5 Chapters That Unfolded The Greatness Of Test Cricket

A few decades ago, cricket was a carnival. The families around the locality of stadiums used to attend and enjoy the game at the fullest. Though, the format was not like the modern-day bashing type. It’s a sport more of patience, grace and a true testament to the skill of players. 

Meanwhile, time has advanced. Cricket has got many new rules and the involvement of technology made it even more fascinating. The advent of shorter formats proved to be crowd pullers and it didn’t take much time for cricketing nations to adapt for the change, i.e. adventurous style of play. Game is progressing – from longer duration to shorter, from skill to muscle, from contest friendly to batting friendly.

Our fathers and forefathers are fortunate to have witnessed these epic scenes live or listened in radios from the likes of Henry Blofeld, Brian Johnston etc. These are some moments that relished the true essence of sports and made us taste the savvy flavours of Cricket. 

5 greatest moments in test cricket to cherish

The Rise Of Ashes : 

Who would’ve thought that a satirical article by the English newspaper “The Sporting Times” would turn out as a rivalry for ages? It all started with Australia tour to England 1882, where they played their only test in London against England, they bowled for 63 in 1st innings. But by defying all the odds, they won the game after the home team fell short of 8 runs. The journals all around went berserk over the loss and “The Sporting Times” published a mocking obituary stated as 

 

“In Affectionate Remembrance

of

ENGLISH CRICKET,

which died at the Oval

on

29 August 1882,

Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing

friends and acquaintances

R.I.P.

N.B.—The body will be cremated and the

ashes taken to Australia.”

 

The then England skipper Ivo Bligh promised that he would retain those ashes in their later tour to Australia in 1882-83 and thus the rivalry moved on. Since then, Ashes was safeguarding the test cricket with the vintage crowds who enjoy cricket to the fullest. 

 

A Googly That Scattered Bradman’s “100” Dreams:

“Sir Donald Bradman” – A name that’s been a “metric of greatness” for batsmen to come. Such a household name just needed 4 simple runs in the last innings of his international career to reach the magical 100 average. 

Finally, the venue had arrived. It’s the fifth test of 1948 Ashes series held in London where Bradman showed his presence for one last time in international cricket. As the greatest player announced his retirement in the latter end of the season, hundreds of spectators slept on wet sidewalks on the eve of the final test in a quest for tickets.

Time has arrived for the DON to step out for one last time in the ground. Crowd cherished the awaited moment with a lot of cheers reverberating around. He played the first leg break from Eric Hollies off the back foot. The next ball, Eric bowled a “Googly” which sneaked through the gap of bat and pad and Bradman got bowled, leaving everyone shell shocked.

The Don then moved to a standing ovation from the entire crowd and players, with tears in the eyes crediting hollies stating that “Eric deceived me and he deserves full credit”. An era of dominance, consistency and mastery came to an end. 

A VVS – Dravid Epic:

Australia is always a team to beat. Be it for their utter dominance in the early 2000s or for their “Never Say Die” attitude, they are always a team one don’t want to face.

In Australia tour to India 2001, in the third test which was played at Eden, Australia made early inroads for victory by scoring 445 in first innings and bowling India out for 171. The series win for Australia was in the cards as they were leading by 1-0 coming to the third test. 

Hoping to wrap it up early, Australia imposed a follow-on. But they never know the havoc they were to face. The golden duo of Indian cricket, Laxman and Dravid added 386 runs for the fifth wicket where Laxman scored 281(452), the then highest individual score by an Indian in tests (later eclipsed by Sehwag by scoring 309 against Pakistan in Multan) and Dravid with 180(353). This was termed as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of test cricket. Indian fans will remember the magic unveiled by VVS and Dravid duo for years to come.

Warne’s Ball Of Century:

The era where great fast bowlers of the likes Curtly Ambrose, Waqar Younis, Glenn Mcgrath used to rule the cricketing arena with swing, seam and accuracy. A spin maestro from Australia weaved his magic around the batsmen who left flummoxed more often with enormous revs on the ball. No doubt, Shane Warne revolutionized the art of spin bowling.

It’s one such moment in the 1993 Ashes series, the moment that defined greatness. Mike Gatting, who himself was renowned as an excellent player of spin, was batting against inexperienced Warne to give him a tough time ahead. Warne was up to the task as he ran up slowly and bowled a leg-break which landed inches outside the leg stump. Gatting was prepared to pad it away as most of the batsmen do with the ball landed outside leg stump. But the ball hit one of the cracks and stunningly turned to hit the off-stump which left Gatting perplexed.

After Gatting’s wicket, England never recovered in the game and in the series. Australia won the series 4-1 and Warne was the man of the series with 34 wickets at 25.79. But the delivery paved a way to an astonishing career for the Aussie spinning maestro and gifted “The Ball Of Century” for cricket fans to relish. 

Gavaskar Goes Past Don:

It was an era of West Indies dominance in the late 1980s. Let alone winning, a draw against them looked like a win for the teams around the world. Seldom comes a player who can dominate a bowling attack of west indies kind inclusive the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, colin croft, Wes hall etc.

One such player was Sunil Gavaskar. Without protective gear to his head, he had faced and successfully dominated the fierce bowling lineup of windies. It’s the moment every Indian can hold their head high

Gavaskar’s historic moment came in the sixth test of hectic test series in Chennai where he amassed his 30th test century. He scored an unbeaten 236(425) surpassing the great Bradman in the list of most centuries in test cricket. Gavaskar scored 505 runs in series with 2 centuries and a fifty in six tests. Despite the efforts, West Indies won the match and series by 3-1.

Many have gone past Gavaskar in later years. But the standard, little master set himself up was unbreachable.

There are moments in modern test cricket for fans to relish. Kusal Perera single-handed effort against South Africa and Ben Stokes heroics in recent Ashes is making test cricket alive. It is upon players and cricket boards to keep the longevity of test cricket intact. 

This sport has a great history and is deserved to be written in Golden letters. Test cricket, after all, is an exhibition of excellence.

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