CELEBRATIONS in India are probably only just starting to die down after Saturday’s thoroughly deserved World Cup final victory over gallant losers Sri Lanka.
Sachin Tendulkar is currently bathing in unprecedented adulation, but when the hype and hysteria dissipates, the two men all of India should look to thank above any other are their coach Gary Kirsten and captain MS Dhoni.
The two have dovetailed superbly and worked hard to unite a side whose talent was unquestionable, but one which had become unmanageable such was the abundance of egos in the dressing room.
As a coach, Kirsten has instantly become one of the hottest properties in cricket. If I were him I’d sit back and let the offers flood in; he won’t be short of any.
He’s exceptionally thorough in his preparation and accepts nothing short of total commitment and if you want tangible evidence of how that has rubbed off on his side, just take a look at how India have improved to become one of the best fielding teams around.
Dhoni, meanwhile, represented something of a wildcard choice when he was given the captaincy, but the decision to do so was inspired. Being handed the leadership of the team has matured him no end, not only as a person but also as a batsman.
When he first burst onto the scene he was all about big, extravagant shots . There was not a bit of that in Mumbai on Saturday, though, and it was fitting that his innings helped get his side over the line.
India are now world champions, top of the Test rankings and heading here this summer – if you’ve got a ticket you won’t be disappointed.
A POINTER FOR ENGLAND
SRI LANKA will be feeling gutted at having failed to give Muttiah Muralitharan the perfect send-off but the innings of Mahela Jayawardene deserves a special mention.
If England need a lesson in how to play a one-day innings on the subcontinent, and on the evidence of the last month they do, they should be sat down and made to watch that knock.
It was an object lesson in timing, patience and precision. Finding the boundary by trying to hit the cover off the ball is always a fast way back to the pavilion. Jaywardene proved this game will always be brain over brawn. England should take note.