The mighty West Indies dominated Test cricket till the 1990s and then it crashed. The team that used to whitewash other teams regularly now gets whitewashed frequently, with no hope in sight. While no team can remain on the top forever, their being in the company of New Zealand and Bangladesh for such a long time is quite hard to fathom.
Now the Aussie fan should be quite worried as the same thing seems to be happening to Australia. While they have beaten India 4-0 and Pakistan 3-0 at home in the last 5 years, they have performed really badly in some of their other series.
Not only have they notched up two straight Ashes defeats, but after a sterling home record for decades, they have lost two straight series to South Africa on home turf. On Indian soil, they are even more abysmal. They now stand at 0-2, 0-2 and 0-3 in the last three series that they have played here.
The new-look Australia side looks in total disarray and the next Ashes series will be key for them. If they win, then there could be some sort of revival otherwise they could go in permanent decline much like the Windies.
That way the most inconsistent top Test team is definitely England, which shows brilliant form, followed by abysmal lows. Immediately after thrashing India 4-0 in 2011, England lost to Pakistan 0-3 and South Africa 0-2, that too at home.
England may have won two straight Ashes series, but have also given their downright worst performances in Australia post-2000, the first being 1-4 in 2002. When England won the 2005 Ashes, Ricky Ponting called them the world champions, but England failed to win their next three series.
To make matters worse, they got thrashed 0-5 in the Ashes of 2006 on Australian soil.
Even the most consistent team of them all, South Africa have their share of failures. While they have failed to beat India in the last three series that they have met (they have a chance to rectify that later this year), their most abysmal record is against Australia at home.
After their return from the apartheid years, there have been 7 SA-Aus Test series on SA soil. Australia won five straight series with the other two being tied. Strange as it sounds, the Proteas are yet to beat Australia in their backyard!
That way India could be forgiven for its rare 0-8 overseas defeat that happened after it was close to two years on the top in terms of the ICC rankings. That also had come on the back of a very long period of solid performance on foreign soil.
Here are the results of all our previous away tours from 2003-11, just before the 0-8 debacle happened…
Australia: 1-1, 1-2. South Africa: 1-2, 1-1. England: 1-0. Sri Lanka: 1-2, 1-1. Pakistan: 2-1, 0-1. New Zealand 1-0. West Indies: 1-0, 1-0. Bangladesh: 2-0, 1-0, 2-0. Zimbabwe 2-0.
While we have not been as dominant as say Australia, we never lost by a margin of 2 or more Tests and always gave a fight. In fact it could be called as our best period for overseas Tests.
Add to the fact that we won the ODI WC in England, the mini WC in Australia, the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and the T20 WC in South Africa. India can in no way be called poor travellers.
The 0-8 debacle was an absolute freak and why it happened is probably one of the biggest mysteries ever. Let’s just say that we had a meltdown much like the other top Test teams.
Usually when such a thing happens, then lot of heads roll and a new team is tried out which may or may not be better. But that is exactly how things have panned out and India’s entire senior batting border (with the single exception of Sachin Tendulkar) has been phased out.
And what has been the result? We are leading Australia 3-0 in a Test series. Now critics may point out that this is at home and our opposition is weak, but at the end of the day, such a thing has never happened before in our history with Australia.
So we can hope genuinely hope that the crash is behind us and we will get back to our winning ways both on home soil and abroad.
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The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/