India involved in record number of TestsAnant Gaundalkar
It's amazing, isn't it, how perception can sometimes be quite the opposite of facts?
Ask any cricket afficionado, and he will tell you at once that India - indeed, all international nations - are playing too much one day cricket these days and that, as a result, Test cricket is the main casualty.
Not true, people. At least, not as pertains to Indian cricket. IN the last 12 months, India has played as many as 15 Tests - three in England, a one off Test against Australia, six Tests (three at home and three away) against South Africa and the just concluded five-Test rubber in the Caribbean.
Since one day cricket was introduced at the international level way back in January 1971, there are just nine instances of a country appearing in 15 or more Tests in a 12-month span. And we chose the benchmark of 1971, because of the feeling that ODIs have ruined Test cricket, and that less of the traditional game has been played after ODIs began to dominate the marketplace and, hence, the cricketing arenas.
Interestingly, India in fact holds the world record in this regard, having played a record 17 Tests in a seven month period from July 12, 1979 to February 19, 1980 - in other words, 2.43 matches per month! And remember that this was only the beginning - India then went on to a full tour of the West Indies.
In fact, it is interesting in context of recent events to note that in the 1979 season, then captain Sunil Gavaskar, protesting the hectic schedule, actually made himself unavailable for the tour and relinquished captaincy to his brother in law, G R Vishwanath - a very significant step, given that Gavaskar has always done supremely well in the West Indies. Kapil Dev also refused to be considered for the touring party, for the same reason. And ultimately, the tour itself was cancelled.
Had the tour gone on as originally scheduled, the five Tests India were slated to figure in would have increased its tally, in a 12-month period, to 21 Tests - an unsurpassable figure. And, taken in conjunction with all the travelling, practise games and even the odd one dayers that India was slated to play in during that period, an incredible workload.
Interestingly, the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, when faced with that kind of insane scheduling, were able to protest, to pull out of the tours and, ultimately, to force the BCCI to rethink and to bring back a measure of sanity to the proceedings.
The present lot of cricketers, having in the past 12-months played not only 15 Tests but also 27 ODIs (with seven more to go, four against the West Indies and three in the league stage of the I-Day Cup, assuming that is that India does not reach the final of the latter tournament. It is also interesting to note that while this merely takes into account the period from the start of the England tour, the ODI season actually began in February, with the Wills World Cup, and that India had also played in Singapore and Sharjah before going on to England.
The amount of cricket that has been played by India this year, thus, assumes mountainous proportions - interestingly, unlike in 1979, no single Indian player has thought to protest, let alone pull out of a tournament. Mohammad Azharuddin came closest, when he made a public statement that India was playing too much cricket and that he was finding it difficult to concentrate in the Testgs - but even he did not pull out of any Test, let alone a tour.
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