Australia's sensational seven-run loss to New Zealand at Bellerive Oval on Monday was the first Test defeat for new chairman of selectors John Inverarity and new team coach Mickey Arthur. Signs are that there will be more losses against India. Change is coming, but it is neither quick nor easy.
Back on May 21, 1997, I was logged into that great 20th century social medium, IRC, when Saeed Anwar smashed 194 against India to break Viv Richards' thirteen year-old record for the highest score in a One-Day International. The big question that was being asked by the Indian fans, who made up the vast majority of IRC participants following the game that night: How soon until Sachin Tendulkar claimed the world record and became the first to break the 200 barrier?
There's no honour in any Test team conceding 450 runs in an innings. The West Indians pushed on to 451 in their first innings, with some admirable work at the end by Brendan Nash (92) and Ravi Rampaul (40*). The feeling in recent years is that anything the visiting team could do, Australia can do better and in spades.
When it comes to stats and trivia about cricket, I've been hooked since I was a teenager. It's easy to get seduced by the numbers and the mathematical comparisons, but I figure it's ok so long as the sport itself remains more important. I draw a line, however, when statistical "milestones" become playthings of the media industry, a raison d'etre of the sports desk at the 24/7 news outlet, the honeytrap for mindless SMS fodder.
And so it was on Friday that for about two hours we had the exhilaration of simultaneously following: Day Three, India v Sri Lanka at Mumbai; Day Two, New Zealand v Pakistan at Wellington; Day One, Australia v West Indies at Adelaide. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Just exhausting. Three games of wildly varying textures, each one with that joyous "Let's See You Do That In The IPL" feel about them.
Violence in suburban Australia towards Asian immigrants and students, notably from India, is disturbing. Sadly, it's not a new issue, not confined to Sydney and Melbourne, and by no means targeted at Indians. It's a bigger problem, and one that is being misreported in the Indian media and underreported by their Australian counterparts.
The world's second most populous nation, India came into the 2008 Olympics with a total of eight gold medals ever. All eight of them in men's hockey. The last of them in 1980. India had never, ever, produced an individual gold medallist.
Stand up, Abhinav Bindra. On Monday he won the 10 metre air rifle shooting event to become India's first individual gold medallist.
As I write, Delhi are 48 for 1 after six overs against the Deccan
Chronicles Chargers, and presumably cruising to victory in Game Seven of the Indian Premier League. There's a lot to observe and a lot to talk about. Lots to blog about over the coming weeks if I have the time and maintain the energy.
A thirty-year phase of cricketing history came to an end at the Gabba tonight. The triangular one-day international series had long past its use-by date, and was finally being put out of its misery. But instead of ending with a whimper, it went out with an unexpected bang. India completed a 2-0 clean-sweep of the best-of-three finals series against Australia to win the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series.
OK class, repeat after me:
"Monkey is not a racist word in Australia."
It's not, in general. There is, however, a long history of "monkey" being used as a term of racial derision in Britain and continental Europe against people of African or Caribbean heritage, most prominently on the football field. Andrew Symonds, born in Birmingham of Jamaican parents, and an immigrant to Australia as a child, comes into this category.