No 1 must possess Australia's aura of invincibility
Yes, India won or drew most of the Test series during that period, but they hadn't yet defeated Australia or South Africa in their backyard. It was easy to confuse top ranking with world domination, nonetheless it was a ridiculous mistake. Aakash Chopra writes.india Updated: Aug 24, 2011 23:25 IST
For over a decade, as a part of a meticulously planned process, Australia's Test side travelled around the world defeating almost every team it encountered. They would prepare scrupulously, plan their opponent's fall astutely and execute the plan ruthlessly.
As the team imposed its hegemony over world cricket, it realised that most teams were in fact not challenging them enough. That's when Australia decided to dig deep to find new ways to motivate themselves. Aussies set standards so high that most teams ended up playing second fiddle.
A step ahead
Australia were clearly head and shoulders above the rest. Their focus was no longer on winning the World Cup, but on not dropping a single game en route the trophy. An Ashes win, which was a mere formality, didn't excite them enough and hence they started focussing on winning the 'dead rubber'
And once they did, they marked India as the 'final frontier'. After a few attempts, they conquered us too and became the undisputed kings of international cricket.
A few years later, when Australia's supremacy weakened, it coincided with India's assertion to the top spot in Test cricket. Indian fans went into overdrive when the team attained that top status in Test cricket. Little did anyone realise that the No 1 ranking is only a by-product of being consistent over a period of time, which, in turn, is reliant on factors such as the quality of opponent, the conditions and the total number of matches played.
Yes, India won or drew most of the Test series during that period, but they hadn't yet defeated Australia or South Africa in their backyard. It was easy to confuse top ranking with world domination, nonetheless it was a ridiculous mistake.
Now that India has lost that coveted spot, all hell's broken loose. I see a similar situation building up for England, which has attained the top spot. It's understandable to be happy but it's also important to not lose perspective. England have a long way to claim domination. How about winning a Test series in India or Sri Lanka?
Going by the current standards of international cricket, there is no one team that is clearly ahead. Most good teams would keep swapping the top ranking amongst themselves. But none of these recent No 1 teams, unfortunately, possess the Australian aura of invincibility.