Is it whitewash of Australia or of Test cricket?
Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group
India beat Australia in flat three days at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi completing a historic 4-0 Test match whitewash of the Kangaroos.
This might be good news for cricket fans in India but not necessarily for Indian cricket. Not at all for the Test cricket!
Already under pressure as a format given the rising popularity of T20 cricket, Test cricket witnessed the worst advertisement as India mauled Aussies at home.
But India only followed a trend that originated early 2011. Of all 36 Test matched played since then, 31 have turned to be totally one-sided. The home team often having the last laugh!
This is indeed bad news for Test cricket.
While home crowds favor their teams to win, they will prefer a tough contest rather than a meek surrender any day.
A close scrutiny of results of Test series since 2011 reveals that only five out of the 36 Test series played so far have ended in a draw.
In past two years, 31 Test series ended one-sided. Moreover, only two times during the last two years the losing side registered win in one match of the series. That is the level of contest Test match cricket has come to in recent times. The only series that ended in a draw since 2011 includes Pakistan tour of West Indies (2011), Australia tour of South Africa (2011-12), New Zealand tour of Australia (2011-12), England tour of Sri Lanka (2011-12) and New Zealand tour of Sri Lanka (2012-13).
According to data analysis, out of 21 Test series played during 2011-12 only four ended in a draw and rest ended one-sided. Similarly, out of 15 Test series played during 2012-13, just one series finished without a result.
At a time when everyone is talking about dwindling audiences for Test cricket, the trend of increasing one-sided contests may not be a healthy sign for cricket itself.
More so, the trend of teams excelling in their home conditions has led to a monotonous course in the five-day format.
Among the top nations that play Tests only few of them have lost on their home grounds during the past two years.
For instance England has lost out in only one out of four Test series played at home during past two years. Similarly, India has only lost one series against England in their home conditions out of total four played during the period.
This fear about the longevity of Test cricket was also observed by former coach of Indian cricket team Greg Chappell. While delivering the annual Tiger Pataudi lecture in Kolkata during February 2013, he challenged the International Cricket Council (ICC) not to let Test cricket fall by the wayside in the face of the T20 threat. Chappell said, “If we allow Tests to lose, cricket will lose its soul”.
Endorsing the same point of view, Indian great Sunil Gavaskar also urged game’s administrators to ensure that the longer version of the game remains the “pinnacle” of the sport. "Test cricket is the pinnacle. That`s the format through which you will be recognized. It`s how you do at Test level. Out of 10 Test playing nations, four or five are major Test countries, who should ensure that Test cricket remains pinnacle," Gavaskar said.
As regards to the just concluded India-Aussies series which India win by a record margin, the charm would indeed have been much better had we recorded such an emphatic performance overseas. This is not to wish away a home win but to buttress the point that ensure its survival, Test cricket needs team secular pitches.
Will respective cricket boards including India heed the plea?