Monday, February 6, 2023

Australia v India 2021 Test Cricket Series Five things we learned

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Did this really happen?

A surreal and breathtaking last afternoon at Gabba capped one of the biggest test wins and most memorable series as India hailed a new generation of cricket heroes.

As Australia examines wreckage and starts picking up the pieces, we take a deep breath and choose five things we’ve learned from the exciting Border-Gavaskar series, which highlighted the unique and unmatched qualities of Test cricket.

India’s chic gesture for Lyon

1. India’s frightening depth is the envy of the cricket world

It was an Australian asset, where Australia A was better than England and played against Australia in the 1994-95 World Series final.

Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Michael Bevan, Justin Langer … it was a ridiculously stacked “A” team and a classic case of a sharpening iron.

But try this XI for size.

KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah – with Umesh and Kuldeep Yadav taking turns carrying the drinks.

Incredible victory of India over Australia

Incredibly, none of this star formation was a member of the motley crew that stormed the fortress “Gabbatoir”.

A series of miserable injuries should have decimated the tourists, but all the substitutes stood up manly.

It turns out that having a cricket mad population of 1.3 billion is pretty handy.

But it also raised the question of Australia XI would have looked like under the same circumstances.

The verdict is questionable.

Problems with opening batsmen David Warner and Will Pucovski aside, the hosts were at full power for the series and still had their pants down in an embarrassing, seismic loss.

India wins fourth test against Australia

2. The ‘World’s Best Bowling Attack’ boasts of falling flat

First of all, Australia still have an exceptional bowling attack and they probably still deserve to be ranked as the best on the planet.

But the India series also revealed flaws in the armor and Nathan Lyon’s pre-series boasts could have given Ravi Shastri some classic bulletin board material.

It was an incredibly strange series.

After routing India for a record 36 to Adelaide, Mark Taylor compared the Starc-Cummins-Hazlewood-Lyon quartet to some of the best test attacks ever.

And who could blame him?

Cummins Traps India Wall LBW

But that aberrant performance masked important cracks elsewhere, as Australia became too dependent on the remarkable Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Cameron Green has not taken a box office every series, Tim Paine appeared to lose faith in Mitchell Starc and Taylor now floats Chadd Sayers and Dan Worrall as possible replacements to arm him capricious and mercurial left.

But surely James Pattinson has to replace Starc, although that takes away some left arm variety and footsteps for Lyon.

While on the GOAT, he was surprisingly and vastly overtaken by his Indian counterparts throughout the series.

Lyon didn’t play badly, but India played it superbly – most of the time giving up the sweeping shot – and that was a huge factor in the end result.

The off-spinner has been unlucky at times with missed opportunities and questionable refereeing decisions, but also was criticized by Shane Warne and Mark Waugh for his field placements.

Wade strangled for a duck

3. Time to move on from Matthew Wade

The little Tasmanian is tough, there’s no doubt about it.

He is happy to wear Neil Wagner and Jasprit Bumrah bumpers on his body and to stand in the shooting line with the short leg.

Reaching out to open in a crisis was also admirable.

He remains a good exponent of T20 but was unable to strike the right balance between attack and defense in his test play.

Wade is 33 and hasn’t made a 50 in his last 14 test innings.

His average has now dropped below 30 after 36 tests, which is clearly not good enough for a specialist hitter.

Granted, there aren’t any compelling alternatives, but Travis Head, 27, has shown enough to warrant another try and Ben McDermott has his admirers as well.

Paine misses a crucial chance

4. The World Test Championship hopes out of Australian hands

Does anyone care about the test world championship?

It’s not a topic that dominates the conversation in pubs, but amid all of Gabba’s madness, Australia has dropped to third in the WTC rankings.

Justin Langer’s side remain a chance to advance to the June final at Lord’s, but those hopes are now a bit out of their hands.

COVID-19 cast doubt on the continuation of the tour in South Africa.

If not, India and New Zealand will face off in the final instead.

It would be a tough pill for Aussie fans to swallow, given how badly the Black Caps were beaten at home last summer.

5. Australian cricket is going through an identity crisis

There are a lot of strange things going on in the world.

But in a cricket sense, the Tim Paine meltdown is right up there on the confusion scale.

Australia believed they had found their Mr Perfect in Paine, as they sought to restore their credibility and respect after Sandpaper-Gate.

Tidy wicket keeper, tidy drummer, likes stump micro jokes a bit but does not go beyond this mythical “line”.

But have we all been deceived?

All that hard work turned into custard at SCG as Paine took his frustrations on referee Paul Wilson then Ravichandran Ashwin – who had the last laugh.

Was he the real Paine from the start?

The identity crisis suddenly leaves the Australian team in a very strange place.

Many believed that a reformed Steve Smith would eventually take over the reins of Paine, but the genius drummer had his own controversies this summer.

Huge decisions at another critical moment in Australian cricket history are looming.

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