Winds of change for subcontinent teams

What a change of fortunes that cricket nations around the world are experiencing. That cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties is a well known fact over the years.
Three of the subcontinent teams Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh found themselves at the receiving end against teams from Australasia, Europe and Africa. While Australia got the better of Sri Lanka 3-2 in the one-day international series, India lost their number one Test ranking to England when they were humbled 4-0 in the four-Test series. At the same time Zimbabwe on their return from Test exile not only beat Bangladesh in the one-off Test but also pocketed the five-match one-day series 3-2 to announce their arrival to big time cricket after almost six years.

The wheel of fortune has certainly changed. Sri Lanka one of the World Cup finalists was expected to beat Australia playing on their own home turf but surprisingly found the tables turned on them. Sri Lanka had a good chance of becoming the no. 1 ranked ODI side for the first time had they beaten Australia by a 4-1 margin, but as it turned out to be, the result was reversed and they lost the series much to the disappointment of their fans and more so the players themselves.
Playing under home conditions is expected to help the host country a great deal, but with Sri Lanka it seems it is not the case. From the way they have performed in One-Day Internationals in the past four years or so they have lost bilateral series at home to India (twice), England (once) and now Australia. They have beaten only Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies.

Whether it’s a case of Sri Lanka’s own failure to make maximum use of the home pitches and conditions or that they are not getting the pitches to suit their own strengths is debatable.
After losing the ODI series to Australia, Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said, “I believe the wickets need to be fifty-fifty. They need to give equal opportunities for both batsmen and bowlers. What we need is wickets where the ball comes onto the bat and spins without being slow. Whatever wickets we get we should play on them.”
More than the wickets and conditions the problem it seems lies with the team where they have failed to maximise the opportunities given to them.
India on the other hand were the top ranked Test team in the world and to retain that position they had to prevent England from beating them by a two-match margin. They failed to do that and England, playing the better cricket, thrashed them 4-0 rather comprehensively to end their two-year reign at the top of the Test ladder.

England played like a well-oiled machine and India had no answers to their total domination of the series. The last occasion India suffered a 4-0 humiliation in a Test series was 33 years ago when they lost by that margin in Australia under the leadership of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
Zimbabwe’s performance over Bangladesh will do their cricket a world of good. This wonderful nation lost some of the most talented cricketers due to the political situation in the country and if what is happening to their cricket is a clear indication that the situation is getting back to normal then Zimbabwe cricket is in for some exciting times in the near future.

The good thing is that some of the white players who quit the game early are returning to serve Zimbabwe cricket – former captain Alastair Campbell is the chief cricket selector, another former skipper Heath Streak is the Zimbabwe bowling coach and Grant Flower is their batting coach. Former England cricketer Alan Butcher who is the Zimbabwe team’s head coach hailed their ‘double’ triumph as a “significant win for a team that experienced tougher times in the past”.