Roger Alton

Can England beat India at home in a Test series?


It is surely the ultimate challenge in international cricket: winning a Test series in India. It’s the pinnacle for a Test team, much harder than in Australia. India have lost only one home series in 19 years, in 2012, when Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar spun Alastair Cook’s England to an epic victory. The latest instalment of this marquee series is almost upon us, and will be a chance to see whether Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum and their Bazballers can deliver when the odds look stacked against them.

Or is it going to be one of the last rituals before Test cricket becomes a quirky occasional outing for a handful of countries? The recent two-match series between South Africa and India seemed to be a weird version of It’s A Knockout, and featured the shortest Test match ever played.

Steve Waugh has been delivering apocalyptic warnings about the future of
Test cricket 

England will be going into this series with three rookie spinners and no Stuart Broad, and won’t be playing a single warm-up game, which you may regard as something of a mistake. Steve Harmison, the former England fast bowler and now a most acute commentator, certainly does: he said England ‘deserve to get beat 5-0’ because they plan to arrive in India just a few days before the first Test starts in a couple of weeks in Hyderabad – though they will have had ten days in the warmth of Abu Dhabi for a bit of practice and, of course, lots of golf.

Steve Waugh, the former Aussie skipper and the most successful captain in Test history, has been delivering some apocalyptic warnings about the future of Test cricket. ‘History and tradition must count for something,’ he said. ‘If we stand by and allow profits to be the defining criteria, the legacy of Bradman, Grace and Sobers will be irrelevant.’

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