Time Lane: Feasting at the banquet of sporting glory
At the risk of the writer being condemned to eternal damnation, this weeks epistle begins with
something biblical. The fire and brimstone Old Testament no less.
But its OK. Its about the seven days of plenty just experienced by lovers of sport, with mens finals
at Wimbledon and Lords still to come. Even if this is a precursor to seven days of famine, after the
week weve had there can be contented resignation at the prospect.
Amid the disillusionment sometimes brought by sports commercialisation, or perhaps because of it,
great and true moments deliver heightened appreciation.
None more so than Wednesday night. The oxymoronic second day of the one-day cricket semi-final
between New Zealand and India was epic. What Australian could have imagined being transfixed by
such non-traditional rivals.
The phase of play during which Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni somehow steered India back from the
brink was, to steal from Neville Cardus, limited-overs cricket in excelsis. With Jadeja launching his
counter-attack, the Old Trafford crowd generated atmosphere like few cricket matches can ever
have done. To the pulsating backdrop of Dho-ni… Dho-ni… Dho-ni, the possibility of an Indian
But through it, the Kiwis – perennial underdogs – held their nerve, eventually forcing a moment of
over-reach. This, in turn, compelled the iceman, Dhoni, to take a risk and be run out. By an inch… the laser-like throw from Martin Guptill prompting a magnificent thats as close as it gets look from umpire Kettleborough.
This scintillating drama was complemented by outstanding television commentary. Harsha Bhogle,
Isa Guha, Saurav Ganguly and Ian Smith captured the vibe perfectly without overplaying it. Ive
rarely enjoyed a sporting telecast more.
Meanwhile, its been reported a State-of-Origin rugby league decider was also in progress.
While neither a witness, nor a devotee of the code, I can appreciate that it was a thriller. The best I
can say is that if we ever have a best-of-three series for the AFL flag inflicted upon us, and one year it comes down to a last-minute play in the decider, that wouldnt be all bad.
As much as we in Melbourne like to think of our AFL club connections as tribal, theyve really got
nothing on genuine nation-based, or state-based, rivalries. Thats why winning State-of-Origin is
regarded as more important than winning rugby leagues club premiership.
Anyway, Wednesday provided crickets oldest rivals with a hard act to follow and so it proved as
England won by eight wickets. Still, it wasnt without high moments. This was, after all, the best of
enemies competing for a spot in the World Cup final and they hadnt met at such an advanced stage
of the tournament for more than 30 years.
There was Alex Carey, fighting to restore Australias position with head bandaged beneath his
helmet. To be likened to Rick McCosker in the Centenary Test was the highest praise an Australian
cricketer could receive. There was also Steve Smith fighting admirably, but did God wink when the
former captain was run out by a throw that went through his legs?
It was Englands time though, and, it might be said, about bloody time.
Its worth noting that whereas it took only eight attempts and 36 years for England to win soccers
World Cup, crickets equivalent was inaugurated 44 years ago and there have been 11
completed tournaments. As I write, England remains without a victory.
To be fair, an English win at Lords will only further entrench the one-day international World Cup as crickets greatest event.
Onto Friday, and the week of the gift-that-keeps-on-giving continued. The curtain-raiser was a one-
point thriller between last years grand finalists. Collingwood are back in the hunt, West Coast left to
ponder how they let slip a stranglehold. On a game and a major rival.
Next up, Federer versus Nadal for a spot in the Wimbledon Mens final, and its Roger one more
time. What titans they are.