Darren Gough's statement that England can beat India any day of the week has naturally ruffled a few feathers... as I assume it was meant to! It's strange though to hear this comment... simply because England has not beaten India in a Test series (home or away) since 1996.
I was just checking the tour schedule of India's 1996 tour to England... when two youngsters by the name of Sourav Chandidas Ganguly and Rahul Sharad Dravid made their Test debuts. And that tour schedule made a very interesting reading...
Besides playing 3 Tests (against England) and 5 ODIs (3 against England and 2 against the Netherlands), India played 8 three-day matches and 4 one-day matches in preparation for their campaign at different points during that tour. That makes it a total of 12 practice matches.
TWELVE PRACTICE MATCHES??
Sounds like some different era to me! Gosh, I can't believe that a couple of guys from that time are still around the Indian team right now... and who play the most important away Test series, one that could justify and consolidate their top ranking, without a single practice game...
But that is not the point. Coming back to Darren Gough's claim... he feels that England is the best Test team right now. Given that they have just retained the Ashes in Australia... a feat not achieved for 24 years... it is quite all right to think so.
But England's away record is still no better than India's! India has an away series win against England and two away Test wins against South Africa and Australia each to talk of during the 2000s. However, here is England's record against India over the last decade:
In India (2001-02) - Lost 1-0 in a 3-Test series
In England (2002) - Drew 1-1 in a 4-Test series
In India (2005-06) - Drew 1-1 in a 3-Test series
In England (2007) - Lost 1-0 in a 3-Test series
In India (2008-09) - Lost 1-0 in a 2-Test series
So in the last 15 matches between these two teams, the record stands thus: India Win - 5, England Win - 2, Draw - 8.
Most cricket experts were of the opinion that despite India being the top-ranked team on the table, only a series win in South Africa can justify that rank. Given that England is not even ranked at the top, they would need to do a lot more than just beat Australia in Australia to justify Darren Gough's claim.
The three teams in the mix for the top spot are India, South Africa and England. Given that England and South Africa played each other last year, India and South Africa are playing each other now (having already played once during the year gone by) and England - India are scheduled to play during the next year, we can have a clearer claimant to the top spot by August 2011.
Till then, Mr. Darren Gough may have his views... but he'll have a tough job convincing non-Englishmen regarding the sanctity of his views!
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