The last two weeks witnessed two of the best ever test matches, one interesting drawn test match and another a drab draw match, further leaving a bad taste when the captain said his intention was to allow Yuvraj and Gambhir to get centuries. Bad taste, did I say? I must be wrong. I am wrong. Test cricket has always seen captains preferring players to get to milestones as a priority, a trend broken by likes of Mark Taylor in Pakistan and continued by Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly.
Andrew Miller laughed off at Dhoni bowling the last over of the Mohali match. I suggest him to pick up any random test match of the 80s and well into the nineties, the higher probability ensure he will pick up a drawn test match – and in most of them, the 5th day last session, would be served by batsman acting as bowlers.
And I have seen the worst.
Vs Pakistan at home in 1987, so bored was the home team of sequence of draws that Sunny Gavaskar came to bowl post lunch on 5th day and on each ball he aped a Pakistan or an Indian bowler – mostly Abdul Qadir and Imran Khan. Mohali test was alive till the 4th day and blame it on the scheduling and rigid playing conditions which cumulatively took away close to 90 overs – enough to get you a result. But I like modern times – a draw is roundly criticized and that is the way it should be!
The other aspect which pleased me are the quality of pitches across the world – there is everything for a defensive batsmen, attacking batsman, wrist spinner, pace bowler from day one first session to day 5 last session. So much so, that Mumbai 2003 and Kanpur 2007 were criticized, whined and complained to ICC by opposition captains. For better part of the 1990s – those used to be the standard pitches in India and Sri Lanka.Only in 1998 when Aus toured India, things started to change.
The game needs a balance between ball and bat – underprepared tracks are just as poor as injury inflicting bouncy tracks of yesteryears at Durban or Perth or Barbados. This also gives chance to improve on 4th innings record chases and makes it interesting for the 3rd innings declaration point. Earlier the predictable point was anything over 300 was deemed unattainable and batsman would fall like a pack of cards, mentally, even in the best of pitches. It also reduces the dependancy on toss – a must requirement in the sport. The toss should make a difference of 55-45, not 75-25.
Had Perth been like the ones used in 1990 – Shaun Tait would have ripped apart India in 2008, been a megastar by now and India would have lost the series 3-0. Many bowlers have been superstars out of such friendly conditions, rules.
But now you know how average a bowler Shaun Tait is and you also look at India’s last two man-of-the-series in India. They are taking wickets in Australia, in Sri Lanka, in India and you know they will take across the world (rigorous schedule vs physical fitness allowing). Who says the game is dominated by batsmen?