There is a strange relationship going on between India and Australia. On the one hand, their boards cannot see eye-to-eye over a scheduling wrangle. On the other hand, India may have unwittingly given Australian an impetus in their campaign for a sixth ICC Cricket World Cup trophy.
While the power tussle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) may have cost three Australian women cricketers an opportunity to play a Twenty20 version of the Indian Premier League, the IPL 2019 season could be a turning point in Australia’s history. Ahead of the IPL, there was little talk about Australia defending their title as the ICC Cricket World Cup holders, having won the last edition at home in Australia-New Zealand, for a record fifth time in 2015.
However, Australia’s ebb was turning into a tide when Australia, under the controversial appointment of Aaron Finch as the limited overs captain, pulled off two surprising series wins back-to-back, against India in India and against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. On the eve of the IPL, Steve Smith and David Warner, the former disgraced captain and vice-captain of the Australian team that found itself in a world of trouble after a rather serious ball tampering scenario in Cape Town, South Africa a year ago, was coming off their one year bans as imposed by Cricket Australia.
Short on both, confidence and credibility, although both, Smith and Warner, again controversially, plied their trade across Twenty20 leagues around the world, they needed a larger platform to initiate them back into the international area. The Indian Premier League became the ideal backdrop. Although the format was different – Twenty20 instead of a fifty overs a side match, it gave Smith and Warner a golden opportunity to ingratiate themselves once more into the world of cricket.
And by the time of their departure to join Australia in their efforts of a conditioning camp ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, both players, brought down from grace, are in a significant position not short of rejoicing. While Smith won back the captaincy at the Rajasthan Royals after Ajinkya Rahane was unceremoniously taken out of the role, David Warner has been in scintillating form for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, leaving their team somewhat suspense fully placed to finish in the top four and make the playoffs with six wins and six losses after twelve matches. He is the orange cap holder with 692 runs at an average of 69.20 and a strike rate of 143.86 leaving second placed holder, KL Rahul, more than a margin of a hundred runs for the latter to catch up.
In giving both players a platform to restore some sanity in their own lives and dignity in the eyes of the cricket loving public, India might have unwittingly given Australia a fresh lease of life, adding two of the world’s more belligerent and prolific players in form to join the Australian cricket team enjoying a rare streak of success ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Will this be a bane or boon for India looking for their third trophy?