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Test playing nations in a state of flux.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Aug 20, 2005
A disquieting sense of turmoil appears to be casting its shadow over almost every Test-playing nation at the moment.

Each team has its own unique problems but what is common to all are the tensions brought about by recent defeats.

The most recent case is of course the most surprising too. One would hardly imagine dissent and dissension with the virtually impregnable four walls of Castle Australia, the undisputed world champions of both Test and ODI cricket.

It is remarkable what one defeat can do to the morale and team-spirit of a side that has always prided itself on its unity of purpose and cohesiveness. Remember, the series is locked 1-1. Australia will still retain the Ashes which they have held for nearly 20 years if they can win one of the remaining two Test matches or if both are drawn.

But after defeat at Edgbaston and the narrowest of escapes at Old Trafford the cracks have begun to show within the rock-solid façade. Captain Ricky Ponting appears to have saved both his own and his side’s skin with that epic of an innings in the third Test. But after their defeat in the first Test at Lord’s, it is England that have dominated proceedings.

Back in India, the controversy over the captaincy appears to be snow-balling with distinct camps cropping up within the team, something that can have ominous repercussions.

Both Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have their supporters and some like Virender Sehwag have already publicly planted their flag (in Sehwag'’s case, in the Ganguly camp).

Defeat in the final of the Indian Oil tri-series final in Colombo meant stand-in skipper Dravid was most likely to be replaced by Ganguly and that is what has happened, though not before a stormy selection committee meeting.

In the West Indies cricket appears to be lurching from one grave crisis to another with money clearly the name and bane of the game. The side is currently sans Brian Lara and all its other superstars except for Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

With the Caribbean islands staging the World Cup for the first time in 2007, doubts are already being raised as to whether the hosts will be able to field a full-strength team for the mega-event.

Despite their brilliant performance in India earlier this year, controversy and Pakistan cricket go hand in hand and it is only a matter of time before the next one raises its ugly head.

The racial quota system within South African cricket has made the team an unhappy one while the less said about the plight of cricket in Zimbabwe the better. No wonder Sachin Tendulkar is itching to make a quick comeback!

So what does that leave us with? England are riding the crest of a wave, the whole nation backing their team in their quest for the Ashes.

Sri Lanka have moved up the rankings since their semi-final placing at the 2003 World Cup and look a real threat for 2007—they are virtually unbeatable too in ODIs on their own turf. New Zealand also look a confident lot under the able Stephen Fleming.

Bangladesh are enjoying their best period since they were brought into the Test fold in 2000 and the stunning win over Australia earlier this year in England has been the icing on the cake.

Ultimately, it all comes down to one factor— - the winning feeling. It’s amazing how a successful side can brush aside all the cobwebs.

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