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This English side is reminiscent of the '90s Indian teams

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Roar Guru
11th December, 2021

While I watched this English Test team’s performance away from home over the past many months, I could not help but notice the uncanny similarities between it and the Indian Test teams’ performances during the 1990s.

The Indian Test teams of the ’90s were called tigers at home and lambs abroad. I don’t know what animal the English at home is, but they are certainly lambs abroad. Here is why I find the resemblance of the two lambs quite uncanny.

Only one batsman can play
Joe Root has scored about 1500 runs in this calendar year. The next best is Rory Burns, whose total has not crossed 500. To call Burns the next best batter in the England team is statistically correct, but anyone who watched him bat will be surprised that he made up to 500 runs this year.

This score shows how enormous the gulf is within the batting unit of this English team. Take Root out, England will crumble. This mantra was proven again on day 4, when England lost eight wickets for 70-odd runs once Australia broke the partnership between Root and Dawid Malan.

If you replaced Root with Sachin Tendulkar in the above paragraph, you could have summarised any of India’s away Test matches during the 1990s. The result was the same for both the teams. Sachin would play a lone hand in most Test matches and would get some help from an odd top order batsman or a doughty tail-ender like Anil Kumble.

The only saving grace for the world is that a far more attractive batter like Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly’s name would be in place of Burns.

England's Rory Burns after dropping a catch

(Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Terrible slip catching and fielding
England put on a horror show like no other in the field at the Gabba. Burns dropped an easy catch off David Warner in the slips. The English fielders missed multiple run-out opportunities when the batsman had given up hope of reaching the crease.


India in the 1990s had a poor slip catching and fielding unit. One can never forget the agony on the face of the lone warrior, Javagal Srinath, when a slip fielder would drop yet another catch. I don’t remember any direct hits for run-outs during this period, either. I remember Indian fielders resorting to relay throws to get the ball back to the keeper from the boundary of Australian grounds.

Sometimes when you are feeling down, a peer’s story of their misery helps put a smile on your face. Along similar lines, I suggest that the English watch recordings of India’s tours of Australia during the 1990s. Old Blighty’s got good company.

Hopeful moments that turn out to be chimaeras
When Root and Malan returned to the dressing room at the end of day 3, I am sure many English fans would have harboured strong hopes of their team coming strongly back into the Test match. They would have dreamed of that partnership going on to give a challenging second innings chase that their gallant bowlers would defend successfully on day 5.

Indian fans had some such occasions during the ’90s. There were hopeful situations for us, too, when India needed to score just 120 runs to win against the West Indies; or had to knock off the last wicket of Allan Donald to win against South Africa.

However, all these hopeful moments always ended in grief for us. So, I can only understand the hopelessness that the English would have felt after seeing that promising overnight position evaporate into fumes. When you have a bad team, this is what happens.

Help unearth new heroes from zeros
Travis Head is a batter who India don’t rate. Jasprit Bumrah and company repeatedly found him out during the two Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in 2018 and 2020. Travis did get off to some starts against India but would invariably get taken out, edging to slips or playing an indiscreet shot. I was surprised that he was even in contention for a place in the Ashes 2021 team.


As it is the wont of bad teams, England helped unearth the hero within: Travis Head. I better ring up Jasprit and tell him that Head can bat!

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England looked like they would be able to keep the Australian first innings score down after they managed to take quick wickets in the middle. However, Head played an Adam Gilchrist-type counterattacking innings that snuffed all the hope out of the English supporters.

We Indians experienced plenty of moments during the ’90s when an inspired spell of bowling would bring the opposition team to be 150-odd for five or some similar score. Then their wicketkeeper and an all-rounder would combine to bat us out of the game. I have lost count of the many players who specialised in tormenting only the Indians.

In conclusion, I am saying that there is a massive gulf in quality between this English Test team and a team that can compete with the Aussies in Australia. England would look to bring in Zak Crawley, James Anderson, or Stuart Broad to strengthen their XI for Adelaide’s day-night Test.

However, I doubt that they will help the team get better. The only hope for England is that their talisman all-rounder, Ben Stokes, finds form with the bat and gives company to Joe Root. Otherwise, England looks too brittle a batting unit to threaten the Aussies in these conditions.