I still have nightmares about the summer of 2011.
I was living in Edgbaston with three English lads who, every evening when I got home from work, were only too eager to remind me of India’s cricketing plight. The Indian team’s tour of England was billed as many things, but not an English whitewash.
Like a ’Nam veteran, I still remember the carnage. I get flashbacks of the timid, wafting Indian bats that glanced comfortable catches to the slip cordon, the filth served up as India’s bowling attack resorted to Dhoni and Raina and the only saving grace in an otherwise gory train wreck, the languid, effortless Rahul Dravid.
Okay, India were without many star performers. Fine, India were jaded after a World Cup and possibly the worst-timed IPL to date. But for the so called #1-ranked test side in the World™©® to be so unceremoniously slaughtered was just embarrassing. As Indian fans, we too were brought back down to earth. 4-0 and in no less than eight efforts, the mighty Indian batting line up couldn’t even score more than 300. “Never again,” we thought.
The winter tour of Australia saw another capitulation. What made it all the more comical was the rhetoric that preceded it: every media outlet told us that this was the weakest Australian side in two decades, that India would win their maiden series in the outback, that this would be revenge for the injustice of 2008. This time, it wasn’t a strong England side, buoyant from a tremendous Ashes win, but an inexperienced, relatively unknown bunch of Australians.
When Star Wars fans walked into theatres to watch the Attack of the Clones, they must have said to themselves, “well at least it can’t be as bad as The Phantom Menace”. The horror etched on the faces as they emerged from cinemas was the same that we Indian fans shared: this was even worse. What transpired was annihilation worse than that of the summer. Virat Kohli’s century was the only one India could muster.Even Rahul Dravid’s defence failed as he was bowled an astonishing six times out of eight. Thank heavens it wasn’t a five-match series.
8-0. How did it get this bad?
As South Africa began preparation to take on England this summer, I noticed how many of their players were playing county cricket. I watched in awe as the Saffers decimated England. They were as superior as India were when we beat England in England in 2007.
Of the Proteas team, almost every single player that thrashed England had played county cricket. Most of them had played there before the 2012 series got under way. Alviro Petersen (Essex), Ashwell Prince (Lancashire), Vernon Phillander (Somerset), and Jacques Rudolph (Surrey), all played for the first part of the 2012 summer for their club sides. The rest of the side had also spent considerable periods on the swinging English county circuit. Imran Tahir (Hampshire), Hashim Amla (Essex), Morne Morkel (Kent, Yorkshire), Dale Steyn (Essex, Warwick), JP Duminy (Devon), Jacques Kallis (Glamorgan, Middlesex) and captain Graeme Smith (Somerset, Hampshire) all did stints in England as they began their international test career.