Home sweet home !!
These words seem to resonate more than ever when it comes to Test Cricket… It’s a common argument used for Asian teams in particular, but the trend across all regions and teams has never felt this skewed in favor of the host nation.
The recent article on BBC about cricket being one of the hardest sport to win away from home , has some fair points mentioned about the varying conditions in this sport. But recently, those playing Test cricket at home have never had it so good. Below data for for the last few decades (excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), showing performance away from home support this growing trend.
You can call it old-fashioned and boring, but the ability of an away team to grind it out is also a decent measure of their performance… !! And the significant fall in Draw% away from home also raise quite a few eyebrows.
And before we get into the discussion of favorable playing conditions, we must also take into account that this is not a all-new phenomenon and the ‘globalization’ of the sport over the last few decades has significantly reduced the mystique of an away tour.
There are more frequent tours, also access to foreign conditions through franchise T20 tournaments across the globe, better technology, and to be fair overall, easier pitches today than before. Even after all these factors, any away series victory is always an impressive achievement, more so in recent times… Let’s take a look at some of the best away performances in the 21st century :
- AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA, 2004/05 (Australia won 2–1)
The project which started in the late 90s by Steve Waugh, the “final frontier” had been breached at last. The Australians had not won in India in 35 years, but the team could now claim to have beaten everyone everywhere.
As Australia beat India in the third Test by a massive 342 runs, to take an unassailable 2–0 lead in the series, never before were Indian players outplayed so much at home in every department. It was a great win by one of the greatest sides of all time, and they made it look easy.
- ENGLAND TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2004–05 (England won 2–1)
The 2005 Ashes was seven months away, and that was always playing on Michael Vaughan’s mind. How England played across these five Tests, in a land where only Australia had won since readmission, gave him the answer to England’s Ashes hopes.
What unfolded was a staggeringly up-and-down series of monumental individual performances from Strauss, Hoggard and Trescothick. One of England’s finest overseas Test series wins… including this one at Jo’burg
- ENGLAND TOUR OF INDIA, 2007 (India won 1–0)
A far cry from the recent abysmal performances overseas, this was one of India’s finest away performance in last few decades where they lived upto their potential. Rahul Dravid became only the third Indian captain ever to win a Test series in England.
Traditionally, whenever India have avoided defeat in that first game, it has been followed by better performance in the remainder of the series. After the narrow draw in Lord’s, India were much tighter in their bowling, batting techniques and general application and scripted a fine victory in Nottingham.
- The Ashes 2010–11 (England won 3–1)
Ashes in Australia always felt like a foregone conclusion for the pommies. But such was the turn of tide after the whitewash in 2007, that resulted in an unprecedented home disaster at the hands of an England team who have totally and utterly outplayed them, winning for the first time in Australia in 24 years. Such was the dominance that it was the first time in their history that Australia have suffered three innings defeats in a series
- INDIA V ENGLAND, 2012 (England won 2–1)
Even after the Ashes triumph, few gave England any chance in India. Same old, same old… But a few weeks later, Indians were witness to some of the best cricket by Englishmen on Asian soil.
To win so resoundingly in these conditions was a remarkable achievement and in years to come, this will always be rated as one of England’s finest overseas performances. And top of that lot was this masterclass from Kevin Pietersen…
South Africa (Oct’06 — Jul’15)
You can’t just limit this team to a series win. They’re the ultimate overseas masters… 15 successive away series that they either won or drew. !!
Their record when playing away from home has been the stand-out aspect of South Africa’s cricket over the last decade, and the one stat that’s earned them the respect of all teams and critics. It has also differentiated them from the previous no.1s like India and England, who rose to that position largely on the basis of home wins.
Their batting, led by AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, has been prolific outside home territory over the years, but South Africa’s phenomenal success was largely owed to the leader of their pace attack, Dale Steyn. In 35 matches, he has taken 167 wickets at an average of less than 25. Even surprising is the fact that in seven Test wins in Asia, Dale Steyn took 52 wickets at 13.25.