Dileep Premachandran makes the case for the coronation of the Proteas as toppers of the world Test table, in the wake of the Ashes.
Cricket, like English football, has had two all-powerful dynasties dominating much of the past three decades. West Indies’ hegemony mirrored Liverpool’s time at the top of the tree and the Australia era has gone hand-in-hand with Manchester United’s dominance. Now, with the exit of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden over a period of two years, Australia have come back down to terra firma.
Of the pretenders, who is best equipped for a long stay? Or will the future mirror the mind-numbing mediocrity of the heavyweight boxing ring? Where once you had Ali and Frazier, you now have Klitschko and Chagaev. Cricket can ill afford such a dizzying fall from grace, especially in an era when Test cricket is struggling for survival. Competition is a wonderful thing, but it’s a dominant champion that gives a sport a real edge and other teams something to aspire to. To echo the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, you need someone to knock “right off their fucking perch”. …
What of India? They followed up home victories against England and Australia with a sloppy display in New Zealand – winning one, being outplayed in the next and then spurning the chance of victory in the third game. They were the only side to go toe-to-toe with Australia during the glory years, and have also worked out what it takes to win away from home. But there are cracks in the edifice, with impending retirements and complacency casting a pall over the future.