Enjoyable read, was only thinking the same thing myself earlier today. Does make for some fantastic cricket around the globe though which is only a good thing.
Using extremes like most, biggest, etc is some thing I don't do in most cases. It is just an opinion though, so you are free to have yours.
This is certainly one of the most competitive eras with Australia, India, South Africa having good squads. I thought there were other periods where we had competitive cricket like this like during 1999. Then there were the strong eras where the squads were really great like Pakistan, West Indies and Australia all had great sides, and India was not doing too badly either in the shorter version.
Right now, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England are below par even though they have won matches for themselves.
You can't really say definitively, not least because "competitive" isn't really defined. Australia were still obviously the best side in 1999, but the other era I was thinking of was in the early 90s when the West Indies began to decline and they, the Aussies and Pakistan were all very strong.
But I don't think the competition to actually be the best in the world has ever been this fierce. Sri Lanka are only slightly behind South Africa for the world number one ranking, while South Africa were recently stuffed at home to Australia. Who, in turn, have lost to England and India (who I believe actually have the strongest team) in the past year. It's all very, very tight. If you use competitive to mean good-quality, there's been plenty of better eras, but for a time when several teams are all extremely close together at the top of the tree you needn't look any further than the present.
I agree that poor teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand can also beat you in a test series but that was taken for granted in the 90s. Any team could defeat any other team except Australia when they started winning in the subcontinent as well.
1996-99 was also very competitive. Even Zimbabwe put their hands up.
Also, in 1999, it wasn't Australia = no. 1 conclusive in ODIs. 1996-99, one can argue South Africa was the better team. I certainly would.
Last edited by Pratters; 27-09-2009 at 02:56 PM.
South Africa had an awful lot of quality at the time, but there were a lot of what you might call "CV gaps". They never won in England, for example, losing 2-1 there in 1998. Nor did they beat Australia, losing home and away to them in 1997. South Africa never really delivered in spite of their incredible ability. There was a ruthless ability to grind out results in the Australian team that put them comfortably ahead of South Africa for me.
The article only refers to test cricket, tbf
Okay. Sorry I skimmed through it. *blush*.
Then you have a fairly solid point and I fully agree with you. The Windies-Australia transition phase you mentioned was not as competitive and there are several eras more competitve than that. India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe were crap. Pakistan had talent but too much in-fighting. New Zealand and England weren't that great. Australia and Windies were the only real class teams.
The late-1980s and early-1990s was Pakistan's best time as a Test team. It was also the height of India's home invincibility (they didn't win a single Test outside the subcontinent between 1986/87 and 2001).
Infighting has been a part of Pakistani cricket for, well, as long as I've ever heard (not sure it was absolutely prevalent in the 1960s, say). But it was almost as though, in the early-1990s, they simply had so much quality that they had to win plenty regardless.
In the first 2-3 years of the 1990s, the only team which could be said to be genuinely weak were the Sri Lankans. England and Australia had emerged from their worst-ever periods at the end of the 1980s, India were invincible at home, Pakistan were at their strongest ever, West Indies had been on the way down for a fair few years but such things are relative and they were still superb, and New Zealand were still strong at home if not away, and South Africa, when they were readmitted, had a superb, solid, all-round side ready-made.
Personally I place that and now just about atop the pile in the "most competetive times in Test history" stakes.
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Test cricket in a strange way at the moment, there is a lot to be excitied about I would tend to agree that it is the may well be the most competative it has ever been. But the question not asked is whether or not this is good or bad for cricket and sport in general? People tend to get frustrated when all time greats are at their peak but always miss them when they are gone, bomoaning a lack of quality of seen in past years and perhpas this era will be remebered as a good one that was lacking a key ingredient, a truly great side. None of the sides playing test cricket today will go down as great sides, they can be formidable at times but each has its own area of weakness. This is not necessarily a bad thing but when one looks back to the supposedly greatest era of any given sport it is ones in which one or preferably two or more great sides and players competed at the same time.
Then there are the serious problems of flat pitches, low attendance in various parts of the world and the demise of the West Indies that stop this being a classed a great era for test cricket I strongly hope and believe that test cricket will survive and continue to propser and that new great sides will emerge and from this era so that it will be be looked on as a the article concludes as a fascinating transitional period and not one in which the game started to decline.
But one thing i'm agreed with is that from now onwards there isn't going to be any Dominating team
7 teams will be really close to each other
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