September 8, 2009

Cricket through the decades

The not so 'glorious' 90s

Cricinfo

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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Congo on (October 9, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

Very poor article

Posted by Mustafa Moiz on (October 7, 2009, 21:21 GMT)

From 1987-1999, Pakistan were the best team in the world though never outright champions, in typical Pakistan fashion. And then in the early 90s, West Indies were a very strong side (not comparing to the previous two decades) and Australia and South Africa were also very good. By the mid-to-late 90s, along with Pakistan, Australia and South Africa, West Indies remained a decent side and New Zealand were as good as they ever were under the dynamic new captain, Stephen Fleming. The pitches were better, more variety, the pace attacks were much better, the ICC and India didn't monopolize. But, most importantly, the contest was close between strong teams, each trying to be better and stronger than the other. Today its among weak teams, each trying to be less weak and not as bad as their opponents.

Posted by Fiaz on (September 25, 2009, 12:59 GMT)

Recall 98 series of pakistan in india, 1st test was a memorable one and in 2nd test kumble taken 10 wicket haul (only the 2nd in history after Jim Lacker). And then in 97 Shoaib against South Africa, Shoaib against Dravid and Sachin in Kolkata. Pakistan beat Austrailia by one wicket in 95. Ambrose demolish england in 93. Pakistan defended 107 runs by bowling new zeeland out for 93 (5 each to 2ws). And so much more of Donald, Walsh, Ambrose, Wasim, Waqar, Mcgrath(in late 90s), Warne, Saqlain, Mushtaq Ahmed, Bishop, Heath Streak, Danny moreson, Darren Gough, Andy Caddick, Murali. There were so many golden moments in 90s. Easily one of the best era of the great bowlers (specially fast bowlers). We really miss the explosive spells of fast bowling witnessed in 90s. Really missing the sights of wickets flowing. Battle of great batsmen and great bowlers. Did you seen waqar bowling brian lara out by vicious yorker on leg stump. Every great fast bowler had so many moments in 90s. Really missing

Posted by avais on (September 23, 2009, 20:22 GMT)

The problem is that unfortunately most of indian writers tend to see world cricket with a jaundiced eye and mindset. Indian team is still not that great as it is made out. While Pakistan completely thrashed Indians in 80s and 90s , india at its glory in 2000s have not been able to do that.Only the element of evenness has come in.Few good series against Australia aside there have not been any great deeds. Actually it is not the performance of Indian cricket team rather their financial clout and resultant stranglehold on international cricket which speaks.Cricket was definately more balanced in terms of contest between teams and between ball and bat in 90s. With inclusion of Bangladesh and depletion of Zimbabwe and West Indies, contests are lopsided. Placid and batting friendly matches have made of job of bowlers miserable and thankless. Cricket from 70s to 90s was at its best.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (September 18, 2009, 13:57 GMT)

MartinAmber- don't bother coming up with more examples; the writer is so obviously indo- centric and was probably 10 years old in 95 naturally he won't recall Pakistan winning 5 Test series' in a row in England and the Aussies' heroic performance in WI in 95 and the Pak/Aus series in 99, let alone the stunning Aus/SA series in 97, when I saw the best bowling attacks on the juiciest pitches ever. You might as well talk to your dining room table. It is a waste of time.

Posted by MartinAmber on (September 15, 2009, 16:59 GMT)

Ashok

Regarding your most recent post:

West Indies beat Australia by 1 run, Adelaide 1992/93 SA beat Australia by 5 runs, Sydney 1993/94 In amongst England's dreadful Ashes performances, there was a 12-run win at Melbourne, a 19-run win at the Oval and a stunning last-day smash and grab at Adelaide. England drew a couple of series 2-2 at home against a declining, but still potent, West Indian side. The first included the best innings by an Englishman in the last three decades, the second a hat-trick, a 7-for on debut and three Lara tons. Brian Lara and Shane Warne remain my favourite overseas sportsmen, thanks largely to the 1990s. The 1998/99 series between Australia and the West Indies should be spoken of with as much reverence as the 2005 Ashes. The Bridgetown Test (the third in that series) is the real "greatest Test" of my lifetime (36 years). England played some cracking matches against SA (and continued to do so in the mid-2000s). I'm sure others have more...

Posted by Ashok Sridharan on (September 14, 2009, 6:14 GMT)

I find it ridiculous that a lot of readers have accused me of bias in viewing the 90s simply because India were a lousy side then. Come on folks, I'm not claiming that the quality of cricket is much better today and I've myself written an article on this very blog last August on the imbalance between bat and ball these days.

Tell me honestly, how many great series did we see in the late 90s? Remember West Indies' 0-3 & 0-5 thrashings? Remember the pathetic cricket England played throughout the late '90s (98 excepted)? Australia and South Africa (occasionally Pakistan) apart, was there a single side that made exciting viewing? Not that I can remember.

Posted by Balaji K on (September 12, 2009, 14:39 GMT)

Where I believe cricket has gone back is the way West Indies and Zimbabwe have fallen away. The same can be said of Pakistan. Even if we take into account the turbulence in that country, the overall quality of players is definitely not the same.It has a lot to do with less Pakistanis playing county cricket. As for bowling, Australia possibly missed a trick in the current series by not playing Clark. Having been in England before, his experience could have given the Aussie attack bite. India is now developing a good seam attack. South Africa has a good attack. England cannot perform unless there is something in the air, Sri Lanka has a decent bowling attack.Maybe you don't have express bowlers,but Glenn McGrath was never express,but he was still among the greatest bowlers.We will miss the giants who straddled the game in the 90's and the 2000's but the game will go on.

Posted by Alex Small on (September 11, 2009, 0:45 GMT)

I grew up in the 90's so it will likely always be the decade I remember fondest. Many very salient points in this thread but only one in the article itself; the balance of world cricket. As I recall, any one team was only ever clearly in front in the first and last few years of the 90's ie. the West Indies and then Australia. The rest of the time things didn't seem a foregone conclusion, even if (as an England supporter) results were often dissapointing. The great change has been in the quality of pitches which are now reared for five days of seating and broadcast coverage. Added to there being more great bowlers than batsmen in the 90's there was a more tagible 'fear' of good fast and spin bowling which has now receded, the occasional blip on a helpful wicket notwithstanding. Having said that, there have been some excellent series in this decade; not least two recent Ashes series in England, Australia and South Africa last winter and Aus/India in 2001. Here's to the next decade!

Posted by Rikaz on (September 10, 2009, 15:57 GMT)

I have been watching cricket in the 90's and all I can say is the quality of the cricketers and the love for their art is certainly less now than then...

Statistics are sometimes good liars and do not represent the better quality of attacks. As spideybuff correctly pointed out this was the decade of quality cricketers. You yourself mention this and say this era's quality is less.

The other thing is that cricket is all about the stories of the battles on the field. Wasim versus Aravinda or Waugh vs Ambrose are truly epic and its truly sad we go past those and look at mere numbers which really does not tell the whole story...

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