The hammering the Indians are getting in Australia notwithstanding, the series is the most watched Down Under, surpassing the popularity of even the Ashes. The television viewership of the current series has been 30 percent more than for the Ashes last year, when Australia lost to England at home after 24 years. Host Broadcaster Channel 9 has recorded an average national rating of 1.492 million viewers during the two Tests, while an average of 1.144 million watched England beat their arch-rivals.
Michael Clarke (left) and MS Dhoni during toss at the SCG on last Tuesday. Pic/Getty Images
Channel 9's head of sport Steve Crawley feels India have surpassed England to be Australia's greatest rival. "India are our gun opponent now. The Ashes may well come back, especially if England hold on to that No.1 ranking, but right now all the evidence shows that India is in front for Australian audiences," Crawley was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
"It seems there is plenty of interest in watching guys like Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, and James Pattinson already has real star quality." India and Australia have had close matches in the last decade and the current series has drawn extensive media coverage in both the countries.
Australia captain Michael Clarke had earlier said the rivalry with India was good for the sport. "It (India-Australia contest) will always be very competitive," Clarke said. "Both teams really want to win. I think it is great for the game that we are competitive and we fight hard to win the Test matches, but I can guarantee off the field the relationship is as strong as ever in my time," he said, attributing the improved relationship to the Indian Premier League.