Test cricket is alive and well after the recent Test series in Australia. India retained the Border/Gavaskar Trophy in the four-match Test series.
India needs to be congratulated, not only on winning the Test series but also for the character they showed during some difficult times on this tour. This series, together with the 2005 Ashes series in England, are the best Test series in the modern era.
India confirmed that they are a world-class team across all three formats of the game on all the continents. Having won two successive Test series in Australia, their international rankings have finally laid to rest the belief that they are only a force in sub-continent conditions.
The way they came back from Adelaide after being bowled out for 36 and their captain, Virat Kohli, leaving the tour for personal reasons, speaks volumes for the character of this team. Indian teams of the past would have rolled over and died, but not the modern Indian teams. It is also important to remember that because of injury India used twenty players in the series. These factors say a lot for Indian cricket’s administration and structures. They have been threatening for a few years to reach the summit of world cricket and now this has been achieved. Congratulations to India on showing world cricket what can be achieved with vision, strategic management and passion.
Where do Australia go from here? Once again, their batting proved to be brittle, especially the middle order. Only Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne proved to be consistent. On the bowling front there must be concerns about Mitchell Starc’s form and his future. Also, as good as Nathan Lyon has been in a 100 Test matches, they still need a wrist spinner to win Tests on the last day. There is no doubt that they will need to bring in new players in certain positions.
On the surface it looks like the great Australian pipeline of the past, the Sheffield Shield, no longer has the ability to deliver quality players. Has the pipeline been negatively impacted by the Big Bash’s profile and scheduling? The Indian Premier League has been an important component for the growth of Indian cricket, but it is driven by different dynamics. Also, the playing window it enjoys makes coexistence with international and domestic cricket so much easier.
It was disappointing to see the Australians return to their old habits of intimidation and abuse when they were under pressure and couldn’t get their own way. Cricket Australia need to ensure that their team does not return to the past and plays the game hard but with dignity.
The tour of South Africa against, at best, an average South African team will be important for the future of certain Australian players, especially their captain, Tim Paine. It will also be their last chance to qualify for the Lord’s final of the Test Championship.