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Graeme Smith: India with their noses ahead are very hard to chase down

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has given England a word of warning about their chances in the ongoing Test series against India, now that they have fallen 2-1 behind.

While praising Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for unlocking “an English team like [he has] never seen before”, Smith, now Cricket South Africa director of cricket, cautioned that India would be hard to reel in going forward.

“There’s always been a lot of talent, but they seem to have taken away the fear, provided a lot of security for people and look at the game in a really positive way,” he wrote for Betway. “England are certainly sticking true to the way that they want to play in India by applying pressure on the opposition and making them think.

“It’s a very long tour and toiling against India like you have to, with long days in the field combined with the heat, can wear you down towards the back end of a series. Staying mentally fresh, positive, and within your gameplan is important. England have done that well so far and need to hang tough for as long as possible, because if India get their noses ahead then they’ll be very difficult to chase down.”

No one has beaten India in a series in India since 2012, and three of their four Test defeats in that time have come in the first game of a series. Australia and New Zealand have also been dominant at home, and while England haven’t got a win/loss record to compare to those three at home, they have lost just one home series in the last decade, to New Zealand in 2021. Smith pointed to the ability to compete away from home as being what separates the best from the rest.

“Being able to win away from home is the differentiator between a good team and a great team,” he said. “There’s no greater challenge than travelling into someone else’s backyard for a few months at a time with their crowds, their media and their conditions, and proving that you have the team and the capabilities to compete there and win over an extended period.

“That’s something that we saw with the great West Indies side of the 1970s and 80s, and the great Australia side of the 1990s and 2000s – they really did dominate around the world. The South Africa side that I captained went nine years without losing a Test series away from home, but that consistency on the road hasn’t been present in the world game of late. India, Australia and now England have all had teams with plenty of ability since then, but if you want to really step up then you need to do it away from home.”

England are 3/1 to win the fourth Test against India according to Betway.

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