Exposed as a fraud

 

by Brendan McArdle

It’s been a big week in Australian cricket. The much-awaited Argus report has been well received by most in the cricket community, and it was a hard-hitting document which, although two years late in its inception, should have beneficial effects for the future of our game provided the right people are put in positions of authority.

      We’ve also won a one-day series in Sri Lanka in quite emphatic style under an impressive skipper, and fast bowler James Pattinson has announced himself as a star of the future.

      But there has been a bigger cricket occurrence 18,000 km away : the 4 – 0 mauling that England has dished out to India might just have consigned a temporary death to Indian Test cricket. The nation that has been trumpeted as the bastion of all things good in cricket, that has had the cricketing world bowing down to its every wish for the last three years, has been exposed as a fraud.

      India has been worked over by a thoroughly professional English outfit that is hungry, cohesive and talented, yet which is still not really a patch on the great Australian sides of the past. But such was the one-sidedness of this 5 -week contest that last summer’s Ashes series looked reasonably competitive by comparison. Only Rahul Dravid has emerged with his reputation intact. The rest looked either old, lazy, inept or frightened.

      India held the world no.1 Test mantle for 21 months, and the mystery is how MS Dhoni was able to keep his team there for so long given the threadbare attack he had to work with. In retrospect India was just able to keep its head above water during that time due to the familiar conditions it played in, some occasionally good batting by fading champions, and quality spin bowling from Harbajhan Singh. But the glory days now seem well and truly over.

      In truth, India’s performances have been far from convincing for some time. It has often seemed distracted and begun series poorly, going one-nil down before redressing the balance later in a series. It was unimpressive in the West Indies just prior to this England series, and this time last year against Australia it wriggled itself off the ropes at eight down needing 93 to win in the first Test, eventually recording a misleading 2 – 0 series scoreline.

      The IPL is without doubt India’s cricketing showpiece, and for some time many Australian beneficiaries of IPL riches have been raving about the quality and potential of the ‘new breed’ of Indian players that have been on show there.. Well, those Aussies have been blinded by the hype. The likes of Gambhir, Raina, Kholi, Yuvraj Singh, RP Singh and Sreesanth have been pathetic.

      Gambhir is an example the softness that has engulfed Indian cricket : trumpeted as their rock of the future, he batted down the order in four out of his six innings during the series because of injuries he had incurred in the field. He bumped his head whilst dropping a catch on Friday and then came out to bat at no.8 on Sunday.

      Nor is this likely to be a temporary slip. Zaheer Khan will never be the bowler he once was, neither will Harbajhan. And the uncertainty that has been evident from Laxman and Tendulkar over the last month has betrayed the panic that can quickly engulf an ageing champion.

      This Indian demise won’t be a bad thing for world cricket. For too long it has had an unhealthy influence because of its wealth and political clout, and maybe now its edicts and messages will sound a little hollow. England apart  –  and Pakistan through no choice of its own  –   the world has danced to its tune. The values of players worldwide have been tampered with, and many of the game’s traditions have been compromised.

England will know that the problems which for so long dogged its own game have now become rampant among the world’s former no.1. Come January, Australia will be confident of inflicting more pain on the hapless Indians in our conditions. The irony is that if we have a one-sided series it will open the door for the T20 Big Bash to spread its wings at the expense of the traditional form of the game.

Comments

  1. Thanks, Brendan. I’ve been waiting for an Argus report since January 19th, 1957.

  2. Peter Flynn says

    Brendan,

    Correct re Gambhir.

    I was really impressed with Dravid. His superb technique held up against some good bowling.

    What did you think of Warne’s comparison of England 2011 v Australia early 2000’s?

    The English are a disciplined, confident outfit.

  3. Alovesupreme says

    Gigs,
    A splendid piece of observation. I well remember the morning of the final edition of the Argus. I’ve been wondering how much prior warning of the demise of the paper there was (particularly in the context of Fairfax’s trials and tribulations).

  4. A good thing about this jammed-together series is that it has always been there in the background if the footy was no good. The problem was it rarely made it to the foreground. Like you PJF, I enjoyed Dravid’s final knock, and certainly in the hour I saw of it, when he was just reaching his century, I thought Athers was in fine form behind the mic. I like that the commentators discuss technique, and get quite technical. I like that they don’t agree. I like that they discuss captaincy. I like that Both claims that Nasser still has the first quid he earned, or as one publican in South Melbourne claims of Bart Cummings, “He makes every pound a prisoner”.

  5. The ICC’s treatment of Daryl Harper in the West Indies was a disgrace.
    He was hung out to dry, whilst a Test captain (MS Dhoni) slandered
    Harper’s performance with impunity.

    It gave me great pleasure to witness the demise of India in (dare I say it)
    England. From the get-go, they turned up for the Test matches with little
    or no preparation, expecting to be competitive on tracks which are so
    different to the featherbeds which they play on.

    For a number of years, the elephant in the room has been their ageing
    middle-order. There has been little or no regeneration happening there,
    coincidentally a lesson which Australia has been (and is still) learning
    over the past two years.

    It has surprised me that there are no really talented spinners pushing through
    in the Indian ranks. Perhaps a legacy of the IPL and the need to bowl “darts”
    rather than tossing them up?

    And what has become of Ishant Sharma? On the basis of what he displayed
    in his first tour of Australia, I had him slated as a future star. Sadly, he seems to
    have stagnated.
    in

  6. Agree with all your comments, JTH. Having Pay TV for the first time in my life has been a revelation, and I’ve really appreciated the commentary.

    Smokie, funny how history repeats itself in terms of team regeneration. Australia in the early 80’s and again recently, India now. There’s a tendency to want to hold on to the stars for just that little bit longer and not blood youth. It’s understandable when a side keeps winning. Interesting to see Collingwood (the footy team, not the player) appearing to recognise elements of this with theire continual blooding of youth, although perhaps for different reasons.

    Agree with you too re Dravid, Flynny.

    And alovesupreme, I must confess to being a bit of a fraud with my first comment – I wasn’t born until ’65! I hope I’m not around to see the demise of The Age in print but fear I might.

  7. India seemed incredibly arrogant going into this series. poor preparation and assumptions of their own superiority. They were brought undone by a tight unit. Yuvraj Singh appears to be a contender for the biggest tosser in cricket, of KP proportions. The English team is a reasonable one, no where near the aussies or windies great teams though.Strauss reminds me of Mark taylor a bit as a leader.

  8. John Butler says

    Brendan, it’ll be instructive to see how the Indians react from here.

    Will they tackle Test cricket seriously, or retreat into a T-20 comfort zone?

  9. According to one cricket chat site, they’ve asked for another 4 day game at the syart of their Oz tour.

    Good that they’re ‘asking’ rather than demanding, an encouraging development if true, but CA should tell them to go fly a kite.

  10. iI know that this has already been mentioned but It really is 1981 all over again, England dominating cricket, unrest in the same country ,royal wedding, dubious fashion, , — now does this mean that Carlton will beat Collingwood in the Grannie? ( I hope not )

    I can envisage that by the end of this decade test cricket will be an even exclusively for the Ashes, we’re already 90% there:(

  11. I suspected that Indian cricket marched to the beat of the wrong drum after the third test between India and Australia in 2000. It was a magnificent series and India pulled a rabbit out of the hat to win it. During the presentation, the stage was inundated with sponsors, dignatories, and others to the point where no one could move. They were all after their 15 seconds of fame.

    The presentations were made on the ground away from the stage. It was chaotic and bemusing, yet somewhat amusing.

  12. Peter Schumacher says

    I was just glad to see India get rolled. They had become the bullies of world cricket.

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