Thursday, January 21

India infiltrates Australia, but Virat Kohli’s cricket team won’t be intimidated | Australian cricket team


ISomehow, the India-Australia summer that is about to begin has drawn closer to us. Visiting players came from quarantine in Dubai to be transferred to quarantine in Sydney. They have been training alone in a cordoned off stadium already a long way from the bright lights out in Blacktown, a patch of scrubland crushed between a highway and a creek, unaccompanied by a pair of obsessive journalists crawling around the nearby bushes. of the perimeter fence to report on movements within the wire.

But this Friday, that dark blue retro-clad team will emerge from behind fences and masks to appear at the Sydney Cricket Ground, led by Captain Virat Kohli, even playing in front of a live crowd after all the canned foley of recent ones. months in empty monoliths.

The start has also quietly approached because we’re about to get the smash and grab games, the one-dayers and the Twenty20s in view, rather than the towering monster of a test match circling the headland. But as soon as those shorter matches start, we’ll remember that they mean something too.

In another sense, summer will continue to quietly approach for some because those opening games are all quarantined on pay TV, another legacy from the disastrous streaming deal that Cricket Australia signed in 2018. The legacy belongs equally to an complicit communications minister. as part of a weak federal government that allowed the deal to go ahead when it should have been blocked under Australia’s anti-siphon laws regarding national teams on free-to-air television.

Those with enough money to subscribe, then, can anticipate the limited games before a test series against the same opponent. One of the lost benefits of summers past was that the one-day ones would be an introduction, a taste bud, a gradual increase in stakes. More recently, we would start the season cold, directly at a test match in Hobart in early November on a morning when snow was still covering Mount Wellington. That match would be almost indigestible, frozen. Once we made our way through the entire series, the short games that followed seemed random and pointless, islands of garbage floating around the Big Bash’s shipping lanes.

This year, the Australian pajama games will end before the Bash begins, with the national fluorescent fairy yarn competition in place as the Indian test team plays their preparation matches. Aside from the day-night event in Adelaide, the Bash will comfortably coexist like the afternoon crash-bang to keep up with the majestic rhythm of a long day.

As we prepare to get started, there is a feeling that the public and media in Australia should make the most of Kohli from the white ball matches and the only test he will be able to play before returning home for the birth of his first. son. Kohli also knows that she has a limited time on stage. He’s such an intense run scorer that a condensed hit from him could be dangerous.

It’s fascinating how much Kohli has captured the attention of Australian broadcasters. Between Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel and Murdoch’s newspapers, cricket gets saturated promotional coverage in a way it never used to. But the point of sale, the reason, is Kohli. Appears on your screen during other events, an image of a little finger puppet cut off at the waist, arms crossed. His name is all over the newspaper. He is in the networks, smoking them, a threat is looming. Australia does not play against India, Australia against Kohli. Even when he’s gone, summer will be defined by his absence. Where visiting players used to get little mention except as a canvas for Australian victories, now at least one is everywhere – a visual shorthand for sales.

But beyond Kohli there will be a short form team honed by the recent IPL. Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, all ready to let the bat fly. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami with the ball. These Indian players are no longer intimidated by coming to Australia as generations past might have been. They play in more intense settings for a couple of months every year.

As for Australia, there is relief that things are normal. The old batting signature of Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell, the old bowling signature of Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa. Marnus Labuschagne’s rising star, family jeeps in Ashton Agar and Marcus Stoinis along with new excitement from Cameron Green, wicketkeeping finalists Alex Carey and Matthew Wade.

This is a group of quality players who have been short of national action for a long time. When they launch again, we’ll remember what it’s like to watch cricket in an Australian summer. Some of this year’s grime and serenity may feel washed away for a time.

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www.theguardian.com

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