Ha! The joys of Test Cricket …

After being spoon-fed an overdose of meaningless and forgotten-the-next day ODIs and T20s, I can safely say that I have truly re-discovered the simple joys of Test Cricket. Since it is a given that Indian Cricket Team will always shine and wipe out opponents in double-quick time on Indian dust-bowl wickets, I love watching only matches being played in Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand. I am leaving out India, Pakistan (where matches do not happen any more), Sri Lanka, UAE and Bangladesh.

Following are some of my thoughts over the past 4 years of Test Cricket:

  • Batting exploits of Michael Clarke, Faf du Plessis, A B Devilliers Etc., especially that wonderful drawn series in Australia in 2012
  • Absolute control and craft shown by bowlers from England, South Africa and Australia. Over long days, pitching the balls in the right areas most of the time is never easy and bowlers like Ryan Harris and James Anderson really show what discipline means (Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron should pay attention and learn)
  • Rahul Dravid’s remarkable centuries in England, when the whole team was failing badly, in 2011. His batting against tremendous swing bowling by James Anderson and company was a real treat to watch
  • The battle of attrition: ODI and T20 are slam-bang-thank-you kind of games where a players endurance is not tested as severely as in Test Cricket. Imagine standing at attention in the slips for 6 hours a day in the hot sun! Test Cricket truly tests one’s resolve and patience
  • Positive impact by T20s/ODIs on Test Cricket: I believe it is the “attacking nature” fostered by ODIs/T20s that is causing a lot more Test Results than in the past. Imagine the days of real boring draws. Those days are long gone and nowadays teams play to win. Case in point, India versus Australia Test Match at Sydney in 2015
  • “Who blinks first”: When the bowlers are sticking to laser-like line and length or when batsmen are taking on the bowlers, it is a game of “who blinks first”. Unlike in ODIs/T20s, where there is a limit to the “torture”, in Test Cricket, it can go for hours on end. Murali Vijay, lately, has been showing a lot of patience (as data from Star Sports indicate) and he is one of the best in leaving balls alone when it is far wide of the stumps
  • Technique: In the Sydney test mentioned above, for the last few overs, there were 10 fields around the bat! Ajinkhya Rahane and Bhuvaneshhwar Kumar had to display very good technique to survive. When Rahul Dravid made those Test Centuries in England in 2011, it was all about his superior technique in countering the tremendous swing English bowlers were getting
  • In Test Cricket, one has to deal with more fielders up close, in the slip cordon or in short-leg silly-point areas, and some of the catches being taken were brilliant, like the one Steve Smith took to dismiss Rohit Sharma in the India-Australia Sydney test of 2015
  • Rowdy-ism on the field: I feel that abusing the batsman after he has been dismissed is totally uncalled for, for example. Same goes for unnecessary sledging. Australians are especially notorious for it. Looks like India has got some training watching them …
  • Bowlers are unshackled: In ODIs/T20s, there are far too many restrictions on the bowlers, because bowlers are meant to be slaughter-ready poultry in ODIs/T20s. They are just meant to throw the call such that batsmen can smash them  for boundaries. In Test Cricket, Mitchell Johnson, for example, can be at his menacing best
  • Batting Technique: Faulty technique is easily brought out in Test Cricket, for the reasons mentioned above. Wild heaves and cross-batted slogs are not a great idea in Test Cricket

Alas! Indian Cricket Fans have to wait for another 6-7 months before another Test Series begin. Even longer for a series in Australia/England/South Africa/New Zealand/West Indies.

Few thoughts from the India-Australia 2014-15 Test Series:

  • Quite flat pitches … But yet, each team strove for results with some sporting declarations and chases
  • The moment in Sydney Test when Murali Vijay hit Ryan Harris uppishly and Shaun Marsh dropped him at short-cover. The very next ball, Vijay defended the ball back to Harris and in a moment of pure frustration, Harris unnecessarily threw the ball at the stumps and gave 4 runs overthrow … Watching it on TV, it is easy for fans like us to mock Harris for this lapse. But imagine his frustration at toiling away for hours and finally getting a chance and the fielder dropping it
  • Sports is a great leveller. Every day offers an opportunity to make a fresh beginning. Take thecase of K.L.Rahul. After a disastrous debut at Melbourne, he made some solid amends in Sydney, with a very patient century
  • Love the energy and passion Steve Smith, David Warner Etc. bring to the game (should back off from the idiotic over-aggression, though) … These guys never slack off and come at you with 110% effort all the time. Fielding, Batting Etc. They are ON all the time
  • In an effort to gain any little advantage they can, it is amusing to watch fielders like Shaun Marsh trying to claim a catch when clearly it is not one. Gentlemen’s Game does not appear too gentlemanly in such cases ….

Yes, India lost the 2014-15 series to Australia 2-0. But India was clearly not humiliated. One loss was by 48 runs which could have been different if a couple of batsmen showed a bit more application. The other one was by 4 wickets. Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay Etc. have been scoring solid runs in South Africa, New Zealand, England and now in Australia. The young batting lineup looks solid. Bowling? Well, therein lies the problem.

Adios!

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