It is a measure of how familiar India has become to cricketers from around the world that there isnít a single player in this Australian team who hasnít been here before. Indeed, other than Xavier Doherty, each of the other fourteen has had an IPL contract in recent times. This familiarity raises an interesting question for Indian sports fans: Is India becoming the new England? Is the IPL, a bit like the county championship in England used to, almost preparing overseas players to beat the home country?
There was a time when the mystique of India, and the travel a tour here entailed, generated a significant home advantage. Australian players had to be educated on Indian customs, taught the value of patience as a way of life, for example. Now, they probably have long term multiple entry visas for India, say hello to the concierge as they check into familiar hotels and in places like Jaipur, Shane Watson and James Faulkner probably know the pitch, and the groundsman, better than most Indian players would! There is an easy familiarity with Indian players and their styles and deep friendships with Indian team mates have been moulded in some cases. Why Glenn Maxwell was leading a team song in honour of Rohit Sharma three days before the first T20 in Rajkot!
I wonder if this would produce a little less needle than such encounters have had in the past and, interestingly, George Bailey wondered too if that could be the case in a conversation I had with him a couple of days ago. I wouldnít mind that, to be honest, because I have long felt that aggression is best demonstrated in the desire to win rather than in words and gestures towards opponents. And on that count, I donít think we need worry at all!
This is a good Australian one-day side, clearly they are a better limited overs team now than they are a Test side. Almost all the bowlers bat and a lot of the batsmen bowl and whichever team eventually takes the field, you can be sure the captain will have nine