The All Blacks are the elite, gold standard, premiere, top shelf. Even though South Africa won the Rugby World Cup this year in Japan, the All Blacks are still the ones you want to beat. If you do beat the All Blacks it is was a very good win.
India are the power in word cricket. No one disputes this. The Indian Premier league just finished with the Mumbai Indians champions led by Rohit Sharma. This is Rohit Sharma’s sixth time winning the IPL Championship. His fifth captaining Mumbai. Despite this power and the most followed T20 league India are not the gold standard as the All Blacks are.
Against the All Blacks the Wallabies have drawn, lost one and won one. The Wallabies are in a rebuilding phase and they are showing promise, but this is the All Blacks. There is a production line of elite players who are just waiting to terrorise world rugby. Also the Haka is still very, very cool.
What India Want
What New Zealand have in Rugby is what India want in Cricket. It is what the IPL was supposed to provide. It has not provided this. While India have elite players these players have not performed to elite standard outside of India. Twice India have won the One Day World Cup. Only once in 2007 did India win the T20 World Cup.
India are underperforming despite the riches and power they have in world cricket. In contrast New Zealand in World Rugby are a very big fish in a small pond. Only four teams have won the Rugby World Cup. Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. France, Argentina, Wales and Scotland are always in the mix, but the rest….?
Brave Blossoms and Juggernauts
In the 2015 Rugby World Cup I sat transfixed watching and rewatching Japan (The Brave Blossoms) beat South Africa. This was a great moment in sport. A rare moment when one team reaches out for a chance that you would never have thought possible. Please watch it. I rate it as one of the best moments in sport.
India are not Japan. They are a juggernaut who dominate at home and are great to sub-par away from home. Cricket is more than life in India. It is THE national game. You would expect India to be winning everything. They are not.
New Zealand Rugby Union
Due to Aunty ‘Rona the sport that is broadcast is a bit different. The Premier League have taken time off. The Rugby League State of Origin is being played in November. Also if you partake of the Kayo streaming service you can watch First Division Rugby Union from New Zealand.
I have watched a few games and have been very impressed with the quality and diversity. With its multiple options to score and distribute the ball Rugby Union is versatile. Running with the ball, kicking the ball, moving in a maul, moving in a scrum. Sizes of players are diverse and so are the hair styles. A lot of players are dyeing their hair white.
There are rules I do not know and I find myself listening keenly to the commentators to learn why that penalty was given. I grew up with Aussie Rules, Rugby Union is similar but different. Different in more than just the rules and ball size. Under the First division of New Zealand Rugby is a second division, third division, fourth and below. In New Zealand Rugby you can be dropped for under performing, relegated.
The Threat of Relegation
In Australia it is difficult to have a relegation division system for a national competition. Football Australia have only recently begun the FFA Cup, a national knockout competition. Difficult to organise in such a large nation. India is also a very large nation. Yet a T20 knockout championship might not be out of the question.
I raise the possibility of a tiered IPL or T20 knockout championship because the captaincy of Virat Kholi has begun to be questioned. Kohli has never won an IPL Championship as player or captain. Rohit Sharma has just won his fifth as captain. Sharma was dropped as vice-captain in One Day and T20’s recently.
In the coming Indian tour of Australia Virat Kholi will not be available for all games. Parenthood is important however it has started questions about captaincy. Talk has risen beyond fans of Rohit Sharma. With some pundits calling for Sharma to be made captain the T20 team. Sharma’s five IPL championships makes it an attractive move.
Competitive Environment Required?
How does a tiered IPL or knockout championship help? When your position is secure you do not have to watch out for who is coming up behind you. Like the Big Bash the IPL is a showcase of international players. Sometimes a local player can shine but it is rare. Relegation could shake up this showcase up a bit.
Imagine Virat Kholi’s team being relegated. Or being beaten by a non IPL team in a knockout championship. Relegation may not be key to the All Blacks being the gold standard but it has been part of the environment that has made them this way.
If India is to become the on-field power they should look to the All Blacks. Something has to shake up the players. A little extra competition could only add to the drama. Who knows it may just lead Indian cricket to the gold standard.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.