Indian cricket’s bust and boom cycles

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 13:09 hrs

The Indian cricket team is somewhat like a stock market. At times it goes through a boom and then suddenly goes bust. At other busted times a boom comes out of nowhere.

A look at some of these cycles…

1959-68: 17 straight foreign Test losses

Forget about a series, India hadn't won a single Test abroad from 1932 to 1968. It can't get more busted than that. From 1953-55, it managed 8 straight draws on West Indies and Pakistan soil. If people saw a turn coming, then they were mistaken.

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Immediately after that, India lost a whopping 17 Tests in a row in all the countries we toured. Then in 1968, we miraculously won 3 Tests on New Zealand soil in a series, something we still have not been able to match.

It was not a flash in the pan, but boom time. We won the series against world champions West Indies and formidable England too. We managed to draw foreign series with great regularity after that.

1975-1983: The most hopeless ODI team

While we started improving in Tests, the beginning of ODIs for India was totally busted. India played its first ODI series in England in 1974 and lost 0-2. In the 1975 and 1979 World Cups, far from competing, India failed to win a single match against a Test playing nation.

Out of the ten ODI series India played before the third WC, it won just two and one of those with lowly ranked Sri Lanka.

But from that dark tunnel came the light of the 1983 World Cup win from out of nowhere. This heralded a boom as India went on to win the inaugural Asia Cup in 1984, the mini-World Cup of 1985 and the Sharjah in the same year.

Late 1990s: Match-fixing, losses and other crises

Towards the late 1990s, Indian cricket got busted again. For one, the match-fixing scandal had hit the country in a big way. A lot of people lost their faith in the game and ended up avoiding watching cricket altogether.

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There was trouble in leadership too. The great hope Sachin Tendulkar had failed as captain and world cup winning captain Kapil Dev had put up his hands too.

Australia thrashed us 3-0 in the series down under. To make matters worse, after that South Africa thrashed us 2-0 in the two-Test series on Indian soil. We failed to cross 250 in all four innings, a new low for home series.

The last Test series win outside the sub-continent was way back in 1986 (England, 2-0).

Just when all seemed lost, the Sourav Ganguly-John Wright duo professionalized the Indian system 2000 onwards, giving it a sense of belief and aggression. As a result, we started winning Tests on foreign soil, the highlight being the 2-1 Test victory in Pakistan.

We won the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy and also made it to the final of the 2003 World Cup.

2007: Down and out

Then the glorious Indian rule of every boom being followed by a bust (or is it the other way round?) kicked in. New coach Greg Chappell was involved in a very ugly spat with Ganguly. Our ICC rankings in both forms of the game dipped.

Ganguly lost his captaincy and India was kicked out in the first round of the 2007 World Cup. Things had reached a full circle again.

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But it is from these ashes that 2007-11 emerged as our most successful period ever. It began with the inaugural T20 WC win and ended up with the ODI WC win after 28 years.

In Tests we captured two ICC No. 1 year-end rankings. We blanked Australia 2-0 twice at home. Dhoni's overseas Test record wasn't that bad either. In South Africa it was 1-1, our best ever; we won a series after about four decades in New Zealand and won in West Indies too. In Sri Lanka also we managed a coming from behind fight to square the series 1-1.

2011-12: It has come crashing down all over again. We have lost seven straight Tests on foreign soil. Even that does not tell the full story. We never stood a chance in any of these Tests, many which didn't last the full five days. The number of innings defeats and the total lack of fight is a real cause of worry.

But looking at the past, one can hope that this busted period will see another boom. Maybe Indian cricket will finally get its act together and concentrate on the one thing that has eluded us: Consistency in Tests abroad.

We might even start winning 2-0 or 3-0 overseas in the years to come. That's improbable, but not impossible.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at

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