Apart from being a gentleman’s sport, cricket is also a statistician’s game. As India reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar trophy, mathematics seemed to matter as much as the team’s convincing performance. For the first time in its cricketing history, India had won four matches in a Test series. Since South Africa had decimated its mighty side in 1969-70, this was the first time Australia had suffered a 0-4 series defeat. While optimists and ardent fans will be quick to use such numbers as an affirmation of Indian cricket’s newfound supremacy, they would unfortunately only be jumping the gun. While the win is certainly commendable, India must realise that its team is now playing cricket in an environment where the very notion of supremacy or even of a pre-eminent superiority is very much under question.
The Border-Gavaskar trophy makes for an interesting case in point. A little over a year ago, when the 2011-12 series was played in Australia, it was Team India that had suffered an embarrassing 0-4 whitewash. The Australians, at the time, were benefited by a more peaceful dressing room and also by pitches that afforded its pacers intimidating swing and bounce. India’s perfect 4-0 revenge then is as telling as their the team’s humiliation. Teams, whether India or Australia, often find it impossible to adapt to conditions abroad, and with there being no common standard for playable pitches, it seems only expected that the visiting team would find itself stumped by the host’s seam or spin. To prove its consistency, India would have to first ensure that its talent is also adaptable.
By defeating India, first at home and then elsewhere, Engl-and had seemed to find a solution to the consistency riddle. But now on the verge of losing a Test series against New Zealand, the English side’s invincibility is proving to be shortlived. Even South Africa was forced to fight hard for its 3-2 win against Pakistan in a recent one-day tournament. With hegemonies in cricket now a matter of the past, it is best if Shikhar Dhawan’s memorable 187 and R Ashwin’s 29 wickets give us cause for some hope, rather than raise great expectations.