5 current bowlers who struggle away from home in Tests
With the IPL done and dusted, the time has come for Test match cricket to take centre stage as we have close to six months of uninterrupted Test action coming our way, some of which has already begun in England as Sri Lanka try to find their foot against a rampaging English side. Quite different from the shortest format of the game, Test cricket requires an entirely different set of skills, and cricketers have often found it hard to adjust from one format of the game to another. Even those who do make a successful transit, are often found wanting when they are required to perform in foreign conditions, that are drastically different from the conditions they’ve played during their formative years.
The reason why many of the Test playing nations have struggled away from home is the fact that the players find it tough to acclimatise to different conditions, and the opposition's comfort while playing at home also acts as a further deterrent for the visiting teams. Over the years, there have been bowlers as well as batsmen who have excelled at home, but their frailties have been exposed severely every time that they have travelled to a foreign land. Here, in this piece, we enlist 5 such bowlers.
Note: For the sake of better analysis, we have only considered bowlers who have picked up at least 100 Test wickets and have played against at least 7 of the 9 Test playing nations.
1. Ravichandran Ashwin
India’s leading spinner in all three formats of the game, Ravichandran Ashwin, has found it tough to perform as well as he has in India, whenever the team has toured other nations. While his Test match statistics of 176 wickets from 32 matches at a decent bowling average of 25.39 are good, there is a massive difference between his numbers at home and those away from home. The off-spinner averages 20.92 from 19 Test matches that he has played in India and has picked up 126 wickets at a strike-rate of 46.3. These numbers change astronomically if one takes a look at the spinner’s stats outside India.
In 13 away Tests, Ashwin has picked up only 50 wickets and his average shoots up to 36.66 and the strike-rate worsens to 67.5. Conditions everywhere in the world aren’t conducive to spin bowling, and the Indian frontline spinner, in his six-year career certainly hasn’t found a way to contain the batsmen, let alone pick up wickets whenever India have toured other nations, especially outside the subcontinent. His lack of penetration as well as restriction, has often been detrimental to his team’s cause and India have often struggled with the ball more than they have with the bat whenever they have toured abroad.
Ashwin has struggled the most in Australia, as in the 6 Test matches that he has played there his bowling average has been 54.71 and the strike rate has been 97.0. He has only managed to pick up 21 wickets. Australia has also been one of the two countries where India haven’t won a Test series in all of their history, and their prime spinner’s poor show down under hasn’t helped their cause one bit.