I first heard a ball-by-ball cricket commentary on my radio when the Australian team was playing in India in 1969. Their names fascinated me – Stackpole, Redpath, Chappell, Gleeson, Lawry, Mallett, Mckenzie. I guess that was the day I was hooked to cricket and more so to Australian cricket.

When everyone was blasting the Australian team of the 1970s and 80s, for their on-field and off-field antics under Ian Chappell and later under Greg Chappell, I marvelled at their determination to win at any cost. To me they were then and are still the most exciting cricket team in the world. Everybody else is yards behind.

I remember Ian Chappell and his bowlers being criticized for snarling at the English cricketers during the Ashes series in 1974-75 and the following year in England. Just before the 1974-75 Ashes series in Australia, Jeff Thomson was quoted as saying that he liked to see blood on the pitch and batsman writhing on the floor in pain. It was an outrageous comment by any standards, but it had the desired effect. The Englishmen were terrified of facing Thommo and by the time Test series started they were literally backing away from the pitch every time Thomson and Lillee ran in to bowl. They had to win, social niceties be damned.

The following year, members of the Australian team were seen on the balcony of the dressing room in a mock fight, stripping a player to the waist in full public view of the spectators. Ian Chappell was asked about his team’s behavior and his cryptic comment was “What happens off the field should stay off the field!” The Pommies were left fuming at the arrogance of the Australians, but the latter couldn’t have cared less.

I know I’m painting myself in a corner, but I’ve always admired the Australian cricket team for the manner in which they’ve played their cricket. So they are brash, foul-mouthed, cussed, but who cares? At the end of the day they show results and that’s what matters.

I was going through the Australian cricket team’s records on cricinfo.com the other day and was marvelling at their consistency over the last 140-odd years. 713 Test matches played and 332 wins, that’s a 46.56 per cent win record, and a loss percentage of 26.08, which is fantastic. In one-day internationals Australia has played 726 matches, won 448 and lost 247 with a win percentage of 64.29.

Now look at India’s Test record: 430 Tests; 99 won with a win percentage of 23.02 and a loss percentage of 31.62.In one-day internationals, in which Indians are supposedly second to the Australians, the record is: Played: 727; Won: 351; Lost: 340, with a 50.79 win percentage. They’ve lost as many matches as they have won.

So when I hear this crap by some of my friends in the media about how India is just a step away from becoming No 1 in world cricket, it makes me laugh. They should ask themselves whether the Indian cricket team really deserves the title. Can India ever be as consistent as the Australians have been over a period of say ten years? From Don Bradman to Ricky Ponting, it has been the focus of every Australian captain to ensure that his team is the best in the world – come what may. It’s a lesson the Indian cricket team and its bosses could do well to learn if they want to EVER be called a great team.

Which Indian captain, with the exception of Sourav Ganguly for a brief while, has made an effort in that direction? It’s not a matter of winning all major tournaments in a year. It’s a matter of winning all major tournaments year after year, for the next ten years! If they can do that, Team India can be called ‘great’. With such a talented bunch of individuals in their midst it’s surprising that the Indians fail to click as a team, except on those rare occasions. And we make it worse by calling anyone or anything ‘great’. Then we expect them to live up to that epithet and crucify them when they fail.

Honestly, there is just one player in this team on whom the title of ‘great’ sits with ease and we all know who that is – the rest of them are all bad copies of the originals we have seen down the ages. As a matter of fact, I’ll stick my neck out to say that there are just a handful of players in the last 40 years who can be called ‘great’ – Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and Sourav Ganguly. That’s it. The others have a long way to go, before they can be placed alongside these five – if ever.

So when I heard our pea-brained experts saying on the idiot box before the series started that the injury-hit Australians would be easy meat against the in-form Indians, I was amazed. The Australians are NEVER easy meat and more so an Australian team that’s being written off. So it didn’t surprise me in the least when they rubbed the Indians’ noses to the ground. And mind you, on paper this Australian team is second-string. If this is what a second-string team can do, it speaks volumes for the class of the Indians.

The Australian media has rightly called the Indians ‘upstarts’. Frankly, with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar and to some extent Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the rest of them aren’t worth the big bucks they are paid. They are not great, they just grate.

  1. Pradeep says:

    Well said Sir… I am a huge fan of Australian cricket… There have been so many times that I have wanted Australia to win even against India… Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Steve Waugh were my favourites in their day… Even the current team has some amazing players… And yes, what separates them from the rest of the pack is the hunger to win at all costs, niceties be damned… There are hardly any guys my age who enjoy test cricket, and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because of the way the Aussies play it… Really enjoyed reading your blog, because it said so many things I have felt for years…P.S. – I also loved the fact that you listed Dada amongst the greats of Indian cricket… 🙂

  2. Fidelity redefined says:

    Sir, you seem to be obsessed with the Australian team. Its great that your passion for the game started long back in early 70s but even at that time, Windies were the best team.If you say that winning is good and that too at the cost of playing some dirty mind games, I am sorry but I do not abide by this statement of yours.As far as the recent series is concerned, its a gift from the Indians to them. The team was not fighting to beat Australians but to get the No.1 spot in the world. Neither they won the series nor the number 1 tag and finally people like you and me wasted our time in watching our favourites.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My brother-in-law has a simple solution to the Indian cricket problem: * The money comes from television viewership (this includes endorsements). * Each time you watch our team playing, you are disappointed. * Stop watching India play cricket on television. Be happy. * If enough people follow this – TRP ratings will fall, channels won't bid fabulous amounts for telecast rights, endorsements will decrease and the Board will realise that income depends on performance. * The Board and the cricketers will get serious about winning more often than losing. Is this expecting too much?RegardsNandu

  4. TeNsEiGa To Me says:

    Yeah, TRP-fall may help but that's asking the WORLD to breathe, sneeze, eat, drink,in short, live as one body because today,that is what 'Enough People' is…ain't happening any time soon…Kavya

  5. Mohan says:

    My student who goes under the pseudonym of Fidelity, believes I am glorifying the Australians when they have actually encouraged "dirty mind games" and unsporting attitudes.He wants me to reply to his comments. So here they are.The West Indies became a great team only after 1975 when they were subdued 5-1, by the Australian pace attack of Lillee, Thomson, and Gilmour. and West Indies captain Clive Lloyd realised that to be a world class cricket team like the Australians they had to get a pace attack that could destroy the opposition. The West Indies became a force in the 1980s because they faced fire with fire and played the game hard, like the Australians.At home, Sourav, who I rate India's finest captain, watched another Australian captain Steve Waugh and learnt mind games from him. Waugh admitted that he was impressed with Sourav's leadership qualities and Sourav admitted that Steve Waugh was his idol!The Australians complimented the Indians for the way they played against them in most series under Sourav and later under Kumble.So occasionally they went overboard. What's the big deal.Imran Khan admitted that he became a ruthless fast bowler after he played with the Kerry Packer circus in Australia, along side fast bowling greats that included the Australian cricketers.Is that enough evidence to show that the rest of the cricketing nations realised that to be the best they had to emulate the Australian way. If we want to compete with the big boys, let's not hide behind these excuses about mind games and dirty tricks. If we can't stand the heat, let's stay out of the kitchen.

  6. Naman Saraiya says:

    No long comments.No preachy speeches.Superb. And, Dada is a legend.Besides the ones mentioned.Indians love to be proud. For nothing.

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