… only one team has played with honour. The other with their scuffing of every moral creaseline has shamed cricket and shamed their country. –Journalist John Reason, The Dominion Post, 20 January 2021
History making in Brisbane
By Roger Childs
Australia hadn’t been beaten at Brisbane’s Gabba cricket ground since 1988. That record has now gone with India’s unexpected victory in the fourth and final test on an exciting last day. The visitors scored 329-7 in their second innings to win the match – another record. Not surprisingly they were urged on by hundreds of enthusiastic Indian fans who cheered them all the way.
The win is also the more meritorious because India played without their inspirational captain, Virat Kohli, three of their top bowlers and three of their first choice batsmen. Some of the players were out with injuries caused by intimidatory short-pitched bowling which should have been stopped by the umpires.
In winning the Brisbane test India took the series 2-1 and retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Cricket fans around the world will be delighted as the cocky, over-confident and often unsporting Australians have been put in their place.
An up and down series
The first test in Adelaide had seen the Indians humiliated when they lost by 8 wickets. They were dismissed for 36! In their second innings – their lowest test score ever. (New Zealand’s has the embarrassment of having scored the smallest total in cricket history – 26 against England in 1955.)
Going into the second test in Melbourne the Aussies were very confident of winning and being in a position to march on to a series victory. But this time the Indians won by 8 wickets. The third test in Sydney provided a thrilling last day when the home side was seemingly in the box seat with the media and commentators expecting the Indians to be bowled out. However the visitors played with plenty of grit against more vicious bowling designed to hit and hurt batsmen, and comfortably held on for a draw.
A lack of sportsmanship
A nasty feature which emerged in Melbourne was the practice of “sledging” where the wicketkeeper and close-in fielders abuse batsmen. Unfortunately this has long been a tactic used by the Aussies. There was more of this in Brisbane notably from the Australian captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Another incident at the Gabba which further tarnished the home team’s reputation was former captain, Steve Smith, using his boot to scuff out the creaseline which an Indian batsman legitimately marked to use in facing the Australian bowling. As Kiwi cricket expert, Melbourne based John Smith, has remarked I find this Australian side very hard to like – they don’t seem to have much understanding of ‘the spirit of cricket’.
In contrast to the Aussie gamesmanship, at the end of the Brisbane test, the Indian captain Ajinkja Rahane presented the home team’s superb spin bowler, Nathan Lyon, with an Indian team shirt signed by all the players to mark Lyon’s 100th test.
As John Reason remarked above … only one team has played with honour.