Monday, 29 October 2012


'Why India-England matters

England captain Alastair Cook with Coach Andy Flower.

The Three Lions have landed in Mumbai. Almost 14 months after inflicting an almost physically painful defeat on India. And as an ardent fan of the longest version of the game, I am so excited for this Test series to begin, it is bordering on obscene.

A lot of water (and tears) has passed under the bridge since that fateful summer when England not only whitewashed India 4-0, but also snatched away the No. 1 Ranking (Of course karma set the record straight here later!) India has changed no wait it has transformed. Two of our best batsmen have left, the third is on the threshold, the No. 1 spinner is no longer a certainty and a youngster has taken over the role. The opening batsmen’s capabilities are being questioned and the opening bowlers are lack lethality. The batting order isn’t set, the captain is in misery, the fielding looks mediocre. England too has had their own share of the roller-coaster. Talismanic captain Andrew Strauss has left, leaving the reins of a volatile team to Alastair Cook. KPgate has created an unreasonable stir fanned by Coach Flower. And they are no longer the best Test team in the world (according to rankings) BUT, this is irrespective, irrelevant, immaterial. All that matters is that there is an India vs England 4-Test series happening soon!

I do not want to see this as a revenge series or a chance to get payback England. I do not want to see this as Sachin Tendulkar’s last series (possibly). I do want to see this as a baptism by fire for Captain Cook. I do not want to see this as Pietersen’s re-integration series. I want to see this, only and only as a comprehensive Test series between two capable, former World No. 1 Test sides. I want to see this as an endorsement for what good Test cricket should be. I want to see this as a turning point for the Indian cricket team. So it doesn’t matter if it isn't a 4-0 whitewash (although this score line will make a billion people ecstatic), it doesn’t matter if England combat spin with their bat and go on to score big or India crumble to Swann and Panesar, it doesn't even matter if it is a drawn series. As long as cricket fans world over get to watch a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening Test series. Indian cricket needs a pivotal Test series against a good team, and I hope this series can fill this void.

Personally as well this series is important to me. I hope to start blogging regularly again throughout this series (of course I also hope to meet Kevin Pietersen or interview Alastair Cook or alter the backward, stereotyped mind of Steve Finn, but that’s another story) But most important I hope to go to the Wankhede Cricket Stadium and watch five days of pure, unadulterated Test cricket with the North Stand Gang. And a Kohli/KP century, Zaheer Khan fifer or Viru-Gauti shutting the critics mouths would be an added bonus!

But the biggest hope I have from this series is to see some semblance of positivity to return to most Indian cricket fans. The negative attitude (on twitter and otherwise) that I have seen towards the team & most players is disheartening. It is justified in some measure, there have been performances that no one can be proud of and there has been a phase even the staunchest fan would be tempted to give up. But true Indian cricket fans are those who got up on the morning of the Adelaide 2012 Test believing we could turn a 7-0 deficit and win this one. And I am one of them. So here is hoping that when England and India take the field at Ahmadabad, we see five such days of cricket that the faith in the Indian team and belief in good Test cricket returns. Welcome to Bharat, Barmy Army!