India: done and dusted

Sachin Tendulkar and an Indian teammate suppor...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just watched Australia wrap up the test series against India 4-0. There have been some great Australian teams over the last 20 years, but this isn’t one of them (though hindsight may prove otherwise). It’s hard though to think of a more comprehensive series win by Australia. It’s not just that it’s been a whitewash, but that every match has eventuated in a crushing win to Australia. India haven’t got close. I nearest I can think of is the 5-0 drubbing of England in 2006-07, but that was with a team chock full of legends and probably not quite as one-sided.

It’s hard to judge precisely the full worth of this victory. India have been very disappointing. Coming into the series I had doubts that India had the attack to dominate Australia, but I was sure that their batting would make an impact. That hasn’t eventuated. Their bowling has outshone their batting, but even so gave up scores in excess of 600 twice, and were patchy throughout. Their batting has some all time greats of Indian cricket, and world batting. Out of Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman you would have thought at least would make a test century this series, and more likely a few. In fact the only century scored by India was by a rookie, and all their champions struggled, and some very badly.

There’s no doubt Australia played very well. The bowling was a revelation, tight, skilled and aggressive. Fielding throughout was top-notch, as you expect from Australian teams. While there were a few weak spots the Australian batting was highlighted by some imperious innings, two by Clarke, one each by Ponting and Warner, as well as some great supporting roles. With Watson coming back into the team that will only get better. Australia may not be the best team in the world right now (though it is in the best form), but I’m confident it will be inside 2 years.

As for India? They made mistakes across the board I feel. You have to question their selection policies to begin with. Too much is expected of their champions, now in their mid to late thirties. The poor performances we’ve seen in this series are partly form, but more likely evidence of terminal decline. India should have transitioned younger players into the team like they have Kohli, instead have burdened themselves with players with great records but indifferent form. To lose them all now with leave a gaping hole, but they must act soon.

I suspect we’ve seen the last of Dravid. He’s one of my favourite international players, a courtly, old-fashioned gentleman who was also a bloody good cricketer. Serious questions about (Very, Very Special) Laxman too. A great batsman to watch on his day, and a thorn in the side of past Australian teams, he seems to have slowed up. If I was the Indian selection panel I’d be calling time on them.

Sehwag is safe for a while yet, though his recent record suggests he is struggling at test level. Then there’s Tendulkar. He’s much revered, and not just in India, but I don’t view him through the same rose coloured glasses as most. He’s bee a great batsman and showed the best form of this group. Still there are signs of decline I think, not so much in technique – he’s still a great defensive batsman – but of body. I wonder if he has it in him to sustain form over a series. He’s good for a while yet should he want to continue, but the end is nigh. Incidentally, I think it’s bollocks those people claiming we wanted to see Tendulkar crack his hundredth ton. Not me. I want him out, and if it’s a golden duck all the better.

The Indians erred through the series too. I wonder if they played the wrong spinner throughout. Ojha being a leggie would have been much more dangerous than Ashwin. And I thought that when the situation demanded more aggression they failed to step up. Come Perth they should have dropped a batsman and played an extra bowler if they were serious about getting back on level terms. Tactics on the field have been pretty dubious too.

That’s it anyway. Australia is not back to its best, but getting there. That’s one of the things I’ve liked most this summer. Throughout the series Aussie crowds have supported their resurgent team. There are no people on earth who have higher expectations of their cricket team than Australians, and it’s rare that we’re disappointed. It’s been a topsy turvy 2 years, and with some dire lows, but unlike many places we haven’t turned on our own. We’ve supported the hard work and the commitment, knowing that was the only way back and with faith that we would not be let down. The crowds this year showed their appreciation knowing their hopes have been vindicated, and good dividends returned sooner than we might have thought.