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A Startling Disparate Trend!

As the year draws to an end there is this opportunity to reflect upon cherish-able moments, outline trends and chart out the hits & misses of the preceding 12 months. Cliched as it sounds and repetitive as it gets this annual exercise with novel sets of examples never ceases to intrigue the followers of the sport. 2013 had only one global tournament (Champions Trophy in England), a couple of emotional send-offs, a couple of exciting ODI series, string of rising youngsters, bunch of record-breaking performances, and South Africa & India retained their pedestal status in Tests & ODIs throughout the year.

Amid these featured stories, there are a couple of hidden anecdotes that have been generated in the due course. Of the 43 test matches through 2013, 33 produced a result. Strikingly only 2 matches were won away from home (discounting the South Africa vs Pakistan series in UAE), and on both counts the losing side was Zimbabwe! Call it home domination, away blues, willful comebacks, complacency-laden over-confidence or anything but the dissimilarity in win/loss ratio at home (14.50) and away (0.06) is worth noticing and scrutinizing. 

But why is that such a notable phenomenon? Aren't teams expected to do much better at home? Yes but recent years suggest that even though the disparity in success ratios is evident, consistency with skewed series scorelines has been uncommon. 
Home W/L
Away W/L
Is there a superficial reason for this sudden shift in patterns? Almost every test playing nation had an away tour assignment this year, albeit unsuccessful, hence it would be futile to delineate this observation by grouping teams. What is more startling is the drastic discrepancy in the performances with respect to the conditions; the distinct Ashes scorelines separated by less than six months highlight this astonishment. In the new year India will tour New Zealand, England and later Australia, England will travel to West Indies, Australia has a tour scheduled to South Africa and Sri Lanka will go to England during the summer; with such fixtures it would safe to wait and see whether 2013 was an aberration or an indicative sign of things to come.

In general what makes success on away tours so treasured? Yes the fact of playing outside your comfort zone is the primary reason. This further includes defeating moments of unanticipated challenges. These challenges comprise of mistimed injuries to key players, devised plans going awry, weary long fielding days, lack of a source of inspiration, type of bowlers in the armory misfit for the conditions and the rub of the green going against you! Over the last 12 months Pakistan in South Africa, Australia in India, Australia in England, England in Australia exhibited that such away-tour symptoms can swell out of control and the catch-up process becomes a mammoth task in lesser familiar environments.

Scroll down the rankings history in the recent past and you will realize that the position on the table directly varies with away performances and the quantum of such contests. Fans/followers wouldn't mind this phenomenon if it can promise quality cricket; like the one we have seen in the year-ending series between India & South Africa. International cricket is going through a fascinating phase with no team emerging as an outright world-beater. If this development indeed progresses, it could make the distinction between good and great sides a simpler process!


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