How the Australian cricket team plans to conquer India during its much-awaited tour of the country, once termed the “Everest” by former coach Justin Langer and “final frontier” by the great Steve Waugh – the latest behind-the-scenes documentary — Amazon Original’s ‘The Test’ season two — promises to provide more than a peek into the strategies the visitors will employ to break its 19-year losing streak in India. Test captain Pat Cummins recalled the 2004 triumph in India under Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, saying it’s the benchmark his men aim to reach in February-March.
“They won in India, they won in England,” Cummins says in ‘The Test’, also referring to Australia’s five-Test Ashes tour of the UK, which follows the India assignment.
“That Test team (class of 2004), no matter where they (went) in the world, they could adapt. That’s the gold standard. That’s what you aspire to.” The documentary, which premieres on Prime Video this week, charts the success and failure of Cummins’ team from the time of his appointment as skipper to last summer’s Ashes campaign, through to their subsequent tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The show also provides insights into the players that make up the current team.
“In Australia, you keep the field in with the new ball, try and make the most of it,” Cummins reveals.
“In the subcontinent, it’s the opposite. The new ball does nothing, so you put the field out to stop the ball just pinging off the bat and then you hope it starts reversing.
“Then you sense an opportunity, and that’s when you go ‘voom’.” Besides Pakistan, the documentary also touches upon the Australian team’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2016.
Veteran opener Usman Khawaja went back to the day Australia started strongly with the ball in the opening Test at Pallekele before being foxed by the home team’s spinners to suffer a humiliating 0-3 series defeat.
“I thought we had the perfect game plan for the first Test and we probably should have won it,” Khawaja reflects in ‘The Test’.
“The process and everything we were doing was perfect.
“But then when we lost that (first) game, we started second-guessing ourselves and we had three different plans for three different games.
“And I think we’ve got to be really strong in our own belief to go with the plan that we have the first time is most likely the right plan.” Senior fast bowler Josh Hazlewood feels the inability to acknowledge that different challenges require changed approaches is a reason for past failings.
“Just not adapting quick enough to the conditions,” Hazlewood says about Australia’s regular struggles on subcontinent pitches.
Steve Smith, who was captain prior to Langer’s appointment in the aftermath of the ball-tampering episode in South Africa in 2018, says, “He left the team in a better place than when he started.” All-rounder Mitchell Marsh says, “Players taking ownership was one of biggest steps we’ve taken in the last six years.
“Whether we’re any good … time will tell.”
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