Australian great Ian Chappell says India’s attitude towards achieving excellence should be copied by the ambitious cricket nations for the well-being of the Test format.
In the wake of their 3-0 whitewash of South Africa in a Test series recently, the former Australian captain called India the envy of world cricket.
Leaving aside India, England and Australia, he has expressed concerns over the decline of other Test-playing nations such as South Africa and Sri Lanka.
“If Test cricket is to be a viable part of the game’s future, the standard of play needs to remain high. Whilst it’s true India - with a large talent pool, unlimited finances and the IPL - has a huge advantage, it’s their attitude towards achieving excellence that should be copied by any team with an ambition to be the best," Chappell wrote in his column for ‘ESPNcricinfo’.
India blanked South Africa despite missing their premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah, consolidating their position at the top of the ICC Test Championship standings.
He said the Indian pace attack is now equipped to shine in all conditions across the world.
Bumrah, when fit, the indefatigable Mohammed Shami, the vastly improved Ishant Sharma, and the pacy Umesh Yadav give India a quartet of fast bowlers that demand respect in all conditions.
“These pace spearheads, added to India’s always capable spinners, give the attack a potency that not too many other countries can match," Chappell said.
The legendary batsman added, “Slot a fit seam-bowling allrounder in Hardik Pandya into that group and India are more than adequately placed to cope with any conditions they encounter.
“A well-balanced bowling attack is the perfect antidote to any attempt to provide conditions that heavily favour the home side."
He said it was only a matter of time before India became a “true powerhouse" in cricket.
“With an enormous talent pool, young players gaining experience from mixing with international stars in the IPL, and the right selections, India should remain a powerful opponent for the indefinite future.
Chappell also singled out Indian captain Virat Kohli for special praise, speaking in glowing terms about his relentless quest for excellence.
“The other factor in India’s ascent has been the shining example set by their captain, Virat Kohli. Always a player who wanted to perform well in all conditions, Kohli’s desire for excellence has rubbed off on his team-mates and the whole side has the common goal of wanting to be the best.
At series’ end Kohli provided a telling quote: “We’ve wanted to be the best team in Test cricket. As long as we keep working with honest intent, those things will follow."
As well as being an excellent cricketer, Kohli is also a smart one and that phrase “honest intent" should be a wake-up call to other Test nations. That is where the bad news kicks in: the overall standard of play in Test cricket."
At a time when questions are being raised on the relevance of Test cricket, Chappell is worried that a spate of lopsided results may affect the five-day format further.
“South Africa’s demise is ominous for the Test match version of the game. Test cricket is a great format, but only if the teams are competitive. Test cricket relies heavily on a good contest to be entertaining and exciting.
“Recent contests like India’s triumph in Australia and the enthralling Ashes series will keep patrons fascinated by the game.
“However a plethora of lop-sided series or boring batting exhibitions have little appeal as a contest and will quickly lose favour with the fans," Chappell wrote.