Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The missed chance

When I first read Xavier Marshall's comments suggesting the West Indies would win the third test, my first reaction was surprise, yes. But not because it seemed like an audacious statement given the match situation (the West Indies did still need more than 250 runs to win, and they were effectively six down). Instead, my reaction was surprise that the player making the statement was one whose role in what might transpire on the fifth day was going to be minimal. You see, Marshall had already fallen for 85 on the fourth day, after appearing to have the pushed the Australian bowling attack ever so slightly on the backfoot. Under the circumstances, Marshall, by letting himself be dismissed toward the end of the fourth day's play, had actually made an unlikely West Indies win a bit more unlikely. His prediction of a West Indian win took on a slightly peculiar tone, that of the player hoping his having let down the side wouldn't come back to haunt him. Imagine someone on the fielding side, guilty of having dropped a potentially crucial late catch. Imagine him talking up his side's chances as they press on to take the remaining wickets. You catch my drift? (As Gayle was to remind Marshall the next day, "We needed a big ton"). Marshall was excessively optimistic as it turned out. No one got a big ton indeed. Chanders couldn't produce another miracle as his average crashed to a mere 150-odd. And the Australians, despite being pressured at several stress points, shrugged it all off. Despite fielders with potholes for hands, despite a brand-new spinner. The folks that plan to beat them still need to take all the opportunities that come their way, not just some.


Blogger cdak said...

To be fair Marshall punched so far above his weight in this game I don't think he can be faulted for not seing the side home. I do see your point though. And yes, if you've ever got an Aussie cricketer cornered it seems a bullet to the head is still the only sure way to victory...

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Som said...

Hey, CONGRATS. Saw the Cricinfo blog. Gr8.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Straight Point said... you said...gayle gently reminded him of his role in victory...hope kid got his lessons learned...for next time...

in the pursuance of excellence you cant be just happy of small bits...

1:44 AM  
Blogger Straight Point said...

...and congrats for 'different stroke'...

while some beat their was nice to see someone quietly strongly going great....a true different stroke...

2:02 AM  
Anonymous D.S. Henry said...

Could it be something a lot simpler and less sinister, Samit? Could it be that Marshall made the comment simply because, after scoring 85 that day, he was the guy at the press conference, taking the questions?

I don't know the exact logistics on who talks to the media during Test matches, but I'm guessing it would be the captain, the coach, and a player who had a successful day.

I bet if you ask young Marshall every day whether his team is going to win, he'll always say "yes."

(Also: Congrats on the cricinfo gig. May you raise the philosopher's flag proudly on their stage.)

4:02 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Cdak: Yeah, I don't think so either. He just got placed in the position of having to talk about a win, I think.

Som: Thanks. Hoping to do a good job.

SP Thanks. And, BTW, I think Marshall is going to go far.

DS: Thanks.

I think thats what happened too. He was in a position that his pronouncements were slightly off wrt to his place in the match. I'm normally used to those comments coming from folks that still have something to do with whats coming.

9:36 AM  

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