In hours, days, weeks, months and years to come, the magnificence of India’s triumph in Brisbane will only grow grander in time. It would come to define a generation, perhaps an era, perhaps Indian cricket itself. It’s epochal and merits its perch at the helm of India’s finest hours in cricket and arguably one of the finest Test matches in the history of the game. A victorious chase of 328 on a crack-laden, fourth-innings pitch, where Australia had been invincible since 1988, in itself is an incredible feat, but that’s only part of a truly unbelievable, if not fictitious, comeback story. Bowled out for 36 in Adelaide, written off after the departure of their talisman Virat Kohli, then losing one match-winning player after the other as the series unrolled, bruised and bullied by their full-strength Australian contemporaries, taunted racially by spectators in Sydney, India scripted a timeless epic in Brisbane.
The emotional outpouring should not deflect the reality of India’s leaping growth in the game. This was no fairytale, Brisbane 2021 was not a coincidence. It was in the works for a while. This is the outcome of sustained planning, systematic development and an ambition to be the global leader in the game. That a largely second or third-rung team could produce this victory is an attestation of the efforts put behind the scenes to ensure the progression of cricket and cricketers in the country. A domestic circuit that pays well or the ample opportunities and quick riches that IPL provides has taught millions of Indian cricketers to dream, aspire and inspire. It has widened the talent pool of the country, revved up the competition as well as opportunities, made world-class facilities accessible even to aspiring cricketers.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is not without flaws and is not hesitant to wield its clout, of course. But they know their cricket, they support their cricketers, they ensure they get the best of exposure. For example, no other team has featured in as many ‘A’ games than India. There is no country in the cricketing world they have not travelled in the last five years, they are constantly interacting with world-class coaches, Rahul Dravid, for instance, and getting acquainted with alien conditions at a young age. Similarly, the Under-19 cricketers are carefully groomed and monitored. Selectors and scouts are travelling wider and farther to guarantee that no talent slips out of the system. For all these reasons, Brisbane 2021, should not be considered a coincidence or fluke. It’s just a dot in the arc, the triumph of a robust, inscrutable system. It’s an example other Indian sports can emulate.