Ever since I have been capable to retaining my memories, the cricketing world has been divided in to two parts. The Subcontinent vs Rest of the World. Excluding West Indies, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. No one really cares about them. And it has not been in terms of politics only, it has been in terms of performances too.
From the beginning the subcontinent was ICC’s unwanted child as the Rest weren’t too keen on touring there and hosting them was no fun as the teams were more often than not rolled over within days. Once in a while they would show some skills to last on a green track but it was years before any team from the subcontinent made any impact outside it.
Then came the rise of Pakistan who, under the leadership of the very capable Imran Khan, stood toe to toe against the Rest in their own backyard while India continued to invite them over for a quick roll in the dirt.
In the 90s when the teams from the subcontinent used to rely more on the dust bowls and the two Home Umpires than their team, it was the Rest who forced ICC to introduce ‘Neutral Umpires’, thereby ending the career of several ‘elite’ umpires from the subcontinent. Luckily for the subcontinent this coincided with the rise of players like the Ws, Kumble, and Murali thereby enabling them to maintain their supremacy at home.
The tide started changing in the Noughties, with the Indian batsmen finally learning to cope with the chin music to some extent and Pakistan continuing to churn out one fast bowling prodigy after another, while players like Mahela and Kumar started giving Murali something to bowl with when touring abroad.
With India lifting the World Cup in 2011, it seemed that cricket had come a full circle and the era of the teams from the subcontinent was here to stay. But we couldn’t have been more wrong. India’s embarrassing defeat in England, followed right away from England’s demolition in India, and Sri Lanka’s woeful start to their tour of South Africa shows that cricket is in danger of going back to the 70s again.
This makes India’s tour of Australia even more important. It is bigger than just the Gavaskar Border Trophy. It is the battle of the subcontinent vs the Rest. This is a very important chapter in the history of cricket and India’s performance down under will have an effect on cricket’s history for years to come.