Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Legendary Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath has predicted that the Baggy Greens will whitewash India 4-0 when they meet in a highly anticipated Test series in December.
McGrath’s predictions come after India were hammered 3-1 by England in a five-Test series. In fact, during the fifth Test at The Oval, India were battered by an innings and 244 runs, which was their third-largest defeat in Test history.
India’s batsmen looked to be troubled by the pace of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, along with the spin of Moeen Ali. But, they will be up against a much more lethal pace and spin attack when they travel to the Land Down Under.
The memory of Australia left-arm pace demon Mitchell Johnson picking up 37 wickets at a jaw-dropping average of 13.97 in the last Ashes series against England still lingers in the back of everyone’s mind. But, throw Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon into the picture, and India will experience an even worse nightmare than the one they recently had in England.
“For India to be competitive in the upcoming Australia series, a lot of things have to change,” McGrath said. “We saw, as you mentioned, England when they toured Australia last year, they were well and truly beaten 5-0. Now they have well and truly beaten India 3-1. It’s going to be a tough series for India in Australia.
“If Australia play anywhere near as they have been, then they are going to be really tough to beat. To be honest, I can’t see India winning a Test match, so my prediction is as it usually is – I predict Australia to win and win 4-0. It’s up to the Indian team to prove me wrong and to somehow find some way to turn around their form. Their fielding, their batting, their bowling [to a degree], they’ve got a lot of work to do in the next few months.”
McGrath described India’s performance against England as “ordinary” and stated that if they were to have any chance of being competitive when they travel to Australia, they will need to work on getting the basics right and ensuring that they take full advantage of any chances created by the bowlers.
“It could have been better, no doubt about that,” he said. “I have enjoyed Varun Aaron coming in, bowling with a bit more pace. Ishant Sharma has always promised a lot, he’s still taking wickets, but unfortunately, he’s had a few injury worries, his pace has dropped down. Pankaj Singh looks raw but has a lot of potential. As a unit they could have bowled better but they did create quite a few chances. That’s what you have to do at that level. But you can’t afford to drop 3-4 catches in every Test match. If you do that, you’re not going to win any. Overall, the bowling was 7-7.5 out of 10.”
While many people would call McGrath’s rating of “7-7.5 out of 10” highly generous given that the England batsmen constantly amassed big scores, the Australian bowling icon did note that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was one of the bright spots for India during the series.
Kumar was India’s most successful bowler during the Test series as he took 19 wickets at a solid average of 26.63.
“He’s done well. [He] bowls pretty good areas, he swings the ball and has got the knack of taking wickets, too,” McGrath said. “So it’s all about playing at this level, being successful, believing in yourself and then being able to improve and learn from every game you play.”
However, McGrath did bring up an interesting point when he said that India lacked a quality seamer. Varun Aaron filled the void for some time during the recent Test series, but it remains to be seen whether he can continue to do so when India head to the Land Down Under.
“I think India’s biggest problem has always been that they haven’t got an express, out-and-out fast bowler,” McGrath said. “I mentioned Varun Aaron, who bowls good pace, but the rest, you can say, are probably medium-pacers, so then you’ve got to be able to swing the ball, you’ve got to be able to build pressure.
“I’ve done a bit of work with Varun at the MRF pace foundation. I’ve been impressed with his attitude and the way he goes about things. The thing that is special about him is that pace. He has to bowl 145-plus, up around that 150 km mark. He can’t afford to lose that, so the one thing he doesn’t want to do, and what most bowlers really shouldn’t be doing, is trading pace for something else. You need that control, no doubt about that, but you need to keep what makes you so special. So for someone like Varun Aaron, he needs to be bowling 145-150 kph for him to be in the Indian team.”