While I did not use the terms "last frontier" or "final frontier" to
describe the Australian tour to India - someone made it up along the
way - I certainly said that it would be a great challenge for the
team to win here. We had set our sights on extending our streak here
and there is no doubt that I am disappointed we could not win the
series. However, I am not unhappy with the way we played and I am
proud that everybody gave their 100 per cent in pursuit of this dream.
There are obviously different opinions about where exactly this
Australian team stands in the immortality list of all-time great
teams. I have no doubts that when it's all finished and when this team
is together no more, everybody will speak highly of it, especially
when they consider the record we have set. Sixteen wins in a row is a
tremendous run of matches and it is a record that will take some
breaking. All I can say is that this side is a very competitive one
and will give many sides of the past a run for their money.
This was definitely a hard-fought series and I won't deny that a few
incidents did take place in the field. However, I guess everybody involved
will learn from their mistakes and I don't think the things that were said
and done have left a bitter taste. The moments were also exaggerated and
that did not help at all. There was a lot at stake for both teams
and many players on both sides reacted at the heat of the moment in a
manner they would regret at leisure. On the eve of the Goa match,
Cammie Smith spoke to the team managements of both sides, and that
helped clear the air before the last game. All said and done the
cricket here was tough and enjoyable right through.
As far as Sourav Ganguly is concerned, I would not like to comment on
his captaincy. I'm sure the Indians are happy since he has led them to
victory and that's what matters. While I have nothing personal against
him, I would have to admit that it was not an easy relationship.
The Indians definitely had a tough edge to them this time round and
are a different side at home from what they are abroad. For them the
real challenge is to win Tests away from home, only then will they be
considered a side that can excel in all conditions. There is certainly
a great difference in the team that toured Australia a little over a
year ago and the team that we played against here. This team looks
pretty confident at the moment and back themselves. They are probably
a little more positive and seem to be better organised than any of the
Indian teams I have played against in my career. The tough edge that
they have discovered helped them overcome difficult circumstances in
the Test series and this is why they eventually emerged winners. They
won the vital moments in the series, and were deserving winners in the
Since we lost the Test series, there has been some conjecture as to
whether we could have picked some of the players who were left behind.
I have no regrets on that score. We were one wicket away from winning
in Calcutta on the fourth morning, and that one wicket would have won
us the series. Full credit to the way the Indians fought on that day
to turn the tide in their favour.
Positives have emerged for both sides during the series and none more
so for us than Matthew Hayden. He had been on the bench for quite some
time and is proof that if you want something badly enough, you can
achieve it with hard work. He was our most successful player by far
and never failed right through the series. On the Indian side, the
tremendous performance of Harbhajan Singh would be a plus. He took an
enormous number of wickets and made the absence of Anil Kumble seem
like a blessing in disguise. Who knows, if Kumble had been fit he may
not have even got a chance to play.
There were a few defining moments in the series, but my handling the
ball was certainly not one of them. A freak dismissal is just one
moment, it happened to Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai too, and cannot
change the course of a Test too much.
It was the manner in which Harbhajan got more than a couple of
wickets at a time that finally proved decisive. That, and the epochal
innings played by VVS Laxman. His innings lifted the rest of the side
and showed them that they can play positively against our team.