Australia v India series has been our most gripping since the 2005 Ashes in England
Australia v India series has been our most gripping since the 2005 Ashes in England

Craddock: Our most gripping series since ’05 Ashes

The temptation is to say Australia lacks a killer punch but tackling this Indian team is like boxing Floyd Mayweather.

You spot a bare chin and wind up for the haymaker only to connect with nothing but thin air.

You see a dropped guard and go for broke - only to graze an ear. You move them into a corner then they spin on a sixpence and vanish.

Surely they must crack eventually?

What a magnificent series this has been. Both teams deserve great credit.

Even if India do not retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy they have made the cricket world think about going the road less travelled with selections, collective mindsets … everything.

The admirable way they chose five bowlers in this Test confirmed a cavalier spirit which never used to be their trademark.

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The fact that they have only two players - Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane - surviving from the first Test of the series proved you can leave blood on the floor in the selection room and still have team harmony.

India don't die wondering.

It's true that many of their players were dropped through injury but several significant others like Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal were dropped through poor form without a hint of disruption.

Through it all they looked like cricket's version of the NFL's New England Patriots, about whom it was once said that their game plans were so well absorbed throughout the organisation that you could put the car park ticket-seller in as quarterback and he would know all the plays.

It used to be said that win in Australia you had to have an Australian style alpha male captain like South Africa's Graeme Smith or Faf du Plessis but that has all changed with the calm, measured, unsung Rahane keeping his team in the fight.

 

This is a very unusual series because Australia barely ever does arm wrestles on its own soil. Its speciality is the brutal backslam and when that does not happen it is often backslammed itself.

But it is rare and special to see two teams with hands locked around each other's throats.

This is the most gripping Test series Australia has played in since the 2005 Ashes but it could have an even more profound impact on the game.

The 2005 Ashes, in which England won 2-1 after a series of spell binding twists and turns, became the instant yardstick by which all other compelling series are measured.

Its impact on the game was such that cricket gear sellers in Australia broke records when the 2005-06 summer started a couple of months after the team returned home.

But that was when Test cricket was the unchallenged king of the castle.

 

Twenty20 has since swept the globe and is the game of the future.

Now the Test match game is under siege, not simply from the razzle dazzle forces of T20 cricket but just the extreme financial demands of supporting first class systems that produce Test players.

If you're India, Australia and England you're doing fine but the rest of the world is struggling.

South African cricket is a financial basket-case and even New Zealand needed a helping hand to generate some cash so Australia will send a mixture of second and third XI players there next month to play white ball games while the Test side in in South Africa.

This Test should ensure that India stays in love with Test cricket and that is all Test cricket needs to live on indefinitely.

Originally published as Craddock: Our most gripping series since '05 Ashes


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