Is this the start of another Golden Age for Australian cricket?
Australian cricketers embrace James Pattinson, but he won't bowl again during the Test cricket season through another injury (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
From October 1999 to March 2001 and from December 2005 to January 2008, Australia had won 16 Tests in a row each time, with not even a draw to break the winning sequence. Those were the golden years for Australian cricket.
The best they have achieved since 2008 is seven wins on the trot, from December 2009 to July 2010. But after that they have not won more than two successive Tests.
Will Michael Clarke’s men achieve this in the Perth Test starting today and win the Test series? After losing narrowly to New Zealand at Hobart last December, they have won the first two Tests against India in Melbourne and Sydney by big margins.
If they win in Perth, it will be the first time in 18 months that Australia will win more than two Tests in a row.
It will be worth remembering that Australia’s 16 victories on the trot sequence from 2005 to 2008 was broken in the January 2008 Perth Test when India won by 72 runs after trailing 0-2 in the series.
Freakily, Australia’s 16 consecutive win sequence from 1999 to 2001 was also disrupted by India, who won the March 2001 Kolkata Test by 171 runs after following on 274 runs behind.
More freakily, some of the current Indian team members had participated in those matches; Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan had played in the 2001 Kolkata topsy-turvey Test and Virender Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, VVS, MS Dhoni and Ishant Sharma in the 2008 Perth shocker.
The heroes of the Kolkata 2001 Test were skipper Steve Waugh (110), Matthew Hayden (97), Glenn McGrath 4 for 18, Dravid (180) and Laxman (281), who put on 376 marvellous runs for the fifth wicket in the second innings and the ‘Turbanator’ Harbhajan Singh, who captured 7 for 123 and 6 for 73.
Will India turn the tables again as they had done in 2007-08, after losing the first Test in Melbourne by 337 runs and the second in Sydney by 122 runs?
A daredevil century by Sehwag can change the pitiable scenario presented by Indian batsmen (Tendulkar excepted) in the series so far. India has the batsmen to tackle Australia’s pace trio or quartet.
But have their bowlers recovered from the pounding received from the blades of Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey? One hopes the Go-Karting has improved their lethargic running and reflexes!
On form Australia should go up 3-0 in the series to claim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy early next week. Ryan Harris for injured Pattinson is a certainty.
But will Australia go for a four-prong pace attack, including quickie Mitchell Starc for off-spinner Nathan Lyon? Clarke could be the only spinner and a surprise weapon against India’s top batsmen, eh?
Also this could be the do or die Test for Shaun Marsh. But is anyone knocking on the door for the no. 3 position? We need Sheffield Shield matches right now to answer this question, not BBL.
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.
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