Gautam Gambhir... struggling to keep his place in the playing eleven © Getty Images
Gautam Gambhir… struggling to keep his place in the playing eleven © Getty Images

 

By David Green

 

It was that arch-propagandist Joseph Goebbels himself whose mantra was that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

 

We’re not sure that the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda had cricket in mind when he devised his theory, but it could arguably be applied to the hitherto considered stellar Indian batting line-up.

 

Following their meek submission for just 191 on the opening day of the ongoing Sydney Test, after MS Dhoni opted to bat, India have now failed to pass 400 in their last 18 completed overseas Test innings.

 

For the record and in reverse order the sorry tale of ineptitude against AustraliaEngland, West Indies and South Africa reads:  191, 169, 282, 283, 300, 244, 224, 158, 288, 261, 286, 347, 201, 252, 246, 364, 228 and 205.

 

The last time India passed 400 overseas was when they totalled 459 in the second innings of the Centurion Test in December 2010, but given they faced a 1st innings deficit of 484 after being shot out for a dismal 136 in the 1st innings there wasn’t much to crow about.

 

During this sorry run these are the averages of India’s top seven:

 

Gautam Gambhir – 25.00
Virender Sehwag – 20.54
Rahul Dravid – 47.66
Sachin Tendulkar – 42.71
VVS Laxman – 32.15
MS Dhoni – 27.00
Suresh Raina – 25.92
Virat Kohli – 13.75

 

That is underperformance on a massive scale with only Dravid and Tendulkar having creditable returns. All those averages are significantly below their career Test figures.

 

Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman are all great batsmen and have proved themselves time and time again over a long period, but those above numbers show a perceptible decline.

 

Is Goebbels’ adage of the big lie true in this case?

 

(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also @TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfill his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)