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Opinion

We need to get used to India dominating cricket

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Roar Rookie
29th January, 2021
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1790 Reads

Despite what you may have heard and fervently wish to be true, Australian cricket is not stuck in an early 2000s vacuum.

There no longer exists “a queue of six-foot-two beefcakes around the Gabbatoir”, to quote the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, ready to stroll out to the crease and bang around a double-hundred on a flat pitch against traumatised Englishmen.

The world, in as many non-cricket-related as cricket-related ways, is very different the one that existed from 1995 to 2005.

If Stuart Law were playing in the Sheffield Shield today, he would be guaranteed 100 Tests. Matthew Elliot would probably be captain, Greg Blewett would slot in comfortably at five or six, Jimmy Maher would be behind the stumps, and Queensland would be happy.

Only three of Australia’s top seven that played in Brisbane would keep their place if the same kind of depth that existed then existed now.

No one currently playing in the Shield, apart from Will Pucovski, would be able to challenge for the national side. Many would probably be consigned to playing grade cricket in their respective states.

Would anyone be talking seriously about Travis Head as a possible Test captain if Michael Di Venuto was around today? Or Jamie Siddons? Or Martin Love? Or any of the other also-rans who would have had storied international careers in any other era?

Travis Head

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Jamie Cox scored over 18,000 first-class runs and never played a Test. He would play 80 if he were 25 years younger.

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Even James Brayshaw would probably be a 50-Test player in the current era.

There is nothing wrong with our bowling stocks. A second attack consisting of James Pattinson, Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson, with Scott Boland, Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee as back up, represents unprecedented pace depth.

The anxiety around Nathan Lyon’s lack of successor could fill a book. However, there is cause for optimism with the emergence of Mitch Swepson and the re-introduction of a spinner’s wicket somewhere in Australia would assist in his and others’ development.

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The panic surrounding the performances of Mitch Starc and Lyon in the 2020-21 summer is entirely unjustified. This is a mess that must be owned by the batsmen and the tired, predictable tacticians in the coaching staff.

This was also utterly inevitable. Of course India, with endless cricketing riches, were going to lead the world at some point. To quote the Grade Cricketer podcast, “this is the Asian century”. The only thing that is surprising is that it has taken so long.

Greg Chappell wrote a good piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. He wrote: “Our young cricketers are weekend warriors compared to their Indian compatriots”.

India's paceman Mohammed Siraj (C) celebrates his fifth wicket with teammates

(Photo by Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images)

He also points out that while cricket in Australia must compete with the footballing codes for the best young athletes, Indian cricket has little to no other competition. At 16 they are playing three-day matches, at 19 they play four-day matches, all before they make a first-class debut.

A 20-year-old making their Shield debut will likely have never played more than a two-day match.

Then, in the last five or six years, India began developing fast bowlers who were not just Zaheer Khan-a-likes. Perhaps Ishant Sharma, 2009 vintage, was the prototype.

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Today, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Thangarasu Natarajan, and the countless others that we in Australia have never seen or even heard of make up an attack of great skill, high pace, and immense depth.

The fast bowler is a special thing in cricket. It can be clever like James Anderson, brutal like Shoaib Akhtar, or both, like Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Ian Bishop, Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah and Neil Wagner.

The fast bowler is a creature that cricket has spent much of its history resisting, and India now have plenty. India out-batted, out-thought, and very nearly out-bowled Australia.

They may not have a century, but this is certainly their decade.

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