Two of the greatest rivals of world cricket have been England and Australia, epitomised by the Ashes Test series. And even when not part of the Ashes, it has always been a complete no-no for either fan, let alone the entire team, to support the other. Unless for a cause of self-interest.
Ahead of the fourth and final Test against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Australia have sent their best wishes to the old nemesis. Why?
A win for England in the fourth Test would assure Australia of reaching the final of the World Test Championship, where they will play New Zealand at the iconic Lord’s in July, hence knocking India out of contention.
Australia presently stand third with the winning percentage of contested points (PCT) being 69.2, only, marginally behind finalist New Zealand (70 per cent). India, with their emphatic 10-wicket win in Ahmedabad last week, stand atop with 71 per cent PCT.
Australia coach Andrew McDonald, talking to reporters ahead of the T20I series against New Zealand, said that the entire team will be keeping a tab of the fourth Test between India and England while preparing for their matches.
“Bit of self-interest there, isn’t it, for us following England for the first time in a long time,” said McDonald. “We’ll be hoping that they can do the job there.”
Ahead of the third Test, England were in contention for the final. A win in the next two would have guaranteed them the spot having won the opener in Chennai at the start of February. But with the heavy defeat in the shortest Test match played since the World War, England’s hope ended.
“It’s going to be difficult, no doubt. Some of the surfaces they’ve played on are conducive to spin bowling and probably India’s strengths are in their ability to play spin as well,” said McDonald.
“We wish (England) well, see what unfolds. It’s out of our hands but we’ll be watching on with interest.”
More than the WTC final, the win will also assure India of a hope of reclaiming the top spot in ICC Test Rankings.