India’s Australia tour of 2020-21 will remain etched in history. Not because we won the test series 2-1, but because of the manner. Each test threw us a challenge and we found the resolve and the talent to overcome the challenge and accomplish a draw or a win. Perhaps, for the first time since the Kapil’s Devils, we were seeing the Indian “Team” play.
When it was beyond individuals and the sum was greater than the parts
This test series was distinctly different from any that has been played in the recent past either at home or abroad by india.
The indian culture revolves around a hero… for cricket it has been Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Tendulkar, Kohli, Sehwag, Saurav, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble, Zaheer and many more whose name is being skipped here. This series, for the first time, went beyond names. If we forget the debacle at Adelaide and the triumph at Brisbane, a blur of team india is there where individuals are absent and the team is there. Adelaide and Brisbane because at one we have our lowest score in history and the other is one of the latest wins.
This tour was one where the team played as a team. Where the sum became greater than the parts. We have seen india moving around Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Kohli for its batting might. The opposition always knew that they only had to scalp these stalwarts to get a mental grip on the team.
This tour redefined that opinion. First, at Adelaide, in the drubbing, the individual ego was reduced to a rubble. The star ego was washed out. Then the steel of the team shone through. Every member whether part of the playing eleven or not, rested their star ego and got out the steel resolve to perform. They performed like a unit, like a spartan phalanx, they stood together, for each other.
Cricket, a team game
In football, at Barcelona a style got developed that came to be known as the tiki-taka. In this the entire team moved backward and forward like a living organism, it is one.
In cricket, there are vey few moments where one gets to see the team moving. On this tour, india moved as a team. Each individual was like a gear, spinning to its fullest, mindful of the role that it had to play and ultimately making the big machine move.
Mentioning the individual names is again a waste as, if not they, someone else would have played the role. What is commendable that each individual rose and tried his 100% of not leaving it to the next. It was this will that was on display on this tour and made cricket a team game played by India.
When India became Australia
The current shape of the Australian team is attributed to the great Allan Border who build a team and gave it the confidence to be world champions. The legacy was carried forward by Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Ponting and Clark. The team became all conquering like the great West Indies of yore, filled up of individual talents and coming together to make a lethal concoction.
This indian tour team displayed the grit and determination reminiscent of these great teams of the past. Such was India’s resolve that the outcome of the match became immaterial.
The human spirit in its pure fighting spirit was at display. These were warriors hurled into the line of fire but non afraid to face it. Afraid is the wrong word, as it was confidence of belonging there and playing for each other.
It was a sight to see Vihari, Ashwin battle it with their injuries and a fractured thumb Jadeja padded up, ready to take the battle on. Even if Jadeja would not have batted, someone else would have been ready to take the fight to the Aussies. Such was the spirit, that we became invincible to the opposition because we had moved the game beyond its outcome. Mentally, we became Australia.
When the system works
At the start of the tour, in one of the interactions, Virat had mentioned that this was a “new india”, though in a different context. His words did prove prophetic cause what the team was able to perform in Australia was no fluke, no individual effort.
It is the produce of a well thought out, well executed plan that eleven players got replaced on the tour and their replacements filled the spot to the T. We have to give it to the much maligned and abused BCCI, that over the years, has taken care of its former players, big or small, now has got a system in place where players are financially secure and have a grooming system to spot and nurture talent for the future.
It is by no fluke that the so called rookie batmen and net bowlers looked full of confidence and performed. The indian express has carried an article explaining how the talent spotting and grooming is done with full synergy between the U16 levels, to the NCA, onto the national selection committee and the head coach and captain of the team. India today can boast of at least 2 if not 3 sides, capable of performing at the international level, such is the talent pool at hand.
All this has happened NOT inspite of the system but because of the system in place. For a debutant to raise the flag against racial slur, is by no means a mean job but speaks volumes about the confidence that the system has instilled in him.
Is it the New India
Is it the new india ? What is the new india ? The answer is straight forward.
We all understand that wining and losing is part of the game. To give it our 100%, to ensure that we play for each other and common cause, to face adversity with grit and determination, to have a system which supports our rise rather than places hurdles, to tell the world that we are a TEAM of talented people who stand for each other, with each other.
This tour has given a glimpse to the nation what a team is. This aspiration now needs to transform to the whole country.