Of the three defeats so far in the series, the last one at Mohali should disappoint Australia the most. The Mohali pitch was the best batting surface of the series and it was a Test match of just over four days, taking into account, overs bowled.
After winning the toss, yet again they were unable to put up a massive score on the board as batsmen got in and got out. They just could not get that ‘big one’ like the Indian batsmen did as matter of habit.
The Australian batting on this tour has surprised me, but more than that, it has hurt me. For someone who played against them a lot and now watched them over the years, their inability to counter sub-continental conditions has baffled me. Australia is batting like England used to on turning pitches.
Why is that so? For so many years, the Australian domestic structure, their cricketing culture, their coaching (that the cricketing world took fancy to) were given as main reasons for their all-round dominance and style of play.
So what’s happened now? Well, I don’t think anything has changed drastically in Australia for the dramatic turnaround we have seen in their performance this time. The best I can offer is — ‘well, it’s just one of those things’. Very often, success or failure happen despite the system and the culture. It’s just one of those things when talent in a country just dries up for a while.
This seems to have happened with the Australian batting. I saw this even at the under-19 World Cup level when Indian batsmen looked far more ‘finished products’ than the junior Aussies did, even in their home conditions.
Success and sustained dominance of a nation in a team sport is because of many things and we often conveniently connect the dots to explain the reasons for it. But more often than not, it will just be about natural born talent and if there is a period when great talents are born at the same time, you will have a great team, despite the system.
The most critical requirement for a country to remain at the top is that the sport must remain popular in that country so that more kids take up the sport and hence more chances of great talent coming through. All other things are secondary, I think.