India are set to tour England next year for a series of five Test matches, five One-Day Internationals (ODI) and a one-off T20 International. Aayush Puthran hails the decision and feels it is a move in the right direction.
It’s a weird phase Indian cricket finds itself in. While dealing with their own internal battles of murky administration and overcoming the challenging phase of transition, they are expected to act as Big Brothers of world cricket. Not like a bully, but more of a protective kind, like a messiah or something. And while the board is aware of its mighty power, it has tended to act irresponsibly at times.
So, amid all the hullaballoo over the Indian board’s plan of scheduling a Test series against West Indies at home prior to the tour of South Africa, the decision of a long series against England next summer comes as pleasant news for Indian cricket fans. For a change, the game will take over from an individual.
While the young bunch under Mahendra Singh Dhoni have taken giant strides following the series defeat against England at home last year, their real Test for the quest for greatness lies in more challenging conditions. They may have won three back-to-back One-Day International (ODI) tournaments abroad, yet they need to redeem themselves as honourable successors to the greats of Indian cricket who have handed over the baton.
It would be silly to gun this as a ‘revenge’ series again, but it would certainly be a chance for the youngsters to prove a point or two. England is not the easiest place to start a Test career, especially for those from India. However, good performances in the series will be taken seriously, given the conditions and the bowling attack the home side boasts of. A total of five Test matches and two warm-up ties would also be an ideal time to test the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Given the team that Captain Cool has at his disposal, it is hard to fancy that they will not give a tough fight to England. However, it has been a sort of a trend in the past wherein Dhoni has prospered with a young team under him, free of inhibitions and playing with little to lose. This might just be that sort of an opportunity for him to prove his credentials as skipper given the win-loss ratio he has against his name while leading the side outside the sub-continent in Tests.
However, irrespective of the results, the series will give great exposure to the newcomers in the team, help a few resurrect their wayward Test careers and prove beneficial as the first step towards Indian cricket’s long-term goal of reaching the peak position and sustaining itself there.
Once the internal demons are taken care of on the field of play and the Big Brother is not forced to stoop to sub-standard acts, probably it will act more responsibly.
And yes, the series might just present Sachin Tendulkar with another opportunity to score his first Test century at Lord’s!
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)