Resurgence of IndiaGreg Hawke |
For nearly two decades now Australia has been the benchmark in world cricket in all forms of the game. But look out, India is about to take over.
The Australians bravely took the initiative in the late 1980’s to apply the necessary disciplines from the fifty over game into the Test arena, with the intent to win every test match from the first ball, rather than defiantly defend a Test Match loss at all costs which had been the trend for many years.
The Australians uncovered an aggressive and very successful formula to win Test matches, and by implementing this along with a potent player development program that nurtured talents like Warne, McGrath, Steve and Mark Waugh, Gilchrist and Taylor to name just a few, went on to dominate world cricket for the best part of twenty years.
India however, is set to end this purple patch and give the Australians a lesson at their own game.
Not unlike the World Series Cricket sensation back in 1977, which gave fifty over cricket its legs, the Indian Premier League Twenty/20 competition will be the next enterprise that will change world cricket in a major way. The Indians have taken the initiative to embrace Twenty/20 cricket, and by doing so, will only boost them on their way to world dominance.
Australia have had their fun in the sun, and with champions like McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist and Langer recently retiring from the Australian side, will no doubt leave the Aussies with some sort of “rebuilding” program to stick to over the next few years.
India on the other hand has a plethora of exciting talents that are primed to take Indian Cricket to the top. M.S. Dhoni proved in Australia earlier this year that he has enormous cricketing talent and will also be a fantastic leader. Dhoni, along with genuine Indian stars like; Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Shantha Sreesanth, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. And with players like Rohit Sharma, RP Singh and Robin Uthappa coming through nicely, Indian cricket is looking very, very exciting.
The big test will be the much anticipated four Test series between Australia and India starting October 9 in Bangalore, with Australia touring India without an established top line spinner as both Warne and MacGill are now retired from Test duties.
And maybe an even bigger test for the Indians in the short term could be turning around their 2/1 Test series defeat in Sri Lanka just a few shorts weeks ago, and the poor form of some of their batting stars mentioned above during this series; Tendulkar 95 runs at an average of 15.83, Ganguly 96 runs at 16.00 and even Dravid’s 148 runs at an average of 24.66 isn’t what you would call scintillating form.
The Australians are extremely good at keeping sides down when their confidence isn’t where it should be, so India will need to come out in October with its chest puffed out as it did in Australia earlier this year to give itself every chance of toppling the Aussies.
In any case, the series in India starting in October is shaping up to be a gem. Many of us are still coming down from the Test series in Australia earlier this year which provided so much excitement, controversy, frustration (with on field bickering) but above all brilliant Test cricket.
The Indians will no doubt be looking for retribution, as they would believe they had the Australians beaten in Australia, had a few little things gone their way. And the Australians will fight to keep their dominance alive, but it’s hard to see them bowling this talented Indian batting list out twice without a proven spinner on the slow Indian decks.
Will sledging be an issue, now that the BCCI has led the charge recently to banish on-field personal attacks? Will the two teams play in the true spirit of the game, or will the intense heat of battle take its toll and result in players like Harbhajan and Symonds come to blows again?
I for one can’t wait for this battle and the possibility of witnessing the new superpower of world cricket take its place on home turf.