A look into the promising future ahead for Indian and Australian cricket
The ongoing Test series between Australia and India has had everything that a series between these two sides normally has. Controversy. Drama. Emotion. Tempers have flared. Words have been said. Batsmen have been hit. Both sides have displayed overt aggressiveness in every match, if not session. Now that the Border-Gavaskar trophy has been regained by Australia, it’s time to reflect on the series so far and also what both sides can take forward from this series.
India has, by and large, played good cricket. They have been competitive, even though the scoreline wouldn’t say so. This team is young. With the ever calm MS Dhoni surprisingly hanging up his Test boots, the
“hotheaded” “aggressive” Virat Kohli has taken over. What has been more remarkable is the change in attitude. Ravi Shastri said in the post-match interview after the drawn Boxing day Test that the scoreline doesn’t actually matter when the team’s attitude is right.
Encouraging signs from India in the current Test series
The Indian team which toured Australia in 2011-12 was ageing and looked jaded, beaten and bruised even before the third Test. Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey steam-rolled them. The competition simply wasn’t there. This team has the talent and the zeal to take Indian Test cricket to greater heights. It was quite evident in the way they competed throughout all the 3 completed Tests so far. They made Australia work hard for their win. In that context, Shastri is probably right.
Most former players, if asked, would say that Australia is one of the toughest places to tour, if not the toughest. The players are of high quality and never shy of having a go at you. The public can get under your skin, too (as Stuart Broad found out last summer). But nevertheless, Australians appreciate genuine talent and love being in a contest. This Indian team has provided exactly that. Have the pitches been flat and, in turn, conducive to the Indian batsmen? Yes.
But India’s young array of batsmen has lived up to the task of getting the team out of trouble time and time again. Although Cheteshwar Pujara has been a surprising disappointment Down Under, all the batsmen, to their credit, have made some crucial runs overseas at some stage or the other over the past 12 months. The bowling, though, has let them down time and time again. How quickly they learn from their mistakes and start delivering outside Asia is going to determine team India’s future prospects.
Australia also entering a transition phase
While India have undergone a complete transition, Australia are just about beginning to undergo a transition themselves. Experienced heads like Chris Rogers, Ryan Harris, Brad Haddin won’t be around for too much longer, and the selectors will have to start searching for replacements. The injury to Michael Clarke has resulted in the appointment of a new leader in Steven Smith, who has gone from a bits and pieces cricketer to a dependable Test batsman.
Smith might have to take over the reins on a permanent basis in the near future, with Clarke publicly stating that he is unsure of how much longer he could play. While it is always going to be difficult to replace players of such ilk, Australia should be well-placed considering the impressive displays of some of the younger players.
David Warner and Smith have enjoyed an amazing year, and they can be pillars of Australian batting in the coming years. Josh Hazlewood impressed on his debut and Joe Burns has an impressive first-class record for Queensland. Mitchell Marsh looks more than a capable candidate to replace Shane Watson.
Plenty more like Sam Whiteman, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson are waiting in the wings, eagerly awaiting their chance. The Australian selectors have done well to blood in some youngsters, and they should continue to do so to avoid falling into an abyss like the last time a plethora of greats retired back in 2006-07.
Shastri has urged fans to give this young Indian team 12 months’ time. Tick-tock, tick-tock. The clock is ticking, sir.
South Africa are aeons ahead of any other Test team at the moment, and it is exactly why India and Australia have to improve themselves, to challenge and try to be the world’s best.
Two cricket loving nations. Two young leaders.
The game needs competition. The fans need competition. A glimpse into the cricketing future of India and Australia suggests there are some exciting days to come.