The Waugh-Tendulkar Trophy: Noble thought, but…

Adam Gilchrist was playing populist for the media on Saturday when he aired his thoughts of having a one-day game between Australia and India held every January 26 for the “Waugh-Tendulkar Trophy”.

With January 26 being both Australia Day and India’s Republic Day, Gilly has claimed the bright idea of staging a game on that day to determine the limited-over supremacy between the two countries.

While an annual match hosted alternately by each country seems to be Gilchrist’s ideal, PTI reports that it could be “once in two years, or probably [once] in four years to start with”.

It’s a warm, noble idea, but it won’t, and shouldn’t happen – at least not in the format Gilchrist has suggested.

January 26 is slap bang in the middle of the home international cricket season in Australia, where huge revenues are derived from staging the triangular one-day series during school holiday time. How will Cricket Australia suddenly interrupt an intense competition against two touring teams, say, South Africa and the West Indies, to fly the Aussie team over to India for a special trophy match, or even to do the same in Australia?

There’s another problem with January 26. While it is indeed the national day for both Australia and India, there is a great deal of discomfort in my country about celebrating the anniversary of a day (26 January 1788) when foreign invaders arrived, took over the land permanently, and decimated the indigenous population through illness, abuse and murder.

Yes there are strong arguments for moving Australia Day away from January 26, although I can’t give you off the top of my head any particular alternative.

The regular Australia v India contest could be a means of reviving the short-lived experiment of winter cricket under the roof at the Telstra Dome, Melbourne. Formerly Colonial Stadium, the Aussie Rules-dominated Telstra Dome was used for a three-match ODI series between Australia and South Africa in August 2000, and for two matches against Pakistan in June 2002. Poor attendances for the Pakistan series have seen this event put on hold for the foreseeable future, but a “Waugh-Tendulkar Trophy” could revitalise the concept.

Whether the name “Waugh-Tendulkar” would last is a moot point also, as naming rights sponsors blow in and out to grab their share of the spoils from the televised spectacular that this would become.

It is fair to say that the rivalry between Australia and India in cricket is becoming more passionate and intense, spurred along by that marvellous Test series in India in 2001, and by the World Cup final earlier this year. Australian cricket fans, in general a xenophobic lot at the best of times, are finally starting to warm to India as a cricketing rival, and we can’t be too far away from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for Test cricket competing with the Ashes and the Frank Worrell Trophy for importance.

The Australia-India rivalry resumes in Gwalior on Sunday with the second game of the TVS Cup (the first, between India and New Zealand, having been rained off on Thursday). Although Australia’s bowling stocks are down, let’s look forward to a great battle.

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