March 12, 2008

India in the lights

Their tour of Australia showed that India's time has come, both on the field and off it
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'Indian cricket has found its voice' © Getty Images

Over the years India has been colonised, scorned and patronised. Inevitably, the hackles of its more abrasive citizens have periodically been raised. Always the struggle is between earnest reformers and rankled revolutionaries. It can happen on battlefields, in newspapers, on sports grounds, in the spirit and in the mind: the rallying of human attachment. Only the greatest of men, amongst them Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, have been able to keep the past in its place the better to stride unencumbered towards the future. Even these mighty leaders have not always been able to take their people with them.

And then comes the settling of scores. In some respects the recent series down under was such a settling, but to a much higher degree it was an assertion of fearlessness. India looked Australia in the eye and did not blink. And the look told not of temporary passion but serious intent.

By and large India has done extraordinarily well over the last 60 years. From the chaos of Partition, from the demonstrations and the slaughter, has come an enduring nation that commands respect, a country that has retained its independence in Independence. Although outbreaks occur here and there, for fools and hotheads cannot be abolished by decree, India is intact. Still it plays the game of the coloniser, a game once described as an Indian game accidentally invented by the English, an amusing conceit that shows cricket's adaptability.

To the chagrin of some, but through economic inevitability, India has become the dominant force in the game, a circumstance that has released its entire character, warts and all. Nothing builds confidence half as well as power. Suddenly India has no need to sue for grace for it carries a big stick. It must only realise that the time has come to talk quietly. India does not need to protest about anything. Its task now is to apply the rule of law and to advance the principles of justice, especially those espoused by the American philosopher John Rawls, for none takes such care of the underdog. Above all, Indian officials must read Animal Farm, with all its attendant warnings.

Nowhere was the changing of the guard more apparent than in the recent campaign down under. Always the true test comes when the champion steps into the ring, for then bluff is called and shallowness exposed. India arrived expecting to win. It was not a question of mere fragile hope. Nor did the various turbulences distract them from their purpose. To the contrary the Indians answered every slight with one of their own, joined every argument and added a few of their own making.

 
 
That India ended the campaign in better shape than it began confirms the impression of a nation whose time has come. It is idle to pretend that cricket does not tell us something about the state of a nation. To the contrary it offers a window into the minds of a people
 

Australia is a land of fires, droughts, floods, flies, kangaroos and koalas. Even the birds have bright plumage and make a lot of noise. It is not sensible to expect its cricketers or newspapers to tiptoe around like characters in an Edwardian play. It is a place that crushes the spirit or enhances it.

That India ended the campaign in better shape than it began confirms the impression of a nation whose time has come. It is idle to pretend that cricket does not tell us something about the state of a nation. To the contrary it offers a window into the minds of a people.

Of course sport serves other purpose as well. Nowadays it provides entertainment to all sections of society. Formerly it was regarded more as a craft than an adventure. Opening batsmen were not expected to hit boundaries in the first hour. These days they are supposed to strike three in the opening over. Twenty-over cricket has risen from the need to entertain. History suggests that popular culture does not threaten so much as sustain the high-brow. In any case, even Test cricket has awoken from its slumber. Standing warily behind a blocking bat or sending down dibblers with a ring field no longer serves the purpose. Cricket survives not because it has merit but because it has a market.

Competition is another part of sport's attraction. Men and women relish the chance to push themselves to the limit, enjoy pitting themselves against each other. Satisfaction of the sort obtained from a superb round of golf, or a last-gasp winner is hard to find. Sportsmen also relish sitting in the rooms afterwards, all energy spent, skill released, divisions erased (unless Harbhajan Singh and Matthew Hayden have been playing), and only the reckoning remaining.

Yet the most significant role of sport is as an expression of the energies, talents and culture of a school, group, village, city, province and country. Cricket is an expression of culture and the clashes at the SCG reached into the depths of Indian and Australian self-knowledge. It turned out to be a battle between equals. The players looked each other in the eye. India did not blink. Indeed, the visitors looked fresher by the end. Meanwhile the Australians suffered more mysterious withdrawals as Brad Hogg and Shaun Tait followed Damien Martyn into the paddock.

Australia has always played cricket by its own lights. Turning its back on English customs, it developed its own approach founded upon an egalitarian outlook that endures (the captain is a hard nut from the backwaters of a forgotten island). Yearning for action, resisting melancholia, Australian sportsmen must attack. Latent insecurity and loathing of cant is demonstrated in a suspicion of walkers, and walking, and a willingness to abide by the umpire's decision. And so Australian cricket forged its own path forwards, formed its own ideology. India has never been as clear-minded about itself. Whereas the Australian settlers had an almost empty continent on which to create a nation, India had proud memories of itself, traditions recorded in books or burned into minds - attitudes and customs strong enough to survive any empire. But hundreds of years of foreign influence were bound to leave their mark besides which no nation can stand still. Since 1947 India has been rediscovering itself. Of course the same applies on the cricket field and the triumph of 2007-08 lay not so much in the results as in the sense that an identity had been found.



'Indeed, the visitors looked fresher by the end' © Getty Images

Under the admirable captaincies of Anil Kumble and Mahendra Dhoni, India discovered a new, contemporary voice. Too much has been made of the various episodes involving Harbhajan. More significant has been the way the Test team fought back in Perth, and the manner in which Dhoni's men took the ODI finals. India was not broken on the wheel, was not affected by the local noise, did not take a step backwards. In short, it met the Australians on equal terms, as an united force.

The Indian team expressed the confidence of a nation. Forget about the raptures and furies. Consider the last over of the campaign. Australia needed 13 runs to win. Already Sachin Tendulkar had played another beautiful innings. Already Dhoni had played boldly and thought fearlessly, summoning an unsung swing bowler from a family of wrestlers, and a teenage legspinner, and throwing them the ball at critical times. Now he tossed the ball to Irfan Pathan, put his arm around him and muttered not the usual platitudes but a cheerful, "Irfan, you cannot be so bad that you give away 13 runs in the last over." Afterwards Pathan told TV reporter Vimal Kumar that he had not felt the pressure as he had grown up seeing his father trying to put food on the table. That was pressure. Dhoni had grown up the same way, fighting for his place. It is also the Australian way. And who was Kumar except a boy from the rural areas who has risen through the ranks? Ishant Sharma's dad repairs air conditioners.

Indian cricket has found its voice. Not that the inheritance has been abandoned, for that is childish. Rather it has been interpreted and renewed. Australian cricket had always belonged to the people. Now the same applies to India. Australia had been crying for an opponent that plays cricket with sustained intent. The rivalry between the nations, Australia with its 108 years and India with its 60, both with booming economies, has just begun.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jarydd on March 14, 2008, 0:23 GMT

    has the balance for power shifted? a test series victory and a loss in the tri nations and we are being asked if the balance of power has shifted? Last time India toured here they actually performed better in the test series, which they drew 1-1. does anybody remember that? Last summer Australia lost the CB series to England. then what happened? Oh yeah, they won the world cup. Then what happened? They won a one-day series in India. To be the best you must win everywhere, not just try hard. Perhaps India should be worried about their upcoming series against South Africa, because lose that series, and the momentum is gone. We can only hope, because then, some balance might return to the game

  • cricketmad on March 13, 2008, 23:34 GMT

    To the Indians taking offence to Roebuck's suggestion of taking responsibility--calm down guys. Now that India is at the forefront of deciding the future of International crcket, we need to be more responsible. We missed the oppurtunity to take a stand against Zimbabwe for clearly discriminating against white cricketers. I understand that Zimbabweans suffered immensely under the Ian Smith's apartheid regime, but eye for an eye is not the answer. It wasn't Gandhi's way 100yrs ago and it should not be today. Peter Roebuck is making an honest attempt to understand the reasons for India's rise in Cricket and as an international economics powerhouse. Our memory is short-It was Roebuck who called for Ponting to be removed from captaincy after the Sydney test. He is right in pointing out that we shouldn't ape the Aussies blindly. We did well in Australia not because of aggression, but because we had the stomach for a fight in the Sydney Perth and Adelaide tests.

  • vtha010 on March 13, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    With all due respect Peter, our cricket team was and is an enigma. We indians have spent every year since 1987 with bated breath for a new dawn to lead us to the top of world cricket where most of us believe we ought to stand. The series in australia was fantastic, but lets put it in perspective. I for one would like to see australia eke out every ball and struggle for every run in the upcoming series in India. To make that a reality is the challenge for our cricketers. The day I see relief reflected on the face of australian cricketers at securing a draw in India is the day that, for me, India can claim as being the best. Lets not muddle the cricketing facts, the reality is that we are on the way up to take what we as a nation feel is ours, but we have a long way to go and face a champion team that burns with just as much passion. Time will tell if it truly is "India's hour" and if our hunger to be the best outweighs the aussie determination to hold onto their perch.

  • masterblaster666 on March 13, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    @Manoj1234, Peter Roebuck is an Englishman settled now in Australia and so not one of those "Aussies" as you just referred to him. And if you don't statistically measure India's past successes, you would also see that things were different this time. Our famous Test or ODI victories in the past were largely based on miraculous individual performances which the individuals in question would find hard to repeat. In Kolkata 01, it was Laxman and Dravid. In Delhi 99, it was Kumble. In Sharjan 98, it was Sachin and so on. In this ODI series, India consistently pushed Aus to the edge and those who say it's too much ado about two victories forget about the Melbourne reversal and Aus's narrow escape at Adelaide and Sydney. Yes, Sachin took up the tab again in the finals but the rest batted around him with an application not seen consistently in Indian cricket with the bowlers tying Aus down again and again and that's why this triumph is special.

  • KrossFokus on March 13, 2008, 7:01 GMT

    I am not sure if some of the conclusions that Peter Roebuck has made out of young Indian cricket team's attitute are as obvious. Turn your eyes away from the Indian cricket by an angle and see the ironies. Two days ago India lost 2-0 to England in hockey and failed to qualify to play in Beijing olympics this year. This is the first time in 80 years, infact the first time since the inclusion of hockey in olympics that India has failed to qualify to play in Olympics. And now the irony: India has won the Olympic hockey gold the highest number of times that is eight times. Athletics and other sports are in pathetic shape and there is no hope of India getting an Olympic medal in those for the next twenty years! Majority of the sportspersons in India apart from cricketers come from very humble backgrounds just to find a job. So its impossible to believe that India is a sports nation in making just because people from its smaller towns and villages are coming to sports.

  • Loon on March 13, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    I find it funny that just a few years ago India drew a series with Australia in Australia and for all money looked like winning it, from the first test to the last and everyone was enthusiastic about the future of Indian cricket. But it didn't work. Can it work this time, I'm not sure because I'm not physic. All I know is that for India to prove themselves they have to actually win a test series before they shout about being the best. However, on another note, I must say I turned off my television set and tuned my radio to another station when Harbhajan, Ponting and Symonds started acting like little, ponsy, spoilt school kids. If they want to act like that, they should actually back up their talk with good cricket, not by the constant stream of mediocrity that they did provide. The constant barrage of whinging over this summer turned me elsewhere for entertainment, and if it wasn't for Gilchrist and the Sri Lankan's I would never have watched the one day series either.

  • Manoj1234 on March 13, 2008, 3:10 GMT

    Hi Peter, It seems us Indians have really enjoyed the victory , celebrated immensely and are going forward, but you Aussies can't seem to forget the defeat. This is probably ur 10th column about india coming of age , on and off the field. Come On now. India didn't come off age just after this one stupid tour to Australia. Its been progressing , you just noticed the changes after it hit you in the head spot on. In one of your older articles, I was surprised to see a line ' Yes Hindus and Muslims can laugh together', appearing totally out of any context - I guess it was when dhoni and pathan laughed or something. Still don't understand how 'hindus' and 'muslims' got into the picture.

    I think your real focus should be on the recently re-inforced and thoroughly exposed cultural deficiencies in the Australian team, which by the way has a greater reflection of Aussie society than the Indian Cricket team is representative of the Indian nation.

    Thanks Manoj

  • snarge on March 13, 2008, 0:02 GMT

    I know comparing the merits of the two teams on the field was not the major intent of the article. But saying that India are matching it with Australia is quite premature. The Test series victory was quite comfortable, India's win in Perth quite narrow. Others have already pointed out India's need for consistency. The one who suggested that India are now number one needs to have a good look at himself. How long since India have won more than 1 Test in a series? Since 2005. They are only capable of the odd stunning performance, and this has been the case for a long time.

  • Saloo on March 12, 2008, 23:33 GMT

    India has really shown itself in cricket in this series. For anyone who has not been following cricket but watched this season's cricket, I dont think he or she would be able to tell that Australia was the world champions - both teams played equally well. India has emerged as the new challenge and with so many younger players waiting in the wings, fresh from winning the u19 world cup, other teams should watch out. Besides, despite the blips on the radar of Indian cricket, we have been one of the most consistent teams (even during the 2007 world cup where we played consistently badly) and I think I can confidently say that India have shown themselves to be serious contenders for the title of world champions.

  • VidhuraMuni on March 12, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    It is too soon to say that India's time has come. India has to consistently perform the same way for atleast next 1 year and only then can we say that India has arrived.

    India has experienced these ups and downs in it's form(remember 2003 World Cup and in contrast to that the 2007 World Cup). It is the sustaining of the momentum and the form for longer terms that makes a champion !!

  • jarydd on March 14, 2008, 0:23 GMT

    has the balance for power shifted? a test series victory and a loss in the tri nations and we are being asked if the balance of power has shifted? Last time India toured here they actually performed better in the test series, which they drew 1-1. does anybody remember that? Last summer Australia lost the CB series to England. then what happened? Oh yeah, they won the world cup. Then what happened? They won a one-day series in India. To be the best you must win everywhere, not just try hard. Perhaps India should be worried about their upcoming series against South Africa, because lose that series, and the momentum is gone. We can only hope, because then, some balance might return to the game

  • cricketmad on March 13, 2008, 23:34 GMT

    To the Indians taking offence to Roebuck's suggestion of taking responsibility--calm down guys. Now that India is at the forefront of deciding the future of International crcket, we need to be more responsible. We missed the oppurtunity to take a stand against Zimbabwe for clearly discriminating against white cricketers. I understand that Zimbabweans suffered immensely under the Ian Smith's apartheid regime, but eye for an eye is not the answer. It wasn't Gandhi's way 100yrs ago and it should not be today. Peter Roebuck is making an honest attempt to understand the reasons for India's rise in Cricket and as an international economics powerhouse. Our memory is short-It was Roebuck who called for Ponting to be removed from captaincy after the Sydney test. He is right in pointing out that we shouldn't ape the Aussies blindly. We did well in Australia not because of aggression, but because we had the stomach for a fight in the Sydney Perth and Adelaide tests.

  • vtha010 on March 13, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    With all due respect Peter, our cricket team was and is an enigma. We indians have spent every year since 1987 with bated breath for a new dawn to lead us to the top of world cricket where most of us believe we ought to stand. The series in australia was fantastic, but lets put it in perspective. I for one would like to see australia eke out every ball and struggle for every run in the upcoming series in India. To make that a reality is the challenge for our cricketers. The day I see relief reflected on the face of australian cricketers at securing a draw in India is the day that, for me, India can claim as being the best. Lets not muddle the cricketing facts, the reality is that we are on the way up to take what we as a nation feel is ours, but we have a long way to go and face a champion team that burns with just as much passion. Time will tell if it truly is "India's hour" and if our hunger to be the best outweighs the aussie determination to hold onto their perch.

  • masterblaster666 on March 13, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    @Manoj1234, Peter Roebuck is an Englishman settled now in Australia and so not one of those "Aussies" as you just referred to him. And if you don't statistically measure India's past successes, you would also see that things were different this time. Our famous Test or ODI victories in the past were largely based on miraculous individual performances which the individuals in question would find hard to repeat. In Kolkata 01, it was Laxman and Dravid. In Delhi 99, it was Kumble. In Sharjan 98, it was Sachin and so on. In this ODI series, India consistently pushed Aus to the edge and those who say it's too much ado about two victories forget about the Melbourne reversal and Aus's narrow escape at Adelaide and Sydney. Yes, Sachin took up the tab again in the finals but the rest batted around him with an application not seen consistently in Indian cricket with the bowlers tying Aus down again and again and that's why this triumph is special.

  • KrossFokus on March 13, 2008, 7:01 GMT

    I am not sure if some of the conclusions that Peter Roebuck has made out of young Indian cricket team's attitute are as obvious. Turn your eyes away from the Indian cricket by an angle and see the ironies. Two days ago India lost 2-0 to England in hockey and failed to qualify to play in Beijing olympics this year. This is the first time in 80 years, infact the first time since the inclusion of hockey in olympics that India has failed to qualify to play in Olympics. And now the irony: India has won the Olympic hockey gold the highest number of times that is eight times. Athletics and other sports are in pathetic shape and there is no hope of India getting an Olympic medal in those for the next twenty years! Majority of the sportspersons in India apart from cricketers come from very humble backgrounds just to find a job. So its impossible to believe that India is a sports nation in making just because people from its smaller towns and villages are coming to sports.

  • Loon on March 13, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    I find it funny that just a few years ago India drew a series with Australia in Australia and for all money looked like winning it, from the first test to the last and everyone was enthusiastic about the future of Indian cricket. But it didn't work. Can it work this time, I'm not sure because I'm not physic. All I know is that for India to prove themselves they have to actually win a test series before they shout about being the best. However, on another note, I must say I turned off my television set and tuned my radio to another station when Harbhajan, Ponting and Symonds started acting like little, ponsy, spoilt school kids. If they want to act like that, they should actually back up their talk with good cricket, not by the constant stream of mediocrity that they did provide. The constant barrage of whinging over this summer turned me elsewhere for entertainment, and if it wasn't for Gilchrist and the Sri Lankan's I would never have watched the one day series either.

  • Manoj1234 on March 13, 2008, 3:10 GMT

    Hi Peter, It seems us Indians have really enjoyed the victory , celebrated immensely and are going forward, but you Aussies can't seem to forget the defeat. This is probably ur 10th column about india coming of age , on and off the field. Come On now. India didn't come off age just after this one stupid tour to Australia. Its been progressing , you just noticed the changes after it hit you in the head spot on. In one of your older articles, I was surprised to see a line ' Yes Hindus and Muslims can laugh together', appearing totally out of any context - I guess it was when dhoni and pathan laughed or something. Still don't understand how 'hindus' and 'muslims' got into the picture.

    I think your real focus should be on the recently re-inforced and thoroughly exposed cultural deficiencies in the Australian team, which by the way has a greater reflection of Aussie society than the Indian Cricket team is representative of the Indian nation.

    Thanks Manoj

  • snarge on March 13, 2008, 0:02 GMT

    I know comparing the merits of the two teams on the field was not the major intent of the article. But saying that India are matching it with Australia is quite premature. The Test series victory was quite comfortable, India's win in Perth quite narrow. Others have already pointed out India's need for consistency. The one who suggested that India are now number one needs to have a good look at himself. How long since India have won more than 1 Test in a series? Since 2005. They are only capable of the odd stunning performance, and this has been the case for a long time.

  • Saloo on March 12, 2008, 23:33 GMT

    India has really shown itself in cricket in this series. For anyone who has not been following cricket but watched this season's cricket, I dont think he or she would be able to tell that Australia was the world champions - both teams played equally well. India has emerged as the new challenge and with so many younger players waiting in the wings, fresh from winning the u19 world cup, other teams should watch out. Besides, despite the blips on the radar of Indian cricket, we have been one of the most consistent teams (even during the 2007 world cup where we played consistently badly) and I think I can confidently say that India have shown themselves to be serious contenders for the title of world champions.

  • VidhuraMuni on March 12, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    It is too soon to say that India's time has come. India has to consistently perform the same way for atleast next 1 year and only then can we say that India has arrived.

    India has experienced these ups and downs in it's form(remember 2003 World Cup and in contrast to that the 2007 World Cup). It is the sustaining of the momentum and the form for longer terms that makes a champion !!

  • JaySarkar on March 12, 2008, 18:48 GMT

    The condescension masked by an outward veneer of politeness and plaudits taint this article by a man who i held in highest regard until recently. Roebuck shows his 'hand' when he 'advises' Indians to behave the way an Englishman might do in recent times. We've had enough of people telling Indians they are good enough but must be better behaved to be considered at par with the 'propah' crowd. Roebuck might call this nouveau aggro from a nation 'rediscovering' itself. There are no one set of standards Roebuck should realise and stop playing this nice Englishman who tried to find cultrual strands and historical reasons to make his point. If Indians are loud and brash, then the ilk of Roebuk must accept that rather than impose their own views of what 'good behaviour' ought to be. The article was disappoiting in that it hardly spoke cricket and fans of this site do not need a pretentious cricket hack to play historian and headmaster simultaneously. Let us have cricket n not culture.

  • manzig on March 12, 2008, 17:33 GMT

    I think this is just wishful thinking. India has so many diverse accomplishments that she can be proud of. Cricket is just a passion and there is no need to correlate the awakening of india in terms of just a game called cricket we inherited from UK. Simply put its just a result of some good selection and some good leadership happened either by choice or by just pure luck. There were talents in india all through the years but politics played a big part in keeping them at bay. The architects of the victory are primary the same old indian stereotypes who go about their business in style (tendulkars, dhoni, ishnt) and i don't correlate awakening with being arrogant and being at opponents face. India has miles to go to before it realize the full potential. It is not just right if we shower the cricketers with all the money in the world and forget that we have not yet won any significant victories in Olympics and we are not expecting any (one might be a long shot) gold medals in Beeging

  • crickbuff on March 12, 2008, 17:24 GMT

    Come on Peter!!! Let me make something clear to you and all those who read this; we Indians are not flattered by your article. To be precise Iam embarassed reading your article. We are not over the moon by just winning a one-day series. I agree there is a good team in the making and future does look promising. But that doesnt mean we are the all conquering team. Australia are a great team and we respect them as the NO.1 team in the world. You have gone a long way back 60years describing independence and etc. One series victory doesnt need all this hype. I think Peter Roebuck is an author of extreme thoughts. In one article after the Sydney test he quite alarmingly claimed for Ponting to be removed as captain; two weeks later he says Ponting is such a great cricketer he refused to take a run of a rebound. Honestly Peter, dont embarass us, let us savour the moment; you seem to invite more hatred against Indian cricket by exaggerating our victory.

  • Grudge.Kid on March 12, 2008, 15:35 GMT

    For all the nay sayers: Here is the thing. Let's start with 'form and class'. True, Sachin had to take it up in the finals. But it was the 'youngsters' who got them into the finals (not to take anything away from the master blaster). That is why it is a team sport, every body contributes. Think about the bowlers, without good bowling, scores of 240-250 were always easy for the Aussies. The bowlers again were young. Let's then talk about Aussie form: their best didn't perform? You just contradicted yourself, because Indians didn't either. For Hayden, Sachin didn't do well in the league stages. For Ponting, Rohit Sharma wasn't at his best. for Symmo, Yuvi was inconsistent as well. So it balanced out. For Lee, Ishant did well & Pathan evens out for Bracken. So it was either that neither batting sides performed or both bowling sides performed. I am not ranking India as the best yet, but it was truely a memorable performance (and a sign for the future hopefully).

  • concerned_cricketer on March 12, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    Mr Roebuck's article made interesting reading and I really enjoyed his picturesque language expertly used to emphasis points. The level of cricket played was very high even compared to many of the world cups. The two teams seemed to be equally matched. I don't know if that's because Australia's standard has dropped after the retirement of some of their best players or because India stepped up or a bit of both. These two nations are definitely going places in terms of their economies and growth. Let's hope they keep up a healthy rivalry in their cricket too and raise the standard of the game to unparalled levels!

  • Percy_Fender on March 12, 2008, 12:14 GMT

    No other teamr after Douglas Jardine's bodyline sojourn to Australia in 1932 has left their shores in a trail of bitterness as the Indians have. Sadly, that has been only because someone dared to challenge their status as World Champions on the field of play verbal duels apart. But for the downright biased umpiring and Australian gracelessness in Sydney fuelled by their passion to equal a record even if in doing so they were trampling upon an ageed uponr gentleman's code, this tour may have been just as memorable as the one in 2004. Harbhajan's response as a "Sikh warrior", in the words of Roebuck post Sydney, was what queered the pitch. By letting the Symonds the Haydens and the Pontings know that they had met their match in verbal skills as well was what made the Indians a much disliked band. They also could'nt stomach the fact that a young Indian tearaway was causing embarrassment to some of their icons. So the strut is not just about the economic boom of the nation.

  • Jinesh_Thampi on March 12, 2008, 11:56 GMT

    Peter Roebuck tries to present a balanced view of affairs , but its so obvious that he is an aussie man, it seems his outburts after the sidney fiasco was nothing more than an aberration.All through your article we can detect an aussie bias more so in the last line when you mention australia is 108 years old and india 60 years old economy. May be Peter Roebuck is pertified of losing his job after narrating the obvious after the sydney saga. Be and man Peter and not sing hosannas for an arrogant,deplorable aussie team and its pathetic support cast,the aussie media. We are not living in a fools not to undertstand the mental framework and intentions of authors like Peter Roebuck. India is up and rirising and weeds can always be detected.Better Peter beware is aware of this..

  • putrevus on March 12, 2008, 11:47 GMT

    Author you missed one main point to dominate you need to have hunger to win every match they play which Indian team surely lacks, In recent series alone in England and Pakistan, indians were content on living on the leads they got and didnt force for wins in oval and also in Banglore which they could have if not late declarations, to impose yourself on other teams you need to be aggressive which then Captain Dravid and now captain Kumble didn't exhibit. The Aussie tail saved one test in 2005 Ashes and almost won another test in the same series that is mental strength and determination which Indians dont have it.They were ready to play role of martyrs at the end of Sydney test but not warriors who were ready to fight till the end and save the match.

    Since when is winning last few matches equate to dominance england did win last two matches in finals last year, did they become dominant side?let us cut the media hype on how India has become dominant side.

  • KhuzemaImani on March 12, 2008, 11:21 GMT

    Its true that more than passion, muscle combined with money talks. Coming to India's win if looked on purely on statistics of population that is passionate about CRICKET as a game which they play and follow, Wins of this kind is too miniature.

    If CRICKET matches & tournaments are won on a sustained basis; in-case of India the barometer needs to be set more than normal standards in comparision with other CRICKET playing nations, just because of its population size and CRICKET being an un-official Religion if just like its independence of 60 years if INDIAN CRICKET TEAM's keep on WINNING for continues SUSTAINED basis for 50 more years, THAN ONLY NUMBER ONE POSITION would rightly belong to it.

  • bonaku on March 12, 2008, 10:53 GMT

    To be honest I am happy that India won against Aus in Aus. But I would not read too much into this victory. I would rather wait and see how they will perform in next few years. For India Consistency has been always been a big problem. Not many talk about the performance of India against Sri Lanka. You would wonder weather it is the same Indian Team that made Aus toil. As always said, reaching NO.1 is easier than retaining N0.1. That is y Aus is great team(though they are the worst behaved team in the world). In comparison the great West Indies Team is a Legend, in all terms.

  • Saranadhi on March 12, 2008, 10:18 GMT

    Indian cricket has certainly showing more promise but still needs to display consistency to accept that it has come of age. This young team has lived by the saying 'Meet a sword with sword' and have come out successfully. But, this should be reserved only for the Australians and not to be adopted for other teams. Indians should play the game in the right spirit and keep it a gentleman's sport.

  • donthaveaclue on March 12, 2008, 10:00 GMT

    Mark Taylor said it was one of best summers of cricket he has seen in a long time. Others have been claiming that Australia V India is the new Australia V England, which isn't saying much given those weren't ever in the vicinity of being contests barring 2005. The long-drawn Commonwealth Bank Series is over and apparently India have had their best overseas tours in history. A 1-2 loss in the test series and winning the ODI series (which is how the marketers would prefer it anyway). Creditable results, those of a dramatic bent of mind can even see signs of an inflection point in the dynamic of the cricket world that is no longer dominated by default by Australia. For me however, the cynical yet idealistic observer, things don't seem quite right.

    Here's why India's performance is not what the media touts it to be.. http://outsideedge.wordpress.com

  • KrishnaCR on March 12, 2008, 9:51 GMT

    Hope this rivalry exists in good sporting spirits. All Indian fans would also be hoping for Dhoni and his men not getting carried away with this win and also the unreasonable money they get by playing for IPL. As for Aussies' innate sledging skills, i request Bollywood to offer suitable roles in their movies to utilise them, lest they be demonstrated on cricket field.

  • Bharatvarsh.. on March 12, 2008, 9:47 GMT

    India has always been one of most consistent nation in ICC events. India have won 5 ICC events,1 world cup,2 U/19 world cup,1 champions trophy,1 T/20 world cup next best to aussie who have won 7 ICC events from same after making to finals of events 8 times.It's just between these events India's inconsisency is more than Aussies.another aspect is Aussies are able to win in style on most occasion against good teams,thats were India finds hard to achieve victory easily.Second thing is that India does not uses its confidence wisely on victoryinto next series/tour.2007 was strong example of it.win against WI,SL,debacle in world cup,win against SA,loss against ENG,world T/20 win,loss against AUS,win against PAK in test series,loss in test series in AUS.The best way to to be best is to win 80% of series/cup in next 2-3 yrs,otherwise,its too early to say balance is in India's favour

  • Cogent on March 12, 2008, 9:42 GMT

    I love Peter Reobuk's articles - makes me refer to the dictionary! India has won but one series! Only recently they were more than humbled by Australia on their own green. Yes hopefully India has come of age and will show some consistency, but a long way to go before we can hail them as equals to Australia. Whilst India raised their game, both on and off the pitch, lets not forget that Australia has climbed down without the incredible Warne and McGrath. This is a new era for Australia, one expects they will remain competitive, but no where close to the recent past. Not taking anything away from India, but must acknowledge that Australia are not same without the fire power of Warne and McGrath. Now without Gilchrist, their batting saviour has gone too. Australian supports must worry with so many of their squad in their 30s, the IPL may well lure many of these senior players away from their green baggies sooner than they would have liked.

  • eminem on March 12, 2008, 9:12 GMT

    Good article mate, and I am happy that India is come of age of looking-in-the-eye of the opponent. I am also happy that they are a good bunch of players who have the talent and ability to out beat any team in the world. Having said that, I doubt the Indians can sustain this level of being ICC rating's number one (eventually) as long as the Aussies have done. For the Indians to retain being world "numero unno" they will have to match the Aussies in the infrastructure level (including pitches) as well as the cricketing system in the country. I live in Australia and I can tell you that the system and infrastructure of this country cannot be compared with, and the Indian system and infrastructure is way way behind. Being an Indian fan, I will be fooling myself to equate this on par with India, because I played cricket when I lived in India, and I know one or two about Indian cricket/system. Let us hope to see good entertaining cricket between these 2 powerful nations in their own right.

  • Rashmikant on March 12, 2008, 9:07 GMT

    India is a country of great divesity. Cricket is just a game, a sport. The struggle cricketers are put through is nothing compared to day to day struggle millions of her citizen go through everyday. I have lived in India for almost 25 years and those years have only made me stronger as the difficulties you face in everyday life for even basic necessities of life are beyond imaginations of all western and Australian people. You can think of branded items only once you have basic food,shelter and primary clothing. Even today I believe the development taking place in India is one sided. If poorer are getting poor what price developments is ? When millions of its citizen go to bed without basic senitation facilities, basic housing, food and clothing it is dangrous senario. Irfan Pathan has rightly pointed out he has seen his father putting food on the table. That is a challenge:not sledging by Hayden or Symonds. I am sure from adversities will rise other Gandhies.

  • KalluSeKalia on March 12, 2008, 8:52 GMT

    A pround Indian living in the US quoting from the movie "Spiderman"??? What do we have next, players walking to their crease in slow motion? The tone of the article and the gleeful comments by some the self confessed pround Indians suggests India has just arrived. Speak for yourself. India was, is and always will be a great nation. Also, completely agree with Ashutosh, there is nothing extraordinary about Ishant's dad being an air-conditioner handyman and needs no mention. A cheesy article.

  • nallan on March 12, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Wonderful article.Very nicely brought out.But as some have pointed out ,consistency is the need of the hour & only time will tell.Though youth has paid well, I am of the view that atleast two experienced players should be there.India could have won all the 5 matches against australia.

  • riverlime on March 12, 2008, 7:22 GMT

    What a load of rubbish!! How does India winning two (TWO!!!) games on the trot imply that they are the new masters of cricket? And 50 over games at that. Has everyone forgotten that they LOST the Test series, which any purist will admit is the true mark of cricketing ability; shortened versions of the game artificially augmenting the excitement while cutting out the mental chess. Don't get me wrong. I am all for an abolition of the monopoly of the top spot that Aus wrested from WI 12 or 13 years ago, but realistically, India are not that team. Not yet at least, although they may soon be able to claim the crown. However, just as there is promise in India, so there is promise elsewhere, and unless India is careful about banging its own drum, they will look silly if the success is not repeated against other opposition.

  • citizen1_8 on March 12, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    I think we are simply talking too much. Lets not forget, this was the hype that was created when Tendulkar saw India through to victory at sharjah against australia 12 yrs ago and when Sourav Ganguly led the Indian team to a dramatic victory in the Natwest Finals and ended up runner up in the 2003 WC. Even after all those stages and with the all the big players, we did not manage to qualify for the second round in 2007 WC. Now we have have won two important tournaments and one close loss marred by controversies, But consistency has always been a problem with the Indian cricket team unlike Australia. How often have u seen India recording a consecutive win of atleast 7 or 8 matches be it Test or ODI. I am a strong supporter of India and I want them to perform well consistently.

  • Ashutosh on March 12, 2008, 6:26 GMT

    The only thing consistent about India's performances is its inconsistency. Hope for cricket's sake, India can change that for the better. Indian seamers have done well abroad earlier also, most famously in '83. This time too they relished pitches offering some assistance. Whether the Indian team has improved remains to be seen, what the series did prove that the Aussies are not the same force without the lethal combo of McGrath & Warne. I find it really difficult to understand the media focus & obsession with the 'humble' backgrounds of the new emerging talents of Indian cricket and their 'small-town' origins. Is Tendulkar from the house of Tatas? Did Ponting roll in the Murdoch millions? Is Meerut any different from Mumbai nowadays? Maybe the not-so-rags to riches story makes for good copy. The NBA stars, the Latin American footballers and many more have the same story. Time we stopped this generally patronizing and the sympathetic oh-my-he-can't-speak-the-queen's-English attitude.

  • slsr on March 12, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    Indian cricket owes its modern aggression and quality to Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Laxman and Tendulkar (in alphabetical order). Talent has rarely been a problem in Indian cricket. It is that burning desire to be nothing less than the best, that desparation to win game after game, which was missing in past teams. These guys lifted the bar. Dhoni has inherited a team where work ethics and professionalism standards are higher than ever before. It is still early in Dhoni's career and the best we can say is that he is a promising leader and an exciting cricketer. Getting his team to match DGKL in deeds is still a long way to go.

  • rockyreckless on March 12, 2008, 6:19 GMT

    Its so hillariously ironical that Peter Rebouk has to admit after 60 years of Indian Independence the fact that India now has the ability to look at its previous Colonial Masters (UK & Australia) an eye to eye.

    The fact is, the undernourisehed, unprivilleged, burdended, poverty ridden, Billion plus India, always had the capability to perform at world level, despite its million shortcomings, characterstic of a developing nation.

    I guess the modest, sensible Indians tend to be quite winners (& losers if they do)leaving the loud victory slogans & sledging to their loudmouthed, outspoken Australian counterparts.

  • tinker on March 12, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    Are people getting a tad carried away here?

    India just a year ago got bounced out of the wc in the first round, they lost the home one dayers to Australia a few months back and the test series.

    I think hayden said it right when he said the media in cricket tend to be hysterical and jump all over the place day by day, roebuck being a classic example.

    Two months ago cricket was boring because the aussies always won now they lose a few games they are over the hill.

    The facts remain Australia just won 16 straight tests(India's best ever is a paltry 5) fact india haven't won a test series against Australia for over 7 years.

    fact Australia won last time they played in India. fact India have never won a single test series in Australia, people seem to want to give India the prize before they have even run the race but australia earnt their number one through 12 straight years of winning winning winning all around the world.

  • Forward_Short_leg on March 12, 2008, 6:09 GMT

    I wonder if all this excitement is about the Indian rise or the Australian fall? I guess a mixture of both. But I would agree that Australian dominance was making the game dull and boring. South Africa (before world cup 2007 by becoming #1 ICC team), England - Newzealand (Last year before world cup) Srilanka (94-98) have all challenged Australia at various stages but could not full fill the promise of long exciting rivalry. India has managed it in the last few months but let's hope it lives up to the excitement. First time I have noticed Australian players and media questioning their own system of producing cricketers and calling for young blood like the Indian team. Lets hope International cricket become exciting otherwise people are already turning to IPL, ICL, Stanford series and what not.

  • sroyc on March 12, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    Always a pleasure reading your articles Peter. Very few journalists have been able to present a balanced view. Both sides needed to be admonished and praised at different times and you've been able to do that. As a proud Indian living in the US, I present a quote from the movie "Spiderman" - "With great power comes great responsibility". I hope the current generation of Indian youth remember that.

    -Siddhartha

  • S.Shekar on March 12, 2008, 5:22 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Roebuck on the India-Australia series being a beginning of a wonderful rivalry. As much as we appreciate the balanced approach and fearlessness of India's Test and ODI teams, we need to ensure consistency and ruthlessness, which has made Australia the champion side that it is. The journey has just begun for this Indian team to sustain the brilliance shown over the past few months, into greatness in the years to come...

    All the Best Kumble, Dhoni & Co...!!!

  • bluz13 on March 12, 2008, 5:08 GMT

    Well said Sir! Cricket badly needed a team that would challenge Australia as without it the game had become unexciting, predictable and boring. Its even better that a country like India finally brought it to the game because it couldn't be culturally more different from Australia - colonial past and love for the game are only common denominators. Consider the contrasts - small town boys playing on dirt street and living on low-protein diets vs. professionally trained athletes practicing with best equipment, boys fighting nepotism to rise through the ranks vs. boys playing in well-stuctured cricketing machinery that throws up the best. Overall, this is very good for the game of cricket and its fans world over. Long live the rivalry.

    wows.wordpress. com

  • leeandtait on March 12, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    Why is everthing about the balance of power? As long as whoever has the power protects this great game and we get to see India vs. Australia why do we have to say someone is better than someone else. Australia is not better than India and India is not better than Australia. Let the players play hard and fair because this is what we all truly love. Good, hard competitive cricket where we sit at the MCG or Eden Gardens with 100,000 other people and cheer and observe champions like Tendulkar and Ponting and watch as new players like Ishant Sharma and Mitchell Johnson try to become the new champions. Results on the cricket field is what matters and the cricket bat is way more powerful than the pen. Finally Australia has an opponent that looks like they can maintain their challenge over many years, not just a flash in the pan (England - Ashes '05).

  • PunjabiJatt on March 12, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    I would like to see another good win by India. First thing is South Africa is going to be there. Next Australian tour to India will be good test for it.

  • masterblaster666 on March 12, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    Indeed, this tour has truly seen the emergence of real India and there is perhaps no greater proof of it than bitter Anglophile Bishen Singh Bedi's tirade on the conduct of the Indian team without a word of praise for their performance. As one former Australian player noted, this Indian team refused to defer to Aussie dominance, which more than anything else probably caused so much unrest in the Aussie camp. India appropriated the mental make-up of the Aussies but played to core Indian strengths: spin in the middle overs, seam and swing rather than hitting the deck hard and supple wrists to work the ball away for scampered twos rather than horizontal smashes for sixes. What really clinched the series was the captaincy. Ponting's inertia contrasted starkly with Dhoni's dymanism. Ponting had no aces up his sleeve and fielded the same team whom his rivals had already found out, Dhoni had Piyush, Pravin Kumar, Uthappa as opener, too many unknown elements to counter in the finals.

  • SanjivSanjiv on March 12, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    It is not a question of balance of power at this stage but more of playing fire with fire and arise as a strong opponent to match Australia in the cricket field. Untill India is consistant in producing home and away wins like Australia has done, the balance of power is still with Australia. To a large extent India plays their cricket with passion and so is the people watch with passion but their cricketing skills are not equal to the Australian players though there are some vivid signs emerging from this series. India need to keep playing strongly against other nations as well to achieve the balance of power shifted from Australia. Let's see what happens when India plays against South Africa in the home series in couple of weeks time. I wish India will show the same intensity with positive frame of mind. Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia.

  • The_Wog on March 12, 2008, 4:21 GMT

    Let's not get carried away - Tendulkar made a heap of runs in the finals and IND won a couple of close games. It doesn't mean they have made any spectacular leaps - you just have to look at their woeful 20/20 capitulation without him, or take his 200 runs off their finals scorecards.

  • ExCricketFan on March 12, 2008, 3:39 GMT

    Mr. Roebuck has written an article that's good in intent. However, the author should first learn to use a spell-checker and then, correct his grammar and attempt to write shorter and simpler sentences. I wonder which dictionary carries the word, "egaliterrean."!!

    The author can then come to cricket. India, surely, had a successful tour inspite of unrelenting hostilities by the Aussies. Nonetheless, it is still too early to determine whether India can sustain this rivalry with Australia. This requires a major and sustained commitment to excellence in all aspects of this sport. India is yet to prove herself in this regard. What happened to England after 2005 Ashes can easily happen to India.

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  • ExCricketFan on March 12, 2008, 3:39 GMT

    Mr. Roebuck has written an article that's good in intent. However, the author should first learn to use a spell-checker and then, correct his grammar and attempt to write shorter and simpler sentences. I wonder which dictionary carries the word, "egaliterrean."!!

    The author can then come to cricket. India, surely, had a successful tour inspite of unrelenting hostilities by the Aussies. Nonetheless, it is still too early to determine whether India can sustain this rivalry with Australia. This requires a major and sustained commitment to excellence in all aspects of this sport. India is yet to prove herself in this regard. What happened to England after 2005 Ashes can easily happen to India.

  • The_Wog on March 12, 2008, 4:21 GMT

    Let's not get carried away - Tendulkar made a heap of runs in the finals and IND won a couple of close games. It doesn't mean they have made any spectacular leaps - you just have to look at their woeful 20/20 capitulation without him, or take his 200 runs off their finals scorecards.

  • SanjivSanjiv on March 12, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    It is not a question of balance of power at this stage but more of playing fire with fire and arise as a strong opponent to match Australia in the cricket field. Untill India is consistant in producing home and away wins like Australia has done, the balance of power is still with Australia. To a large extent India plays their cricket with passion and so is the people watch with passion but their cricketing skills are not equal to the Australian players though there are some vivid signs emerging from this series. India need to keep playing strongly against other nations as well to achieve the balance of power shifted from Australia. Let's see what happens when India plays against South Africa in the home series in couple of weeks time. I wish India will show the same intensity with positive frame of mind. Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia.

  • masterblaster666 on March 12, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    Indeed, this tour has truly seen the emergence of real India and there is perhaps no greater proof of it than bitter Anglophile Bishen Singh Bedi's tirade on the conduct of the Indian team without a word of praise for their performance. As one former Australian player noted, this Indian team refused to defer to Aussie dominance, which more than anything else probably caused so much unrest in the Aussie camp. India appropriated the mental make-up of the Aussies but played to core Indian strengths: spin in the middle overs, seam and swing rather than hitting the deck hard and supple wrists to work the ball away for scampered twos rather than horizontal smashes for sixes. What really clinched the series was the captaincy. Ponting's inertia contrasted starkly with Dhoni's dymanism. Ponting had no aces up his sleeve and fielded the same team whom his rivals had already found out, Dhoni had Piyush, Pravin Kumar, Uthappa as opener, too many unknown elements to counter in the finals.

  • PunjabiJatt on March 12, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    I would like to see another good win by India. First thing is South Africa is going to be there. Next Australian tour to India will be good test for it.

  • leeandtait on March 12, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    Why is everthing about the balance of power? As long as whoever has the power protects this great game and we get to see India vs. Australia why do we have to say someone is better than someone else. Australia is not better than India and India is not better than Australia. Let the players play hard and fair because this is what we all truly love. Good, hard competitive cricket where we sit at the MCG or Eden Gardens with 100,000 other people and cheer and observe champions like Tendulkar and Ponting and watch as new players like Ishant Sharma and Mitchell Johnson try to become the new champions. Results on the cricket field is what matters and the cricket bat is way more powerful than the pen. Finally Australia has an opponent that looks like they can maintain their challenge over many years, not just a flash in the pan (England - Ashes '05).

  • bluz13 on March 12, 2008, 5:08 GMT

    Well said Sir! Cricket badly needed a team that would challenge Australia as without it the game had become unexciting, predictable and boring. Its even better that a country like India finally brought it to the game because it couldn't be culturally more different from Australia - colonial past and love for the game are only common denominators. Consider the contrasts - small town boys playing on dirt street and living on low-protein diets vs. professionally trained athletes practicing with best equipment, boys fighting nepotism to rise through the ranks vs. boys playing in well-stuctured cricketing machinery that throws up the best. Overall, this is very good for the game of cricket and its fans world over. Long live the rivalry.

    wows.wordpress. com

  • S.Shekar on March 12, 2008, 5:22 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Roebuck on the India-Australia series being a beginning of a wonderful rivalry. As much as we appreciate the balanced approach and fearlessness of India's Test and ODI teams, we need to ensure consistency and ruthlessness, which has made Australia the champion side that it is. The journey has just begun for this Indian team to sustain the brilliance shown over the past few months, into greatness in the years to come...

    All the Best Kumble, Dhoni & Co...!!!

  • sroyc on March 12, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    Always a pleasure reading your articles Peter. Very few journalists have been able to present a balanced view. Both sides needed to be admonished and praised at different times and you've been able to do that. As a proud Indian living in the US, I present a quote from the movie "Spiderman" - "With great power comes great responsibility". I hope the current generation of Indian youth remember that.

    -Siddhartha

  • Forward_Short_leg on March 12, 2008, 6:09 GMT

    I wonder if all this excitement is about the Indian rise or the Australian fall? I guess a mixture of both. But I would agree that Australian dominance was making the game dull and boring. South Africa (before world cup 2007 by becoming #1 ICC team), England - Newzealand (Last year before world cup) Srilanka (94-98) have all challenged Australia at various stages but could not full fill the promise of long exciting rivalry. India has managed it in the last few months but let's hope it lives up to the excitement. First time I have noticed Australian players and media questioning their own system of producing cricketers and calling for young blood like the Indian team. Lets hope International cricket become exciting otherwise people are already turning to IPL, ICL, Stanford series and what not.