India, Engl and Series Mother Of All Seri Es Or A Media Hype
Trust Britons to sell their wares. They have a very strong business sense which precedes emotions and sentiments. Hence the “Ashes” series—a pinnacle of test cricket—has given way to “Mother of all series”. This hyped-up “Mother of all series” is between India and England and the media and cricket administrators in Britain fully understand that it is a money-spinning venture. To put it simply—India cricket team spells huge money and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) desperately needs that.
England hosted Pakistan last year but the series was a financial disaster. Though there is a huge Pakistani population in England; they just do not have the financial clout the Indians in that country has. England is hosting India for a 77-day-long tour, which includes four tests, five ODIs and a T20 match besides a warm-up fixture. It is not only the Indian Diaspora there which makes the series attractive but also the big sponsorship by the Indian companies which makes it very lucrative.
As it is, the ECB has still to come to terms with the fact that ICC headquarters is no longer at Lords but shifted to Dubai—they understand that it is India which is a financial engine which is driving the International Cricket. The fact is that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not a very loved entity in the ICC but other members who otherwise love to vilify it understand that to survive financially they have no alternative but to accept the dominate role of the Indians.
It is not only England that is excited to host the Indians, Australia and South Africa—the two other powerhouses—of the game also prefer playing Dhoni-led team to any other. So is all boils down to money and commerce. The ICC, despite having reservations about growing financial clout of the BCCI, along ECB is going overboard to make the opening test between England-India at the Lords as its showcase event.
The first Test will be the 2,000th in the history of the game and fittingly the 100th between England and India. With a full house and a huge global television viewership expected, the enduring qualities of the pinnacle format of cricket will be highlighted, more than 134 years since the first Test was staged
The ECB, after having a modest financial success with Sri Lanka team’s tour is now laughing its way to bank with the first two test fully booked. It expects very good response for the other two tests also. The five ODIs and T20 are already sold out and Indian sponsors also pouring in. The ICC desperately wants Test series everywhere to be financial success because according to it: “Test cricket is the jewel in its crown you can’t have cricket without test matches.”
For India this series is very important because its rival England is hoping to emerge as the number one team displacing the Dhoni led side from the pedestal. The visitors will have to be at their best against England in the four-match series to defend the number one ICC test championship ranking because the hosts have a chance to take the pole position if they manage to beat the visitors 3-1 or 2-0.
Is it a Greatest All Time Test XI?
International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced what it called the Greatest ALL Time Test XI and it was picked on the bases of more than a quarter of million votes. Fans voted on the ICC’s official website, using a short list provided by the game’s governing body, as part of the build-up to the England-India Test match at Lord’s to celebrate the 2000th cricket Test (from July 21 to 25).
The team, though notional, includes four players each from India and Australia, two from West Indies and one From Pakistan. Most of the voters, it is reported were from the Sub continent or belonged to this region and it has not come as surprise that Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Kapil Dev are the four Indians in the team. But how could there be a greatest all time team without Len Hutton, Gary Sobers, Ivan Richards, Ian Botham or Wally Hammond and three best and fiery fast bowlers of their generation—Michael holding, Courtney Walsh and Dennis Lillee also do not find place in the XI. The lopsided nature of the team does not justify it to be called the Greatest Team.
Gavaskar and Sehwag beat a host of legends including Geoffrey Boycott, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Hanif Mohammad and Herbert Sutcliffe to be named in the two openers’ slot, Sachin occupied the number four batting spot, one slot down Australian legend Don Bradman and one above West Indian Brian Lara, who was chosen at number five. The trio beat Greg Chappell, Wally Hammond, George Headley, Javed Miandad, Graeme Pollock, Ricky Ponting and Vivian Richards. Kapil is the lone all-rounder in the side as he piped Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Jacques Kallis, Imran Khan, Gary Sobers and Frank Worrell. Australian Adam Gilchrist beat Mark Boucher, Jeff Dujon and Rod Marsh for the wicket keeper lot while Shane Warne was way ahead Bishan Singh Bedi and Anil Kumble and Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan. Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose and Glenn McGrath were named the three fast bowlers’ while Michael Holding, Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh missed out.
Greatest All Time XI: Virender Sehwag, Sunil Gavaskar, Donald Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Kapil Dev, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath. (HSB)
The two-match victory margin will enable Andrew Strauss’s team leap above South Africa and India to emerge as the number one test team. As per the latest ICC table, following the annual update, England will top the leader board by three ratings points if it wins the series by two clear matches. In that scenario, India would hold on to second position with South Africa slipping to third. If the home team was to sweep the series 4-0, India would drop to third place.
A 1-0 or 2-1 series win for England will put its rating level with India’s but India will still be top by a fraction of a point. A drawn series (0-0, 1-1 or 2-2) will ensure India stays six points clear at the top but with England edging ahead of South Africa on second position.
An India series win will see it stretch its lead at the top of the table, leaving England lying in third place. It is felt that top cricketing nations have displayed an aggressive brand of Test cricket because, he believes, of their aspiration to be at the top tier of the ICC’s rankings.
Coming back to the series, several experts feel that India will find it tough to beat rejuvenated England side. It is always difficult to beat England in England and more so now as Andrew Strauss’s having won the Ashes and series against Sri Lanka are on the high.
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell feels that India without Virender Sehwag in the first two tests looks bit vulnerable. The first two venues in this series, Lord’s and Trent Bridge are known to favour swing bowling. England’s ability to swing both the new and old ball is a big reason behind their recent rise up the rankings and India will be without their greatest counterattacking weapon.
Chappell feels that at present there’s no batsman in the world who can disrupt bowling plans quicker than Virender Sehwag, and his absence can affect the visitors. The former skipper had a piece of advice for Dhoni: “The one time a captain should not be overly cautious is at the start of a series, when a team can take a huge step towards mental superiority by being aggressive.”
There is, however, no doubt that Indian batting looks very formidable on papers with the inclusion of tried and tested trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Sachin made his Test debut against Pakistan at Karachi in November 1989, Laxman against South Africa at Ahmedabad in November 1996 and Dravid against England at Lord’s in June 1996.
Before the start of the Lords test (july 21), the three batsmen have a combined experience of 453 Tests, 35,152 runs and 99 centuries. And remember Laxman will turn 37 in November, while other two will celebrate their 39th birthday. Interestingly though Tendulkar and Dravid have 83 Test centuries between them, they have yet to score a hundred at Lord’s. Even great Sunil Gavaskar( 34 centuries) failed to score a ton at Lords while Laxman’s highest score in England is 74, in his record.
Most of the English players seem to be in awe of Sachin Tendulkar but some feel that new coach Duncan Fletcher will be a “massive plus” for India as he will use the knowledge gained during his time with England.
“It’s great for India, Duncan Fletcher knows English cricket very well and was very successful over here,”middle order batsman Ian Bell told ESPN cricinfo. “He knows Straussy well; he knows me; and he knows Kevin Pietersen. I’m sure we’ve changed as characters and matured since he’s been away, but he’ll have a good insight and there’s no doubt that’s a massive plus for India.
“But in world cricket now information, strengths and weakness, everyone knows about them. We have people working non-stop at Loughborough on stats, percentages and stuff like that. There’s no hiding place anymore, so while it’s an advantage for India to have him everyone has information about opposition.”
“He’s quite a quiet man and goes about his business in his own way, He’ll know everything about what England have.”
By Harpal Singh Bedi