Until now, it was an un-Indian experience, especially in cricket, its effect only felt from others like Australia or West Indies. Now, post the Australian triumph, India owns an aura. England’s captain Joe Root was moved enough to say they aren’t “scared” of India. When was the last time that was said of an Indian team? India’s home record has been enviable for years now but this time the feeling is different. Previously, they would trudge back home, either licking their wounds or contriving pride after a solitary Test win or two. The home series would be the opportunity to plot payback for away embarasments.
Even as India gets back some old faces like Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma, they will lose Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Co but not many are worried. The talk in England, from former players and media, is that it doesn’t matter. They respect the fact that India can harass them with pace and spin. They know India doesn’t need any sly help from the pitches. In turn, England need a good series in India to attract eyeballs back home to keep alive the vast interest kicked at the grassroots after they won the World Cup in 2019. The pandemic put paid to hopes of revival in what is essentially a footballing country. Data has revealed that a large section of British Asians consume the sport but don’t necessarily move up the pathways to play it at a professional level. The England cricket board has tried to rectify the apathetic approach of the past by actively encouraging them but the pandemic meant that clubs and counties are faced with a money crunch.
A triumph in India is rated higher than a win in Australia. The Tandoori Ashes, as India vs England was termed by the newspaper ‘Guardian‘ a few years back, is more than just a way to interest the large segment of Brit Asians in England. It’s no longer about appeasing a demography; its about respecting the greatest cricketing challenge out there: A Test series win in India.