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September 1, 2011

An incisive look at series "colour"-washes in Test cricket

Anantha Narayanan
England's 4-0 series win over India is one of the most dominant team performances in Test history  © Getty Images
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I had intended to complete my series of Test series analyses with the third part, the one on all-round performances. However the England-India Test series ended last week and the analysis on Team performances gained more relevancy. Hence I have switched the two. The All-round performance analysis will appear a few days later.

In this article I will cover the fairly long methodology at the end of the article. This is to ensure that the main theme of the article is not missed out.


As the recent England-India series unfolded, the win margins became bigger and bigger and by the time the series ended, one started hoping that India would have deemed to have climbed the Mt.Everest if they made England bat again. There were talks of this being India's biggest ever defeat. I had looked beyond that and had a fleeting suspicion that this could indeed be any team's biggest ever defeat.

So I started work on this hypothesis. I have embarked on a complex method of evaluating this and later on, as an additional analysis, linking with team strengths and series location. Let me emphasize that this analysis is based on the results and only results. The scorecard is the only document used. There may be many other factors responsible for the series results, to name a few, injuries, loss of form, non-preparedness, fitness, tiredness, selection issues, non-availability of key players, technical shortcomings et al. However these are outside the scope of this analysis. However it is my considered opinion that these would only have reduced the margin of series loss and match losses. If everything had worked for India, they might still have lost 1-2.

Each match is allotted 100 points. These are further allocated to the two teams based on the results. Not just the results but the numbers behind the results. The points secured by the two teams are averaged for the series. This is a very good indicator of the way teams have performed in the series. This method allows us to understand the difference between two series, both finishing 4-0, but one with very close well-fought matches and the other, like the recently completed one, huge-margin wins. As already explained, the methodology for the analysis is explained at the end.

Now let us look at the results.

I have selected only 4/5/6 Test series for multiple reasons. One is that I have kept the minnows out by this single decision. The other is that I want the teams' winning margins to be achieved over greater number of matches. My apologies to Sri Lanka since most of their series have been kept out. But this cannot be helped.

My surmise was correct. In the 210 4/5/6 match Test series played so far, the England win over India is the most comprehensive and devastating in history of Test cricket. That is what many experts are saying but this is now proved here with hard analytical conclusions. Let me add that there is one 3-Test series which has a wider Win margin than this one. That came in the Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe series, held during 2001. I am now happy that I excluded the 3-Test series from the analysis since I think a win against a weak team should not dilute this analysis.

The slightly better news is that, taken in context, taking into account the relative team strengths and the home advantage for England, this is not the most comprehensive defeat ever but is pipped by the South African white-wash of the 1970 Australians.

Let us look at the tables.

Ser Year Home  Away  Res  #  [...Win-margin...]

615 2011 ENG vs Ind 4-0 4 80.84-19.16 61.69 55 1931 AUS vs Saf 5-0 5 80.73-19.27 61.45 169 1970 SAF vs Aus 4-0 4 79.22-20.78 58.44 120 1959 ENG vs Ind 5-0 5 78.92-21.08 57.85 436 2000 AUS vs Win 5-0 5 78.86-21.14 57.71 270 1986 WIN vs Eng 5-0 5 78.65-21.35 57.30 256 1984 ENG vs Win 0-5 5 22.24-77.76 55.52 131 1962 WIN vs Ind 5-0 5 76.96-23.04 53.92 548 2006 AUS vs Eng 5-0 5 76.72-23.28 53.45 38 1920 AUS vs Eng 5-0 5 76.65-23.35 53.31 507 2004 ENG vs Win 4-0 4 76.06-23.94 52.12 77 1947 AUS vs Ind 4-0 5 75.89-24.11 51.77 65 1935 SAF vs Aus 0-4 5 24.26-75.74 51.47 132 1962 ENG vs Pak 4-0 5 75.58-24.42 51.16 115 1958 ENG vs Nzl 4-0 5 75.43-24.57 50.86 404 1998 SAF vs Win 5-0 5 75.09-24.91 50.19 83 1949 SAF vs Aus 0-4 5 25.95-74.05 48.11 91 1952 ENG vs Ind 3-0 4 73.86-26.14 47.71 52 1930 AUS vs Win 4-1 5 73.82-26.18 47.63 79 1948 ENG vs Aus 0-4 5 27.78-72.22 44.44 117 1958 AUS vs Eng 4-0 5 72.13-27.87 44.25 37 1913 SAF vs Eng 0-4 5 27.91-72.09 44.19 496 2003 SAF vs Win 3-0 4 72.08-27.92 44.17 112 1957 ENG vs Win 3-0 5 71.78-28.22 43.57 116 1958 IND vs Win 0-3 5 28.29-71.71 43.41


The first table is ordered by the raw Win-margin value. England won the 4-test series by the widest margin of 80.84-19.96. This is the equivalent of 4 innings wins. There was a huge innings win which compensated for the 196 run margin win. The summary of the top five series is given below.

The second biggest margin was inflicted by South Africa on Australia, during 1931. They were better by just a decimal point.

The third biggest margin was inflicted by South Africa on Australia, during 1970, just before the Apartheid break-down. They were better by nearly 1%. This also indicates the loss to the world cricket through the absence of the wonderful South African team of 1970. Before any one pounces on me let me say, through their own racial segregation policies. The boycott was 100% correct and essential.

The next one is the English whitewash of the 1959 Indian team. However the scores would indicate more of a fight by the weaker 1959 team. The fifth one is the 5-0 clean-out by the 2000 Australians against the transitional West Indians.

The best away performance is the 1984 clean sweep of England by the mighty West Indians. Their performance is ranked seventh in the table. Incidentally this is the only time in history of Test cricket that a home team has lost all 5 Tests in a 5-Test series.

Given below is a one-line summary for each series and the match points secured.

615 2011 ENG-Ind 196r(73.80),   319r(81.88),   I&242r(87.45), I&8r(80.25).
55 1931 AUS-Saf I&163r(85.02), I&155r(84.77), 169r(73.09),   10w(78.54),
I&72r(82.22).
169 1970 SAF-Aus 170r(72.09),   I&129r(83.97), 307r(80.85),   323r(79.97).
120 1959 ENG-Ind I&59r(81.82),  8w(75.84),     I&173r(85.32), 171r(70.81),
I&27r(80.83).
436 2000 AUS-Win I&126r(83.88), I&27r(80.83),  5w(72.40),     352r(84.66),
6w(72.52).
...
256 1984 eng-WIN I&180r(85.54), 9w(72.12),     8w(75.38),     I&64r(81.97),
172r(73.78).


Now for the second table, this time ordered by the difference in series Win margin and Team strength differential value.

Ser Year Home  Away Res # [...Win-margin..]  [TS differential-] WinIndex

169 1970 SAF vs Aus 4-0 4 79.22-20.78 58.44 49.51-50.49 -0.98 59.42 615 2011 ENG vs Ind 4-0 4 80.84-19.16 61.69 52.99-47.01 5.98 55.71 38 1920 AUS vs Eng 5-0 5 76.65-23.35 53.31 49.85-50.15 -0.30 53.60 256 1984 ENG vs Win 0-5 5 22.24-77.76 55.52 47.39-52.61 5.23 50.29 113 1957 SAF vs Aus 0-3 5 32.37-67.63 35.26 57.20-42.80 -14.39 49.65 117 1958 AUS vs Eng 4-0 5 72.13-27.87 44.25 49.08-50.92 -1.84 46.09 120 1959 ENG vs Ind 5-0 5 78.92-21.08 57.85 56.26-43.74 12.53 45.32 65 1935 SAF vs Aus 0-4 5 24.26-75.74 51.47 46.69-53.31 6.61 44.86 270 1986 WIN vs Eng 5-0 5 78.65-21.35 57.30 56.28-43.72 12.56 44.74 116 1958 IND vs Win 0-3 5 28.29-71.71 43.41 50.27-49.73 -0.53 43.94 35 1911 AUS vs Eng 1-4 5 33.91-66.09 32.18 55.31-44.69 -10.63 42.81 507 2004 ENG vs Win 4-0 4 76.06-23.94 52.12 54.84-45.16 9.68 42.44 548 2006 AUS vs Eng 5-0 5 76.72-23.28 53.45 55.79-44.21 11.58 41.86 55 1931 AUS vs Saf 5-0 5 80.73-19.27 61.45 60.59-39.41 21.18 40.27 296 1989 ENG vs Aus 0-4 6 29.70-70.30 40.60 49.14-50.86 1.71 38.89 34 1910 AUS vs Saf 4-1 5 71.14-28.86 42.27 51.98-48.02 3.96 38.31 112 1957 ENG vs Win 3-0 5 71.78-28.22 43.57 52.80-47.20 5.60 37.97 404 1998 SAF vs Win 5-0 5 75.09-24.91 50.19 56.18-43.82 12.36 37.83 157 1967 AUS vs Ind 4-0 4 71.67-28.33 43.34 52.76-47.24 5.51 37.82 58 1932 AUS vs Eng 1-4 5 32.54-67.46 34.91 51.08-48.92 -2.15 37.07 131 1962 WIN vs Ind 5-0 5 76.96-23.04 53.92 58.72-41.28 17.45 36.48 436 2000 AUS vs Win 5-0 5 78.86-21.14 57.71 61.01-38.99 22.03 35.69 83 1949 SAF vs Aus 0-4 5 25.95-74.05 48.11 43.72-56.28 12.55 35.55 103 1955 WIN vs Aus 0-3 5 31.89-68.11 36.23 49.58-50.42 0.84 35.39 289 1988 ENG vs Win 0-4 5 28.31-71.69 43.38 45.97-54.03 8.05 35.32


Now for the second part. Here I have matched the Win margin for the series with the Team Strength differential between the two teams, averaged over the series, and derived an overall WinIndex. The Team strength values are normalized to the same 100 points basis. In addition to the Team Strength indices already available with me, I have incorporated a substantial 10% weighting for the team playing at home. This alleviates the away defeats slightly. Couple of examples will explain this concept.

Take England and India. Their Team strength averages for the series worked out to 50.61-49.39 in favour of England, in other words, England were stronger by a wafer-thin difference. Once the home advantage was applied this became 52.99-47.01 which is a reasonably significant 6% differential. One would have expected this to translate to a 2-1 win with close matches all around. That result would have translated to a 55-45 on the Win- margin value and would not have raised any eyebrows. What happened was a 61.69% differential which translates to a final WinIndex value of 55.71 (being the difference between the two differential values.

Let us now look at South Africa and Australia during 1970. South Africa was a clear weaker team and their Team Strength differential was 47.13-52.87. When the home advantage was applied this became 49.51-50.49. One would have expected a 1-1 draw and almost 50-50 Win-margin value. What happened, as happened 41 years hence, was a 4-0 thrashing of the visiting team. The final WinIndex is the difference between 58.44 and -0.98, which works to a value of 59.52. In this measure this result has overtaken the 2011 series and is the most comprehensive win, taken in context.

The 1920 drubbing of England comes in next , followed by the top most away performance in this table, the 5-0 blitz by West Indies against England during 1984. The fifth entry shows the other side of the fascinating South Africa - Australia contests. A stronger South African team losing to an unfancied Australian team, 0-3.

Now for the methodology.

Valuation of draws: In Test matches draws are not the straight-forward 0-0 or 1-1 or 0-0 matches in Football or Hockey. At two extremes, a draw can happen with one team a ball away from victory or it could happen that the match might have had a result had the match continued for 10 days. To take care of these widely-varying grey areas I have allotted a wide range of 40-60 points out of 100 for a draw. This also correctly means that the winning team will at least have a margin of 61-39.

Look at the following matches. The Win-margin values are self-explanatory.

Test#  236: Eng 200 ao & 229/6. Aus 584 ao. (Aus-Eng: 60-40).
Test#  616: Aus 143 & 148/8. Saf 332/9.     (Saf-Aus: 60-40).
Now look at the following matches. Two different types of 50-50 matches.
Test #1887: Aus 430 & 228/6. Ind 360 & 177/4. Match completely open (50-50).
Test #1781: Pak 679/7. Ind 410/1.   Timeless Test needed for result (50-50).

Valuation of Innings wins: There is no denying that innings wins are the most emphatic in Test cricket. And needless to add that a win by an innings and 242 runs is far more emphatic than a win by an innings and 8 runs. The most emphatic win in Test cricket is the Oval 1938 win of England over Australia, by an innings and 579 runs. This result gets an almost full score. The formula is
Innings win points = 80.0 + variable points based on the quantum of innings win.

Test # 266: Eng 903/7. Aus 201 & 123. (Eng-Ind: 97.82-2.18). Inns/579r. Test #2002: Ind 224 & 244. Eng 710/7. (Eng-Ind: 88.07-11.93). Inns/242r Test #2003: Eng 591/6. Ind 300 & 283. (Eng-Ind: 80.27-19.73). Inns/8r.


Valuation of wins by Wickets: A ten-wicket win ranks quite close to an innings win while a one-wicket win ranks close to the minimum points for a win. This is a tricky situation and is handled by the following formula. It is essential to distinguish between a nine-wicket win with a 20 for 1 score and one with a score of 342 for 1. The first is very close to an innings win and the later is quite a tough win and the losing team needs to be given credit for setting the target.

Wicket win points = 60.0 + variable points based on wickets in hand and target.

Test #1204: Slk 394 & 73/1. Nzl 102 & 361. (Slk-Nzl: 77.54-22.46). 9w(73r). Test # 340: Saf 202 & 154. Eng 194 & 164/6. (Eng-Saf: 70.72-29.28). 4w(164r). Test #1453: Aus 490 & 146. Win 329 & 311/9. (Win-Aus: 64.78-35.22). 1w(311r).


Valuation of wins by Runs: Wins by runs have the widest range in the results analysis. A 675-run win (this happened during 1928) probably should rank just behind the 1938 win while a 1-run win (happened in 1993) could have resulted in a loss with a one-ball switch of events. So any algorithm should take this into account. This is achieved by the following formula which has to distinguish between a 200 run win chasing 300 and a 200 run win chasing 500. The first is a more emphatic win and in the later case, the losing team needs to be given credit for setting the target.

Run win points = 60.0 + variable points based on runs differential.

Test # 176: Eng 521 & 342/8. Aus 122 & 66. (Eng-Aus: 97.50-2.50). 675r. Test #1947: Aus 519/8 & 219/5. Pak: 301 & 206. (Aus- : 76.73-23.27) 231r. Test #1210: Win 252 & 146. Aus 213 & 184. (Win-Aus: 61.00-39.00). 1r.


The Match rating points are determined for each match, added for the series and divided by the number of matches. The final pair of numbers, say x-y (again x+y=100), reflects the series results in a very accurate manner. This would result in a very objective evaluation of the series concerned and substantiate the, mostly correct, subjective statements made by the experts.

I did a far simpler exercise for another article. I got all wins to a "Runs" basis using wickets left and match RpW in case of "wickets" and "innings" wins and the margin itself in case of "runs" wins. The results look amazingly alike indicating that one can slice and dice this in any way, it will remain the greatest ever defeat by an established Test team. The hypothesis I started with is proved without any doubt. The summarized table for that analysis is shown below.

Ser Year Home  Away # Win  Res WinRuns LossRuns
(Series average)

615 2011 ENG vs Ind 4 Home 4-0 404.8 0.0 169 1970 SAF vs Aus 4 Home 4-0 325.0 0.0 77 1947 AUS vs Ind 5 Home 4-0 321.6 0.0 55 1931 AUS vs Saf 5 Home 5-0 292.8 0.0 52 1930 AUS vs Win 5 Home 4-1 292.6 6.0 38 1920 AUS vs Eng 5 Home 5-0 285.4 0.0 496 2003 SAF vs Win 4 Home 3-0 283.0 0.0 132 1962 ENG vs Pak 5 Home 4-0 278.0 0.0 120 1959 ENG vs Ind 5 Home 5-0 272.2 0.0 548 2006 AUS vs Eng 5 Home 5-0 266.4 0.0


Where does Indian Test cricket go from here. Many better writers, players and administrators than me have already spoken. I am not going to repeat those words. These comments all have validity. I will conclude with one summary.

This result cannot be wished away with comments such as "one bad series", "one cannot win everything", "a blip", "we will bounce back", "let England come to India" or "form is temporary, class is permanent" etc. This is a clean-up at the highest level and unless otherwise BCCI realizes this, India will find it difficult to recover in the years to come. They might very well remain amongst the top-2 ODI/T20 teams, but would slip down the Test ladder quickly.

The players must share the blame, but only a smaller share. The proud men they are, they must be hurting like hell. However BCCI should feel the hurt intensely. While recognizing the zone at which the marvellous English team played, let me assign the blame component, strictly within Indian cricket, and in sync with the tone of the article, as 80-20 for BCCI-Players. This one allocation tells the story. The wild-sweep term "BCCI" includes, amongst others, the President, Secretary/IPL-GC member/IPL-owner, selectors, training methods, fitness evaluation criteria, IPL, paid propagandists, PR men, schedulers, rest of the gravy-train occupants et al.

As far as England are concerned, they may lack the couple of big names and heavy hitters to sustain an occupancy at the top for a decade or so as the 1980 West Indians and 1990/2000 Australians did. However they have the quality, bench-strength and the ability to travel well to be a serious contender for the top position always, during the next 5 years. They may even lose the top position without playing another match. But that should not matter. They would bounce back. Their serious problem might be when they defend the 3-1 away win in Australia and 4-0 home win over India.

This seems to be the season for felling giant oaks. The Indian team, with high hopes and pedigree, was vanquished. A quirky and dubious rule pushed the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt, from the World Athletics 100 metres Final. Federer seems to be losing to all and sundry. Tiger Woods does not growl but mews. Arsenal loses to Manchester United 2-8. But the abiding memory through all these was the 400 metres semi final. To see Oscar Pistorius finish the 400 metres in 46.19 secs, running on carbon fibre legs (I hope someone does not send an insensitive comment that he gains by running on carbon fibre) was indeed heart-warming stuff. Incidentally this time would have won for Pistorius the 400 metres Gold medal in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics !!!

To download the multiple tables of the 210 x 4/5 Test series, please right-click here and save the file.

As per Kartick's request I have given below all 3-Test series which ended in 3-0 results, ordered by the Win margin.

Ser Year Home  Away  Res  #  Win Margin  RunIdx

554 2007 SLK vs Bng 3-0 3 85.30-14.70 474.7 19 1896 SAF vs Eng 0-3 3 15.71-84.29 309.3 459 2001 SLK vs Zim 3-0 3 84.13-15.87 395.7 338 1994 IND vs Slk 3-0 3 82.37-17.63 381.0 46 1928 ENG vs Win 3-0 3 81.63-18.37 296.7 515 2004 AUS vs Pak 3-0 3 81.59-18.41 368.0 187 1974 ENG vs Ind 3-0 3 80.61-19.39 374.7 9 1886 ENG vs Aus 3-0 3 80.60-19.40 264.3 134 1963 NZL vs Eng 0-3 3 19.47-80.53 332.3 388 1997 PAK vs Win 3-0 3 80.39-19.61 280.3 420 1999 AUS vs Ind 3-0 3 80.26-19.74 325.3 326 1993 IND vs Eng 3-0 3 79.17-20.83 348.0 457 2001 AUS vs Saf 3-0 3 79.15-20.85 291.7 242 1982 PAK vs Aus 3-0 3 78.62-21.38 309.7 531 2005 AUS vs Win 3-0 3 78.61-21.39 295.7 148 1965 ENG vs Nzl 3-0 3 78.49-21.51 351.0 211 1978 ENG vs Nzl 3-0 3 77.51-22.49 230.0 364 1995 AUS vs Slk 3-0 3 77.21-22.79 338.7 455 2001 SLK vs Win 3-0 3 77.00-23.00 303.0 155 1967 ENG vs Ind 3-0 3 75.76-24.24 247.3 306 1990 PAK vs Nzl 3-0 3 75.30-24.70 215.0 416 1999 AUS vs Pak 3-0 3 75.25-24.75 283.3 178 1972 AUS vs Pak 3-0 3 73.41-26.59 203.3 221 1979 AUS vs Eng 3-0 3 73.02-26.98 170.7 504 2004 ENG vs Nzl 3-0 3 72.59-27.41 237.3 594 2009 AUS vs Pak 3-0 3 71.47-28.53 145.7 488 2003 PAK vs Bng 3-0 3 71.37-28.63 162.3 424 2000 NZL vs Aus 0-3 3 29.90-70.10 136.7 539 2006 SAF vs Aus 0-3 3 30.11-69.89 110.7 499 2004 SLK vs Aus 0-3 3 30.49-69.51 115.0

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Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by Ram on (April 22, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

Thanks for responding to a very late comment. I do read all your blog articles ( and all comments) but seems to have missed this one. The loss at Birmingham ( inngs and 242 runs, easily equal to a double inngs win, meaning India would need another innings to erase the deficit!) seems to have settled this in England's favour. So also the little fight at MCG.

Posted by Ram on (April 22, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

Not sure if this is a late comment, but where does the 4-0 drubbing in Autsralia stand in the win-margin comparison? Was it better or worse than the 4-0 in England? My hunch is England was worse by pure score card readings, but if we take into all factors ( best India players were avail for Australia, less injuries, weaker Oz team etc) the Aussie white wash was more bitter and depressing. [[ To say you are late is the understatement of the year. I had responded to this question in depth in one of the recent blogs. I will just summarize. England-India Lord's : 73.98 - 26.02 Trent Bridge : 82.18 - 17.82 Birmingham: 87.45 - 12.65 Oval: 80.25 - 19.75 So the series finished 80.96 - 19.04. That is the equivalent of 4 innings victories. Australia - India MCG: 71.75 - 28.25 SCG: 82.09 - 17.91 Perth: 81.14 - 18.86 Adelaide: 80.16 - 19.84 The series finished 78.79 - 21.21. That is the equivalent of 3 innings victory and one other big win. So the MCG fightback softened the loss a little bit. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (September 9, 2011, 4:26 GMT)

Sreesanth's contribution especially in teh last 10 min was very vital. He ended up doing the right thing. Had he succeeded in saving teh match, in typical fashion, we would have begun celebrating that as a turnaround. We would have never remembered this series as a pointer to urgent remedial action. We would have again fallen prey to our own narcissistic tendencies (praising mediocrity too quickly).

Instead, Sreesanth ensured that the last nail was firmly hammered on to the coffin, and a thrashing that was thouroughly deserved was implemented through a more spectacular 4-0 than a half baked 3-0. [[ The chances of Sreesanth saving the match was as good as my getting a wild card entry to the US Open, be it Golf or Tennis. I only meant that he could have helped Sharma in saving an innings defeat. But as you say correctly, it was exactly the perfect end to the series, befitting the campaign. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Alex on (September 8, 2011, 19:00 GMT)

@Ananth: Session-wise analysis won't be very useful. A good example is Ind vs Eng at Chennai in 2008: England lost the match despite arguably winning at least 8 of the 15 sessions. [[ Let us look at a hypothetical scoreline. India 450 & 42 ao. Eng 250 & 250. India loses in one session after tea on last day. How would you describe this match. India domintaed the match over 90% of the time but lost the match in one session. That statement is embodied in the objective conclusion that India won 13/14 sessions and England 2/1. This does not point to the result but to the domination. Incidentally I was the first to bring objective session analysis into Television presentations. During 2001/02 I introduced the sessions won/lost, using my favourite spilt of 100 points for the session.I took into account wickets/runs/batsmen at the crease/bowling patterns/potential wicket-taking deliveries at al. Ananth: ]]

I did not know about England players advising Sreesanth "learn from Mishra". [[ The commentators referred to this. Ananth: ]] IMO, he is so bad that he could learn from just about every other person. His lasting image remains the one with a smug smile on a TV interview after the 4th test 1 innings saying "I enjoyed bowling to KP". People should start working on how to contribute and win matches as opposed to *enjoying* cricket. The last we checked, India is to yet to win a match in England on this tour and have lost 6 of the 7 so far.

Posted by shrikanthk on (September 8, 2011, 17:32 GMT)

The point is that Pakistan were never outclassed. They lost one close match. The final margin was 75-25 and reflects the ease with which Australia won. However there is no comparison to this series

Ananth: Agree. But I was referring to the final series scoreline. 3-0 was an extremely surprising result, given that Pak boasted of one of the finest bowling sides of the 90s - Akram, Younis, Akhtar, Saqlain and Azhar Mahmood! That was a much better attack than McGrath/Fleming/Scott Muller/Warne, given that Warne was nowhere near his best in '99.

The 4-0 result in the current Ind-Eng series sounds very surprising. But to be honest, none of us expected India to win even a single test match once Zaheer limped out on the first day at Lord's. On top of that, there were so many injuries to several key players that a 2-0/3-0 result was always in the offing. 4-0 was a bit of a surprise.

Posted by Waspsting on (September 8, 2011, 13:28 GMT)

thoughts on Aus vs Pak 99 - - Pak had a very strong team, and in that the final scoreline was surprising. Still, Pakistan is Pakistan, and its never really a surprise what they do (unlike Peter May's England team)

- Umpiring went horribly against Pakistan (like May's team). Gilchrist was plumb LBW in that match winning stand, leaving aside Langer's reprieve. Slater was LBW multiple times everytime he took first strike against Akram, and invariably went on to make a lot of runs. Akram looked to me like he could have run through the top order with his new ball spells.

@Ananth - agree with you about the money-consciousness of some of the younger Indian players, but don't think anything can be done about it. This is just the way the times are now. Possibly, even the likes of Tendulkar isn't entirely immune to it. Kapil and Kumble would probably just be laughed at as old fuddy duddies if they tried to teach the youngsters work ethic.

Posted by RANGArajan on (September 8, 2011, 6:22 GMT)

"Work Ethic" - Well said Ananth!! Many of our test players would not be even selected for a second XI of many counties. We mistake "Aggression" with "Indiscipline". It may be blasphemous if I say so, but I feel, Greg Chappel would have been the right person, though we all thought he spoilt India. If someone says "perform or perish", when you have 1 Bn people following the game, we label that person as rude . . . If someone says, "come for net sessions", "Bowl fast", "get in youngsters", "dont dwell in your past records" . . . In no way he was as bad as we painted him to be. I think most of our so called greats lost more matches under him, just to prove a point.

Posted by RANGArajan on (September 8, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

1996 and 1999, India and Pak toured successively to England and Australia and Pakistan won both the comparisons with India hands down. In England, the same English team that routed us, were torn apart by Pak. England did not have a clue about Mushtaq Ahmed's googlies in 1996. Of course, in that English trip, we did not win any international match, but we did not lose badly either. 1999 Aus trip was again, better for Pak (though both of us lost 0-3, Pak was not as humiliated). In 2010, Pak lost to England, but were able to win a test. In 2010,they drew even with Aus(which was still competitive though not invincible). Though touted as inconsistent, Pak has been more competitive and tough to beat, whatever be their team compositions. If India werent the most populous nation watching Cricket, the deserving teams would have received due credit, unlike now. [[ For me the series was epitomized by the last 10 minutes. When RP Singh was dismissed, Sreesanth walked in. He played 9 balls and tried to get out probably 7 times. All the while at the other end Sharma was fighting it out. It did not seem right for Sreesanth, the rotten player that he is, to stay there, fight and avoid an innings defeat, if nothing else. And the English slip-fielders were kind enough to tell him "learn from Mishra". I hope he has played his last match for India.Unfortunately some players in India equate success with money. They do not put in the hard yards. Kapil and Kumble should be empowered with suitable positions to instil the work ethic in the players. Ananth: ]]

Posted by shrikanthk on (September 8, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

I think the turning point is the 99 series against Pak, especially the Hobart test where Langer/Gilchrist put on 250 odd against Akram/Waqar/Shoaib/Saqlain in the 4th innings to chase down 380 odd. I will never forget the ferocity of Gilchrist's horizontal bat shots in this innings

Yes. Vivid memories of that game. The Pak fans cribbed a lot about Langer enjoying a bit of luck with the umpires in the 2nd innings, conveniently forgetting that the same batsman got a bad decision in the 1st innings, which triggered an Aussie collapse.

A most remarkable series. And one of the most unlikely series results in Test history. I remember Star sports had publicised this series as "Jalwa" or "Badla" (don't remember) anticipating a Pak revenge for the WC final loss 6 months earlier.

It was even more unlikely than the 4-0 Eng-Ind result this year. One of the stongest Pak sides ever. Almost at full strength. Beaten 3-0!

That's as unlikely as the 0-4 drubbing of Peter May's side in 1958-59. [[ Not sure about this, Shrikanth. Pakistan were strong but Australia even stronger. On paper not so strong since Gilchrist was making his debut. However he scored 250+ runs. In the first Test, Aus were 342 for 5 against 367. Gilchrist, on debut, and Warne contributed run-a-ball 80s. The Hobart Test could as well have gone Pakistan's way. Even at 250 for 5, Pakistan looked like winning. The last test was a comfortable win. The point is that Pakistan were never outclassed. They lost one close match. The final margin was 75-25 and reflects the ease with which Australia won. However there is no comparison to this series. India probably won probably 5 out of 45-50 sessions. I have not made an exact analysis on this. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Vinish on (September 8, 2011, 4:15 GMT)

For 2 minutes of thinking by Steve Waugh on March 13, 2001 could very well have changed the history of Test cricket. That could very well have been another 3-0 win.

Quite nostalgic that series... in 2001. And those two minutesmight have meant that Laxman's and Harbhajan's careers might have shaped like Kaif's and Bahutule's respectively. This is what we call Destiny. :)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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