The word ‘genius’ is often over-used. For every Jimi Hendrix that the word is applied to, there are a hundred Lenny Kravitzs. In sport this becomes even more extreme, with the term being banded around for all sorts of mediocre players enjoying nothing more than a decent run of form. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a cricketer that has never been described as a genius.
Similarly, the term ‘classic’ also gets thrown around far too often. One such example this week was Editor Steve asking us to write a review of the ICC’s ‘classic’ 2005 Super Series. There were a number of issues with this, the most significant being that it was rubbish and no-one can remember a bloody thing about it. Luckily though, Google was able to find a few bits and pieces, which we’ve attempted to rewrite into our own words without actually having to put too much effort in.
Cast your mind back to 2005. The ICC World XI concept was born out of a genuinely good idea – a fund-raising game at the MCG in January to help the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami. For that one off ODI, more than 70,000 people (nearly) filled the MCG to see the World XI beat an Asia XI while raising more than AU$14.5m. It was an incredibly generous move from the ICC.
Of course, this being the ICC, thoughts quickly turned to how to flog the idea to death while also lining the coffers. Hence, after a second game against an Asia XI was first postponed and then cancelled, the idea for a three ODI and one Test series between top dogs Australia and a ‘Best Of The Rest’ World XI was scheduled to take place down under in October.
In theory, it’s a reasonable enough idea, with the potential for an epic showdown between the world’s best team and some of the world’s best players. In practice, it was utter utter shit. The World XI turned up in dribs and drabs and made almost no effort whatsoever. Andrew Flintoff admitted that he was just there for the food. Although that was probably true of every single tour he ever went on.
The three ODIs were horribly one-sided; Australia won the toss each time, batted first and won by 93, 55 and 156 runs. Kumar Sangakkara seemed like the only batsman brave enough to turn up sober, making 64 in the first game and 61 in the second. Brian Lara made just five runs from his three innings, Jacques Kallis 21 from his. Crowds were disappointing, averaging less than 27,000 across the three games, despite Melbourne’s Docklands stadium having a capacity of 48,000 for cricket matches.
Had the experiment ended there, it would have drawn a few shrugs and been quickly consigned to the history books. Instead there was an actual six-day Test match at the SCG to play. Despite the World XI having a fearsome new ball partnership of Steve Harmison and Flintoff, Australia still racked up 345, Matt Hayden making 111 and Adam Glichrist 94. In reply the World XI made just 190, skittled by the Warne/McGill combination, who took seven wickets between them.
From there the result was inevitable and the World XI collapsed to 144 in their second innings (Warne and MacGill taking another eight wickets), eventually losing by 210 runs in front of just 8,259 spectators on day four. It was the definition of a non-event.
While the whole thing was little more than a nice chance to explore the bars of Melbourne and Sydney for the visitors, the ICC awarded the matches full ODI and Test status, causing the world of cricket statisticians to go apeshit. To this day there are those who refuse to include the results in their international statistics – Bill Frindall from Test Match Special being a particular opponent of the ICC’s view – and we’d do the same if we could actually remember to change the settings every time we’re doing stuff in Statsguru.
The end result was that the whole concept was ditched, to be replaced by the Test Championship idea, which in turn was ditched in order to do something else that will probably never happen. It’s tough being the ICC.