Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Australia enters Weimar mode

In the 18th and 19th Centuries, Prussia (and later the German Empire, of which Prussia formed the main part) was an unstoppable military force. Barring a defeat to the armies of Napoleon, Prussian armies defeated the Austrians, the Just like the Aussies, the Prussians were in love with silly hatsFrench, the Danish and the Austrians and the French again, all withing the space of a half-century (well, almost a half-century). The Army of the German Empire, which was for all practical purposes the Prussian Army, was acknowledged as the best in the world. Their leadership, the Prussian General Staff were renowned to be second to none. Then came the First World War. The Prussians initially expected to have won the war by Christmas (that is, Christmas of 1914). However, the War dragged on much longer than they expected, and soon the Prussians found themselves fighting the British Empire, the Russian Empire and the French. Showing their impressive military skills, the Prussians knocked out the Russians, but the USA soon took their place amongst their enemies. Finally, by the end of 1918, the Prussians were out-produced, out-maneuvered and quite plainly out-fought. The defeat was especially shocking to those who had grown used to a hundred and fifty years of Prussian/German military dominance (ie, all Germans). How could we have lost this war, when clearly we are so awesome at this war thing, they asked.

Thus was born the Dolchstoßlegende (literally, stab-in-the-back-legend. Germans can be pretty uncreative with names). The military leadership, and a large portion of German soldiery refused to take responsibility for the defeat and the fact that the better armies won. Instead, they blamed the civilian leadership and the people on the home front for not backing the war front adequately. The war would have been won, they said, if it hadn't been for the civilians stabbing the army in the back (slyly omitting to mention that the civilian government that surrendered to the Allies did not come to power until just before the surrender). A certain Mr. Hitler cunningly exploited this feeling, and won election after election right up to the German Presidency railing against the "November Villains" who lost the War. As we all know, this phase of German history also ended in tears.

Cut to the present. Since the mid 1990s, Australia have dominated world cricket. They've won three One-day World Cups in a row and all Ashes series apart from 2005. They gone months, Stupid Aussieswhole years even, without losing a single match. The Australian Cricket team was acknowledged as the best in the world. Its leadership, embodied by S. Waugh and R. Ponting, was hailed as peerless. When the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup started in September 2007, Australia were clear favorites to win. Except they were knocked out by India in the semi-finals in a hard-fought match. India then went n to defeat Pakistan in the finals and won the Cup. Later that year, the Indian cricket team went to Australia on tour. Australia narrowly won the Test series, one of the most acrimonious in recent history. In the one day series (where the two teams were joined by Sri Lanka) the two teams faced each other in the finals. And Australia lost, two games to none. Australia's ascendancy in international cricket was looking to have finished.

The very weekend this was happening, an article appeared in the Australian press, in effect blaming Cricket Australia (the governing body of Aussie cricket) for the defeat that came the next day. As this blog post is being written, Australian journalists are scrambling to blame this disaster on the perfidy of the Indians, on their own spineless board stabbing their team in the back and on every factor except that their team was outplayed and outperformed. The Australian Dolchstoßlegende is being written as we speak.

The last Dolchstoßlegende led directly to the chaos of the Weimar Republic in Germany, to civil war, economic collaps and thence to the horror of the Nazis and the Second World War. What untold suffering this one will bring, only time will tell.

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Blogger Shriniwas Kulkarni said...

So Ponting is Kaiser Wilhelm II and Andrew Symonds is Ludendorff ?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Kunal said...

To be honest, I always thought Symonds to be a sort of Hindenburg. Hayden is more of a Ludendorff, IMHO.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Kunal said...

No, wait, what am I saying. Ponting is Hindenburg. You're right, Symonds can be Ludendorff.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

When Ponting is sacked from the captaincy and possibly forced into retirement, we could then cry "Oh, the Humanity!!"

6:18 AM  
Blogger Fangs said...

interesting analogy.

3:19 AM  

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