The answer to that question is probably a no. If you are Indian, there is no way you like Australia. If you are South Africa, you’d love nothing more than to beat them. If you are English, you hate them. The Pakistanis, the West Indians, the Bangladeshi’s probably wouldn’t care too much — but given a chance, they would probably throw their weight behind the Kiwis.
The reasoning is simple: it is hard to like the Australia team — you may admire them from a distance… for their work ethic, their professionalism, their transparency… but you will almost never love them. Because in addition to being all that — they are abrasive, cocky and arrogant. They win, they dominate but they also throw punches, sledge, push you to the edge and don’t do their homework.
It works for them… they have won everything cricket has to offer. They have the highest winning percentage in ODI history — 64.62 (855 games, 528 wins, 287 losses, 9 ties, 31 NR). India, by comparison, have a winning percentage of 53.21.
They have also won the World Cup four times — a record; a record that they waste no time reminding you off. Also in the 10 World Cups, they have managed to reach the final an astounding seven times.
We were all greatly elated when Mahendra Singh Dhoni won 11 games in a row at the World Cup but then we realised that the record stood at a mind-boggling 24 in Ricky Ponting’s name. It is probably a record that will never be broken.
This domination also extends to Tests, where they have a winning percentage of 46.83 — no other team has managed a winning percentage higher than 36.92.
But their winning was never the problem. We understand that they play cricket better than almost every other nation. We understand that they do things right and their hunger to win is indeed monumental. We understand why they win.
We just don’t like how they do it. It is a visceral hatred — that remains.
It is often what they do after they win that causes the real consternation. They would never lose an opportunity to goad their opponents — they say, it is an Aussie thing but surely they know better. There is nothing good about beating a man when he is down.
Michael Clarke is probably the mildest skipper they have had in a long time but the rest of the squad more than makes up for it.
David Warner is one that comes to mind instantly. And if he isn’t doing the talking, then there is always Shane Watson to back him up. Or as Mitchell Johnson reminded India before the semi-final — he is never shy either. If all of this isn’t working, the old man Brad Haddin always has a ready quip behind the stumps. After Shane Warne’s ‘too soft’ comment, Mitchell Starc has tried his best to join the band.
We also probably don’t like the fact that they win so much and so often. When just one team keeps winning over and over again — as Australia have — it generally makes them hated by the fans of the other teams too.
So when New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum sends out a letter to all of India — asking for their support in the final against Australia, one can expect everyone to jump at the opportunity. If he sends the same letter to all the other cricket-playing countries — you can expect them to join the group as well.
Add to the fact that this New Zealand team has played wonderful, aggressive cricket that has been one of the bright spots of this tournament.
Compared to Australia, they are lightweights in the cricketing history sense — and don’t we always love an underdog. We will back them because we see a bit of ourselves in them. But most of all, we will support them because we’d love nothing more than to see Australia lose.