Where were you when Ruturaj Gaikwad was run out by Nathan Ellis? You almost certainly have no idea because you almost certainly weren’t paying attention and quite possibly don’t even realise that it happened in an India v Australia match.
International cricket teams aren’t guitars: in an ideal world you’d never play your second string. India and Australia are currently doing a pretty good job of highlighting the fact that we do not live in an ideal world (just in case you were in any doubt about that).
There’s no need to pick on Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nathan Ellis here. Not when we could just as easily pick on Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Aaron Hardie or any number of others.
While these are important games for many of these players and no doubt several of the younger ones will become high profile international cricketers in due course, that’s not where we are right now. Right now this is not first team cricket. This is not India v Australia. It is “India” v “Australia”. Has anyone considered prosecuting for false advertising? We feel like the game should perhaps impose a mandatory “XI” suffix whenever a certain percentage of the first team are being rested.
If there’s one commendable element to the scheduling of this T20 series, it’s that it perhaps negated the need for a few flights. Some of the Australia squad were in India already for that World Cup win, so they may as well tick off a few other obligations while they’re already out and about.
This was pretty much exactly what Moeen Ali said when England played a similar sort of series in Australia last year, almost immediately after winning the T20 World Cup.
“Having a game in three days’ time – it’s horrible,” he said. “We have to do it, and while we’re here we might as well do it. It would be better than going back and then having to come back out another time.”
Yay! Entertainment! Top level international cricket!
Moeen wasn’t the only one who couldn’t be bothered to maintain the PR line for that particular series.
“We always saw that series as being something that we will have to be really professional about,” said coach Matthew Mott.
Speaking after the series, Jos Buttler said it had been irrelevant.
The series was broadcast by BT Sports, where pundit Steve Harmison summed it up as, “Meaningless cricket played in a meaningless way.”
Against all odds, this India v Australia T20 series may actually be even less of a big deal.
Having just won the 50-over World Cup, it’s entirely understandable that Australia might experiment/piss about by opening the batting with Steve Smith, picking two wicketkeepers and so forth, but India have also gone full B-team.
Because look back at that 2022 England tour and it’s obvious that at least one team was taking it seriously. With David Warner, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood all featuring, Australia were pretty much grooving their World Cup team. Only Glenn Maxwell failed to make the squad, and that was because of the small matter of a “snapped in half” broken leg (and with hindsight, Maxwell may have been overemphasising his need for functional legs when he pulled out).
The third and final match of this current series is tomorrow. India won the first two, so Australia will be playing for some peculiarly unremarkable brand of pride.