Race to the top
Every team in International cricket strives to be the best Test team in the world. Being the best gives the holder bragging rights over winning any other competition in the world game today.
After the end of an era of complete dominance by the great Australian team from around 2001-2008, where they won convincingly in all conditions home and away, a feat that can be only compared to the great West Indies teams of the past, or so I have been told repeatedly for some time now.
After the Aussie dominance there have been a lot of talk about the next great force to take the mantle of top dog in test cricket. The most talked up is England followed closely by south Africa then there is also Australia Any other team is nowhere close to challenging for the top spot in test cricket. It is interesting to analyze these current teams and see what is holding them back from complete dominance.
Currently the no1 team in the world they are virtually unbeatable at home. The grey English summer brings with it a sense of pride for the English who are pretty woeful at any national sport involving a team.But the cricket team is a thoroughly professional unit they have the best backroom staff and one of the best head coaches in the world when the team travels they have a entourage bigger than a hip hop star. The English are always well prepared going into a test series they Ashes victory and the Indian annihilation proves the point.There bowling is very strong with Anderson,broad,finn,bresnan,swann and the backups like tremlett,onions,panesar etc… all these bowlers can be relied upon to continue for some time barring major injury.What is holding England back is their batsmen cannot play spin bowling this a problem that no amount of batsmen from other parts of the empire can solve for England.(unless they can find a Indian discard, rohith Sharma??? ) If andy flower can solve this problem which is mostly mental than any technical issue england could have a good run.
South Africa are the closest in my opinion to being the best team in the world the coming tour to England will decide if they can be called a champion team.On paper they have a the strongest team in world cricket. They have almost all bases covered.Kallis,de Villiers ,smith,and others like duminy,Peterson,prince all are good against spin and pace.In the pace bowling department they have steyn,morke,the wicket taking machine philander and the impressively named Lonwabo Tsotsobe and a whole host of upcoming young fast bowlers.South Africa are blessed to have a coaches from their own country with Kirsten and Donald they have two people who have done everything and seen everything. After being the coach of india this will be a much easy task for the hardworking Gary Kirsten.South Africa currently lacks the mental approach to be ruthless they tend to ease their way into victories rather than crushing their opposition mentally so that it will be remembered for a long time.If they can unearth a quality wicket taking spinner(another paul adams !!) I would back south africa to occupy the no1 spot for a long time.
After the embarrassing loss to England in the ashes at home the aussies have taken a long hard look at themselves. They are not the indomitable force they once were it was no surprise that after losing greats of the game they went through a lean spell. But you can never underestimate the fighting spirit of the aussies a factor that will never be erased from their cricket.The aussies have shown signs of getting back to their best it is a result of their strong domestic system that they have bounced back so strongly and quickly while other teams with a great legacy such as west indies continue to struggle.Currently Australia have a good blend of bowling resources with good young fast bowlers such as pattinson and Patrick cummings and the expirenced players like ryan harris and siddle.The aussie batting showed good application when they toured sri lanka with sean marsh leading the way,recently david warner has established himself as test batsmen against india and new zealand and they also have the promising ed cowen.Australia are still in the rebuilding phase but what sets Australia apart from the rest is their killer mental attitude .(must be because the great white sharks near the coast line).
And the rest…
It is disappointing that no asian team is close to dominating world cricket india had their chance when their tour of England started they were no1 that was the only good news they would have for a while. It was evident that they neither had the batting or the bowling to compete with a team that was better prepared than them they were hammered 4-0.Then they were beaten again 4-0 by Australia and the downward spiral was complete they cannot go any further down.It is evident that india does not have bowlers to pickup 20 wickets when they travel ,then there is the fact that their top batsmen might retire soon therefore india will have to rebuild from the bottom.Then there is Pakistan who seem to have a hidden factory somewhere they assemble quality bowlers Ajmal is the best spinner going around supported by umar gul and others they have a strong balling lineup. Recently their batting has also looked impressive .When things are going well for Pakistan they can beat anyone anywhere but as always there will be a stumbling block somewhere that will distract them.Sri Lanka also suffer from a lack of bowling resources before they beat England recently they went through 17 games with only one win which was a great victory at Durban.Sri lanka’s batting is regarded as their strong suit but have failed in important matches therefore sri lanka too have a long way to go.West Indies have been going through a long run of poor performances the most disappointing for them was losing to Bangladesh.The windies have the talent to be a good team but lack the technical support required .While new Zealand have the problem of finding good talent from a population of just 4 million.
Currently there is no top team in international cricket because every team loses away from home conditions, The team that can find the right talent quickly to combat conditions away from home will be able to fill the current vacuum.Therefore the team that fills the vacuum will have a long successful run while other teams are rebuilding.