Is home too sweet ?
There were the traditional Englishmen and the prisoners from down under until the 60s, there were the Mighty West Indies in the 70s & 80s, and then came the Supreme Aussies in the late 90s and early 2000s.
The eras changed and cricket changed with time, adding different layers to itself, but all the time there was this push for all teams to look up to a champion, a leader or that one team that dominated the entire timeline it played in.
No one could lace up the boots of the Windies of the 70s & 80s. The one or two teams that could beat them once in a while boast of those singular victories even today. We speak about Laxman's 281 at Eden or Rahul's 233 at Adelaide because it came against THAT AUSSIE team.
The teams that dominated eras were the teams to beat and still very few could come close. We remember them as dominant because they walked into every ground around the world and beat the home side, convincingly very often. Between 1973 and 1995, West Indies held the top spot for 235 out of the 264 months time. Between 1995-2009, Australia held up No. 1 for 157 out of 168 months.
Here we are in 2018 and there is hardly a team that is as dominant and convincing as those aforementioned. In the last 7 years, the ICC Test mace has changed hands 10 times between 5 different countries i.e. South Africa, India, England, Australia, and Pakistan.
Some experts may suggest that all the teams have been at an equal playing field and hence the passing around of the baton. But the absolute truth is; never has the scenario been far more unequal at the playing field in each Test series since 2010. None of the teams has held the mace for more than 18 months in continuity barring India in 2016-18. But none of the teams were able to keep the mace after one single Test series away from home.
The home and away factor has drawn a valley of differences between teams' performances. The teams that dominate at home viz. India, Australia, England, South Africa have consistently struggled away from home. We can take multiple examples of boom and gloom performances within short periods because they were all so comfortable playing at home and they could hardly ever perform away.
The classic example was Australia losing 3-0 to England in the summer of 2013 in England and going on to regain the Ashes 3 months later on their home turf that too 5-0; the teams were almost the same that won 3 months ago and many English heads rolled in the aftermath.
The same could be said about the Aussie side that toured England as well. This was not a one-off example as the entire scenario of world cricket is very similar. Indian sides hit record lows when they toured England and Australia in 2011. South Africa, despite its better track record away from home crumbed against India and Sri Lanka in their last tours. Let's not talk about Australia and its struggles in the subcontinent.
A true cricket fan would only wish for the return of a super team like those before that can grapple world cricket by the neck and dominate the world for a decade or so. Many might feel that it will make cricket boring. I beg to argue on this point. I firmly believe that the presence of a Super dominant team can light a fire under the bellies of so many middling teams to get an opportunity to topple that super team.
India could have won the World Cup of 1983, but the impact on Indian markets would not have been the same if they had beaten England or Australia. What makes 1983 memorable for India is who they beat (West Indies) to win the cup. That created a ripple effect in the other lower ranked countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka and made them believe that they can be champions as well.
History keeps repeating itself, we are in desperate need of one of the top teams to stand up and say- Right, We Won't Be Beaten Anywhere! We will sit in the top of the ICC Rankings for 3,4 5 years and retain the spot after we tour all the continents.
There are so many people who say Test cricket is dying. How will it survive if the result is written on the wall before a ball is bowled? We do get an odd thriller that here and there but more often than not, it's the home side that comes up triumphant.
Who has the resources to make a champion dominant team in the Test arena? Currently, I believe India is the only team that has the potential to compete away from home provided they select and prepare well. As we saw in South Africa, by the time they got into the groove the series was over; very similar performance in England as well.
I firmly believe this Indian side has the potential to be a dominant force in the next 5 years or so. They have to stick to their gun and believe they can win anywhere and everywhere. Currently, England is a good place to start.
The famous Rocky line does it for me " It's not about how hard you can hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done (Away from Home)".