The ongoing Test series between Australia and India has had everything that a series between these two sides normally has. Controversy. Drama. Emotion. Tempers have flared. Words have been said. Batsmen have been hit. Both sides have displayed overt aggressiveness in every match, if not session. Now that the Border-Gavaskar trophy has been regained by Australia, it’s time to reflect on the series so far and also what both sides can take forward from this series.
Although scorecards do not show any hope, India played good competitive cricket. With the ever calm Dhoni retiring from Test cricket, the young Indian team is to be led by aggressive Virat Kohli. In the post match interview after the Boxing Day test, Ravi Shastri said that the scoreline doesn't matter when the team's attitude is right. Such remarkable is the change in attitude of the team as well as the new captain.
The team toured Australia in 2011-12 was completely different. Even before the third test, the aged players were beaten and bruised. There was no competition at all for Australia. But today's Indian team has the talent and determination to take Indian test cricket to new heights. They are so competitive that Australia had to work hard to win the matches.
Australia is one of the toughest places to tour. Opponent is of high quality, and the public could get under your skin. But still, Australians appreciate genuine talent and love competitive games. The touring Indian team provided exactly this kind of competition. Under, all the batsmen, to their credit, have made some crucial runs overseas at some stage or the other over the past 12 months. The bowling, though, has let them down time and time again. How quickly they learn from their mistakes and start delivering outside Asia is going to determine team India’s future prospects.
While India have undergone a complete transition, Australia are just about beginning to undergo a transition themselves. Experienced heads like Ryan Harris and Brad Haddin won’t be around for too much longer, and the selectors will have to start searching for replacements. The injury to Michael Clarke has resulted in the appointment of a new leader in Steven Smith, who has gone from a bits and pieces cricketer to a dependable Test batsman. Smith might have to take over the reins on a permanent basis in the near future, with Clarke publicly stating that he is unsure of how much longer he could play. While it is always going to be difficult to replace players of such ilk, Australia should be well-placed considering the impressive displays of some of the younger players.
David Warner and Smith have enjoyed an amazing year, and they can be pillars of Australian batting in the coming years. Josh Hazlewood impressed on his debut and Joe Burns has an impressive first-class record for Queensland. Mitchell Marsh looks more than a capable candidate to replace Shane Watson. The Australian selectors have done well to blood in some youngsters, and they should continue to do so to avoid falling into an abyss like the last time a plethora of greats retired back in 2006-07.
South Africa are aeons ahead of any other Test team at the moment, and it is exactly why India and Australia have to improve themselves, to challenge and try to be the world’s best.
Two cricket loving nations. Two young leaders. A glimpse into the cricketing future of India and Australia suggests there are some exciting days to come.