Harsha Bhogle
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They don't make 'em like that anymore

In the past there were cricket teams who used to put the fear of god into opponents. Not any longer

Harsha Bhogle

July 27, 2012

Comments: 72 | Text size: A | A

World Cup, 2003 - Australia v England at Port Elizabeth, 2nd March 2003
Port Elizabeth 2003, when Andy Bichel and Michael Bevan dragged Australia back from the brink and over the line © Reuters
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When he was playing golf that seemed to come from a different universe, Tiger Woods didn't only beat opponents, he often took away their will to compete. Opponents looked at him with awe, eager to see what he would do next rather than thinking of ways of combating him. Woods had that aura that sportsmen dream of possessing. When he was scorching the back nine on the last day, there was an air of inevitability about it all. His opponents had bestowed on him the cloak of invincibility.

Michael Jordan had it, and Roger Federer did - the mystical quality that injects hopelessness into the opponent; which causes them to temporarily abdicate their skills and drool over what is on display. It takes a long time to build this aura and only a few defeats to dissipate it. When the inevitability of victory is dented, it is almost as if opponents are being shaken out of their reverie and awoken to the fact that victory is a possibility. Federer might only have lost a few games here and there, but it made opponents sense an opportunity where earlier they were overwhelmed by the aroma of despair.

Only two teams in recent times have managed to bring this aura to cricket. Both used to win matches before the contest began. Both got into tense situations, but then, almost inevitably, both they and their opponents on the park believed the champion was going to win. West Indies through the late '70s and into the '80s were like that, and so were Australia for about 15 years from the mid-90s.

The 1948 Australians, in the eyes of some the finest team assembled, produced some stunning victories that gave birth to such a legend, including scoring 404 on the last day of a Test to win (aided, no doubt, by the fact that the English bowled 114 overs, but that only marginally diminishes the significance of what Australia did).

The great West Indies added to their aura significantly when they chased down 344 in 66 overs on the last day of the Lord's Test in 1984. They had an ageing Clive Lloyd at No. 5, Jeff Dujon at six and Malcolm Marshall at seven. England must have fancied their chances - they even declared their second innings (even if at nine wickets down) - but by the time the game ended (and Viv hadn't even come to the crease!) they must have been left wondering just what they needed to do to win against West Indies. The news would have travelled: you can't beat these guys, and that would have led to West Indies winning a couple more matches before those games began.

England might have thought the tide was turning against Australia in the World Cup of 2003 when they made 204 for 8 and had Australia 135 for 8, needing 70 at a run a ball with two wickets in hand. I was watching that game, and at no point did it cross my mind that Australia would lose. Seriously. They just had their air about them, and of course they won. When you win games like those, the opposition starts to believe in your invincibility. The aura appears.

In recent times, with Australia having slipped and the leadership of the Test rankings yo-yoing a bit, no team is able to generate that kind of aura. Nobody seems scared of anyone anymore, and that may be good for the game. India didn't seem too inclined to go for it in Dominica in July 2011, when after a slow phase of batting they needed only 86 from 90 balls with seven wickets in hand. India had the opportunity to make a statement about their strength; instead they suggested they, the No. 1 team in the world, weren't confident. You don't build an aura like that.

And England allowed the opposition to score 637 for 2 at The Oval last week, often bowling as if they just had to do something with the ball in hand since they had run in 15-20 yards with it. Champions don't give an inch; England were offering a mile at times. The series might well have a twist but by the time the game ended, England's image had been dented.

There is no aura in cricket anymore, no runaway leader in tennis, it seems mandatory that every major in golf must have a different champion, and Formula One is struggling post-Schumacher. Only Spain in football can now claim to have that aura. Unless, of course, that occasional cricketer from Jamaica scorches the track at the Olympic stadium in the next couple of weeks.

Harsha Bhogle commentates on the IPL and other cricket, and is a television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by Meety on (July 30, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

@SamRoy - the ONLY reason the Saffas 1966-70, is they weren't around long enuff to create that aura. I have almost zero doubts that they could of. @Omegazone - correct. There is no cricket teams creating any aura about them as the difference between the top 6 teams is quite minimal & it means that any side in the top 6 can beat another side in the top 6. Until a team starts to win more games in succession & start to increase the margins of those wins, the only auras we'll talk about is teams from history. @SIRSOBERS - I think your point was valid for the first 10yrs of this century, I think the last 18mths to 2yrs has seen some pretty low scoring, where most sides (probably only excluding India), have been knocked for sub 100. @jonesy2 - in Rugby League, St George won 11 straight premierships, they had an aura.

Posted by bvnathan on (July 29, 2012, 23:49 GMT)

Harsha, not clear what message is intended by your article. To me, there were two teams that challenged other teams across the globe by sheer brilliance and effort as a TEAM - Australia thru 70s and WI team thru 80s post their massacre in 75-76 series in Australia. Teams in the 90s like Pakistan (Wasim/Waqar), WI (Amrbose/Walsh) and Aus (McGrath/Warne), with the combo of bowlers in their team brought in fascination to the competition during the matches - but as a TEAM Australia demonstrated their killer instincts much better - that helped them to maintain a stranglehold, but were not invincible. Personally a particular team or player dominating a sport in the LONG RUN is not attractive - but their performance changed and challenged other players to bring out their best. Jordan, Woods, Federer, Nadal, Lara, Tendulkar, Warne, Schumacher, Ronaldo etc. brought in fresh approach that made the games they played more interesting and also posed a challenge to others to bring out their best.

Posted by Venkatb on (July 29, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

@ Dubious, agree with you - the WI team to Aus in 75-76 were manhandled by Lillee and Thomson - Holding was playing in his debut series - the WI team had a very cavalier attitude the whole series - they had technique and talent in plenty but not the will-power - in fact, Lloyd had various complaints, including 1. Too much cricket and 2. No women companionship for extended periods!!! But getting back to my original point, that series and the WI home series against India were the key factors that drove WI to an all-pace attack, starting with the last Test against India where Bedi declared and gave up the Test as too many batsmen were injured by the pace bowlers - the carnage started then, with the series in England where Holding, Roberts and Daniel massacred them - beginning then and all the way to the mid-90s, it was WI all the way. The only ones who handled them well were the Pakistan team of 77-78 and the Aussies until 1980.

Posted by jay57870 on (July 29, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

Harsha - As the Bard said: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"! Ryan Lochte dethrones Michael Phelps - for the moment - as king of swimming. Usain Bolt is looking over his shoulders at Yohan Blake & Co in the sprints. Federer wins Wimbledon for his 17th major, displacing Djokovic - for the moment - as No 1 in tennis, with Nadal in the chase. Never mind it took Roger 21/2 years to go from 16 to 17. Yet Harsha raised a big ruckus about Sachin taking a long 1 year to get his "damn 100th"! Even Woods hopes to catch Jack Nicklaus with 4 more major wins. Even Spain's soccer "aura" could be dismantled in a few days. Who cares about aura anyway? It's the competition that matters: England, SA, India, Australia battling for the Test crown. Can't have it any better. No, it's not Bolt, but Phelps to watch: 3 more medals would make him the greatest Olympian ever! How about the Queen of England being "hijacked" by 007 James Bond? Danny Boyle & the Bard got it right! It's the moment, Harsha!

Posted by   on (July 29, 2012, 1:09 GMT)

Atm only gayle,tendulkar,steyn and sangakara have an "aura". Ajmal,cook,amla,mathews,dhoni and shakib will get there but they need more time. Players like afridi , sehwag, KP etc had it for a while but they couldn't hold on to it. Amir (if he decides to comeback) will surely get there. Imo england cannot become a great side until they start grooming their own rather than letting some outsiders do their jobs for them. Because whenever I look at their team I don't see that kind of spark that tells you that they want to win something for their country, in short they don't look like a team. Where as SA has everything but nerve, they have the talent the pride and the ambition but somehow manage to find a way to give away their goal. I do believe that the west indies will rise again and so will pakistan and australia because these teams have always had that hunger. India on the other hand imo is going down the wrong road,sadly they have chosen money over pride and greatness.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2012, 1:05 GMT)

You have hit the nail on the head.The aura of invincibility is a thing of the past. Thanks to pedestrian performances and a singular lack of consistency, teams seem the press the self-destruct button more these often.

Posted by   on (July 28, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

I think of it in a positive way. It brings more uncertain games and fierce competitions to the game of cricket. Never been a fan of rankings anyways. I will have 5 equaly good quality teams than 1 invincible and 4 ordinary teams any day

Posted by smalishah84 on (July 28, 2012, 17:30 GMT)

I don't know about the others but I certainly feel that this wasn't one of your better efforts Harsha.

Posted by   on (July 28, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

What a pointless article. Is Bhogle saying it was better years ago when 1 team used to rule the roost for 15 years. Surely Cricket is better now as it is more competitive with 4 teams competing for top spot

Posted by harshthakor on (July 28, 2012, 10:40 GMT)

More than a top team we should have something like the late 1970's when West Indies,Australia and Pakistan were closely bunched together or in the late 1980's when West Indies and Pakistan were neck to neck like in the 1988 series in the Caribean.

We need to reduce the amount of cricket and prepare tracks that suit seamers Today we have exciting test cricket but at the cost of the high standards of the past.For test cricket to survive we need more of the series like the 1960-61 Frank Worrel trophy won 2-1 by Australia or the 1988 drawn series between Pakistan and West Indies,rather than Clive Lloyd's team's 5-0 whitewash of England in 1984 or Steve Waugh's whitewash of India and Pakistan both by a 3-o margin in 1999-2000.

Posted by CoolCharlie on (July 28, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

Gaurav Kumar well said. exactly what u say is true... average batsmen look like monsters

Posted by harshthakor on (July 28, 2012, 10:30 GMT)

The main point is that the standard of cricket has declined with so much cricket being played of so many types.We hardly have any genuine fast bowlers or truly great players left and the wickets totally favour the batsman.Apart from Tendulkar,Kallis,Ponting,Steyn,Sangakaara or Jayewardene we hardly have great players.Very soon 4 of this list will retire .

Today Harsha is right,we have no champion team in one day or test cricket.3-4 teams are closely bunched together.But then again we have some of the most fiercely contested test matches and twice as many results as in previous decades.

What is needed is to elevate the standard and produce a few great teams like West Indies,Australia or also at times Pakistan in the last 3 decades.At it's best in the 1980's Pakistan almost toppled West Indies.Sadly South Africa and England have hardly been consistent after getting to no 1.England's display on the sub-continent testifies this.

Posted by Dilbar786 on (July 28, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

U shud really stick to writing only on ind

Posted by Dilbar786 on (July 28, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

The only scary thing abt cricket were Wasim.Waqar.Shoaib.Imran Miandad n u forgot to mention them.

Posted by anuragsinha16 on (July 28, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

India, Pakistan & SL (post '96 WC) all had their moments in past two decades but none of them could capitalise.

Posted by DEV_ME on (July 28, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

@HARSHA : Your article conveyed a sense of loss about it, where cricket is concerned. A touch of romanticism, rather lack of it in the game, absence of the will to win, missing the thirst to dominate .. Frankly this echoes my feelings on the game. People are becoming too calculative rather than being the big hearted players that once walked the turf. from the examples cited by you, some readers are complaining that they are individual sports - try telling that to Schumi / Ferrari / Fedex - they will burst out laughing. Only thing, going by comments, the word 'AURA' has seemed to lost its value a bit, with the way its being tossed around in the comments. A very nice, unbiased, sporting article.

Posted by   on (July 28, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

Well using individuals references to describe the ruthlessness of a team game is not justified. Cricket is being played by 11 people and those 11 people influence the result of any game. So no Roger, Woods or Schumacher had to reply on other members of their team to build their invincible aura.

Posted by Supa_SAFFA on (July 28, 2012, 5:38 GMT)

SA will need to win a World Cup before they can shed their reputation of choking and claim an aura of invincibility. Everybody respects yet nobody fears them.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (July 28, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

Nice dig at England bowlers in the guise of an article. Good work Harsha ;-)

Posted by Dubious on (July 28, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

@Venkatb, in response to, "I believe the Windies teams of the early 80s were the only ones who instilled the fear of God in opponents". Well I remember watching Fire In Babylon and that very 80s West Indian team said that they were terrified by the 1975 Australian team that humiliated them with palpably the quickest new ball pair of all time in Lillee and Thomson. The English team from the time said much the same thing.

Posted by jonesy2 on (July 28, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

all blacks. the all blacks are the team that have always had this exact thing you are talking about. very surprising

Posted by   on (July 28, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

@ Paulk and similar: I disagree. I know it was mostly one sided when Australia were on the high but there was some ultimate goal. Everyone wanted to beat them and if someone did beat them or even drew against them then that was remembered and cherished. Now it is more numbers. Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka but is above them. If SA beat England then are they the best?

Secondly I don't think aura is built over time. It is built with personal. Australia lost the aura quit quickly once it lost the personal. When Tandulkar bats you can feel the opposition feel the aura. Similarly when Steyn or Ajmal bowls you see a level of respect or forced bravado (as opposed to confidence which you see when a good player plays even Swann).

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (July 28, 2012, 1:10 GMT)

The game is becoming more and more dull due to the increasing gap between bat and ball ! The improved protection lighter bigger bats helmets flatter pitches e.t.c restrictions on bouncers free hits all make being a fast bowler a thankless task in the modern game. Watching the current ENG V SA series only confirms this with all the build up being focused on the bowling attacks there was really little if any hostile bowling no batsman being hit ducking and weaving like you always used to have, You will never see performances like Devon Malcom or Alan Donald destroying batsman those days are sadly long gone.

Posted by   on (July 28, 2012, 0:36 GMT)

@Harsha you, either unintentionally or intentionally, missed two of the ultimate aura of invincibility set by Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan in squash. I guess if you mentioned these as well in your blog then you would have convey a complete and true sense of aura of invincibility.

Posted by Venkatb on (July 28, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

I believe the Windies teams of the early 80s were the only ones who instilled the fear of God in opponents - the 48 Aussies had a significant advantage - they were playing an opponent who had played no first-class cricket for 5 1/2 years. Another team that did was the Barbados team of the early 60s - that some weaker teams feared them is an understatement. In the current era, helmets play a great role in reducing fear - also, cricket is the only sport where each of the Test playing nations is entitled to play the other, unlike say soccer where top-ranked Spain or Brazil or Argentina would never play India - that would be a massacre of gargantuan proportions. Highly ranked teams have been systemically butchered, most recently India in both England and in Australia - I am sure the Indian players would have been praying for a miracle if only to get a singular opponent's wicket, or how exactly they could hold themselves up and perform better than the tailenders from the other team!

Posted by pulkit10 on (July 27, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

@carlyraejepsen: How so? Ignore timing for a second and look at what the article is putting forth. He's suggesting that we don't really have a team that can match the charisma/aura that surrounded the WI team of 70s and 80s and the Aussies of the last decade. What does that have to do with India being humiliated by ex-English players? In fact, the only mention England got had to do with the recent defeat they suffered at the hands of SA (just like he mentioned how India showed a lack of confidence in going for the kill over in the WI) - how's that even close to what you are suggesting?

Just because he is Indian doesn't mean everything he writes or thinks has to do with India; if that was the case, no other author is entitled to an opinion on anything but their country.

Posted by Paulk on (July 27, 2012, 22:12 GMT)

An aura about a team is built over a long period of sustained excellence. Neither the WI or the Australians suddenly developed an aura overnight. You did not need an official ranking to know who was the top dog. I think the England team did extremely well in reaching the No. 1 ranking but they do not look like having that unbeatable aura about them. The SA team is more likely to develop that aura since they have a very solid well rounded team. It remains to be seen whether they will indeed be world beaters in the same mold as the West Indians or Australians. I suspect they may lack some of the dynamism and flair of the WIndians and Australians (AB De Villiers and Dale Steyn excepted) but they can potentially still develop that aura of invincibility through the solidity that runs in the team. In the meantime, enjoy the parity that exists in the game today. BTW, I think Roger Federer feels a similar hopelessness when playing Rafael Nadal.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 21:05 GMT)

Nampally i disagree with you on your point about Tennis always having a dominant star.

We went from the period where there was Borg, Connors, McEnroe and Lendl, while Borg may be considered the best of the lot there was some overlap and comparative level of play between this group.

We then went into a next group and period that included Becker, Edberg, Wilander, Agassi, Courier and Muster where there was competitive tennis before transitioning into the Sampras era of dominance. Like the previous group there was some over lapping.

With these groups depending on the surface several had a genuine chance of winning a tournament.

Posted by 9ST9 on (July 27, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

i think i prefer it as it is now - no clear favorites that the start of a game. Any one can win on the day they perform well it's that suspense that makes it interesting. Have to add though that Internationally talented players are very rare - the 90's gave us teams made up of true legends of the game. We certainly miss that.

Posted by Imz25 on (July 27, 2012, 19:41 GMT)

Ever heard of Michael Phelps?

Posted by Nampally on (July 27, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

Harsha, I agree with your conclusion that there is no present National Cricket team that dominates the world Cricket scene any more. However I must say that Tennis always had a dominant star dating back to 50's - Sedgeman, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras & to present Federer. The same is the case in many single person sport. On the other hand most Cricket teams in the world had one or more dominant stars. Cricket also had superstars who changed the comlexion of the game single handedly.Some examples: Don Bradman, Keith Miller (Aus), S.Warne(Aus), Gary Sobers (WI), Viv Richards(WI),Larwood(Eng), Gavaskar (Ind), Tendulkar (Ind),Kapil Dev (Ind), Fazal Mehmood(Pak), Imran Khan(Pak), Kallis (SA), to name a few.However in team sports like Soccer of Cricket, you need to produce a XI, a combination of talented guys to make it a domineering team. It is matter of luck that a team coincidentally produces such raw talent in bowling & batting to become dominant.Aussie & WI were lucky to do so.

Posted by TaylorSwift on (July 27, 2012, 18:47 GMT)

The timing of this article is extremely curious. Is Harsha trying to avenge the humiliation suffered by the Indian team at the hands of English ex-players and media last summer? Recently, he has been trying to protect IPL's image after some negative reactions in the English media. Cricket has evolved as a game, and while I miss the sight of a dominant team like the Aussies, the parity between the teams has made for good viewing. In addition, the competitive nature of the game today will help generate interest on a global scale. As viewers, we must learn to evolve as well instead of making unwarranted comparisons.

Posted by chicagog on (July 27, 2012, 18:24 GMT)

The test team with that aura that might deserve a mention was the SA team captained by Ali Bacher with Richards, Barlow, the Pollocks, Denis Lindsay, Goddard, etc. Watching them was fantastic.

Posted by llw5682 on (July 27, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

While this is a fairly good article, it is quit funny at the same time. When the Aussies were dominating we were crying for those days to end and for the dawn of an era where there's parity among the top 3-4 teams and the possibility of any of them winning on any given day. Now we have it, we long for the days of a dominant team to grace our pressence again, lol! You just can't ever hope to please people, lol.

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (July 27, 2012, 17:51 GMT)

@landl47..people who make such certain predictions about anything to do with cricket often end up looking silly..I bet you were one of the people predicting England would hammer SA in this series....as for Philander, well even if his first seven Tests are the best thing about his career it's still a hell of a lot better than a LOT of other bowlers.

Posted by cloudmess on (July 27, 2012, 17:42 GMT)

Agree with this. But not sure it is even about an aura. If you go onto a cricket field and your bowling attack is Holding, Marshall, Roberts, Garner - or Warne, McGrath, Gillespie and Lee - you just know it's going to be difficult to lose.

Posted by sarathy_m2 on (July 27, 2012, 16:52 GMT)

Thanks for writing this way.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

I believe the reason for underperformance is too much cricket. The glory days of 1970s, 80s, 90s are gone becoz they didnt play so many Tests, ODIs, T20s non stop in a year. Every series had enough first class practice games, rest days... Players had off seasons to work on niggles, injuries, fitness, correct technical flaws.... Hone skills in county or sheffield circuit. Now basically once a talented player like Kohli comes, he will never improve his game much... he simply has no time!! SA are doing well because their team gets a good off season (read fewer total games) and can prepare well.The need is MORE tests, less ODIs, lesser T20s, more off season to improve overall quality and standards. Also pitches world over are flat. In 1990s only 2 batsmen averaged over 50 in tests : Sachin and Lara. In 2000s we have had 25, clearly average players look like monsters while they are not. One session of swing from 1980s or 90s and they all fall like 9 pins. More money ? Yes. More skill? No.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (July 27, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

The 'aura' that Harsha has described of teams and players that rode the cricketing scene like collossus' cannot be seen while they are actually playing and becoming the phenomenons that posterity will describe in the manner that we do. When Viv Richards and Greenidge made their debuts in Bangalore 1974 against India, there was nothing to suggest that the two aforementioned would turn out to be what they would in the years after their baptism.So it may not be right to imagine that no team or player today can become great in the years ahead. For instance as I see it there is a great revival taking place in West Indies where many talented players are coming up.They could return to the force they used to be in the past.Similarly,South Africa could be the next team with the collective aura that the Australians and the West Indians had in the latter half of the last century.We need to wait and watch.There could be a resurgence in India Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh may be there too.

Posted by shiva89 on (July 27, 2012, 15:40 GMT)

did anybody notice how invincible harsha is when it comes to writing such articles. always expects a great article from him and always get a great one from his side. he encompasses a gr8 cricketing knowledge. dying to read ur next article harsha!

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 13:43 GMT)

Very Well written Harsha..!!

Posted by Lara213 on (July 27, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Although the Aussies never suffered a blackwash at the hands of the Windies they did suffer the indiginity of not taking a single 2nd innings wicket during their 5-test tour of the Carribbean in 83/84.

Posted by MJ1234 on (July 27, 2012, 13:17 GMT)

England did not win a single ODI against Australia for more than 4 years between the 1999 Tri Series and the 2004 Champions Trophy. Just showed the dominance Aus. had over them.

Posted by GRVJPR on (July 27, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

Both the greats team who had an aura had great captains. Todya we have captains like MS Dhoni wo don't want to score thore 70 odd runs to win a test match and are happy with a draw. Great teams are lead by great captains.

Posted by landl47 on (July 27, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

England are a competent team, but not dominating. Of the teams out there, they have the best chance to be the top team in 5 years' time, with a good crop of young batsman and bowlers. SA has stars, but Kallis is 37 in October and the young batsmen don't look special. Steyn and Morkel are top bowlers, but Philander's first 7 tests are going to be the best thing about his career and Tahir is ordinary. Australia has few young batsmen, India is going to be struggling in all departments and Pakistan relies too much on Ajmal and Younus, both in their mid-thirties. All the top Sri Lankan batsmen are in their mid-thirties and there's not much coming up either in batting or bowling. WI are in a mess, but have some young talent if they can ever get their organization sorted out. NZ, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh seem destined to stay at 8,9 and 10. You're right, Harsha, I don't see an aura anywhere!

Posted by AdityaUpadhyay on (July 27, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

I think the domination of both WI in the 70s & 80s & AUS in late 90s & 2000s compelled other teams to improve their quality of cricket. Now top 4-5 teams are at same level & any team can beat any team in their day. Also domestic cricket of australia is not producing world class players. Fighting spirit of team in away conditions is not great. Teams like India, Eng can snatch victory from jaws of defeat in their turf but are failing like pack of cards outside. Another reason is countries like Pakistan, India are not producing great & fit fast bowlers

Posted by Siddarth_VS on (July 27, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

I think its very difficult to master all three formats of the game at the same time, more often than not, like losing a t20 game against a 'weaker' opposition.Advent of t20 is definitely one of the reasons why Australia's aura of invincibility took a beating.Also I guess we need to give the teams at no 1 position more time to prove themselves, like the aura of the Australian team only came to be in early 2000's..before that people still believed they could be beaten.But a good article by Harsha, as usual!

Posted by Rumy1 on (July 27, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

Amla is clearly one of the top three Test batsmen of our times. He is not only superb in Tests but also in ODIs. Look at his record in the past 60 ODIs. He averages at 55+. He is clearly a legend in making. If Kalis doesn't go past Sachin in number of Test 100s then Sangakkara and Amla are the next to take a shot at it.Amla has the potential to play 100 more Tests and even if he hits a 100 every third Test he is going to be there. If you look at Tests, Sangakkara, Amla and Kallis are the top three. If you look at ODIs Amla,Devilliers and Kohli are the top three. Overall, Amla looks to be the best in the business right now.

Posted by John-Price on (July 27, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

'Woods didn't only beat opponents, he often took away their will to compete.'

I don't agree at all. He just went round in fewer shots than anyone else could manage on a consistent basis. I don't think opponents underperformed against him - he was just better.

In fact the reverse happened - the standards he set motivated others to raise their game above where it was before.

Posted by CoolCharlie on (July 27, 2012, 10:36 GMT)

i hv had enough with new batting records breaking every day. 300 runs being scored as if it were nothing. test cricket is dying because of this. i want to see some good balling, which keeps best batsmen on their toes. its been ages since i hv seen a contest between bat and ball. please . i want something exciting and not some one making 400 and claiming to be a great.

Posted by ian_ghose on (July 27, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

"There is no aura in cricket anymore, no runaway leader in tennis, it seems mandatory that every major in golf must have a different champion, and Formula One is struggling post-Schumacher. Only Spain in football can now claim to have that aura." - Schumacher became what he did only after Senna crashed and died, and Spain just got beaten by Japan in their opening game in the Olympics. As a keen follower of football, I'd say that the best of Spain might be behind them already. Unwarranted injuries and the wrong formation (by Italy) might have made the Euro win seem very very easy, while the 2010 WC was marred with prefential refereeing towards Spain. Times change, opponents become smarter, work harder and are more driven than ever to bring people off their perch. Thats sports, thats life. The most dominant team of all time? - 'Il grande Torino' before the Superegga tragedy :-)

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

Very nicely written Harsha, just keeping up with the standards you have set for yourself. However, It could have been better if you had mentioned the current Australian field hockey team and the U.S Basketball team alongside the Spanish football team, claiming that aura.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 27, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

The say Warne's presence was worth a wicket or two alone, more often than not Bell!

Posted by SamRoy on (July 27, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

One team that almost always goes missing from these discussions is the SA team from post 1966. They hammered Australia twice 3-1 & 4-0 in 1966 and 1970 (who were better than England and WI at the time) and had the Pollock brothers, Barry Richards and Mike Procter among them. They were comfortably the finest cricket team in the world and probably the finest team since Bradman's invincibles. That's why apartheid was so sad for cricket. Would have been awesome to watch SA take on WI for the general cricketing public.

Posted by Paritosh712 on (July 27, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Harsha, I must first appreciate you for this column. Your views on invincibility are spot-on. 'Woods didn't only beat opponents, he often took away their will to compete.'. I can relate this to my own experience, while watching an Ind-Aus clash in 1999 World Cup, I had this feeling that bottom line has already been decided. Awesome read this!

Posted by Romanticstud on (July 27, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

We have the following scenario at the moment ... Number 1 teams with no intent ... South Africa up until the fall of Kevin Pietersen's wicket on day 1 looked badly in need of a service ... England's attack after Alviro Peterson's wicket looked like they needed an engine overhaul ... The South African batsmen looked like a well oiled machine and spurred the bowlers on ... Maybe England were of the impression that all they needed to do was turn up and they would beat South Africa ... after whitewashing Australia in the ODIs ... but South Africa are fighters ... but are not yet as fearful as the WI and Aus teams of yesteryear ... but then as a South African one would've liked to have seen how Graeme Pollock, Rice and co would've faired against the WI.

Posted by CoolCharlie on (July 27, 2012, 8:21 GMT)

Truly said. I dont see any new batsman or bowler coming up and claiming to be the next big thing. I was very much interested in how things would fold up for india after retirments of dravids and laxmans etc. only to be disappointed. Bowling for india has been a nightmare. none available bowler seem to have in it him to win india a match on his own. hopeless bowling for india. U need bowlers , match winning bowlers who instill fear in opposition. forget about india, onle steyn has it in him that aura that makes you believe that he can bowl any batsman out anytime. others are good but lack dat aura. test matches have grown boring. how many batsman are we gnna hv wid 50+ avg. and 10000 runs. we hv cooks amlas , villiers, kallis, samaveeras, etc. all mocking opposition balling and plundering runs as if it was a school cricket game. pitches are hell boring. difficult to judge batsmen now coz whn thhings are easy everyone can make runs. they are good but they are no where near greatness.

Posted by sachkaan on (July 27, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Hi Harsha, This article looks really convincing. I just wanted to add certain points. It takes years to create the kind of a team that you are talking about. After the great west indian team it took almost 15 years to have another great team in Australia.

I believe, having no such dominating teams is good for the game of cricket as it helps in making every game more interesting. That said I also believe the current south african team have all the resources to become the team to beat. Its always easier said than done. They of course have to prove themselves for years to come.

I really like your articles. Thanks for all the wonderful articles about cricket.

Posted by pratn on (July 27, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (July 27, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

Harsha pointing out aura of teams not the aura of a player.SA may be.But not sure.Even they can.They can fail like no one can imagine.Like Kepler Wessals felt after last Durbn test against SL.One thing for sure,No one like The Beatles and mid 70s and 80s WI side.

Posted by kaidranzer on (July 27, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

Spot on. Both the teams i.e. Windies of the 70's and Australians of the 90's had a very solid batting as well as bowling order backed by an aggressive captain. Their batting order was such that it seemed pointless to take a wicket. Greenidge, Haynes, Viv, Llyod, Kallicharan - they just seem to keep coming. Same with the Australian batting order. Their bowlings line-ups didn't provide teams with the luxury of playing out one bowler and attacking another. Modern teams seem to lack either a great batting line-up or a great bowling line-up. Hence the lack of aura in my opinion.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

I hope that the Proteas can fit the bill!!! Jus my perception!

Posted by Archean on (July 27, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Excellent article Harsha. I think in the current teams, SA has the potential to become the leaders of the pack for some time, as they have probably the best batting lineup, and without any doubt the best bowling attack. Having said that, I'll agree with the gentleman above, that numbers only tell half the story.

On F1, the rules have changed significantly, so I don't think any team or individual will dominate the sport like Ferrari/Michael did. In fact, if MS was at his peak right now, even he would struggle to win day in and day out. So comparing todays F1 with cricket is not correct IMHO.

Posted by muvati11 on (July 27, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

As Harsha points out it seems this invincibility concept has died in many sports. I would attribute this to the merging of science with sport and the shrinking of the world into a global village. There is now a lot of video analysis of opponents and sportsmen compete more often than before on a global scale. Some teams even hire mathematicians to assist in their analysis of their own game and that of their opponents. And, it is also inevitable that the more you play against someone, the more you will get better against them and the easier you will see their weaknesses.

Posted by SPotnis on (July 27, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

Harsha perfect article to indicate the decline in quality of cricket in the bowling department. Can anyone match the class of Holding, Garner, Roberts, Marshall, Lillee and Thompson. Can anyone ever have the class and swagger of Sir Viv? Can anyone ever face those fearsome bowlers without helmet like Sunil Manohar Gavaskar did in 70s and 80s. No no no. We have cricketers who will make 15000 test runs and score tons of centuries but that class of 80s remain invincible. Records are meant to be broken and are good to have for individual recognition but class is immortal. Cricket is not only about runs and centuries it is about when those are made and the end result

Posted by dsig3 on (July 27, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

Harsha, for once I agree with you.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (July 27, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Team work makes good team greats. Why don't we have great teams now because of too much money in T2020 cricket. Cricketers are not putting their 100% for their nations any more. They preserve their energy for T2020 league games and earn cheap money. T2020 leagues has brought lot of entertainment to cricket but it is also giving lots of money to players without putting lot of hard work. For today's cricketers Test cricket is boring. ODI cricket is dead and for them money and T2020 is every thing.

Kallis , Ponting and Tendulkar are the last test greatest players left. All are gone. Test cricket has lost it's charm.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

I have a feeling Chris Gayle isn't far away from that sort of aura. He is becoming increasingly difficult to get out, as shown in the IPL and the current NZ series. If he can keep it up he will be the only man other teams worry about getting out, which will do nothing but good for this improving West Indies side.

Posted by Jack_Tka on (July 27, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

Very correctly put in the article. Sticking to cricket, nowadays the teams are always justifying there rankings rather than influence it. Rattling the opposition with sheer capability and showing them who's the boss like Aus of 90's did, is no more visible. Presently, almost all the teams just want to be rank one rather than the best. We can compare the mentality with a student who wants to score that one extra mark which helps him pass the exam rather than looking to score 100% marks. Ind, when they were No#1, did the same. Eng currently are going in the same direction. Otherwise which No#1 team gets whitewashed consecutively 0-4 in Eng and Aus. The same goes for Eng: They were whitewashed by Pak 0-3. Are they the best, certainly not. SA has performed well in the first test against Eng. But almost the same set of players were playing for them for quite some years. If they were really the best, then why didn't SA never become No.#1 even in last few years. May be in near future.

Posted by nskaile on (July 27, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

Absolutely true. I wasnt born when WI were on top but i remember having no hope of my team to win as soon i see Hayden and Gilly walking out to the ground with bat or McGrath and Warne bowling to batsman. It was soo hopeless playing against them in those days and i use to just hate Aus but now i miss those days. I wish i can go bak and watch Hayden smasing eveone around and Warne getting into ppl's head. THOSE WERE THE DAYS! Hayden, Gilly, Ponty, Symonds, Hussy, Warne, Mcgrath, Lee. That is a dream team right there

Posted by MAK123 on (July 27, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

There is no aura left primarily due to the fact that teams don't play for pride anymore; they play for money and good money comes with good scripts, if you know what I mean!

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (July 27, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

Dale Steyn has an aura, he definitely does. I quote roughly "when watching Dayle Steyn the moments after he takes a wicket u just lose ur sense of nationality and u become a fast bowling fan, a Dale Steyn fan...."

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Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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