Few notable Away series wins in Test cricket post Covid pandemic

India's Test win in Australia and England's Test win in Pakistan
India’s Test win in Australia and England’s Test win in Pakistan (Source: X)

Along with drawn Tests, something else is becoming rare. Series wins away from home that matter. It is considered to be the ultimate proof of the superiority of a Test side.

A look at Test cricket after the Covid-19 pandemic is not too large a sample size to come to any conclusion. But it helps understand trends and tendencies. It shows that overseas series wins against competition that counts and holds some relevance, have been few and far between.

India and Pakistan have three away wins since June 2020. England have two, Australia and New Zealand one each. South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh are also on one apiece. These numbers do not show how many of these were in Zimbabwe, West Indies, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, who are weaker at home than they were not long ago.

Notable victories in the backyard of the opponent in the period under consideration are a handful — India in Australia in 2020-21 and New Zealand in England in 2021. England’s 3-0 win in Pakistan in 2022-23 had a remarkable scoreline. Other than these, there were no conquests on foreign shores worth special mention.

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Shamar Joseph at Gabba
Shamar Joseph at Gabba (Source: X)

England played seven series away from home, India six, Australia four, plus the ongoing one. South Africa played six, New Zealand five. Pakistan made eight trips. There were memorable Test wins like Bangladesh in New Zealand and Sri Lanka in South Africa. There were thrilling series draws, like the Shamar Joseph-inspired West Indies heist in Australia. India and Australia played out 2-2 draws in England. But when it came to securing the series, the heavier teams at home usually called the shots.

Teams playing to their strengths and preparing pitches accordingly at home to garner ICC World Test Championship (WTC) points is one reason. Every Test has something at stake for those in contention. Green tops and dusty turners, both extremes are seen. In most cases, these factors suit the hosts. This has made it tougher for visiting teams to go back as winners.

The concept of a two-Test series is another reason. It has survived despite being criticised in every country. Nothing can be done now, because all top Test nations have at least a few of these in their future programmes. It robs a series of an outcome it would have had, if there were one more Test. Think of India in South Africa, where the series ended 1-1 last year.

Looking at consistency, India’s win-loss record since June 2020 is 9-8 from 20 games. Australia’s is 7-5 in 16 after the first Test of the ongoing series in New Zealand. Their lone series win was in Pakistan, a tough 1-0 in three Tests. Pakistan won eight and lost eight of 18. But most of their success came in countries with a poor recent record on home soil.

Team India in Rajkot
Team India in Rajkot (Source: BCCI)

This suggests that qualification for the WTC final, especially in the cycle from 2021-23, was boosted by points gained from home games.

Having lost WTC finals to New Zealand and Australia, India have wins or draws in every country of note. They have not travelled to New Zealand in this period. Other than the series win in Australia, there were draws in England and South Africa. The only defeat came in South Africa in 2021-22 when they squandered a 1-0 lead.

That sums up the story. Best efforts have usually not been enough on the road of late. Somehow or the other and for some reason or the other, the home team has guarded fort and inflicted casualties on the visiting camp. India in Australia later this year and five Tests will be eagerly awaited.

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