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'Australia will kill to be in India's situation'

Harsha Bhogle, Ian Chappell, and Sharda Ugra look into the implications of India's 4-0 defeat of Australia (37:39)

Producer: Siddhartha Talya

March 29, 2013


Time Out

'Australia will kill to be in India's situation'

March 29, 2013

After India's 4-0 defeat of Australia, Ian Chappell and Sharda Ugra join Harsha Bhogle to look into the implications of the result for both teams.

Excerpts from the discussion below. The numbers in brackets are the duration for each segment.

Cheteshwar Pujara about to play a ramp shot, India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 3rd day, March 24, 2013
"Temperamentally ahead of the others" © BCCI

Batting was Australia's biggest weakness but there seemed to be problems all around (1.25 - 4.44)

Ian Chappell: The main problem is definitely the batting. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Most other places than India, Australia's fast bowling is pretty good. But the core problem just hasn't been addressed in Australian batting of quite some time, and the big concern is, if they do address it and if they did get it all perfectly and they start tomorrow, you're still looking at a generation to reap the real rewards.

Everyone said, "Why don't they be more patient?" But if you've got the skill, then you are patient. Take a guy like M Vijay. He's got the skill, he knows he needs to survive for quite a while, and if he does survive for a little bit, some runs start to come, the boundaries start to come and everything's fine. But if you are a bit concerned about your technique and survival, in this case against spin, and you are a bit worried about it, that's when a bit of panic creeps in. If you grow up playing spin bowling in Australia, that stands you in good stead wherever you go.

The Indian batsmen showed they have the skill to play and bat long in these conditions. But will they be able to do the same overseas? (4.45 - 6.17)

Sharda Ugra: That still remains something the Indian team should fight for. You want to see them do that job, and you'd think a few of them are capable of doing so. Definitely Cheteshwar Pujara will be the kind of guy who will try and work things out. That has to be tested. You can't say, "We play 70 to 80% of our matches at home, so it doesn't matter what happens overseas." It does matter.

Was Pujara India's biggest plus in the series? (6.18 - 9.56)

IC: The fact that India have now got three or four young batsmen… I'm not saying they're going to be the next Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, and Sehwag, but they do have the potential to be terrific. Yes, Pujara I think is the standout. Temperamentally I think he is probably ahead of the others a little bit, but I am impressed with the others. That's a situation that Australia will kill for - having young batsmen of that ability coming in. They just haven't got them.

India has got a couple more at the Under-19 level. Unmukt Chand is the outstanding one. If Unmukt Chand was in Australia and I was a selector, he'd be in that Test side. You are looking at batsmen who are technically good, are strokemakers, and look like they can take control of things. When I looked at the Under-19 batsmen from Australia, some of them looked good at staying in and so on, but I didn't see someone a step away from Test cricket; they were miles away from Test cricket.

The pitches used this series were out of character to how they usually play at the four venues. Are these the only conditions at home in which India can win? (9.57 - 15.04)

SU:You would think that's the conclusion they have arrived at. After India won the Test match against England in Ahmedabad, there was much moping about how you had to work so hard to get wickets. You think, of course you have to work hard to get wickets - that's why it is called Test cricket. We remember the time when India went into the last Test of a series needing a win after being 0-1 down, then you would see that the wicket would be dry, it would crumble and it would turn [in Kanpur against South Africa]. Here it's almost like a pre-planned sort of thing. So one thing that was bothersome in the series was that wherever the teams went, they left the pitches dry. You would think the Australians cannot be compared to the English team that toured here. They are different teams at different points of their development. To do this against Australia was very odd; you could see it.

IC: I just don't believe that anybody other than the curator should have anything to do with how the pitch should be prepared. It's about time a bit of integrity came into this thing. That's one thing where I will stand up for Australia. The pitches [in Australia] retain their nature, that's the important thing. Certainly I can't recall an instance in Australia where the pitch you play on in a first-class game is of a certain nature and that's not the Test pitch's nature. It might be a bit better prepared for a Test match, but in general, the nature is the same. Anytime someone comes to curators and says, "I want this sort of pitch", I would like the curator to say, "Get stuffed, mind your own business. You've got pride in what you do as a player, I've got pride in what I do as a curator."

MS Dhoni has said the era of aggressive Test fields is over; he set in-out fields during this series. Is that a strategy you approve of? (15.05 - 16.58)

IC: I don't like it at all. The only proviso I would make is that I didn't captain with bats like they use in the modern game. But I just think it's rubbish. I just had a conversation with Ashley Mallett a couple of days back and he said, "One of the things that drives me mad is the batsmen getting singles. I'd rather be hit for four than being constantly hit for singles." If you are going to give good batsmen easy singles, they are going to say, "Thank you very much", and keep taking them. If you are up against a dopey batsman, he might take singles for a little while and then say, "Now I need to hit some fours or sixes", and get him out that way.

"If you see me backing Australia in the Ashes series coming up, you'll know I'm wearing someone else's trousers. Think about how Australia lost the 2005 Ashes series: swing. That batting line-up was a hell of a lot better than what they've got now, and they were beaten by good swing bowling" Ian Chappell

Another player who made a huge impression was Ravindra Jadeja, especially with his accuracy with the ball. (16.59 - 21.52)

SU: He was the biggest surprise that came out of this series. He came in as the third spinner and ended up being the guy that Dhoni turned to and did much more than Ojha or Harbhajan. Maybe because it was the wickets he was bowling on, but he was able to bowl exactly in the same way and get two different things out of a particular track. He was able to bowl within what may be said are his limited-over limitations, that "I'm not going to try to bowl anything fancy, I'm just going to pitch the ball where I am supposed to and let the pitch do whatever it wants to."

And it was almost like he had a hold over Michael Clarke. What I was very impressed by was the innings he played at the Kotla, where he made 43 in 49 balls. You want someone coming in at No. 7 to score enough runs. He came in to bat in Mohali where Dhoni was a bit frozen at the other end and hit a couple of fours, almost saying, "What's the fuss about?"

There were problems off the field as well for Australia, and sometimes off- and on-field problems can be related. (21.53 - 24.03)

IC: Yes, they generally are. That was a ridiculous situation before the Mohali Test. These are men. If there are problems you sit them down in a room. The Australian way was probably with a carton of beer, and then you thrash it out. To ask guys to send a text or an email, that's rubbish. If I hear the word "culture" one more time, I think I'm going to throw up. They say we want to develop this culture; there's only one culture we've got to develop and that's a winning culture. What I see, the way they are going about things is, you develop a culture where the guys who cosy up to the important people are going to do all right. That's a rubbish culture. I always felt, as a captain, the guys who probably argued and disagreed with me and were prepared to speak their mind, they were the most important guys in your team. They were generally the better players. They were the last ones to give up a fight. So, you don't want to develop a lot of yes men around you.

Do you see Sehwag and Gambhir coming back? (24.04 - 25.40)

SU: Sehwag and Gambhir, because they are opening batsmen, I do think one of them will go to South Africa. I don't know who it will be. You need an experienced opener there. You would hope they find a way to get runs, go on the A tour that is going to supposedly to happen in June or July. The selectors were pretty clear-headed about what they wanted to do for this series: that is, get hold of people who will win you games, and they won you games convincingly. If that meant giving senior players a bit of an elbow, they were able to do it, which is great. It's what the last committee absolutely didn't do.

Is Australia's batting side ready for the Ashes? (25.41 - 28.17)

Sachin Tendulkar carefully watches the ball under his eyes, India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 2nd day, March 23, 2013
Sachin Tendulkar may have played his last Test in India © BCCI

IC: If you see me backing Australia in the Ashes series coming up, you'll know I'm wearing someone else's trousers. Think about how Australia lost the 2005 Ashes series: swing. That batting line-up was a hell of a lot better than what they've got now and they were beaten by good swing bowling. They had problems [recently] with the late-swinging ball, when they had Ponting and Hussey in the side, and you haven't got a better late-swinging bowler in the world than James Anderson. Also, Graeme Swann's a better offspinner than Ashwin. He eats up and spits out left-handers, and Australia have got a whole pile of left-handers in the top order. At this stage, I'd be saying, if Australia defeat England in England, then England have played very badly.

Has Tendulkar played his last Test in India? (28.18 - 32.29)

SU: It felt like his last Test match in India. It's almost like he's expended so much energy into a couple of important innings. The next home Test is going to be in October 2014, which is a long way off. Will he go to South Africa? I think he may.

IC: I think it's been around for a while. The previous selection panel derelicted duty on a number of occasions, but this new panel seems to be heading in the right direction. I don't think anybody on any selection panel in India is going to have the guts to drop Tendulkar. You haven't really got the argument anymore that you need an experienced bloke in there to help the young players, because the young batsmen are now at a point where they are quite capable of doing the job. Can they do it outside of India? There's only one way to find that out. The selection panel should be asking themselves, "Is he the best man for the job in the Indian side?" With the previous panel, I think he could have tested their patience until the cows came home. With this new panel, he might not want to test their patience too much.

Numbers Game question (32.30 - 36.44)

When was the last time, before this series, that Australia had less than two centuries in a series of four or more Tests?

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

@varunsaxena.. thats what i meant that indian players struggle outside the sub-continent..similarly aussies struggle in sub-continental conditions too..but instead of accepting the fact that they didnt play well, most of the ex cricketers start questioning the pitches..is that really needed?? you mentioned about aussies who scored double and triple hundreds in australia in australia..point taken..but in india none of them,barring clark got a century..where as dhoni,pujara scored double hundreds, dhawan and m.vijay scored 150+ runs..so what about this then? indians too played on the same pitches and got 500+ runs(that too after losing the toss and batiting 2nd remember)..but australia struggled to cross even 300 on regular basis.. so the irony is, whatever the pitch may be, adaptability is important ! either its india,Aus, SL,SA,Pak whatever..but DONT TALK about PITCHES PLEASE !!

Posted by KingOwl on (March 31, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

Australian pitches don't change? Bah! What a joke. When South Africa went to Australia few months ago, there were mostly flat tracks. When SL visited a few weeks later, they were all bowling tracks. Give me a break, please! Let me also say this from a SL point of view: If you look at the wickets made for domestic cricket, they are all spinning tracks, where most matches end within three days. For international games, the wickets are far more sporting and friendly to visiting teams. Match that Australia, if you can.

Posted by sportofpain on (March 30, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

Sharda Ugra does not know about pitch preparation. Why comment wthout knowledge? Questions for both Sharda and Harsha: 1. Is India's 4-0 victory at home any less than SA 4-0 victory at home in 1969? 2. Doesn't the pitch affect both sides equally? 3. Didn't Australia win 4 tosses and get the best batting conditions whenever they batted first? (3 times) 4. How could India's batsmen get runs while Australia's couldn't? 5. What was yr point Sharda when you mentioned the bounce variation in just one over? 6. Didn't Rajesh point out the statistical similarity in Australian batting in this series and in Bill Lawry's series? In fact didn't the Aussies actually average 4 runs more in this series? 7. Why wasn't there much talk about pitches when England played just a couple of months back? 8. Do you think you can be less skeptical about this resounding comeback? 9. Can you live in the present? Nobody knows what the future will bring, so why demean the present success?

Posted by   on (March 30, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

I think the point Sharda is making is that Indians have started creating pitches (dry, crumbling) that were usually saved for escape acts. That is a fine point. It is the duty of cricket administrators to prepare sporting pitches for sporting matches. I do think Aussies were put at a disadvantage in this series and coupled with the fact that its a side in some serious transition - 4-0 is a realistic result. Dhoni is a good captain, but not sure what he meant by the era of attacking fields. It just doesn't make sense. You have gotta attack, put the batsmen under serious pressure to create real Test match like situation. Although one can say that you also need serious strike bowlers to set up attacking fields.

Posted by   on (March 30, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

@Umakant : Yes pitches in Aus were fast, bouncy,seeming and swinging remarkably. That's why Australian batsmen were scoring triple hundereds, double hundereds at will. Even Ponting who looked out of form everytime on either side of Series against India, scored load of runs. The fact is that in Aus, new ball seams around for first 20-25 overs and then as the ball becomes old, for next 60 overs, pitch is as good as flat. This is the character of Australian pitches no matter who they play against. The pitches were not doctored. That is why Ashwin scored well for a number 8 in Australia.Problem with India in that series was that they were 4-5 down by the time 25 overs passed hence they couldn't score more than 300.Even in Melbourne where India were 200 odd for 2, they lost all their wickets against 2nd new ball...It is inability of Indian batsmen to play fast bowling if it moves even a little bit which lost India the series.

Posted by sharidas on (March 30, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

I am a great fan of Sachin Tendulkar. And so I feel that he has got nothing more to prove to anybody. For all I know, he could end up making a century or two if he went to Soth Africa. But he will do a great service to Indian Cricket if he lets a youngster go to S.A.

Posted by BBrianBlair on (March 30, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

The attitude of some Indian fans is just ridiculous. Their team has done something that no other team had been able to in almost half a century i.e beat Aus 4-0 in a four match series, and they are belittling this huge success themselves by talking about pitches, weak opposition and flukes..? Learn something from Eng fans who treat even a 2-1 victory on home conditions against any team a huge achievement.

Posted by Shortbackwardsquare on (March 30, 2013, 0:39 GMT)

@ Umakanth & Carlvon, did you listen to the piece or just read it? Even Harsha & Sahrda commented that the pitches were different to how they usually are. Not watering the edges of the pitch to assist your own bowlers while watering the middle to hamper your opposition seems to me to be very unsporting.

Posted by TM on (March 29, 2013, 20:03 GMT)

my team for after sachin: Vijay Dhawan Pujara Kohli rahane rohit/jadeja Dhoni Ashwin Buvuneshwar Yadav Aaron Subs: Unmukt(middle order batter) Jiwanjot singh harmeet singh/Ojha/parveez rasool

Posted by   on (March 29, 2013, 19:07 GMT)

Why talk about pitches Now??? its ridiculous to talk about pitches after a series where australia looked completely out of sorts. Don't forget, not so long ago, england came here ,played on the same wickets and won the series comprehensively..so Fellas ! its the skill and performance that matters . Not who has cooked up what pitch.. if you are looking at pitches then why weren't the same questions raised when IND lost in australia 0-4?? the picthes were fast, bouncy,seeming and swinging remarkably. why didn't any one raise these questions???? we give everybody a chance to speak about indian pitches by asking them their opinion..but is it necessary that how the pitch are made is to be questioned?? if india struggled in foreign conditions then the Aussies too struggled here..aussies didnt play well enough. for any side, its very important to do well in foreign soil..if you dont do well ,then dont blame the pitches atleast..

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