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Commentator, television presenter and writer

The tasks of Clarke and Dhoni

The Australia and India captains are living two different stages of a team's life cycle. Their contest in the upcoming series will be intriguing

Harsha Bhogle

December 16, 2011

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke returns from South Africa, Sydney, November 23, 2011
Michael Clarke: only the sixth Australian Test captain in 25 years © Getty Images
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Over 25 years Australia have only had six Test captains. It is a staggering number, one routinely buried amid the rather more mundane records that pop up every half hour. In comparison, India have had 11 in the same period, though there has been far greater stability in the second half of that interval. What this tells you is that Australia have not only picked captains with care but have also chosen the right moment.

From Allan Border to Michael Clarke is quite a story, but it is not one of regular linear progression; no, life doesn't move in simple, straight lines. Instead, it is one of astonishing leaps forward - every captain stamped his personality on the job - and, a bit like in a one-lap race, an eventual return to the starting point. Border inherited a team in disarray. His predecessor, a tremendous cricketer sacrificed to the captaincy, in the eyes of some, quit in tears. The backroom boy was called up and Australia rebuilt, putting attitude first, and picking men of character, substantial people.

We can sometimes cast a superficial eye on the past, but those were the real building years, and those who picked the players can take as much credit as the players themselves. Mark Taylor, born to lead, and Steve Waugh took them far ahead of the opposition; one with flair, the other with a tinge of ruthlessness. Outstanding cricketers were sprouting everywhere and Australia grew strong by the day, almost like the dollar does against the rupee these days.

But the history of cricket tells us that one great generation eventually cannibalises another, and Ricky Ponting was given the job of proposing the vote of thanks for one of the greatest eras in world cricket. It is sad if that is all he is remembered for, because he is one of the game's greats, but it had been willed that way. As he benefitted from being part of an extraordinary set-up, so too did he have to bear the brunt of its inevitable by-product: all things that go up must come down. It is the cycle of life itself.

 
 
Border did not have to sit in judgement over a Greg Chappell as Clarke might just have to with Ponting, a player and leader he always looked up to
 

Now Clarke stands where Border stood 26 years ago. He is a product of a different era and is vastly different in personality. Clarke is outgoing, aggressive and looks like he wants to be a leader. Border was defiant, steely and had to grow into the job. But there is one other major difference. Border did not have to sit in judgement over a Greg Chappell as Clarke might just have to with Ponting, a player and leader he always looked up to. Australia's great strength has been its ability to say goodbye at the right time, as they did with Healy, the Waughs and Gilchrist.

And as he contemplates a series against India that can only be more cheerful than the one played in 2007-08, Clarke will look at his side and wonder why the runs don't seem to correlate well enough with the pedigree on offer. Luckily he has a group of young fast bowlers that he could fall back upon, and indeed, the clash of fiery, impatient youth with calm, phlegmatic experience will be the highlight of this series.

There is no Pat Cummins, cruelly laid low by injury so early in his career, but Pattinson, Starc, Siddle and Harris, a peculiar alloy of the robust and the fragile, will be a handful. Clarke has to give them wings, let them flutter and fall occasionally for Australia's future seems to lie with the ball rather more than with the bat.

His opposite number doesn't have quite the same issues on hand. Dhoni has inherited a side moulded by Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble, and he has lent stability to Indian cricket, where once a captain was forced to look back as often as he tried to look ahead.

Dhoni's real challenge will come in 12 months, when the stalwarts start to say goodbye to astonishing careers. It might have happened by now elsewhere, but in India we err on the side of the status quo where Australia tend to cull and move on. The status quo, unlike in public policy and economic affairs, where it has been a disaster, has actually served India quite well, with Tendulkar shrugging off an indifferent spell with aplomb and Dravid peeling back the years with dignity.

Even though Dhoni arrives in Australia with the wounds of the England tour still raw, and with bowlers breaking down either side of making the flight, he knows what it is to win for he has done so in every form of the game. His side is quite at contrast to Clarke's for he has depth in batting but still no precise idea of whom to throw the new ball to on Boxing Day. His great strength has been in managing a side that has in it those he idolised. It couldn't have been easy but those idols too are men of some class. He sits rather more comfortably on his perch than does Clarke. It is a series to savour.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by Beazle on (December 19, 2011, 22:08 GMT)

AB would have loved Greg Chappell to continue as would before him, poor Kim Hughes as Greg was still the best player in the side when he retired.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 23:37 GMT)

Why on earth India struggling to get the top inform bowlers to Australia rather than unfit and injured ones!!!we know lefties will be of grt service to Indian pace attack with rookies,, The dream lineup Zak,irfan umesh & mithun by god sake I jus saw aajtak n had shocker to see dinda flyin to oz!!!!!!god save India!!!!!!

Posted by Mina_Anand on (December 18, 2011, 15:36 GMT)

It's strange how cricket writers and commentators, perpetuate the myth that Australian payers 'know when to go'.

This is what we have been fed over the years, and the average cricket fan will swallow what he hears.

But the real followers of the game, know better.

Know that the Aussies are not role models when it comes to 'saying goodbye'.

Know that Steve Waugh, Gilchrist and Healy were all 'over 36' when they 'went'.

Know that before the 2007 World Cup, a struggling Gilchrist famously said: "Would have dropped myself long back if I was a Selector".

We harp on the 'Indian' shelf factor, comparing our 'reluctant to retire' players to the 'knowing when to quit' Aussies; without stopping to think -each to their own .

If a cricketer feels he has enough cricket left in him (never mind that others don't see it!) why shouldn't he listen to his inner self and "say goodbye at the right time".

Not when an Ian, Tony, or Manjrekar - call wrong !

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (December 18, 2011, 2:27 GMT)

Just started reading news on Indian websites that Ishant's injury maybe worse than thought before especially after he was able to bowl only a few overs in the first game. Maybe its a sore ankle and I sincerely hope he recovers before the series starts (would love to see another contest between him and Ricky Ponting) but if he does not recover in time, India does have some options that they need to consider and need to bring one of the following to Australia right away (assuming that none of the following are injured): Pathan, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Nehra or RP Singh

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (December 17, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

@Nampally, absolutely right. Clarke's problem is to find the right combo whereas Dhoni's problem is to find a fit XI who can play proper test cricket. Beggars belief that Ishant Sharma and BCCI have made this into their tamaasha within the first half hour of the tour during that first tour match. At least in England, Zaheer survived into his second spell during the first test match. India is going back. They can learn a thing or two from England regarding covering all your bases.

Posted by Nampally on (December 17, 2011, 20:33 GMT)

Dhoni's task would be far more complex than Clarke's. He has to manage the team on & off the field + manage the injuries when the Selectors provided him with half fit or injured players. Both ZAK & Ishant are of suspect fitness. Harsha is absolutely right when he says that on Boxing day Dhoni does not know whom to throw the new ball to. So Dhoni's challenge is right here & now - not 12 months away. He has good batting but a bowling which is still a work in progress. Only spinners Ojha & Ashwin are good & reliable but pitches seamer freindly. Dhoni may have to settle with Yadev, Ashwin, Ojha, Vinay/ZAK/Ishant depending upon injuries. Dhoni's problems may have been simplified if India went with at least 18 fit players which included 2 all rounders. But as things stand Dhoni's problems are just starting.Clarke has many young guys at his disposal.His problenm is to find the right combo.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (December 17, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

If one has to go by the way Indians batted against Windies in our home conditions, then there isn't much hope in this series. BUT, I feel they are going to stand up and be counted in this series. Don't ask me why do I feel so. Next, our main problem is bowling - HUGE question marks on Zaheer's and Ishant's fitness. In fact, I just read on rediff that India have started to look for Ishant's replacement and that he won't be playing in the next tour game and also the boxing day test match. What a naatak this is turning out to be!

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

this tour seems like the waterloo of indian batting ''giants''

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 17, 2011, 18:16 GMT)

two teams one has no young bowling talent and one has no young batting talent. Guess we will see what happens.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 17:08 GMT)

Harsha,too bad you have written praises about the australian cricketing legacy and ignored the indian cricket.Why are you always telling india wont let sachin,laxman,dravid to retire.Let them play cricket till they cannot.Australians are profressionally trained robots .They are not naturally talented cricketers.That is why their retire soon when they are left with no inventivenes..Harsha why you tell that the big three of india will retire within one year and dhoni might be challenged.Last time when india toured australia you told this will be the last sachin,laxman and dravid play and look what happened.If Jayasurya and Lara can play when they are 42 years,so can these players simply because they can score runs .And Harsha one more thing,stop the euphoroa about ricky ponting .He will retire after this series.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 15:16 GMT)

Hey, this is one of the best previews I have read on what should be an epic series. Harsha Bhogle is spot on in his assessment of Clarke's predicaments. How his leadership motvates youngsters like Pat Cummins, David Warner as well as experienced stalwarts like Mike Hussey & Ricky Ponting will greatly affect Australia's future. MS Dhoni, on the other hand, has the unenviable job of picking bowlers who seem to be more fragile than India's economy. I simply do not understand how Irfan Pathan missed the flight to Australia, especially when someone as listless and mediocre as R Vinay kumar is turning his arm over and bowling gentle trundlers which Australia's 3rd XI are hitting to all parks.

Hope Indi's seam bowlers find their rhythm in Australia, otherwise all of us here will be simply waiting for the Aussies to declare, like we were for the English a few months ago.

Posted by kurups on (December 17, 2011, 14:48 GMT)

As always a fine read...make no mistake, the OZ team look superior on paper and real with the bowling attack they have. Their batting line-up is still as good from start upto Haddin. it will be tough for India. Warner and Ponting to watch out for..my gut feeling!

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

Australia's biggest strength going into this series? They know exactly who all are injured, and who all are fit to play. Which brings us to India's biggest problem... India's best bowling option (on two counts - fitness and on form) is Umesh Yadav. And that lad has played what? 2 Tests? Our bowling attack does not just lack firepower, but also a definite sense of purpose. Is Zaheer fit? Who knows? What about Ishant? Oh we'll find out about him. Praveen Kumar. Ok, we know he is injured, for sure. And like it was the case in England, we are overlooking these facts and hoping that our batting line-up will bail us out.There's no way in hell, we are going to win even a single Test Match with the kind of bowling unit we have at our disposal. Mr. Bhogle has written a very poetic piece. And I am not one for pragmatism either. But unfortunately the fundamentals of the game is set in another cathedral altogether.

Posted by recycle-bin-is-empty on (December 17, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

I hope team India don't disappoint us like they did in England. On paper, Indian team might look strong, but after their performance in Eng, i am not going to bet on them. Aus are still the favourites, the recent matches where they lost were due to poor batting performances and good opposition bowling. But unfortunately for us, bowling is still our major weakling and the fitness of Zaheer for the entire series is very important. Also, it would be nice to see how the newcomers on both sides are going to perform.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

Only hope the games are not boring as both teams cannot afford a loss, after their last major series. Play to win not , not to lose.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:51 GMT)

pat cummins broke right on the way....... wanted to see how sachin, laxman and dravid would handle cummins......he is a serious talent to watch....

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

India having some really good youngsters with zaheer. We really miss he is at peak of his form and he has also 2 tour experience in aus.

Posted by Mariaj-irdahseS on (December 17, 2011, 4:44 GMT)

"...when the stalwarts start to say goodbye to astonishing careers" and "India (erring) on the side of the status quo" Contradictory if I might so dare Mr Bhogle Sir.

If i might digress to an (apt?) analogy. Any professional army worth its salt automatically retires its Chief when the retirement age arrives. This is true even if the Chief is more competent and more valorous than his deputies. This is only so to maintain upward mobility and high morale throughout the ranks. If not there would be no new recruits and sovereignty of the country that the Army defends will be at stake.

It would be nice if the seniors in Indian Cricket recognized this, so that new cricketing talent waiting in the wings are not discouraged and turn away from playing the game and pursuing it as a career. How much ever in good form these seniors may be in, for the long-term fostering of Indian Cricket they must retire.

One has to admire Ganguly walking away when he did. A class act in every way.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 17, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

@LANDL47 . AGREE WITH YOU BUT IN ENGLAND ZAHEER & YADAV WERE NOT PRESENT TO TROUBLE ENGLISH BATSMEN .

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 17, 2011, 4:17 GMT)

@Harsha... Always a good read - thank you... I expect to see Harris, Pattinson, Siddle for the 1st Test - so good attack... The batting of both teams is what will decide this series - you can't win without runs on the board... Hope Harsha is commentating during the series - the most balanced commentator I've listened to...

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (December 17, 2011, 2:51 GMT)

Just in case, it may not be a series to savour if Zaheer and Ishant breakdown. Rewind English Summer 2011...( O_O )!

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 2:33 GMT)

Great Article Harsha!! Reminded me of one Peter Roebuck. In all the tawdriness that has surrounded his death , we forget how well he wrote about the game. I was looking forward to seeing him write about Sachin, Dravid, VVS as these greats get closer to the end as much as the cricket series. I wish cricket commentators and writers like you would stay away from the ultra commercial IPL and its empty cricket. As Dravid said, cricket is about country vs country. Everything else pales in comparison.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 2:26 GMT)

Its a cricketing day not boxing day.there is lots of difference as much as difference between Harsha and Dhoni or Clarke..why simple is made so complex..

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 2:18 GMT)

Too much of analysis..What ever it is two sides will play to win the match. Playing at home is the adv for Aus but lack of form is worry.For India Sachin, Laxman, Dravid, sehwags form is advantage but again they are playing away. All will depend on the efforts each side will put on that day rest is all waste analysis.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (December 16, 2011, 22:36 GMT)

It will be an interesting series for sure.

If Zaheer, Ishant and Umesh Yadav are fit and hold up without injuries through the test series it will be a fascinating contest (bat versus ball) on both sides.

Even though, I am still disappointed that Praveen Kumar got unexpectedly injured and that Irfan Pathan wasn't selected, it could be a good learning experience for Mithun and Vinay Kumar even though they may not get chances till the ODIs.

The side contest between the spinners: Nathan Lyon on one side and Ashwin/Ojha on the other will be interesting as well.

I just hope for some high quality and competitive cricket in all games and I personally think Australia should be the favourites to win the series especially in home conditions with the excellent bowling attack they have but if the games are close and well fought I couldn't care less about the eventual result. If India win 1 test I will be happy and if they win 2 (or more) they will have far exceeded my expectations.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 21:46 GMT)

Good prologue, this. There'll always be some fanatically supporting their chosen teams without seeing rhyme or reason. If their team wins, the players would be praised to the skies, fallacies glossed over. If their team loses, there'd be plethora of excuses - real, imagined ..or just plain denial! The basics of the elite format remain simple. Any team capable of taking 20 wickets at lower cost than the opponent ( indeed , just take 20 of them anyhow - given the skewed balance in favor of batsmen ), would win.

Posted by Nerk on (December 16, 2011, 19:45 GMT)

India have the best chance of beating Australia at home. So far India has beaten its chest, called itself number one. But the great sides are not just picked number one. They get there, by winning series at home and away. India drew against Sth Africa, they drew against Australia last they were here, and they were beaten by England. They have to overcome these obstacles, starting with Australia, if they want to be a true number one. Anyway, whatever happens I forsee a tight series between two aggressive, competitive sides. I see two teams with doubts over its bowling, two teams with great batting line ups but tentative against the moving ball. Should be great!

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 19:40 GMT)

cant wait anymore for action to begin..

Posted by Nampally on (December 16, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

Dhoni & Clarke each have serious issues on hand. Although Dhoni might have inherited strong batting side,It relies heavily on good start. It was the problem in England where the openers failed and the middle order failed as a consequence. Dhoni's side banks heavily upon the batting perfoming well for its success. Indian bowling after Kumble's departure is rather fragile. It depends heavily on ZAK.Also Yadev has shown lot of promise. With the emergence of Ashwin & Ojha in spin, it has some bite, but on Aussie pitches are not spin freindly. So lot depends on ZAK (with his fitness problems) & young Yadev. On the contrary, Clarke has a very strong but inexperienced pace attack on pace friendly wickets.However his batting has not come thru'.So it is a battle of the Aussie pacers Vs. Indian batsmen. If Indian batsmen can conquer Aussie pace they can win or vice-a-versa. Both Dhoni & Clarke would pray to overcome their weak strengths to make them winners.Can Sehwag & Fab 3 win it for India?

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 18:44 GMT)

You know how to make an already exciting series absolutely mouth-watering!

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (December 16, 2011, 18:17 GMT)

Gr8 Article Harsha. I sincerely feel it's time for SRT and RD to hang their bat as they say. Whether SRT get's to his 100th 100 or not he should retire after this series. Good luck to both the teams and I look forward to a great series and hope India doesn't surrender meekly like they did in Eng, except for RD. I am sure Punter will score tons of runs as he always likes to score against India. Enjoy for the last time the greats of Pointing, SRT, RD. Go team India.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 17:47 GMT)

Look at the highest total and lowest total during that period. Highest is 726 scored by India under the captaincy of Dhoni and Lowest is 47 scored by Aussies under the captaincy of Clarke. That really tells a story............

Posted by montys_muse on (December 16, 2011, 17:42 GMT)

India's main problem lies in their bowling where time and again we see players falling to injury. India's test batting future looks secure though now (limited overs was always secure) with young players like Rohit, Virat, Pujara, Rahane, and ofcourse Gambhir and Sehwag (for the time being). Yuvi should annouce his retirement from tests where he is an utter flop. He is too good a limited overs all-rounder to be playing tests which always cop him lots of criticism and put a shadow on his other achievements.

Posted by landl47 on (December 16, 2011, 16:36 GMT)

Bowlers win matches. If Australia can field a competitive bowling side (and that's a big if, with Cummins already out, Harris unable to complete a series and Watson sidelined) I give them the edge. India's bowling, even on the livelier pitches in England, couldn't get it done and they are without Preveen, who was easily their best bowler in England. However, if the Aus bowling is not up to scratch, then India might have the advantage, since Aus have shown an alarming tendency to collapse in the last 18 months. I'll be watching with interest to see which way it goes.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 16, 2011, 15:21 GMT)

@JONESY2 . AGREE WITH YOU MATE AUSSIE WILL NOT HAVE CUMMINS AND MAYBE MARSH ON BOXING DAY TEST . BUT YOU SHOULD KNOW THE WHOLE ENG TOUR WE ALSO DON'T HAVE ZAHEER KHAN , VIRENDER SEHWAG (FOR 2 TESTS ) , GAMBHIR (FOR 2 ND & 4 TH TEST WHERE HE WAS HIT IN HEAD AND SUFFRED FROM CONCUSSION, PRAVEEN KUMAR INJURED AND NOT PLAYED IN 4 TH TEST. AT THAT TIME WE ALSO WERE SAYING THE SAME THING BUT EVERYBODY JUST IGNORE US . ENGLISH COMMENTATORS LIKE NASSER HUSSAIN , VAUGHAN , BOYCOTT WERE CRITCISIZING OUR TEAM IN EVERY ASPECT AND WERE COMPARING ENG TO THE WI OF 1980s & AUS OF 2000s . BUT I HAD FAITH THAT DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF CUMMINS , JOHNSON , MARSH THIS SERIES WILL BE AN EXCITING ONE THOUGH I HOPE INDIA WIN BY 2-1 .

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 15:01 GMT)

i am following cricket for the last 20 years and i have come to conclusion that strong batting leads to draw and great bowling wins you test matches . India had a great chance if praveen kumar would have played cos he is the best swing bowler india had.Zak is coming after injury and ishant is highly overrated i don think they can damage much aussies batting line up.Spinners are decent but on spinning and slow tracks of subcontinent here ohja and ashwin has no chance on ist 4 days of test matches .So still india can win if they bat well and aussies suffer a collapse of their own mistakes cos if they don panic indians cant take 20 wickets on the other hand aussies bowlers can have bright chance.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 14:44 GMT)

@Prozak. Yeah,! thank god your Cummins did not play. The kiddo would have been thrashed and mauled all over park by our batsmen. And the so called "star"(LOL) would have been destroyed,with a finished career. LOL.:D Cricinfo publish.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 14:41 GMT)

@Kaze. And your Australian team isn't the same is it? And you are coming from a "defeat" against "New-Zealand" and a certain 47 ALL OUT. LOL.Cricinfo publish.

Posted by Smithie on (December 16, 2011, 14:39 GMT)

Harsha for your next article I recommend you comment on the submission of Transparency International to the ICC Governance review. Available in full on the TI website it may cause some nervousness on behalf of Mr Srinivasan - especially the points on "trading in influence" and "conflict of interest". Mike Atherton commented in the Times of the UK yesterday so an Indian perspective would be of great interest to the cricket community.

Posted by tusex on (December 16, 2011, 14:20 GMT)

@Arefin Ahammed Diner : Shane warne was involved in 2 home series against india: in 1991-92 and 1999-2000. his wicket tally was 1@228 and 8@41.87. Talking of MC'grath, he took 18 wickets in 99-00 series while Lee took 24 in 07-08, in absense of THE GREAT DUO OF MCGRATH AND WARNE...so atleast against india in last 15 years or so- lee seems to be the best bowler in home conditions who has stopped playing now. I accept that Indian team have had its own weakness, but in success of 03-04 and 07-08, Indian batting order and bowling of Zaheer khan, irfaan Pathan and Ajit agarkar had played much more important role than absense of THE GREAT DUO OF MCGRATH AND WARNE.

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 16, 2011, 13:54 GMT)

It would be a brave man to bet on a team to win their first ever tour series in Australia, but this is easily Inida's best chance. You just don't know if Aus will score 600 or 60. One way or another, the pitches will be green with the weather we're having at the moment, so it'll be exciting.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 16, 2011, 13:51 GMT)

Your last assessment of "too close to call" turned out to be "Men against boys", this time around though bit more humbling, reading into the article i get a sense by not bragging too much about how 'great' indian batting line up is goes to show that you finally have realized that indian batting is great but that is in india alone, out side of it India is just another average team or worse like they were in England last summer, reminds me of that movie "I still know what you did last summer".

Posted by serious-am-i on (December 16, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

will be an interesting series. I am pretty sure we are going to see some unexpected resulted and changes in the series. Indian batting failed in Eng due to various reasons, let us hope no injury occurs for the team to lay the blame on to in case they lose again. Aus bowling should be watched around closely against the injury prone Indian bowling attack. Till now, Zaheer's real fitness status unknown Ishant is throwing danger signs.

Posted by henchart on (December 16, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

Analyze till the cows return home,the bowling attack of India is incapable of taking 20 wkts repeatedly to win the series in Australia.Zaheer and Ishant are semi fit read unfit and to expect Vinay Kumar,Mithun and Umesh Yadav to bowl Aussies out twice in a test is expecting too much.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 13:35 GMT)

I think Clarke as captain will have more similarities with the Kim Hughes era than the Allan Border era. It is more likely to end in tears than be the start of a dominant era.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 16, 2011, 13:28 GMT)

india, like england, NZ and south africa recently, are also very lucky they are coming to australia when australia have soooo many injuries and cant field a full strength team. no chance of a full strength team on boxing day for Aus

Posted by k4rth4 on (December 16, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

Not another "whose team is better" fight! Can't we all just sit back and enjoy good cricket ? We will let the series decide who is a better team.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

@Kaze India IS the only asian team to win tests and even dominated a few tests in Aus in last decade. Pak only dominated the Sydney test 2010 and Srilanka have been unlucky with ftp. Aus is not England + Indian team team is much different form and fitnesswise now.

Posted by darshan_bvd on (December 16, 2011, 12:48 GMT)

even though bowling is a bit of a worry for India, Ishant is gonna be the key.....we've seen last time around how ponting struggled against him......ashwin is doin well we can jus hope he'll carry on his form.......As with the batting no one can deny we're the best, sure we failed in england but thts not gonna keep us down....I'm surprised with how CA is talkin abt cummings its early days for him yet he is fortunate he has an injury else with the likes of sachin,dravid and lakshman his carrer would've been down the dump...

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 12:28 GMT)

While I couldn't agree more with most of the article, the part where Harsha mentions about India erring on the side of caution with our older cricketers sounds completely inappropriate. Clearly Sachin, Rahul and Laxman are in the side because of their current performance and not because of their past laurels. On the contrary, Australia is stretching the 'dead as a dodo' career of Ricky. By resting Harbhajan, the Indian selectors have given a clear message that they value performance above the brand.

Posted by mrgupta on (December 16, 2011, 11:53 GMT)

@prozak: You are lucky that Narendra Hirwani, the guy who took 16 wickets in his first test is also not playing. By the way, Cummins who? The guy who took only 6 wickets in his first test? Eh, we have seen better...

Posted by Kaze on (December 16, 2011, 11:52 GMT)

@Keshav21 But you ain't in India now are you. You are touring acountry where no Asian team has won a test series. Remember you are coming off a whitewash on your last tour 4-0 to England.

Posted by pavannayak on (December 16, 2011, 11:50 GMT)

I look back all these years if the opposition team worse form and self belief in winning always make some indoors for INDIAN team and they are benefited by that.And the way Aussies are playing in last 3 or 4 series surely they will keep the flood gates open for INDIA to sneak through, will INDIA climb on that need to be seen. 60-40 in my chart this time around.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 11:39 GMT)

how come India gonna win in Australia? they got to take 20 wickets. only Australian batting failure can give them the winning. last 2 times when India toured Australia given that the Aussies played without the greatest bowling duo Mcgrath & Warne. in 2003/4 Mcgrath was injured & Warne was suspended. in 2007 both retired. that's why Indian so called batting star could shine otherwise it would become like their England series. in 1999 India got smashed 3-0 whitewashed CZ both bowling duo played & Indian batsman got no clue. they don't even got any chance what so ever. check if anyone like. if punter beck again India can never win over Australia in Australia for sure. only in Indian condition & weak bowling line up Indian batsman can shine. last England tour we saw how come 1st time in Cricket History number 1 ranked test team defeated by 4-0 margin. Indian fan please pray 4 Australian batting failure. that's the only chance of winning otherwise forget it..

Posted by Amitbajare on (December 16, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

@ prozak--- this cummins fellow hasnt played 5 matches yet and u r bragging abt his bowling huh? is he wasim akram or courtney walsh or curtly ambrose or allan donald or waqar yunus? he is a nobody yet... dont brag bro... if he were to play against sehwag, sachin, rahul & vvs he would be blown away

Posted by ravi_hari on (December 16, 2011, 10:51 GMT)

India-Aussie series have never been played on bear abilities. They are more than that. Both teams used home conditions perfectly and won over the other with the help of out of field management. Only once did Aussies win in India in the past 2 decades and India is still searching for one Downunder. Great comparison Harsha. If you look at both the teams there are more similarities than differences. Fresh new attack, aging middle order, dashing openers, promising bench strength, etc. However, the current form seems to be the difference. Where as Indian middle order is at its best, Aussies are struggling. Indian openers are study and Aussies are resurrecting. Aussie pacers are rocking but Indians are beginning to make a mark. Both spinners had a dream start to their careers. The big difference is Dhoni and Haddin. If Dhoni can be fit for the entire series, that would be the key difference and India might win because of that. Otherwise very little to choose and it can be anybody's series.

Posted by Keshav21 on (December 16, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

Whoever thinking indian team is going to lose this series they are fools.... This same team (of course bowling unit is without kumble) beaten Australia in Australia in last two tours..... Just compare this Australian team to old Australian team... Now it seems like a bread and butter for india in this time.

Posted by activeajay on (December 16, 2011, 10:45 GMT)

Hi Harsha it was a great article by you once again.... I think the best chance lies for india to win this series with australia is our bowling... we can win only if our bowlers are injury free right through the whole series. If anyone of them breakdowns in the first test then it would be a repeat of the england nightmare....Im confident that our star batting line up will put up a good show as they did in the previous series... So again it comes down to our bowlers....In 2003 and 2007 series we have one one test each... but could not close the series... I hope this time our bowlers make a mark n give that elusive win to the fab 3 in their glorious careers......ALL THE BEST TEAM INDIA............. Dhooooo Dhaaaaloooooooooo..........Cant wait fr 26th..................All the world will be looking frwd to 25th mrng but the entire cricket fraternity all over the world looks frwd to 26th..........

Posted by Naresh28 on (December 16, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

A GREAT ARTICLE - Peter Roebuck would have approved this for sure. Australia and India fans maybe its time just to enjoy a great series. No use bashing each other At the end of it you win some and you lose some. Tolerance and acceptance that both teams have something to offer. Some will fail to deliver but does that mean that they are useless. Although I do agree India bowling always looks feable and their batsman cover it up. Something that BCCI and selectors have failed to address on a number of occassions not just now. From the article we can see that we tend to forget - someone like Ponting, what he has achieved for Australia. Just the other day Dravid paid tribute to Ponting. This shows how much respect these top cricketers have for each other.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 10:12 GMT)

I think Indian team is overated. They are gonna be LOSER....

Posted by prozak on (December 16, 2011, 9:12 GMT)

Without Cummins India are in with a shot. If cummins was in the side you would see the supposed Indian greats jumping about like school girls.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 8:51 GMT)

well i know one thing that this is goin to be an exciting series to watch(unless india repeats what it did in england or aus repeats its recent bad phase).from the day the team was selected i am reading how bad vinay and mithun are.even i felt the same,but when u go through the performance of our fast bowlers in the domestic tournaments then these r the best guys avail to us.Irfan has bowled well but only in the last two matches he din play much for the last two years so how do we know that he is bowling consistently well? rp singh also didnt bowl so well.I think this is the best team put forward,and if everyone plays acc to there capabilities then there is no reason why we cant win.

Posted by sri1ram on (December 16, 2011, 8:28 GMT)

@Rukky Good point, but Dhoni does not have that big a task cut up for him. The amount of tweaking that the ozzies need to continue doing is a good degree greater than the Indian setup. Indian bowling tweaks are mainly due to injuries, not due to caliber. Dhoni will face his moment squarely when even two of the greats (among SRT, RD, VVSL, VS) will move on or be culled. I would be happy if there is a slow progression - first SRT or RD, VVSL and then Sehwag.

Posted by maddy20 on (December 16, 2011, 7:53 GMT)

Should be an intriguing contest indeed between the bowlers of OZ and batsmen of India. Can't wait to see it!

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

Hey Harsha, I like the way you have compared both the captains and their teams in the form of lifecycle. I dont think Dhoni is in any better position than Clarke. Bowlers win test matches and who knows better than us Indians. I Can't see Vinay kumars taking wickets on strong hard pitches where u need physical strength to bowl into the pitch day in and out! Dhoni sure has to worry and we only need to do better the way we are used to i.e score more....n more.. top 5 have to scrore as much as possible. lol thats the hard truth. cheers India!

Posted by Satv007 on (December 16, 2011, 7:19 GMT)

Harsha..once again a fantastic article. This is the first time an Indian test team looks more menacing than the Australians. Here we have a great chance to upset australia in australia. As it appears this will be the last oz tour for the big 3 and they deserve a fitting finish to their respected careers. MSD will have a uphill task when these 3 players retire. India can always find good batsman and spin bowlers but it is the faster bowlers whom weneed. Sachinm VVS and Dravid canbe replaced by Rohit, Virat and pujara. Is there anyone who can replace ZAK, nope...?? Till now we are not able to spot kapil dev talent in india...

Posted by donda on (December 16, 2011, 6:48 GMT)

After losing to england both australia and india are under pressure. Oldies from both teams like Ponting, Haddin, Hussey and Tedulkar, dravid, laxman are facing pressure if they don't perform in this series.

This may become the last series for some legends of cricket or this may give more strength to their greatness and they move on .

Clarke and Dhoni are safe but oldies are not safe at all. Cricket don't give you second chance and this is second chance after beaten by england .

So last chance for greats to impress otherwise say good bye to cricket and move on.

Posted by Positive_Critic on (December 16, 2011, 6:42 GMT)

Phew What a piece to read....It was one of the best articles I have read in a long long time....This is gonna be a series between the youth of Australia against the experience of India.... Largely because Australia's pro's are suffering and India's young guns would be wary of their first tour down under... Australia's bowling looked good against the weak NZ batting line up but Indian batting is a different proposition.. Sehwag would attack on the first morn... Legends to follow... India's only concern is lower middle order... I doubt Dhoni's ability against the bouncing n moving ball.... Australia relies heavily on Watson and Clarke for their batting...Australia will be boosted by Watson's all round abilities... Over all a cracker of a series... My money 2-1 to Australia

Posted by inefekt on (December 16, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

Jonesy, are you kidding? The batting lineups are like chalk and cheese. India still own the best batting lineup on the planet while the Aussies can barely put two innings together without a monumental collapse. Australia's depth is also at an all time low, there are hardly any young players in domestic ranks who average over 40 and who have played a considerable number of first class games. Arguing that Australia's depth is comparable to India is to display a distinct lack of knowledge of the state of the game in these two countries.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

Interesting analysis. I think as mentioned by you Australia is where India will probably be in early 2013 when Tendulkar and Dravid will leave and people will look a lot more closely at VVS. Incidentally we have always looked at VVS as though every match is his last despite his tremendous achievements. Although India have a fabulous batting line up , I think if the pitches are lively, things may even out just a little . Our bowling too is largely unproven what with Zahir not having played for a long time. Ishant too has started a bit shakily yesterday in Canberra. India has its greatest chance of beating Australia at home and I think we will win this time around and not the least of the reasons will be Dhoni whose calmness at the helm will be at least equal to Kumble"s presence the last time around. The series will be friendlier this time around and may the better captain hold the trophy aloft. sridhar

Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 5:23 GMT)

Awesome Article.... Harsha rocks again.. superb

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 16, 2011, 5:22 GMT)

nice stuff harsha. i like india's status quo but surely these great batsmen are going to have to make way pretty soon and make it all the more easier for the new players to adjust? i dont think the sides are any different in the batting scheme of it, both have greats in the middle order and both have a lot of depth. i also dont think the captains have different problems either

Posted by Jawz on (December 16, 2011, 4:31 GMT)

Another exquisite piece from Harsha. It is indeed a defining series for many a career in both sides. If the seniors of Indian famous middle order would like to sign off their, almost definite, last tour of Australia with a series victory then we also await the exciting development of Ishant to a higher notch and flowering of Umesh Yadav. Ashwin will show where he belongs after this tour and also give us an indication how long Harbhajan will be going to sit out and wait to complete a century of Test appearances. It will also show how far Kohli and Rohit Sharma are going to go and form part of another set of would-be famous middle order to replace the hallowed trio of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman. Similarly, Clarke will know by end where Ponting and Hussey stand and whether Warner is another Sehwag in making. For Lyon it will be a litmus test to further his long term Test credentials in a land where spinners have been rotated like merry go rounds after the retirement of Shane Warne.

Posted by N.Sundararajan on (December 16, 2011, 4:01 GMT)

Harsha, Well said; you are largely right. But then in the Indian team, there is so much batting class apart from the captain himself, whereas in the Australian team, the captain sits large over the team (except Ricky Ponting)--- ---in terms of competence, performance records, and reputation. The bowling from both sides in in young hands, and the fielding standards are possibly comparable---but the conditions and the tactics will probably determine the eventual results ! And Ponting certainly has to retire---preferably himself rather than being dropped---but the Indian senior trio are near their best forms---so why talk of losing them yet !

Posted by Shaps on (December 16, 2011, 4:00 GMT)

Morning, very nicely written, again a very good piece of article from Harsha Bhogle. The best line from article is :- Australia grew strong by the day, almost like the dollar does against the rupee these days. very true... And one more interesting thing he pointed out there is Time of Oz players to call it a day. And yes Dhoni being more stable captain & his tough time will be coming in next 12-18 month.

Posted by Meety on (December 16, 2011, 3:43 GMT)

Pretty good analysis - some Ozzy fans would say we don't "cull" often enough. There are some massive lessons to be learned for India by studying the way Oz have dealt with re-generation. A year or so ago, I thought Dravid was the man that needed to be dropped to smooth the transisition period, I think VVS is the man now, but due to his awesome record against Oz - they weren't going to do that until AFTER the tour down under. The injury to Yurav (best wishes to him) is a blessing in disguise, as it allows some youth to stand closer to a game. I have a feeling that Sehwag won't last as long as his more illustrious triumvirate of teammates (SRT, RD & VVS). There is the real possibility they could all retire in quick succession - more likely if they win a series in Oz! Take the big 3 out of the Indian line up - & I think they will take years to re-build.

Posted by psswain on (December 16, 2011, 3:32 GMT)

Clarke is one of my fav batsman in modern day cricket..i'm sure he cn easily surpass punter in each aspect of batting.the last hundred v/s south africa was a treat to watch.

Posted by dsig3 on (December 16, 2011, 3:14 GMT)

For me this is the pinnacle, its more important than the ashes for me personally. I seriously want revenge. India have the best chance to beat us but our team is also capable of winning from anywhere at any time. Watching Aus play lately reminds me of an unpredictable Pakistan. Ironically Pakistan are now playing solid cricket. Times have changed, Australians expect our team to fight very hard. Its not about rankings, this one is about respect.

Posted by Rukky on (December 16, 2011, 3:13 GMT)

Dear Harsha..i like the Article..but i think title should not be that."THE TASK OF CLARK AND DHONI"..because you almost wrote about Clark only. you have not mentioned lot about DHONI...anyway..

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Harsha BhogleClose
Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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