By Rex Clementine
There were so many talking points on the World Test Championship final, or the Ultimate Test as the ICC would like to call it. There was Travis Head announcing himself as the next great Australian batter. There was confusion on leaving Ravichandran Ashwin out. There was controversy about the catch that dismissed Shubman Gill. But above all, what the final taught us is that cricket is a funny game.
A funny game because Scott Boland wouldn’t have played the match if Josh Hazlewood had been fit. Then he turns out to be a match winner inflicting some crucial blows every time India appeared to be lifting their head up at The Oval.
Boland has got pace. So many bowlers have got pace. But the special thing about the Victorian is that he is so accurate, time and again bowling probing lines asking some tough questions. His consistency wins as batsmen lose patience. Test match cricket is a great test for the character of a player.
The Aussies were in a spot of bother having lost three wickets for 76 runs after India opted to bowl. Then followed the 285-run stand between Head and Steven Smith and that turned the game on its head.
Again, India made some blunders. Some costly ones. They opted for a four-man seam attack. Shami, Siraj, Umesh and Shardul are a decent attack but by no means they are Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Garner. Which is why cold-shouldering Ashwin was a shocker. Afterall, he is Test cricket’s number one ranked bowler. Hence, the final was like Britian celebrating victory in World War II without ever mentioning Winston Churchill.
There’s isn’t a better batting unit in the world than Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli and Rahane. They have been to all parts of the world and done the job. But to succeed in England, you should be geared up to take on the conditions.
Playing the WTC final less than ten days after the IPL final was no brainer and didn’t give India enough time to prepare for the challenge. Ideally, India should have played two First Class games before the final. Some of them barely arrived in London a week before the game.
The next WTC final will also be in England. It’s time for India to think of their priorities.
Australia clearly were the better team. Their batters fired, bowling was menacing and catching was spectacular. Their form is a worrying sign for England before the Ashes.