Cricketers are an indecisive lot. They can never really make up their minds.
Ask any cricketer worth their salt what the biggest moment of their career is, and they will and say playing/winning in a World Cup. In the same breath, however, they will hasten to add that Test cricket is the purest and the most important format of the sport.
Well, Which Really Is It?
A World Cup experience is the most revered, but Test cricket is most loved?
Now, how do these two add up? They really don’t, and that’s where the problem lies with Indian cricket.
For the longest period of time, while our legends sang praises for Test cricket, they knew that we just didn’t have the wherewithal to be numero uno in the format because of a lack of a quality bowling attack.
Then, sometime in the 1990s, with the advent of satellite television and the evolution of cricketers into brands, playing and winning Cricket World Cups became an obsession. This was the generation where a game in coloured clothing and a loss in the same would lead to mass hysteria, including a hastily-ended Cricket World Cup semi-final in 1996 at Eden Gardens.
Under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, India once again started to focus on winning in whites.
A Flawed Legacy Passed Onto Ganguly
While we achieved moderate success in ODI cricket in the 1990s, the Test record, especially away from home, was in absolute shambles. That’s where the decay set in even as we started assembling the best batting line-up we ever had in our history.
Thankfully, with the turn of the century, wiping out our past foibles became an obsession for a bunch of seniors, especially for captain Sourav Ganguly and his deputy Rahul Dravid. But even as we won an odd Test abroad in the early 2000s, we still faltered against ordinary sides like Zimbabwe (2000-1) and West Indies (2001-02).
It was not until India won under Rahul Dravid in West Indies (2006) and England (2007) that we really made a statement as a Test side. Yes the same Dravid who is despised for his captaincy, because his biggest ‘failure’ was not being able to lead his side into the second round of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
We made rapid strides as a Test side under Dravid but he never quite gets the credit because we are a nation obsessed with white ball cricket and World Cups.