West Indies is touring India, and is in the process of single-mindedly devoting themselves to the reincarnation of legend Brian Lara in the form of new batting star (and cousin) Darren Bravo. He seems like their only hope for the next decade, and the only reason anybody would ever pay to watch the beleaguered team ply their skills on foreign shores. They are 2-0 down, and in the midst of a terribly boring dead-rubber game at Mumbai- with their batsmen finally decoding sub-continental pitches a bit too late. While Brian Lara was almost in an identical position throughout his illustrious (and lonely) career, some freak-inducing statistics are worth noting:
Bravo and Lara both averaged 47.05 after their first 12 tests. Lara scored 167 in his 13th test, and Bravo has just been dismissed for 166. Their stance, and styles (as well as initial temperament) aren’t the only traits shared by the family members, and Bravo seems to display the same kind of hunger for long, marathon, hurtful innings that grinds the opposition to dust. Of course, rarely does the rest of the team rally around his emergence, but the tours to Bangladesh and India- however boring they may have been for spectators- has resulted in the rise of this young Caribbean hero with a swishing blade and disdainful slashes.
Prodigal Son of Sam
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are facing their biggest cricketing debacle in the last 15 years- with Dilshan averaging exactly 18 since taking over as Captain after April- and his team failing to win 3 consecutive ODI bi-lateral series and even a home Test Series. They are easily the worst Test playing nation after Bangladesh right now, and are fast becoming a fading star on the limited-overs horizon. Something has gone wrong, and though it takes time to rebuild and adjust to a new management- there is much more to it than meets the eye. Sangakkara and Jayawardena, though, continue to sizzle and create magic, often alternatively- and their statistics are the only rays of hope in a tarnished nation. They are 3-1 down at Sharjah, and have lost the series against a buoyant Pakistan side. That said, there is NO light at the end of a long tunnel- with them having to visit South Africa very soon. They are the worst travellers in the world.
New Zealand will tour their neighbours after along gap, and look to reassert their haplessness in yet another meaningless 2-match Test Series that does nothing but extinguish redundant careers and establish young upstarts a bit too early. It may just be Ricky Ponting’s final appearance, unless he scores 4 consecutive 50s or 2 consecutive centuries- which may hand him a final ticket to face off with old adversary Sachin Tendulkar in January. This tour may well be the final tour for many legends, and will probably be a very competitive one- considering the inconsistency of both the teams right now.
Rest of the World (Indian Edition):
In other sports, Novak Djokovic will finish on top of the world for the first time in his career. Andy Murray might not finish as World Number 3, if Roger Federer continues to roll back the years for 2 more matches. Caroline Woznaiki will finish as the World Number One on the WTA Tour, still without a Grand Slam to show for. She will try her very best to emulate her Golfing boyfriend- Irishman Rory Mcilroy’s final ascent to stardom with a win at an ever-elusive Major’s event. She will also be observing Ana Ivanovic and the now-retired Safina, to learn what exactly is NOT needed to stay at the top for a brief period of time.
Tiger Woods has just helped the United States win the Presidents Cup Down Under- and has defied all his naysayers for the second time in a row. All he needs now is an individual title, and it looks like only a matter of time.
Manchester United is on the decline yet again, but one doesn’t think it will last too long- considering the fact that, except bitter and wealthy neighbours Manchester City, none of the other teams are displaying any sort of will or need to win the league. Real Madrid, in their second year under Jose Mourinho, are displaying the sort of form every other team in their second year under Mourinho have done so far- clearly the team to beat in Europe right now, with Barcelona a far second-best. Tides turn quickly in La Liga, though, and it is too early to make any predictions. But their long wait for a Champion’s League title looks a lot shorter when they are in this form. Arsenal and Chelsea continue their slide down the league, but look quite comfortable in the CL 2011 Group Stages.
Year Two: A Phenomenon
Lewis Hamilton looks to finish a pointless year with a point-scoring position, after Jenson Button (his teammate) has pipped him to a much-coveted British top spot- and all he does now is too little too late. Vettel will be looking to complete his record-breaking season with a final flourish at Brazil- though the race will eventually be quite a drag compared to previous Brazil races over the years. All that is at stake are the final two podium positions- with Button and Alonso clear favourites to fill those positions.
That is all, for now, and just a few weeks from now, there won’t be too much sporting action to report- with the Christmas break and end-of-seasons just around the corner. It has been a riveting year, in most sporting worlds, and it will be interesting to see who will grab that age-old clichéd adage of ‘carrying on the momentum into the New Year’.