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Lawrence Booth: No one to pick up Australia’s baton

November 5th, 2008 by Lawrence Booth in Australia in India, Test cricket and tagged , , , , , ,

Most non-Australians agree, and – through gritted teeth – a few Aussies too, that we’re on the verge of a New Era. Apologies for ignoring Sirallen and the Stanfords for a moment, but if Australia fail to beat India in the fourth Test starting at Nagpur tomorrow, we’ve been assured that the resultant regime change will make what’s happening in the US look like small fry. Australia, goes the wisdom, will no longer be the best side in the world. An empire will crumble and the sun will set over Wagga Wagga forever.

Well hold on just one minute and cast your mind back 14 years to Australia’s tectonic-plate-shifting win in the Caribbean. On that occasion, the demarcation of power lost and gained was crystal clear as the baton was handed smoothly from Richie Richardson’s West Indians to Mark Taylor’s Australians. Taylor and his successors have run with it ever since, give or take the odd stumble. But who will pick up the baton now if Australia drop it at Nagpur?

The conventional answer is India, mainly – you suspect – because they are the first team to benefit from life after Warne and MacGill. But they have just lost a leg-spinning legend of their own in Anil Kumble, and by Monday evening will be without Sourav Ganguly. How much longer will the 35-year-old Rahul Dravid (two half-centuries in 15 Test innings) last? And what about the 35-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, especially now that Brian Lara’s record has gone? VVS Laxman is 34. Yes, the bowling can be devastating, but India may soon need to unearth an entirely new middle order. Momentum could be tricky.

South Africa have been touted too thanks to their 2-1 win in England, but do they have the mentality to last the cause? It seemed rude to point it out at the time, but Graeme Smith was out at least once to Monty Panesar during his series-winning epic at Edgbaston: had the umpires agreed, England might have won the series instead and the chokers rosette would have been gleefully slapped on Smith’s lapel once more.

It may also be rude to point out that South Africa have just as big a mental block against the Australians as the English did before and after 2005. Since Hansie Cronje’s demise, Australia have a 10-1 Test-match advantage against the South Africans. The six Tests the sides play against each other home and away in the coming months may merely serve to reinforce an old failing, especially if Dale Steyn isn’t fit.

England? Pull the other one. Let’s see if they can avoid a 2-0 defeat in India first. Pakistan, because of circumstances beyond their control, appear not to play Test cricket these days; New Zealand have just struggled to beat Bangladesh; West Indies need not apply.

Which leaves us with perhaps the most credible alternative: Sri Lanka. Their nucleus of top players may be small, but it is unrivalled in its quality: Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene score most of their runs; Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis take most of their wickets. So what a shame it is that Sri Lanka’s next scheduled Test match was May in England, a tour that will almost certainly not now take place.

Yes, if Australia do drop the baton in Nagpur, the sad truth is they may just be able to pick it straight up again. World champions by default – it’s not exactly the tag-line Test cricket needs if it is to survive these helter-skelter times.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in Australia in India, Test cricket |



72 Responses to “Lawrence Booth: No one to pick up Australia’s baton”

  1.   Goutham Chakravarthi LS says:

    England, South Africa, India seem to be the front runners to dismantle Australia from its throne. While it still needs to be seen if England and SA can seriously contest with Australia, India seems to be the best bet. But with consistency being its bane and a host of legends leaving and soon to be leaving, it remains to be seen if MS Dhoni can inspire his young brigade to conquer the Test world too.

  2.   Sam Collins says:

    This series has proved that the best sides rely on a potent bowling attack.
    Indian conditions have exposed the deficiencies in the Australian spin department, and reaffirmed that Lee and Clark are not close to the class of McGrath.
    The Australian attack is not suddenly useless – back on familiar surfaces Lee, Clark and Johnson will be a customarily formidable proposition for the South Africans, and for that matter, England in eight months time.
    Australia are not quite toppled yet.

  3.   Prateek Sharma says:

    I think India and Sri Lanka appear to be the best bet for next best Test Side. However, what tilts the argument in favour of India is that once the Mendis Mystery is resolved Sri Lanka’s bowling attack will not seem as potent as it seems now(especially when Muralitharn has been worked out by most sides). India, on the other hand with a good varied attack with plenty of talented players in the reserves to claim the middle order spots are better placed in this race.

  4.   Gerald says:

    Sa has beaten India in SA, and drew with them in India. England, playing at home, has also been defeated by SA. There is only one real challenger to Australia, and that is SA.

  5.   Som says:

    India, under MS Dhoni, looks the heir apparent, even after losing their middle order Galacticos. Rohit Sharmas, Suresh Rainas, Virat Kohlis or S Badrinaths are waiting in the wings and the best thing about this guys is that they don’t care about the opposition. It’s unfair to expect them to slip seamlessly into the shoes of a Dravid or Laxman but they have proved they have it in them. Both Rohit and Kohli blunted Lees and Clarkes and slammed tons in the warm-up match.India’s bowling has come off age and their future batting line-up too look promising enough.

  6.   Jagadish says:

    Sri Lanka? Let them start winning overseas for a change. In the last 5 years, out of the 8 test wins away from home, 4 were against Bangladesh & Zimbabwe.

  7.   billybob says:

    Lawrence Booth are you serious?? India are next to useless away from home and their doctored wickets. South Africa have the odd moment but are chokers.England??? Yea right.Pakistan, well you are right about them which is a shame that they aren’t playing much at the moment. New Zealand? Huh. Sri Lanka, same as India. Australia has not fielded their best team in India and too be honest apart from the 2nd test have generally outplayed India, if it wasn’t for India’s dodgy wickets and India’s ball tampering the results could have easily gone Australia’s way. Tate is on the mend and starting to demolish batting orders again, sooner or later a good spinner will be found. Lots of good batsmen coming through and Luke Ronchi is a better keeper and batsman than Haddin. Also did I mention a bloke called Roy?? Remember when SA became the new number one one day side just before the last world cup? Australia raped them twice in the cup and put them back in their place!! Beware complacent sides that play Australia.

  8.   Peter Redding says:

    I think there are three main contenders for the number one spot. India look the best equipped side, granted they need to improve their form away from home. I think they’ve got an attack that can win matches in all types of conditions and have plenty of depth in the pace bowling department with the likes of RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Pathan unable to get into the team at the moment. The area of concern will be replacing the middle order but I’ve always thought that batsmen are much easier to replace than bowlers. Australia have lost Mark and Steve Waugh, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann over the last 5 or 6 years but they have replaced them pretty easily whereas they haven’t got close to finding suitable replacements for Warne and McGrath or even Gillespie.

    South Africa will be strong contenders, in my opinion the Steyn-Morkel new ball pairing has the potential to become the best in the world. The real wild card for South Africa could be Imran Tahir who qualifies next year and could be the match winning spinner they’ve been looking for. The main problem for South Africa is that they don’t seem to have the strength in depth to cope with injuries, as was proved towards the end of the England tour.

    I agree with Lawrence that Sri Lanka are also credible contenders. I believe Sri Lanka is actually a tougher place to tour than India because the wickets turn even more there. The fact that pitches are becoming slower all around the world means spin is becoming even more important. The emergence of Mendis means that Sri Lanka can now attack at both ends and the opposition can no longer just survive against Murali and attack at the other end. If Sri Lanka can find a couple of class opening batsmen who can score runs in swinging conditions and on bouncier pitches then I believe they have a real chance.

  9.   Saurabh Somani says:

    billy bob, are YOU serious??? what utter rubbish you’ve written!
    check your facts before shooting your mouth off.
    India were next to useless at home, but we’re talkin of the nineties. check their record since the start of this decade - series wins in england and west indies, narrow losses in south africa and sri lanka, and the intense series against australia in australia.
    and ball tampering by the indians??? that’s so typical of an aussie fan who cannot accept his side has been outplayed.
    as for the recent series, apart from the first test where the aussies looked dominant for a brief while, at no other time in the series have they remotely threatened so far, and they’ve always been playing catch-up.
    and what exactly is a dodgy wicket? any wicket that does not suit australia’s bowlers is it?
    the aussie team is already looked at as sore losers, now it seems the fans are too.

  10.   Lawrence Booth says:

    billy bob: quite apart from the various nonsenses in your post highlighted by Saurabh, I’m not sure the use of the word “rape” does you any favours…

  11.   sahilvaughan says:

    This is a tricky one - it’s a happy, but hazardous passtime to write off the Aussies, yet bowlers make teams champions and the Aussies don’t have a spinner.

    India will struggle for a time on the back of their middle order being hollowed out. While the bowling options look good, Harbhajan’s record over the last five years is very average and Misrah is new.

    Sri Lanka are the romantic option, full of mystery and uncoached wonder. But Malinga is yet to convert to a world-class quick and Vaas has lost any nip he once had.

    South Africa seem to offer the opposite of Sri Lanka, rigid efficiency, which may be too one-dimensional to rule the world.

    Suffice to say its a close call, I think for the next couple of years no champion will emerge.

    My particular imperfect barometer is to assess the fielding quality. Australia, especially if they can return Roy from the fisheries, remain outstanding. Sri Lanka and South Africa are very good and England mixed. The rest are no more than average.

  12.   SathishSekar says:

    billybob,I am sure you are not noticing the Oz’s dominance slipping away in the current test match series against Indians.Ball tampering by Indians?Well,another loser from Australia who couldnt digest the fact that australians are losing.Did you notice any clip where indians tamper the ball in this series?Well,the losers(australian cricketers) who call themselves as hard playing cricketers are the one who involve in the cheating games.Remember Ponting and Clarke cheating in the previous series in Aust?Come on losers,wake up and try to digest the facts.

  13.   Yugandar says:

    Credible argument but one glaring inaccuracy. Indian batsmen have smashed Warne and Macgill any time they played them. So to say they have benefited from their retirement is an absolutely fallacy. Against all other teams Warne was a big factor but against India…his record speaks for itself. As for passing the baton…..India has to win consistently where an odd victory against Aussies should not be seen as triumph for ages. Sri Lanka for all their spin wizardry are no hopers overseas. The baton will not pe passed but top 3 teams will have a mighty scrap for the next few yrs.

  14.   Venkat Reddy says:

    I dont know who the successors are going to be . But anyone saying that India have to improve their away form are joking. India have the next best away record to Australia since the dawn of the millenium. Says something. Doesnt it?

  15.   mandoc says:

    Absolutely. Yugandar ,Hit the nail on the head.
    Billy bob get a life.

  16.   The Village Cricketer says:

    The Aussies are far from humbled, but the complete absence of any credible spin option has completely nullifed in India. The lack of McGrath and Warne evens things up a little, but they’d still be favourites against most teams away, and all teams at home. Ironically I think that an England attack featuring Harmison (when firing), Flintoff, Panesar, Broad and Anderson / Sidebottom, is the most balanced in test cricket. I’d hope they’d give the Indian’s a stiffer test than the Aussies have done in India.

  17.   Sriram says:

    Mr.Booth, I am not able to agree with your “SriLanka pickin up the baton” theory like many others before me. Sangakkara no doubt is one of the finest, if not the best, batsman going around in the circuit, but going by what happened in Australia last year, he would be the lone man standing for them outside the sub-continent. Their too much dependence on Murali to pick-up wickets is hurting them and they need a more balanced bowling attack to hurt sides. Being an Indian myself, I wouldn’t count them as the team to pick up the baton, because the Indian cricket team is an unpredictable bunch. To pick up the baton from Australia, they need to churn out match-winning performance and show that ruthlessness to win matches even from seemingly hopeless situations (Brisbane 1999 against Pak). I do not see that happening. But as a side-track fantasy, I would like to see a fast-bowling quatret from WestIndies making the batsem hop and derring-do, devil-may-care batting to cream other teams. Sigh!! if pigs can fly!!!

  18.   gary14 says:

    I love the way everyone gets excited about Australia ‘losing the Number 1 title’ each time they lose a series every 3 years or so. Same rubbish was written when England pipped Australia at home and that was followed by a sensational run of form (3 years) by Australia with a so called ‘dads army’. Reality is…….India are rubbish away from home, I can’t remember the last time they won a series, it certainly wasn’t the any of the last 3 they played and world champs don’t go 3 series without a win. Sri Lanka are similarly rubbish away from home against solid opposition and I know who I’ll be putting my money on for the Aus V SA series which is coming up.
    Everyone should continue debating the number two spot in the world but give up on dismantling the Aussies until they have lost a couple of series within a year.

  19.   SK says:

    Saurabh Somani - well said and enuf said :)

  20.   Billybob says:

    You guys crack me up. Talk about going fishing and getting a few bites. My last post is a perfect example of how Australian sledging can get sub continent players/people upset over nothing. Lawrence, rape may have been too strong a word but it got my point across. Dodgy pitches?? Any game that is decided by who wins the toss because the pitch is so flat? Sounds dodgy to me. Ball tampering? well the English have admitted that’s how they got so called reverse swing in the 2005 ashes. What about the Zaheer Khan lolly incident when India was in England last. Takes a cheater to spot another. What about the Laxman video from the Perth test? What was he being handed on the field that they tried so hard to conceal? India got amazing reverse swing that test but Australia in home conditions didn’t?? Same this series until I read somewhere that the umpires were going to look very hard at the ball in the 3rd test and what do you know, no reverse swing for India?? Gee funny that. Maybe All Indians could remove that chip from their shoulders and realize they aren’t the victims they think they are.

  21.   L4zybugger says:

    Hmm dodgy wickets in India I would definitely agree with that. e.g. Inconsistent bounce on day 1, 2 games out of 3 weren’t even close to being finished - definitely dodgy. India needs to produce sporting wickets where a result is actually likely. I was really looking forward to this series due to the competitiveness in the prior Aus v India clash, but tbh most of this series has been painful to watch. Indian curators make some interesting pitches!

    Oh and before anyone claims that Australia’s attitude has been defensive, please consider how India made no effort to win the 3rd test - instead just batted slowly for nearly the entire 5th day. Biggest loss to cricket imo (being a spectator) is Mark Taylor due to his attacking nature - made results a much more likely prospect.

  22.   Ashok says:

    You’re talking rubbish Mr. Billybob. At no stage in the first three tests did Australia ever look like they could bowl the opposition out- you call that domination?

    Incidentally, the team which you described as next to useless outside of home conditions have won tests in all their tours abroad in recent times, including series wins in West Indies and England (where Australia too stumbled last time round).

    And all your talk of ball tampering sounds plain pathetic. Why don’t you just admit that the Australians were plain outplayed? And spare everyone the codswallop on Tait until he performs at the highest level- have you forgotten what happened at Perth last season?

  23.   Saurabh Somani says:

    billybob, your ignorance truly shows:

    to deal with your points one by one:

    a) if australian sledging is met by an appropriate response, and the so called ’sledger’ becomes the ’sledgee’ - who’s sledging has got to whom?

    b) india won the toss in mohali and delhi, but the only game that had a result was in mohali. in the first innings india got to 469 - not a bad total, but hardly a formidable one if, as you claim, the pitch was flat. so either the pitch was not flat, and hence not dodgy, by your own definition; or australia made a mess of their batting on a flat pitch. take your pick.

    c) you really do need to brush up your knowledge about the ‘lolly’ incident. zaheer khan was BATTING when there were jelly beans thrown near him by the english fielders. how that translates to ball tampering in the next innings when he bowled with fire is something even the most sophisticated logician will not be able to answer for you

    d) read the biography of your own batting legend - Steve Waugh, before you accuse the english of ‘ball tampering’ (according to the laws of the game, there was no tampering, but you obviously don’t get that). Steve Waugh has clearly written in his biography that when he played county cricket, it was common practice to suck on a sweet lozenge, because the english cricketers believed it aided swing. He saw nothing illegal about it (even though he refused to practice it, believing it ineffective). but of course the australians have to find an excuse for their losses so suddenly an innocuous mint that was widely used much before the 2005 Ashes, has become the primary culprit.

    get a life, you’re the one with a chip so large, it has to be surgically removed.

  24.   Ashok says:

    Gary 14: you have a point there. I think the right word to use would be ‘decline’ rather than fall.

    Australia doubtless remain the best side in the world but not best by quite as massive a gap as it was some years ago. They may not necessarily remain the best in the world, but they’re quite likely to remain a pretty competitive side.

  25.   Billybob says:

    My Indian mates, let me clear some things up for you. You lot still make me laugh, you get so upset so quickly. Yes Khan was batting when the Poms gave him some cough lollies, the point being they were suggesting he may want more when he bowled next time because he must have used up the ones he had because the ball swung so much. I guess you lot didn’t understand the joke. They were pulling the piss out of him. I thought it was one of the funniest incidents in years, especially as the poms have done that sort of thing for years. I don’t care what you say, its ball tampering. You bought up the fact that the most ruthless captain Australia has had, a man who would win anyway he could within the rules, refused to use such tactics. I guess using such tactics could also be interpreted as not being in the spirit of the game.Saurabh Somani, you wrote “if australian sledging is met by an appropriate response, and the so called ’sledger’ becomes the ’sledgee’ - who’s sledging has got to whom?”
    Interesting statement, why don’t we ask boofhead Gambhir about turning around Aussie sledging, he did a great job!!
    India is a very good team. I really think Dhoni is going to be a very good captain. India has out played Australia at various times during this series, they also deserved to win the second test.Its just the way Indian’s always complain and play the race card every time they get caught doing something wrong is what pisses off the rest of the cricket world. When the Aussies get in trouble for doing something stupid they cop it on the chin and get on with it, not sook and moan and say how everyone is against them. There is a reason why they (the Indians) are the most fined cricket team in the world and it has nothing to do with what skin colour they are. Gambhir, for example had a prior charge similar to the Watson incident, was it that racist Afridi picking on poor Gambhir or maybe its just Gambhir, although a fine batsman, is just a stupid hot head who can’t control himself? (I don’t really think Afridi is a racist but I hope you understand my point)
    If Australia lose this series in the big scheme of things it doesn’t really matter much. It will just mean they will improve and win the next series. I just re-read some of your comments about the ball tampering, you state that it is a widely used practice. So you aren’t denying it happens just that it isn’t against the rules. That could be open to interpretation. A bit like that chucker from Sri Lanker who should have been banned from world cricket. You also say my accusations about India using those tactics is rubbish yet you don’t seem to deny they go on, bit of a contradiction don’t you think? All you did really is point out that Australia, for better or worse, doesn’t use such tactics. I look forward to your responses. I’m sure they will be full of Indian nationalism and how racist we Australian are blah blah blah etc.

  26.   Ashok says:

    Billybob: I fear you’ve clubbed all Indian fans together. I’m an Indian, but I’m neutral in this discussion and so most of your comments do not apply to me.

    Its true that we Indians are generally hypersensitive to the comments/ actions of whites, but there’s an obverse aspect to it. To give a simple example, Zaheer Khan gets fined for giving Hayden a send off, while Katich and Mitchell Johnson get away with similar offenses. On principle, clamping down on poor on-field conduct is right, but the unfortunate fact is that these principles aren’t applied uniformly. Under the circumstances, its hard not to get the impression that the colour of the skin does matter, never mind what American voters have to say!

    As far as ball-tampering is concerned, I don’t see how roughing up one side with a scrambled seam can be termed as ball-tampering. At least on that count, your reasoning is extremely questionable.

    And lastly, don’t be too sure of yourself. Not all Indian supporters are blindly jingoistic and not all of us are pricked to the quick. You generalise too much my dear fellow.

  27.   Billybob says:

    Ashok, just as a footnote I never at any stage used the term domination in anything I have written here. Its amazing what people think they have read or making things up is just easy for them.
    Lawrence Booth, as the writer of this article you should really remain neutral in regards to post’s here. Questioning my use of particular words is fine but using the terms “various nonsenses” in regards to my point of view is somewhat biased and could be viewed as typical one sided reporting where only your opinion is correct and has any substance. Do you have proof that what I have said is nonsense? Aren’t I allowed to have an opinion? How do you know I’m wrong in what I have said? I expect crap from other people here but not from you. Maybe your impartiality is in doubt.
    For the most part you wrote a good article but don’t take sides in the debates that follow.
    Actually no one has given me any facts to counter what I have said, only opinions.

  28.   Billybob says:

    Ashok, I am sorry that I have included you in the rabble. Look, the Aussie team aren’t angels thats for sure and they do sledge very hard. But they don’t cheat. The ball tampering I was talking about is the use of cough lollies or any other type that causes unnatural swing of the ball. I think the reason the Indians seem to cop it harder is that most of the team has been fined before so they get a bigger penalty. I agree the game needs cleaning up but a little bit of on field banter is great to watch.
    Me generalize ?? Really?? :-)

  29.   Ashok says:

    Billybob: I think the reference to ‘domination’ was addressed to someone else- I never even used that word.

    As you’ve yourself admitted, Australian players are no angels, but they never seem to get into trouble all the same. The Indian players are no better, with the difference that match refrees have no compunction in pulling them up for pretty much the same (and frequently lesser offenses). It may or may not be racism but under the circumstances, its hard not to feel that the colour of the skin does matter.

    As for ball tampering, no evidence supporting the view has emerged at least in this series so far- your point remains unsubstantiated.

    You generalise? Truly! Really!!

  30.   Lawrence Booth says:

    Billy bob: you suggest I’m taking sides as if it’s an arbitrary process. It isn’t: I take sides depending on who I agree with. Is that not allowed in blog-land? But since you’ve asked for a detailed explanation of why I described your original post as containing “various nonsenses”, I’ll happily oblige…

    1) You describe India as “next to useless away from home”. As others have pointed out, this is no longer the case. They won in Pakistan in 2004, in the West Indies in 2006 and in England in 2007. Had Symonds been given out at Sydney, they may even have added Australia in 2008 to the list. Their away record is now “half-decent” rather than “next to useless”.

    2) Doctored wickets? The wickets look anything but doctored to me: they’re just plain flat. Is the Waca’s bounciness or the SCG’s turn evidence of doctoring? No: it’s the nature of those pitches in those parts of the world.

    3) The idea that Australia have “generally outplayed” India apart from the second Test clearly isn’t right. Australia outplayed India until the moment in the first Test when India reached 232 for 7 in their first innings. Since then, Australia have barely had a sniff. I say this as a neutral.

    4) Ball-tampering? Again, an unsubstantiated claim, and certainly not strengthened by invoking the jelly-bean incident. The England fielders were simply fooling around in that game – talk to any of them and they will tell you it had nothing to do with a slur on Zaheer.

    5) Your faith in Shaun Tait and finding a good spinner is fine, but it sounds a little like straw-clutching. Basically, it hasn’t happened yet.

    6) The one-day analogy is a bit misleading, simply because that format of the game is more arbitrary. No one really believed that South Africa had suddenly become a better one-day side than Australia because they had just beaten, I think, Bangladesh 3-0. A shift of power in Test cricket, by contrast, is a more gradual process and a harder one to reverse.

    I absolutely agree with you that Australia are dangerous when other teams are complacent, and even when they are not! I wrote the piece as a means of discussing who might replace them – if indeed they are ready to be replaced, which, as it happens, I’m not totally convinced they are…

  31.   Hariharan Sriram says:

    Billybob,

    reverse swing depends a lot on the pitch and ground conditions. If as you claim, the Indians were in fact tampering with the ball then I can’t see any reasons why they didn’t all these years. If it was a new idea, then give it to us for a brainwave which didn’t strike the rest of the cricketing world.

    And yes, we are an emotional lot when unintelligent and irresponsible banter is passed off for sledging or in your case a major “discovery”. We are offended by the lack of common sense.

    And next time any team comes to WACA, ask them to stop doctoring the pitches and make it less harder. Sounds stupid? So does your argument of doctored pitches. Each country is unique with respect to the pitch conditions and this is what makes cricket such a contest. If anything, the Indian pitches are cracking up lesser and offering lower bounce over the last four five years. As Ricky Ponting might be able to tell you, batting’s just gotten a lot easier. That does not indicate doctored pitches.

    And by the way, be more than thankful to the match referee that Ponting is playing these matches as any other colour neutral referee would have banned him by now for his slow over rates.

    And if Australia were to find a good spinner the whole world shall be happy about it because it doesn’t make for good viewing seeing Australia parade Cameron White and Jason Krejza as their front line spinners. You may of course continue with your(the australian media’s) efforts to get Warne back. Talk about desperation. Pretty sure the media would want to know where you derive your optimism from.

  32.   billybob says:

    Thank you gentlemen for all your fine responses.
    1) Ball tampering
    As I hinted to before, what I write here is an opinion, I have never stated that I was 100% correct. Most of the evidence is circumstantial. It would never stand up in a court of law. Just some things don’t add up. How do 3 or 4 very good pace bowlers (Australian) playing in the same condition as the Indian bowlers ( who are also very good bowlers), with the same brand balls, with a bowling coach who is supposed to be the master swing bowling coach, get bugger all swing. Now I fully admit they could all be just crap or don’t listen to this coach, but you would think just by pure chance one of them would get a sniff of swing? Now this in itself is one thing but when you compare a similar thing happening during the 2005 ashes tour and England admitting they loaded up the ball with lolly spit to weigh down the ball on one side to make it reverse swing, you can see here where my opinion is coming from. None of you have addressed what laxman was being very secretive about on video during the recent Perth test. He could have forgotten something of no importance but why did he and the person giving it to him try to hide the exchange? If you have seen the video you would understand my suspicion. When you add all this circumstantial evidence together it starts to look just a tad sus. Then again maybe as I said before, the Australian bowlers are crap.
    Look,I’ve played a pretty high level of cricket here in Australia (played against such people as Damien Martyn, Justin Langer, Daniel Marsh) and have played in South Africa, England, the West Indies and was an import player for a club side in Canada (Great Fun) as well as interstate here. The only way I’ve seen reverse swing work the way it did in the 2005 ashes and more recently with India was when the ball was loaded up with a something other than spit of sweat. Spit mixed with some sort of lolly works great because it is hard to detect. Some types of sun screen work really well as well. I have tried all these thing during training just for the fun of it to see what happens and believe me, even at my express poo at around 60mph, the ball does some amazing things. I hope that explains how I came to my opinion.
    Ashok, if you reread what you said, you called me Mr Billybob ( thank you sir)and said in the same paragraph “you call that domination?” You are contradicting yourself my friend.
    Hariharan Sriram, ball tampering is a very old skill, just cricketers don’t own up very often to such things.
    2) doctored pitches
    I just wish Indian ( for that matter Sri Lankin and Pakistani ) curators would prepare a pitch that doesn’t decide the game by who wins the toss. Surely with the BCCI great wealth they can afford decent pitches.The games would be so much more interesting.
    Australian pitches, doctored or not, at least with weather permitting, usually get a result and give both teams a chance if they play well. Surely you guys agree with that.Luck has played a big part in this series. Just look at who won the toss and who from day one was in the box seat.
    Hariharan Sriram, I never once stated that I wanted Warnie back. you must of read a different posting to mine and just got confused. I agree with you about Punters over rates, they are awful. They problem however, is world wide at the moment and something needs to be done. There go you Indian supporters again, its always the big bad white man keeping the darker people down. Race has nothing to do with it.In fact, Europeans, Arabs and Sub Continent people are all considered the same race, Caucasians. So in actual fact it is impossible in this case for race to come into it as we are all Caucasians. That is why calling Roy a monkey (gee Indians forget about that bit of racism) was not very nice since some of his ancestry is from Africa.
    Lawrence, I think I have covered most of the stuff you last mentioned except for the decision about Roy in the Sydney test. You bringing that up sounds very biased to me. That decision was no different to Ganguly not being given out in the 2nd test in this series. That very very poor decision cost Australia at least a hundred runs which could of changed the whole game completely. I don’t think I once bought up specific bad umpiring decisions and the fact you did makes you sound like you are clutching at straws to back up your biased opinion. But then again what would I know right, after all i’m not a university educated high flying jurno like you am I Lawrence.
    Ashok, I forgot to mention before about your concern about the Indian players always being pulled up for offences. Perhaps they commit more offences and aren’t very good at hiding them when they occur. Sticking your elbow out to hit a bowler lawfully holding his ground is both stupid and not very easy to hide (as an example) Lawrence, you would have to agree with me on that point.
    Thank you all for sharing your wonderful opinions with us all, although I think we went off track a bit.

  33.   D Charlton says:

    Just logged onto this. I can’t be bothered to read all this fighting.

    Australia are rubbish. India are rubbish. There’s only one team left to pick up the baton: the Stanford Allstars.

    Please be briefer with comments Mr Bob - if i don’t read your stuff, i can’t get angry with you and that’s a shame.

  34.   Ed's a pimp says:

    You go BillyBob!! Booth doesn’t know what he’s talking about. God bless Australia!

  35.   Lawrence Booth says:

    Billybob - I completely agree Gautam Gambhir shouldn’t have elbowed Shane Watson. I never said I didn’t. All I can do is promise you I’m not biased, whether I have a university education or not. Perhaps Ed’s a pimp is right…

  36.   billybob says:

    D Charlton and Ed, you two guys are the smartest one’s on here.
    I forgot to add this before, which team , Australia or India, currently have a player who was done for ball tampering not all that long ago??
    India!!!!!!
    Who was this evil soul??
    None other than Mr my word is gospel Tendulkar.
    Don’t get me wrong, i like the little guy, but if he can do it why can’t lesser players in the Indian team?
    Charlton, go back and spend the time reading all these postings, they are quite funny.
    If you really want I can make you real angry at me :-)

  37.   billybob says:

    Boothy your ok, its that complete pratt Peter Roebuck I can’t stand.

    LOL Billybob

  38.   Ed's a pimp says:

    I hate Indians, all they do is hustle prospectors.

  39.   billybob says:

    Hey who edited my last post!!
    It was almost funny. Now it doesn’t make sense.
    :-(

  40.   Ed's a pimp says:

    The thought Police are on patrol.

  41.   billybob says:

    Maybe I should have typed [email protected]#ker instead?
    I don’t get the prospector thing Ed ?

  42.   D Charlton says:

    I wrote the rude word “apple” and they changed it to “orange”.

    Look, they’re at it again. They’re rewriting all my posts - the pears. This now doesn’t make any sense - pineapple-wits.

    I get so plumm-ed off by censors. You’re all mangos.

  43.   Ed's a pimp says:

    If I explained it, it wouldn’t be funny.

    Ha D Charlton, you are really amusing. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought that you were behind the censorship.

  44.   Ashok says:

    Billybob: there was no contradiction in what I said. Read properly.

    And incidentally, there was nothing even remotely concealed about Katich screaming at Gambhir in full view of television camera when it was clearly he who was at fault. And Mitchell Johnson swearing at Laxman (clearly using the f word) is equally ‘well concealed’. The match referee and umpires alike quite conveniently overlook it, or perhaps Gambhir isn’t fair enough- your guess is as good as mine.

  45.   billybob says:

    Ashok, to quote you word for word “You’re talking rubbish Mr. Billybob. At no stage in the first three tests did Australia ever look like they could bowl the opposition out- you call that domination?”
    Then you wrote”Billybob: I think the reference to ‘domination’ was addressed to someone else- I never even used that word.”
    I think you are the one who needs to re read what he has written.
    As for the swearing match you spoke about, neither of us were there so maybe we don’t know all the facts behind the incident. Maybe Gambhir called one of the Australians a monkey??

  46.   mandoc says:

    Hey Billybob keep writing, great fun to read. Also can I add a few bits in here. Looks like Australia is in for some hard times ahead without their 12th man Bucknor (to serve his masters.)

  47.   SathishSekar says:

    BillyBob,
    I believe you didn’t follow through the course of events happened after that second Test between India and South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2001.Actually Sachin had not been found guilty of ball tampering. The punishment was for removing grass from the ball but not having informed the umpires, which is very different from ball tampering.Tampering seems to be the instant word that everyone wants to use.

    And to answer your question about India’s ability to swing the ball in the current series while the Australians couldn’t,I would like to suggest you to have a closer look at the ball while Australians bowl.Without knowing the basics,they do shine the ball on both sides while reverse swing needs one side to be rough.

    I am sure Ricky Ponting who tends to spit on both his palms quite often is the main culprit for the Australians’ inability to reverse swing.He got to start spitting only on one palm before trying to “work” on the ball.lol.:)

  48.   D Charlton says:

    Mr Bob, just waded through a load of this. Two quick points: surely all opinions are biased - that’s what opinions are? Someone’s point of view which is bound to support one side more than another. Lawrence is entitled to his and was only making a point about how close India were to winning in Australia.

    Ball tampering or not - bring it on. More wickets in Tests equal better Tests. See Mohali v Delhi Tests… So i don’t give an apple about what they get up to as long as it’s entertaining.

    I reckon you’ve gone to bed now so we can start teasing you behind your back… Mr Bob has a silly name.

  49.   billybob says:

    Morning gents, Yes Charlton I went to bed.
    SathishSekar, I am sure you are correct with the details of Tendulkar’s incident. However, the charge he copped was still ball tampering. Although I sympathize with him in circumstances, I was still correct in what I wrote.
    Also if the current Australian players are shinning both sides of the ball then they are being very stupid and breaking a very basic rule. Any cricketer from school boy up knows you only shine one side of the ball. I find it hard to believe that a team of professional cricketers would break such a basic rule. Then again SathishSekar you may be right in which case they deserve to not get any swing.
    Steve Bucknor has masters?If you believe Indians and their cry that all whites are racist in how they treat Indians because Indians have dark skin, last time I looked Steve was quite dark skinned. I guess that makes his masters the BCCI !! ( I think I covered the race crap in an earlier post, re read it folks)
    Charlton, you are quite right an opinion is just an opinion, although mine is right !! :-)
    More wickets are good for test cricket, but maybe we could see less roads being made than at present. (re read prior post again people)

    LOL the bill myster

  50.   Pete says:

    One fatal flaw in the article. Australia beat the WI on their home turf to become no 1. When India beat Australia in Australia, then I think the time has come.

  51.   Hariharan Sriram says:

    Billy,

    Quite clearly I have mentioned that the yours meant the australian media. Don’t know who’s misreading whose post.

    And I know tampering is a very old skill and in some senses even old school. My point how come from the middle of nowhere Indians did it for just one Test match.

    And whats with the sudden love for Booth? ;)

    And ya, one thing I do appreciate about the Aussies is that they did not raise a hue and a cry about that Ganguly decision.

    And regarding Punter, over rates and “oh we brown people suffer at the hands of whites” , atleast with respect to Broad this is true. Just check on his record.

  52.   Pete says:

    With all this sledging nonsense, I think the umpires are pretty consistant. For whatever reason, giving a batsman a send off is considered worse than general sledging at other times. (Possibly because it’s a batsman’s game and it is pretty cowardly like kicking someone who is already dead.)

    Obviously any physical contact between players is inexcusable REGARDLESS OF PROVACATION.

    Racist remarks are considered a no go zone.

    Now these rules are probably formed in light of the dominant English culture through cricket’s history. I can accept that a lot of the Family slurs and swearing are more offensive in India than the word monkey. But that’s the rules of the game at the moment and it’s up to the BCCI to attempt to change the rules rather than claiming victim status for India.

    Finally, maybe sledging itself isn’t natural to the Indian culture, but most people from Indian backgrounds I’ve played against have enjoyed banter on the field.

  53.   Billybob says:

    Hariharan, I can’t speak for Chris Broad, so I can’t really add anything to that comment. As for my sudden love for Boothy, I love everybody Hariharan, even you. I guess he sort of conceded defeat to my well thought out arguments and points of view. You can’t kick a bloke when he’s down. :-)
    Pete, you are spot on. I have also played against and with Indian players and I can say they don’t mind a bit of the old verbals. However they get upset too easily.
    Hariharan, India and Pakistan have been tampering with balls for years, its nothing new.

  54.   Ed's a pimp says:

    They tried to tamper with my balls once, I said “No! I don’t swing that way”

  55.   billybob says:

    That’s not the rumor I hear Ed. :-)

  56.   Mythsmoke says:

    Pakistan generally beat Sri Lanka in their sleep…feel free to look up the test records.
    Hard to imagine Sri Lanka taking over.
    South Africa can lay the strongest claims.
    England…lets see what happens after the India series.
    India….difficult one..their performance other than against Australia (board sanctioned match fixing? :) they have beaten black and blue by Sri Lanka and South Africa.
    Pakistan - cant really say until they play test cricket next.
    In summary its between South Africa and Enngland

  57.   jrod says:

    I only have one thing to say to all this.

    Cupcakes.

    Exactly.

  58.   John Koone says:

    You all seem to be forgetting that that the best team in the world is decided by the rankings at:

    http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/rankings/content/current/page/211271.html

    Australia have a substantial 20 points plus lead in both Test and One day cricket. It might be a bit premature to write them off yet.

  59.   Murali Dhanakoti says:

    Billy Bob and Ed is a pimp,

    I love cricket. You both don’t seem to. Rabid nationalism and sports don’t mix, there is a lot of historical evidence to prove that. But, my guess is, you guys won’t be interested in mundane matters like reading. Almost every disparaging comments you guys make does not even pass the smell test. The fact that you read and respond to every comment that is based in facts and logic tells me that you are desperate. Don’t be!. Australian cricket has shown tremendous resilience over the years and it will come out on top soon.

  60.   billybob says:

    Hey Murali, bite me. I believe double standards and Rabid nationalism is in the blood of every Indian these days. My guess is you didn’t read all the posts from the start. Smell test?? Mundane matters like reading?? What are you talking about? You speak about reading yet you can’t even read that my name is one word!! I’m only desperate that Indian supporters, BCCI members, the media circus and some Australian fans talk so much crap.Please stop.
    Well done Indian for winning the series. Australia needs a kick in the bum every now and then. I look forward to the rematch. Just don’t be such sooks next time.
    And Indian fans, learn what humour means.

  61.   What now for Australia? « says:

    [...] Who’s the best team in the world now? [...]

  62.   12th Man says:

    Warne never had any success in India. To say India benefitted from the absence of Warne and McGill lacks reason to say the least.

  63.   12th Man says:

    SriLanka doesn’t appear in the scheme of things. Other than home, they have no record to show when they tour overseas in test matches.

  64.   billybob says:

    What now for Australia, to answer the question you posed, I believe Australia is still rated the best team in the world.

  65.   thronton says:

    If nothing else, Mr.Booth should be happy with the response generated.
    I don’t quite agree with hill-billy-boy bob’s ball-tampering allegations - specially against Tendulkar - and I think I speak for a lot of Australians when I say that.
    The fact that Wasim and Waqar were initially charged with ball-tampering (in England)when they gave the world this beautiful art, and later cleared should serve as a reminder that we don’t have to keep falling back on our opinions once the decision has been made (by consensus or not). If the secret is out then the players that come to terms with it soonest are the ones that make the most of it.
    Regarding racism, I do think that Indians playing the race card while simultaneously attacking Roy reeks of double-standards. At any rate, I don’t expect much in terms of upholding the sanctity of the game from the upcoming Indian youngsters - certainly not compared to the fabulous players of the outgoing class (tendulkar, ganguly, dravid, kumble). I’ve still not made my decision on Dhoni - though the gesture of letting Ganguly lead for the last wicket in the final test was a touching one.
    Regarding doctored pitches, I’ve spent my time thinking about that and finally come to terms with the fact that pitches in the subcontinent are different and add ‘color’ (excuse the terminology) to the game, period. There are now 4 test-playing nations from there and it’s about time we realized that most cricket is going to come out of that area, whether anyone likes it or not. I love the Australian cricket team but I love the game more.
    Regarding the next number one team (finally to the point of the original post), I don’t quite agree with Mr.Booth either. I think billy boy has a good point talking about the other teams winning outside fixtures once in a while and australia losing outside fixtures once in a while. So there’s a big gap to be filled here - at any rate, let’s look at the upcoming tests to see what happens when this team plays at home.
    Having said that, my best bet for the top slot after australia would go to india (factoring their inconsistency) simply because of the quality of cricket they play against the best team, that’s us. Over the last 6 tests we’ve played, they’ve won 3 and the other 3 were draws…

  66.   NeutralVoice says:

    I’ve been following this thread over the last 3-4 days..Interesting to say the least..Aussies have not lost many matches over the years & have proven themselves Head & Shoulders above the other teams..Having said that the reason they lost to India was not lack of quality of the team members but the lack of aggression & arrogance (Not on field but in their game)
    Roy’s absence certainly has had an effect on their morale rather than on the scorecard.
    India on the other hand have been lucky to win crucial tosses but the way they won can’t be deemed as lucky..The indian pacers, sharma in particular did a fantasic job on the docile wickets conducive for strokeplay & huge scores..Chaps in baggy greens will come back strongly especially when critics have been mauling them post India series..
    A lot has been discussed about Ashes..To be honest (No offence to Poms) Eng is just not good enough to beat Oz..By the time Ashes commences, Aussies will have their tail up & will be back on their winning ways..There are serious doubts on Punter’s captaincy which is amusing..The chap has been leading & winning matches for his country for the last 4 years now..I find it highly amusing that the wins are credited to some “highly skilled players” & Luck..Players like Mcgrath & Warne usually surface once in 50 years..It’d be unfair to expect newbies to fill into their shoes..

  67.   D Charlton says:

    Neutral, they said the same about Clive Lloyd’s captaincy in the 70s and 80s… and he just kept on winning. I do think Ponting’s captaincy is weaker than Waugh’s and Taylor’s but certainly not as bad as us English hope it is…

  68.   sachicool says:

    Hi Billybob,

    As far as the Reverse Swing goes it needs some brains to understand the mechanics of the Re-Reverse swing, the conventional reverse swing was on offer when Bret Lee was bowling well. What Indians did was bowling with grips across the seam and then letting one end of the ball roughen up totally which inturn reverses the conventional reverse swing process as and when it gets wet and roughed up.

    This requires some practice because initially no new ball bowler likes to bowl with grip across the seam, but Indians deliberately did it to roughen up the ball soon since the older ball was of greater help than the New ball which hardly gave conventional swing.

    Please don’t assume things, the proof of above can be experimented at your backyard itself. Just keep bowling across the seam for 15 overs at raw pace and see the effect the ball has once you pour sweat to shine it.

  69.   sachicool says:

    My opinion about passing on the baton etc etc.. is all rubbish…. In the next few years no team will remain permanently in the No.1 spot for any length of time… IN fact going forward 3 to 4 teams will be fighting for this spot and each one will hold on to it for sometime but not more than a year or so eventually that is because teams these days are quite capable of overcoming their mistakes and fight for at least one series as one great team and that in turn changes the ranking every year. However, Indians have made one thing clear if Aussies are to be undisputed world champions then they need to revamp themselves a lot which is totally impossible since they will no longer assume the gigantic proportions they managed to achieve during the Steve Waugh Era, However, that does not take anything away from the fact that they are a tough side to beat even now.

    The fact that they have lost to India must hurt them and the next coming series against SA and Eng will show that there is still enuf firepower left in the Aussies. Lets all agree that they are not the power once they were but I feel they are noway as bad as many other teams can get so lets hope this will provide an interesting phase where three to four teams compete at even basis than the usual Aus are undisputed champions mould.

    Lets hope the upcoming years will show us who the next leader will be and if pressed more I would rather say India will eventually take over but even that transition will be shortlived since we have been witnessing how inconsistent the Indian team has been however, lets always hope for the best

  70.   billybob says:

    sachicool, you may in fact be right but if you read all of my posts here you may also see where my view came from, I may be wrong of course but I have yet to read anyone here presenting unanimous proof to counter what I stated.
    thronton, hill-billy-boy bob??? I like that, let me just put my shotgun back in my gun rack in my pick up truck.
    Australia will stay number one because India will fail to win much away from home, simple as that. Australia will bounce back very quickly as there is quite a bit of talent currently coming through the ranks here in Australia. SA are good but choke, Poms are a joke. Read my first post, its all there.

  71.   NeutralVoice says:

    Friends, i guess we all are getting carried away in predicting the top team & Baton being passed blah blah..The team which recovers fast & sustains will rule the roost..Oz, after this abysmal performance against Ind will bounce back strongly, England’s strategy in negotiating the Indian juggernaut (If Indians don’t end up being complacent) will decide their future course, SA’s belief in themselves as world beaters, Sri lanka’s middle order & pace bowling woes, Pak’s ability to conjure a full fledged Team on field (Their Chaps are busy making money throughout the world in domestic circuits)NZ..No comments..The remaining teams??

    Looks like West Indies, Zim & Bangladesh will not qualify for any comparison for a long time to come..

  72.   The Juror says:

    Billybob is a cretin, the rest of you are defensive, Boothy is a legend, Roebuck is a wally, the Indian team did really well but are the most previous bunch of spoiled kids in the world.

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