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Why away Test victories are becoming the new norm

buviwrites new author
Roar Rookie
8th January, 2019
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buviwrites new author
Roar Rookie
8th January, 2019
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According to Indian captain Virat Kohli, the series win against Australia is better than the country’s 2011 World Cup win.

When asked by the press about his most emotional moment in cricket after India’s first-ever win in Australian land, his exact words were: “I would say this one because this is my third tour here and I have seen how difficult it is to win here.”

And that’s how an away Test series win tastes, especially when it comes against a country like Australia. India needed 71 years for this win. It is a truly historic win.

India now has only South Africa to beat outside India.

Yes, the Australian team is without the service of their two best batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, but the way the Indians dominated in all departments in this series must have pleased Indian fans more than the win itself.

Furthermore, if the Australian team has to depend on two players who are already 30-plus for their wins at home, it’s a bigger concern than the loss itself.

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Coming back to the away Test victories, other teams that have enjoyed the same taste of joy, and very recently, are New Zealand and England in their wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka respectively.

Australia’s loss was only the 20th time a top-seven-ranked Test team has been defeated at home since 2011. So what’s the sudden rush of teams winning Tests in foreign lands all about? I can think of three reasons behind the emerging trend.

1. A decrease in drawn Test matches
The number of drawn Test matches has drastically declined over previous decades. For instance, looking over the last four decades in Test cricket:

  • in the 1980s 244 of 532 matches were drawn (45.86 per cent);
  • in the 1990s 248 of 694 matches were drawn (35.73 per cent);
  • in the 2000s 228 of 928 matches were drawn (24.56 per cent); and
  • since 2010 162 of 792 matches were drawn (20.45 per cent).

The fewest drawn five-day Test matches came just last year, in 2018.

The number of runs scored in a single day during a Test has increased considerably too thanks to the Australian team of the late 2000s, which instigated the culture of scoring 300-plus in the opening days of the Test matches. The increase in run rates can mean only one thing: a decreased chance of a draw.

Fewer drawn matches could be caused by many other reasons and is a huge topic in itself, but ultimately it means more matches end decisively.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara

(AP Photo/James Elsby)

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2. ICC’s rating of pitches
People have this notion that past wickets were tough to play on. Nostalgia makes people think that the past was a great time in cricket. But that’s not true.

Current pitches have more sporting nature than the old times thanks to ICC’s strict reviews on the Test pitches. We rarely see big totals and single-sided games in Test matches in recent times.

That could also be because cricket boards nowadays need more Test matches to end in results rather than draws in order to brings crowds into stadiums. Even the ICC believes that only the results and a fine balance between bat and ball can help Test matches survive.

No news in cricket has been bigger in the recent past than an away Test series wins, as it endorses the game in the right way. This is working really well for the game, not to mention, while four-days Test matches are not so far.

A wide shot of the MCG during a cricket match.

(Julian Smith/AAP)

3. Influence of T20 domestic leagues
A discussion of this topic cannot be completed without mentioning the influence that T20s is having on Test cricket. Today players from non-Asian countries have the luxury of playing more games on the Subcontinent than ever before thanks to the abundance of T20 leagues in Asia.

With players from almost every cricketing nation involved in domestic leagues around the globe, they now find it easier to adapt to alien conditions. For instance, Kane Williamson’s average of 77.20, with one 100 and two 50s in the recent UAE Test series against Pakistan can be credited to his IPL experience.

Wrapping it up, more results in Test cricket can only be a good thing for the game, especially when the ICC has already started to believe T20s is the route to growing the game.

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That’s why away Test series wins are the best thing that can happen to Test cricket and its fans – they bring out the best among the teams and players.