The not so 'glorious' 90s
From Ashok Sridharan, India
So much has been written about the quality of cricket- and I refer exclusively to Test cricket- in the 90s, that one would think it was a golden age - I remember reading the words 'the glorious 90s' in some article recently.
Truth be told, it wasn't really quite as rosy as that. I started following cricket starting from the mid-90s and by then Australia were easily the best, with South Africa the only side posing a consistent threat and Pakistan oscillating between champions and wooden spoon holders depending on their mood. Take off those three teams and all you had left, was a bunch of mediocre to poor sides. Granted that the quality of the bowling was better and the quality of the pitches back then was vastly superior, yet Test cricket back then was hardly more exciting than it is today.
If anything, the current scenario is incredibly exciting: as I write, the gap between No.1 and No.4 on the ICC test rankings is a mere 6 points, which means we're potentially looking at a situation where the No.1 position changing hands regularly- possibly every series - over the next few years. Never since the late 70s (well before most of the readers here were even born) has the field been so open. Never has there been a situation where 4-5 teams find themselves with the opportunity to making the No.1 position theirs.
The quality of cricket may be lower, but the competition is better today and the number of draws (despite the dead pitches) is at its lowest in decades. Admittedly the contest between bat and ball is ludicrously lop-sided. Even so, Test cricket today is in my opinion (contrary to popular perception) in far better health than it was a dozen years ago. Whereas we had 3-4 sides (India included) competing for the bottom slot back then, we have an equal number fighting for the top now. In short: Test cricket is in unchartered waters now.