Hmm... so I guess it's going to be one of those series, huh? One down, three to go, and not a single person out there has any idea which one of these teams is going to win. (Even the markets agree... the odds for the 2nd Test are equal at 9/4)
Did we learn anything from the first Test? A little, sure, but not necessarily what we wanted to know. In a way, every point made about it is pointless, since we have no idea whether it's part of a trend, or just an odd outlier. Either way, a few things still struck the eye:
- Mitchell Johnson looks like either a cockatoo, or a feather duster. Not sure which. I'd say the eyes give him the facial expressiveness of the former, but everything else suggests he might have the personality of the latter.
- I don't know if I'll ever get used to the fact that, in little more than a year, the Australian spin mantle has somehow passed from Shane Warne to Michael Clarke. Has there ever been a more dramatic reversal in the capabilities of a team's bowling department? (And yes, I did say Michael Clarke, not his tousle-haired retarded cousin, who'll probably get dropped in a week. Clarke bowled more overs, got more wickets, and had a lower economy rate than White in India. I'd say that makes him the frontline spinner now, doesn't it?).
- So it's settled, then... India have no chance of winning a Test match these days unless Virender Sehwag fires early, right?
- Look into the Australians' eyes, not even that deeply, and you'll see something you'd never have seen before. The Fear. I won't go all HST on you and describe it in psychotropic/biblical detail for the next 1,200 words, but it's definitely there, and they are not used to it. (Did you think you'd ever see the day when an Australian opener would plod along to 34 off 140 balls on the fourth day after his team secured a first-innings lead?)
- Not that it matters, since the Indians will match fear for fear with the best of them (and then might even add a little cultural anxiety, multi-personal insecurity and generation-deep chokeability to the mix).
It's hard to overlook the fact that, though this may turn out to be the most exciting Test series we've seen in yonks, it still involves two very flawed, weakened teams. Neither of them is playing at their best, with most of their members uncertain about their spots and the team's direction in the future. This probably won't reduce the drama, but it might offset the pure aesthetic quality of the series as a whole.