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All good things must come to an end

November 2, 2008

 Border-Gavaskar Series. 3 matches down, 1 to go. India leads 1-0. One test has been dominated by Australia, one by India and the third was an even affair with Australia ahead on points, having stayed in the contest in spite of conceding a huge first innings total. Seems like a finale similar to previous Aus-India series with evenly matched contests. But, have the games been like those played since 2000 when Laxman and Dravid one of the most magnificent fightbacks in test cricket? Maybe not.

 

Most India-Australia contests in the last five years have been closely contested affairs, mostly because of the skill of the players in taking the surface out of the equation. Hence the games in Kolkata (2001) and Adelaide (2003), where in spite of huge first innings totals, there were results. Not so this time. The placid nature of the Bangalore and Delhi tracks defeated the efforts from either team to force a result.

 

As a viewer, one of the standout differences this time has been the inability of the Australians to turn games by ruthless execution of plans, irrespective of the surface. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the absence of the like of Glen Mcgrath and Shane Warne is being felt. Statistics about Shane Warne’s incisiveness (or lack of) in India are meaningless. It was a matter of a dodgy shoulder and a brilliant Tendulkar at his peak that blunted the master leg spinner. This time however, a not-brilliant, but still very good Australian bowling attack has been defeated by having to bowl first on unforgiving tracks. Frustration at the lack of lateral movement therefore creeps in inevitably resulting in the loose delivery that gets taken for runs. But they have in their corner, a robust cricket establishment that has had success in finding the right kind of players and then sticking with them long enough for them to prove themselves.

 

What of India? The presence of a reasonably good pace attack, unhampered by injury has helped and so has the presence of solidity in the batting. But that’s changing. Ganguly will retire at the end of this seris, Anil Kumble already has. The enormity of the challenge that lies ahead for Indian cricket will become evident as early as the England series. One middle order batting slot and one spinner’s slot to fill in a home series might not sound like much, but the pressure will be felt by the remainder of the side as they have to cushion the inexperience of the new entrants. The replacements, in turn, will feel the pressure when expected to shoulder the burden of scoring runs and taking wickets. A lot can go wrong, marginalization of test cricket in the land of T20, chop-and-change selection policies, thinking of the national team as a development lab instead of a finishing school.

 

If we think the Australians have been reduced from being invincible to merely good, wait till the transition begins for the Indian team. There are some interesting times ahead for Indian cricket.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kiran Desai permalink
    November 20, 2008 12:39 am

    Yea true. Interesting times ahead for Indian cricket. However, these are exciting times, not a lot to worry about! Biggest void is definitely left by Kumble the spinner rather than any batsman. But the fast bowling unit is by far, the best of Indian attacks in past 2 decades and that takes some load off the spin dept. Add to it a promising pool of batsmen growing up the ranks, exciting times indeed! Remember, there was tremendous pressure on senior Test players to bow out voluntarily a few weeks back which shows that there are ppl waiting in the wings. Ganguly was not an automatic choice for the Aus series and so will be Dravid for the next Test series. With current bowling attacks and pitches around the world as they are, I don’t quite see why one should worry much about replacing the batting order. Australia too are feeling a void more in their bowling unit than the batting.

  2. November 20, 2008 9:56 am

    Thanks Kiran. If the replacements for the batting order do well because of an overall decline in bowling stocks around the world, isn’t it an even more worrying sign for test cricket? I do agree about Australia’s current problems though, i predict a shortlived ‘recession’ for the champion side though

  3. November 30, 2008 1:44 pm

    I think that although this Australian team doesn’t have the subtleties and tricks required to win on the subcontinent, it can’t have helped that Australians always quote the thing about the 35-year drought in India as though it is really hard to win there. From 1970 to 1996 they only toured twice and those were really weak teams – Hughes WSC-decimated team and the 1986 Border team which was the darkest period in Oz cricket.

    If Australia had gone there regularly, I/G Chappell led teams would have went there and they would have had a good chance. So would Border’s 89-93 team. From 98 onwards, Australia has always been competitive, and were really close in 2001

    http://yellowmonkeysbananabucket.blogspot.com/2008/11/final-frontier-not-as-elusive-as-it.html

    They should be more optimistic although it wouldn’t have made much difference this time.

    Or perhaps they like to say it’s really hard so the media don’t savage them when they lose.

  4. December 2, 2008 11:03 am

    yellowmonkey, great point. i believe that in conditions of limited seam movement where the ball goes below hip height from a length, this Indian team can compete with most. So, its not surprising that the Australian team found the going tough. Strangely, I’ve never been able to understand why the Australians have so little trouble beating the South Africans who in turn beat India easily.

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