could get even close to their level. I hated the fact that we could not be like them.
In my mind, our politeness was always crushed by their hostility. Our gentlemen like behaviour was always sledged out of the door by them. They showed contempt - before, during and after every series.
I hated it. There was no option because they backed all their villainy with results.
4-0 in 1992. They lost in 1996 but blamed the pitches. 1-2 in 1998 but then, they beat us in Bangalore and claimed - as soon as we played on a fair pitch, we won. Fair pitch my foot.
3-0 in 1999. 1-2 in 2001 but each of the last two matches, as Ravi Shastri would say, went down to the wire which was closing its grasps on Indian necks to suffocate them.
2-1 in 2004. They tried, tried, tried and beat us at home.
They, even if they lost, were always in it.
Barring the 4-0 loss in 2013, they were always in it. Even when they arrived in India in 2013, they were like the Australia we have known - big mouthed, bigger ego and aura even though it was residual.
They’ve come again.
2017 it is. But this time, it is different.
This is not the Australia I have known.
When Harbhajan predicted 4-0 win for India, Nathan Lyon said they do not worry about what others say and worry about their own process.
Yes, process. The same word championed by Indian IT giants. The same words MS Dhoni used - in victory, in defeat, in draws, in rain affected washouts. Process.
In olden days, a Matthew Hayden would’ve asked Harbhajan Singh to meet in boxing ring. Ricky Ponting would’ve predicted 4-0 win for Australia. Australian media would’ve started presenting even Indian highways as turning tracks.
But no. None of it this time.
What we have is very un-Australian Australia. No big words. No statements. No nothing.
Steve Smith acts nice. Nathan Lyon talks nicer. They say they’ve respect for opposition. Even David Warner, known for his punches on the ground or pubs in London, hasn’t fired a single salvo.
Not the Australia I know.
And this will hurt them. They have always been better when acted as unfriendly, hostile and hate worthy opponents. One of the reasons for their loss in Perth was given as - “Sidney forced them to be soft and not sledge. They were asked to act soft in Perth. BCCI twisted arms. Indians cannot take tough cricket”
See, even in defeat they could try making you feel guilty of winning.
I see none of it now. This will hurt them. Oh yes, I may be wrong. Horribly wrong. Maybe. Hopefully not.
So my dear Australians, be the Australia I’ve known. If you are worried about IPL, do not be. A hated Australians is more likely to draw crowds than a not so hated one.
Say something. Say something like how Virat is a flat deck bully or Ashwin is a chucker or Indians hide behind the supernatural powers like Sir Jadeja. Say something nasty about the tracks, the weather, the roads, the hotels, the food or even bloody demonetization.
But be the Australia I’ve known. Otherwise, it is boring.