Alive and kicking: Has Test cricket ever been stronger?
For years now we have heard that the white ball game is ruining Test Match cricket, but what we have seen in the last week proves that the longer form of the game is at its strongest it has been for a very long time.
The way India fearlessly chased down 327 to win an historic fourth and final Test Match against Australia – and inflict their first defeat at the Gabba for 32 years – was truly incredible to watch. The previous highest successful chase in a Gabba Test was 236-7.
The beauty of this chase is how it mixed everything brilliant about Test Cricket. Cheteshwar Pujara laid the foundations with a stoic 56 from 211 balls, at one stage he was 8 from 90 balls. Without this innings, Rishabh Pant wouldn’t have been able to play the heroic innings that he played, and without the IPL, players like Pant probably wouldn’t exist.
Victories like this should no longer be a surprise, we only have to look back to the Ashes Test Match at Headingley in 2019 to know that these kind of chases are now possible. However, the fact that India were missing their superstar captain Virat Kohli and other senior players due to injury, this one shocked, and captured the minds of cricket fans and players all over the world.
Kohli tweeted “WHAT A WIN!!! Yessssss. To everyone who doubted us after Adelaide, stand up and take notice. Exemplary performance but the grit and determination was the standout for us the whole way. Well done to all the boys and the management. Enjoy this historic feat lads. Cheers ???????????????? @BCCI”
South Africa legend AB de Villiers said “What a Test match! The depth of Indian Cricket is scary. @RishabhPant17 , sweet number 17. Well played young man. #testcricket at its very best”
England bowler Stuart Broad tweeted “Test cricket’s heart is beating strongly! That was an extraordinary win @BCCI & a fantastic series to watch. Aussies not lost at The Gabba since 1988. Wow”
It wasn’t that long ago that if a team were set over 250 on the final day, there were only two real outcomes possible, a dogged draw or a defeat. To modern day players, 250 is a relatively small target, depending on the pitch conditions… and even they don’t seem to change the mindset of players nowadays.
And what has made all of this possible? White-ball cricket. The players like Pant and Stokes, and de Villiers before them, brought everything they do in limited overs cricket into the Test arena and made chases like the ones we saw in Brisbane and Leeds possible.
We should stop blaming the IPL and Big Bash for ruining Test cricket and start thanking them for saving it.
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