06 January 2021
India's 71-year Test: The Journey to Triumph
India and Australia, poised one-all going into the New Year's Test at the SCG this week, are doing battle for not just impressive silverware.
The teams also have the onerous responsibility of being exemplars of a format at the crossroads as it faces competition from shorter, more compelling versions.
So argues India's 71-Year Test: The Journey to Triumph in Australia, a new Bradman Museum book out this week.
The book reflects on India’s first 12 tours to Australia – from 1947/48, to face Don Bradman’s side, tracing the evening out of a rivalry dominated by the host nation until the turn of the Millennium.
India’s vast legion of fans, hitherto forced to settle for occasional competitive displays by its heroes, was finally rewarded for its patience when the team’s investment in pace paid handsome dividends in 2018/19.
Virat Kohli’s men won the showdown for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1, making them the first team from India to pull off a series win Down Under.
Test cricket is under genuine threat from the 20-over format, with more and more players gravitating towards the shorter version.
Against this backdrop, the fillip it has received from a rivalry on par with the Ashes is a credit to the commitment to the most demanding format by two of the leaders of the world game.
Author R. Kaushik, one of India's most respected cricket writers who has covered more than 100 Tests involving India, says pink-ball day-night Tests and the ICC World Test Championship are necessary steps in the right direction.
"They can, however, achieve the desired objective only if the sport's leaders re-affirm their commitment to cricket's most demanding and least forgiving prototype," he writes.
"It is therefore incumbent upon Australia, India and England - the three most influential nations - to show the way.
"Cricket needs its Test format to not merely survive, but to flourish so that the traditional fabric of the sport remains as its engine room.”
Introducing the book today, India's coach and former all-rounder Ravi Shastri, who coached the team to its first Test series win in Australia in 2018/19, tipped a fiercely competitive two Tests to come this Australian summer.
Shastri, the first Indian batsman to make a Test double-century in Australia, has written in his Foreword to the new Bradman Museum book: "There is no such thing as a weak Australian team.
"Australians hate losing, and it’s a thought process entertained not just by the 11 on the field, but the whole nation, the fans and the media.
“When a team tours Australia, there is a combined assault like no other."
Accordingly, he rates Australia as easily the best country he has toured, inspiring visitors with a desire to win when faced with the toughest all-round test they will ever encounter.
Published by Churchill Press, the lavish 196-page coffee-table book has a RRP of $59.99 and includes more than 200 superb images from all 12 series, including many historic press photographs rescued from the USA by former Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards and donated to the Bradman Museum.