Two Reasons Australia Is Totally Stuffed This Summer
The statistics don't lie and neither do the punters. Is Australia really doomed this summer?
For the first time ever, India is the favourite to beat Australia in a Test series in Australia.
This is remarkable for the following reasons:
- India first came here to play Test cricket in 1947. That was 71 years ago. They lost that series 4-0 and have still never won a series here.
- That's worth repeating: India. Has. Never. Won. A. Test. Series. Here.
- OK, now we're being silly with bullet points. Two more actual facts follow.
- India has played 44 Tests here overall and won just five.
- India has played 17 tests in Australia this century and won just two.
So what's different this time?
We're going to break this thing down statistically. There's a lot that stats don't show. They don't show the fight in the team, the little match-changing moments that can't be quantified by mere numbers.
But they're a guide.
Again, rankings are only indicative of overall form, not how a team handles key moments. But for the record, India is the world's top-ranked Test nation. And Australia is fifth, just below New Zealand. Ouch. (The ICC rankings are here.)
Australia is obviously weakened by the loss of its two best batsmen due to their ongoing suspension for altering cricket balls with substances found in the Bunnings hardware aisle.
Without Smith and Warner, our batting looks as thin and brittle as a papadum. Meanwhile India comes here with a strong line-up led by Virat Kohli. Two words any (non-Indian) cricket fan fears.
So on the the batting side of the equation, it's advantage India -- even though their batsmen have historically found life tough on our bouncier pitches, which are nothing like the lifeless driveways they have back home.
On the bowling front, you'd have to give Australia the nod. Our three main seamers -- Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins -- are a world-class trio. Nathan Lyon is the cherry on top.
This is not to discount India's bowlers. But on Australian pitches, our quartet is proven and India's is not.
Here's where this gets interesting. We're going to list the likely first Test line-ups of the two teams and compare their current batting and bowling averages.
First, the top order batsmen, with averages in brackets, The higher the better, obviously.
Australia: Finch (45), Harris (-), Khawaja (43), S Marsh (35), Head (30), M Marsh (26), Paine (wk 38).
India: Rahul (37), Vijay (39), Pujara (49), Kohli (54), Sharma (39), Rahane (41), Pant (wk 43).
India 43 Australia 36 (not including uncapped Harris)
Now the bowlers. Bowling averages show the average runs conceded per wicket so, obviously, the lower the better.
Australia: Cummins (23), Starc (28), Hazlewood (26), Lyon (32).
India: Ashwin (25), Bumrah (25), Kumar (26), Shami (29)
India 26 Australia 27 (not including uncapped Harris)
As you can see, the numbers favour India. But what about the vibe?
10 daily called Gerard Daffy from Ubet to talk us through what the punters think. His agency has India at $2.25 to win the series with Australia at $2.50 and a drawn series at $4.
"India are favourites purely because of the weight of money," Daffy told us.
"We've had the market on this series up for nearly three months, and we've taken less than 200 dollars on Australia to win the series."
Wow. One of Australia's most experienced sports bookies can hardly write a ticket with Australia's name on it. But why?
"The Australian line-up changes from week to week, and we've seen a lack of confidence from Australian punters in all forms of the game, whether it's T20s or ODIs or Tests.
"Don't forget when they were last here in 2014, Virat Kohli scored 694 runs in four Tests.
"India's bowlers look like they've struggled so far on this tour, yet punters don't still want to touch the Aussies."
Punters aren't always right, otherwise there would be no bookies. And as anyone who's watched TV this century would know, there's not exactly a shortage of them.
But all sporting streaks end eventually. And both the weight of money and the stats suggest that a strong India has its best ever chance to beat a severely weakened host side in Australia this summer.
We'll know more from Thursday onwards.
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