Wonders, wonders all the way! It seems they never cease to exist.
The latest wonder, the 8th after Agra's Taj Mahal, is the 'humble-pie' statement from Aussie captain Steve Waugh claiming, "England aren't playing that badly. The results look very one-sided but we know it's a good contest out in the middle. There are certainly no easy runs and no easy wickets so we've got to work hard."
Photo © CricInfo
So what do you say dear reader, are these soft words from the players of a team, which is giving England a hard run for their money? Or aren't they?
Australia won the Edgbaston Test by an innings, and at Lord's they secured an 8-wicket win. Watching those encounters, I had a feeling that 11 Aussie giants were trampling over 11 English dwarfs. While the English batsmen looked naïve against a very professional Aussie attack, their bowlers and fielders seemed to have no clue at all against the batting prowess of the opponents.
In spite of all this, is it not surprising that Waugh and Warne insist that England players are not playing badly?
I wonder whether the Aussies are really being humble, or is this a part of some strategy - a ploy to keep the opposition under an illusion that they are performing to the maximum of their ability, and that it's the visitors' sheer professionalism that's working against them, not letting them come out on top?
The Aussies seem to be enjoying their cricket so much, to be so possessed with beating their arch-rivals, that it is of no great concern what they say or do not say to the media. They know they can vent all of their anger (professional) against England with bat and ball, so why make a fuss about an off-the-field war that can very well be avoided.
For me, it is a ploy and a very good one too. Teams visiting England often face a hostile press. This is an additional burden during almost the whole of the tour.
So one unfriendly statement from the visiting captain, or for that matter any member of the squad, is usually enough to invite trouble - a barrage of allegations (warranted or not), based on historical incidences, in the local press, seemingly aimed to dampen the spirit of the opposition.
I remember a Saleem Malik statement during Pakistan's tour of England in 1992, calling their bowlers a "pop-gun bowling attack". I also remember the way this careless statement was taken up by the English press. The retaliation was so severe that it must have made Malik cringe. It's another story that Pakistan won that series, but this kind of media onslaught is often hard to swallow and dispiriting for visiting teams.
Considering all this, I'd say these Aussies have adopted a great tactic - to avoid any confrontation with the press and focus all their efforts on the game, and they have been very successful so far.