Reverting to Type

After a couple of weeks with the total number of posts here standing at 666, I felt I ought to check back in.

Nothing evil seems to have happened. Apart from another lame Indian failure overseas.

India should be better than this. They have at least two - well, three actually - of the greatest batsmen in history, plus another who's eaten better Australian attacks than this for breakfast in the past. Then there's Dhoni: brazen, ingenious, competitive, talismanic. And you can add Zaheer, hugely skilled and possibly even fit, Ishant, persistently under-achieving but with much more to give, and two discoveries, Ashwin, a deliciously artful spinner who can bat, and Umesh Yadav, the latest in a long line of Indian seam hopes, and one who looks as though he might stick around.

It's hard to pin down a reason, but the really disappointing thing about India's recent serial defeats in England and Australia is the way they've carried uneasy echoes of the times when Indian sides were pushovers abroad. God knows, Australia have their problems, but, as they've shown in various locations these past few months, they compete until they drop.

They have their fair share of quality, even if, in some cases, it is ageing, and they have thrilling seam bowling promise. What they also have - and Peter Siddle, with bat and ball, embodies this - is an eyeballs-out streak of bloody-minded competitiveness which is a by- product of their entire cultural DNA. Even when they're bad, they're still pretty good (apart from when they're playing England).

Indian cricketers, raised in a gentler environment, where the pitches and bowling tend to be slower, don't quite have this. They've got nearer to it in recent years, to be sure, but old habits die hard. International cricket is a big, unforgiving place. You can't always be laying waste to the West Indies in your heartland with two spinners in the side. Sometimes you have to go to Lord's or The Oval or the MCG or the SCG and stand toe to toe.

This Australian side has many weaknesses. This Indian side has many strengths.

India should be better than this.

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