We don’t mean that in the sense that we’ve tried Test cricket and it should now be abandoned. What we’re saying is that Test cricket is essentially a shoddily-designed framework for testing all sorts of hypotheses and the lack of clarity is what makes it so compelling.
Take India v Australia, for example. Have the home team taken steps forward since being battered on tours to England and Australia? Are Australia incredibly shabby in subcontinental conditions? Let’s test both those things simultaneously and therefore gain no conclusions!
If we then look at particular elements that contribute to those hypotheses, that too becomes difficult because nothing is fixed. Is R Ashwin improving as a Test bowler or is it just that he’s getting to bowl to Phil Hughes all the time? Is Phil Hughes really that bad or is he just up against a really good spin bowler?
Let’s not try and reach any conclusions. Let’s just wallow in the greyness.
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara
Some vacuums do get filled and India’s batting line-up tends to suck in quality (although you should never get too cocky about this kind of thing because even the richest tradition of all eroded to the point that Pedro Collins had to be selected).
Cheteshwar Pujara is quality, so that’s a result for a start. Not everyone is convinced by Murali Vijay. All we know is that we saw some of his early Tests and liked the straightness of his bat. We were quite surprised when he then revealed a penchant for the heaved six in the IPL.
Another young Indian batsman we’ve liked in recent times is Ajinkya Rahane. With relative newcomers improving the side having ousted or replaced ageing stars, we wonder whether India’s batting could be improved still further through his inclusion.
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja
We like R Ashwin a lot. He’s got that quality where it doesn’t matter how expensive your sunglasses are, people can still tell that you’re kind of a dork – but in a good way.
We’re talking nerdy, studious dorkishness; the kind of guy who does things properly and doesn’t cut corners. He appears to take his bowling VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED and, as an added bonus, he also appears to take his batting VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED. That’s admirable and seems doubly beneficial when there might be players around who act like success and failure have little to do with their own efforts.
Ravindra Jadeja, we’re not quite so sure about, but he does seem to have improved the side. We still haven’t worked out how he’s managing to take wickets, but we can’t deny it’s happening. Plus he can bat.
We’re pretty sure India are better than they were. Then again, Australia do currently seem to be really, really bad in Indian conditions and almost entirely without direction.
Let the flawed experiment continue!