I have always admired the succinct analysis of Ian Chappell. The former Australian captain who minces no words aptly sums up various aspects of the game in his inimitable hard-hitting manner and is almost always proved right. But for once he has gone overboard by suggesting that the current Indian team could replicate the dominance of the West Indies and Australian squads at various times in cricket history.
The West Indies never lost a Test series from 1980 to 1995 and on the way, they set up enviable records of eleven successive Test wins (since surpassed) and going 27 Tests without being beaten (still standing). Australia, first under Steve Waugh in 1999 and at the start of the new millennium and then under Ricky Ponting towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, twice notched up 16 victories on the trot in Tests. The West Indian teams under Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards are considered the finest of all time while the Aussies under Waugh and Ponting cannot be far behind. Both squads had several all-time greats in their ranks.
Indian cricket is currently going through a fruitful phase underlined by the ICC rankings that have them at No 1 in Tests and No 2 in both ODIs and T-20 internationals. But even to talk about the team in the same breath as those great squads of yesteryear is just not on. They not only won everywhere but did do in an emphatic manner. Yes, the Aussies did have an Achilles heel in India where they lost the “Final Frontier” series in 2001 but they did emerge triumphant in 2004. But for that matter India have lost three successive series in England in 2011, 2014 and 2018, have lost in New Zealand over the last two contests and have yet to win a series in South Africa. Yes, they have won two consecutive contests in Australia but commendable as this is their overall record – particularly in away Tests – does not place them anywhere near the exalted status that the great West Indian and Australian teams occupy.
While painting a bright future for Indian cricket Chappell points out to the burgeoning young talent. It is a fact that there are a number of exciting young cricketers coming up, some of whom have already displayed their skill at the international level. It is also true that these young cricketers are fearless in their approach and not the kind who are overawed by an opponent’s record or reputation. All this certainly augurs well for Indian cricket but let us not get carried away by victories at home and one great triumph Down Under. This Indian team is very good, has the ability to get even better but equating them with the two great all-conquering squads of the past does seem a little far-fetched.
(Partab Ramchand is a veteran sports journalist, the views expressed here are personal)