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Old December 7, 2004, 10:24 PM
DJ Sahastra DJ Sahastra is offline
Cricket Legend
Join Date: July 20, 2004
Location: US
Posts: 2,860

This is slightly tangential but i must quote it anyways.

Too often people blindly quote India winning after 20 years and 26 tests. What they really miss are points which are very relevant.

Point 1:
In those 20 years that India played Cricket, Cricket was a Royal sports confined to a rare few clubs and a few players. My grandfather didn't know what was Cricket and nor did my father know about it. India was not even a free country and cricketering infrastructure was non-existent except for the royal-societies which had a fascination for this "white-men's game".

India was in short introduced as a whipping boy for England and Australia. It's remarkable that the whipping boys grew up too fast and starting hitting back sonner than later.

Point II:
Atleast till Independence, The Indian Cricket team represented a combined team for what is today India-Pakistan-Bangladesh. Or, they represented really nobody. So it is just a statistical matter that India has to own up the pre-independence statistics.

Also, by the time Pakistan played it's first test, it had all the international experience in reality. Most of Pakistan's player were players who had played for India or were on verge of playing for India. Pakistan Cricket's history is as old as India's except that their disowning of the pre-independence statistics really makes them look far better as the new baby of the test playing nation.

Point III:
Another relevant detail about the "test cricket" for India in those days. A test-series would really happen like one series every 2-3 years. So what you did in the last series, good or bad, was never carried to the next series. Playing matches spaced so far apart was a huge disadvantage in sense it was a fresh start every time the team played a series.

Just look at the stats:
1932 - 1 test, 1 series
1933/34 - 3 tests, 1 series
1936 - 3 tests, 1 series
1946 - 3 tests, 1 series
1947/48 - 5 tests, 1 series
1948/49 - 5 tests, 1 series
1951/52, 5 tests, 1 series

From the time India played it first test to it's first win, it played 7 series in 20 years or an average of a series every 3 years!!! It also comes out to slightly more than 1 test per year. Players and teams talk about "rustiness" in few weeks on not playing cricket. Here we are talking about years!

There really was too little to carry over from one series to another.


The point here is, using the data from the pre-80s to prove that your team is doing better than the teams that debuted in that era is farcical at best. The way cricket is played changed drastically in post-80s era. A more realistically comparative benchmark for BD should be the statistics for Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe.

Even in those days when Indian team was the whipping boy for the cricket-giants England And Australia, there were many significant achievements. For those who would like to know,

1. India drew it's very 3rd test. It was a draw as in a proper draw. And the opponents were England, the heavyweight of that era by miles.

2. India took first innings lead over england in the very 5th test that it played.

3. After losing the inaugural test with Australia, India hit back to gain the first inning lead over Australia in the very next test. The match was a draw due to rain. This was India's 9th match.

4. India could declare an inning in as early as it's 10th match.

5. By the time India was in it's 20+ test matches, it was already dominating the proceedings against the rival England even if the matches were ending in a draw.

Here is the last 5 matches leading to India's win in it's 26th match.

1 WI 286 104.2 - D 5th Test v WI in Ind 1948/49 at Mumbai (BS) [311]
2 Ind 193 88.4 - D
3 WI 267 107.3 - D
4 Ind 355/8 107 361 D

1 Eng 203 102.3 - D 1st Test v Eng in Ind 1951/52 at Delhi [339]
2 Ind 418/6d 175 - D
3 Eng 368/6 221 - D

1 Ind 485/9d 139 - D 2nd Test v Eng in Ind 1951/52 at Mumbai (BS) [342]
2 Eng 456 207.1 - D
3 Ind 208 83.1 - D
4 Eng 55/2 36 238 D

1 Eng 342 159.5 - D 3rd Test v Eng in Ind 1951/52 at Kolkata [344]
2 Ind 344 149.1 - D
3 Eng 252/5d 120 - D
4 Ind 103/0 29 251 D

1 Ind 121 61.5 - L 4th Test v Eng in Ind 1951/52 at Kanpur [346]
2 Eng 203 95.1 - W
3 Ind 157 66.5 - L
4 Eng 76/2 19.2 76 W

1 Eng 266 121.5 - L 5th Test v Eng in Ind 1951/52 at Chennai [348]
2 Ind 457/9d 153 - W
3 Eng 183 75.5 - L

Another point worth noting was that in the lead-up to those first 25 test matches that India played before winning the first test, it had 12 losses and 13 draws. It lost fewer than 50% of the matches played. Also, it lost only 4 tests by an innings, with 3 of them coming against Australia ina single series.

Finally, bear in mind that India had no minnows or lesser team to beat. It only played England and Australia, and a debut series againt West Indies in the lead-up to it's first win.

As i have said before, statistics never tell the full story. To those who have really lived through that era or are in a position to compare, they would find the statistical use of data to prove that it "really sucked that India took 20 years to win it's first test" quite incomprehensible. India was a potent threat at all times and it was only a matter of time before it got them.

The records speak for themselves.

Edited on, December 8, 2004, 3:44 AM GMT, by DJ Sahastra.
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