Ashes 2010: Australia’s Unenviable India Assignment

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96 Days until The Ashes…

Despite it still being 96 days until the opening Ashes test at the Gabba on November 25th, the anticipation from both Australian and English supporters is beginning to grow intensely. But let’s not get carried away, there’s a lot of cricket to be played between now and Brisbane.

England are currently playing in test 3 of 4 against a young exciting Pakistani outfit with 2 T20s and 5 one dayers to come. Meanwhile Australia’s preparations appear trickier as they visit the subcontinent to face the number one test team in the world – India. They kick off a 2 match test series starting in Chandigarh on the 1st October and will then compete in 3 subsequent one day internationals.  I am of the opinion that controversy reigns in the organizing of this series.

The length of the test match series is bizarre and frankly absurd. What were cricket organizers thinking scheduling a miniscule 2 tests? Let’s not forget that India top the ICC World Rankings, while Australia have been the powerhouse of world cricket for the past two decades.  If you asked an Australian what two test series they look forward to the most they would categorically tell you 1) The Ashes and 2) The Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Some of the greatest moments in recent cricket history have come between India and Australia. Who could forget one of the greatest tests of all time in Kolkata in 2001? The epic 281 of VVS Laxman which turned the tables on a 274 run first innings deficit was almost beyond belief (full story and scorecard here). Not to mention the feuding of Harbajan and Andrew Symonds in more recent series! These are just two vivid memories of what usually turns out to be incredibly absorbing cricket.

Considering the history, a 2 test match series does not adequately give either side the billing they deserve. The sense of spectacle is lost. If Australia fail to adapt to the conditions in the opening test then the series will already be out of their hands. Come the 13th October we’ll probably be none the wiser as to the better team. Players could be forgiven for a lack of motivation in what potentially might be a meaningless series.

Despite these objections, Australia will certainly be up against it in this series. Between 1996 and today Australia have only won one series in India that of 2004/5. And the last time around India recorded a 2-0 series victory with Ishant Sharma claiming the man of the series. Add into the mix India’s fine middle order and the unfavourable conditions for the quicks and you have an indication as to how unenviable Australia’s preparations are. A gruelling task awaits.

It’s extremely difficult to see how a 2 test match series will have any bearing on the outcome of the upcoming Ashes, but one thing is for sure – Australia will be put through their paces by the #1 test team in the world. The cricket will potentially be as absorbing as years gone by but if that’s the case this cricket fan will just be left wanting more.

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