Pankaj Sharma and Siddharth Tak / Zee Research Group/ Delhi
Experience counts but not for Australia as it persist with a relatively young side to take on India on home soil.
One of the most followed cricket rivalries, between India and Australia, will resume on February 22 when they meet in first of the four Tests in Chennai. But it seems that the four times world champion Australia haven’t learnt any lessons from their previous defeats in India. Their trend of pitching less experience cricketers to challenge India continues with the selection of youngest team to play Test series here in last 18 years.
This offers a certain elbow space if past is any indication but the outcome this time cannot be taken for granted. India too is not in good form given the recent setbacks they faced. But a do or die battle for M S Dhoni might well make it a cliff hanger.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis reveals that Australia ever since 2004, when they won their first Test series in India since 1969, have been bringing young lads to face Indian team. But it kept their team away from a series win in India.
For instance, the average age of Australian cricketers to visit India dipped from 31.27 in 2004 to 30.82 in 2008 and 30.45 in 2010 respectively. Moreover, this time, the average age for Australian cricket team has gone down to 26.67, which is lowest since 1996. The average age is analyzed on the basis of age of team that played first match of Border-Gavaskar trophy in India with the age of the squad announced for the upcoming series.
However, the trend was different until 2004. In 1996, the average age of OZ’s playing in India was 28.27 which increased to 30.18 in 1998 and 31 in 2001 respectively. Interestingly, in 2004 when Australians had clinched Test series against India here their average age was 31.27, highest so far.
On the other hand, experience often helped India winning over Australia in India. In 1996, the average age of Indian players was 26 which reached 28.55 in 1998 and 27.09 in 2001, respectively. India had won all three series comprehensively. But in 2004 when the average age of India reduced to 26.55, they lost the trophy.
Furthermore, banking on experience, in 2008 and 2010, Indians picked up a team having average age of 30.91 and 30.18, respectively. More so, the average age of the Indian squad for the upcoming Test series is 27.66, more than that of the Australian team.
With lack of experience, one more thing which might be bothering Australians, is playing more left-handers against Indian crafty off and leg-spinners. It has been a trend for Australia to play lefthander batsmen against India. For instance between 1996 and 2010, while Indians played only 15 left hander batsmen, OZ’s gave chance to 20 players in first Test of the series.
For the upcoming series, Australia has picked up 10 left-handers and India has only chosen three of them.
However, as far as the age of captain is concerned, Australia have generally been more experienced than India. The average age of all Australian captains played matches in India since the starting of Border-Gavaskar trophy is 33.71. But, the average age of Indian captains is only 31 so far.