And nuclear weapons.
They are an odd couple.
I have talked about this before, here and here, and I think it might be a topic worth exploring some more.
There are ten nations with full test status in cricket: England, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. An exclusive club, surely. Just ask Ireland.
Meanwhile there are nine nations with nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, France, England, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel (supposedly). An even more exclusive club, and a far more dangerous one.
Three nations appear on both lists: England, India, and Pakistan.
In the links above, I talked about Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon’s test in 1998, and went on to relate its transformation into a nuclear power to the nation’s performance on the cricket pitch. (Read the links, it’s not nearly as ridiculous as it sounds at first glance.)
And, so, in the interest of fair play, I am going to do similar posts for both India and England.
I will begin with Pakistan’s neighbor.
India, as know it today, was formed in 1947, when they declared their independence from, coincidentally, England. However, most historians will tell you that their nuclear ambitions began even before their independence. Most trace is as far back as 1946, when soon to be Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, said: “I have no doubt India will develop her scientific researches and I hope Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive purposes.”
Officially, their weapon’s program began in earnest in 1968, with its first weapons test on May the 24th, 1974: Smiling Buddha was its codename.
The last cricket India played before going nuclear was in February, 1973. They played England in a test match at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. It ended in a draw. And India won the series 2-1.
Their first match as a nuclear power took place almost 18 months later, also against England, at Old Trafford in Manchester.
England won that one by 113 runs. And the other two matches went England’s way, as well. The tour itself was coined “India’s tour from hell.”
Their new found power on the world stage was not immediately transferring itself onto the cricket pitch, in other words.
Between their first test match in England at Lord’s in 1932, and their last match before Smiling Buddha in 1974, a period of 42 years, India played in 129 test matches, winning 18, drawing 60, and losing the rest. A rather pitiful display, but hey, they were just starting out. (There had to have been a few abandoned matches in there, but Statsguru fails me sometimes. Or, more correctly, I fail Statsguru.)
After the nuclear test, and up until the most recent test match against Australia this year in Adelaide, India have played in 333 test matches (that were not abandoned). They won 103, whilst 142 ended in draws.
A much better record of course, but again, its meaningless, as their overall improvement as cricketing nation has nothing to do with their nuclear capabilities, but every look at history requires bookmarks, and I think nuclear power is a fine placeholder.
Here’s what we have so far then (test matches only):
Pakistan pre-nuclear winning percentage: 29%
Pakistan post-nuclear matching winning percentage: 37%
India pre-nuclear winning percentage: 14%
India post-nuclear winning percentage: 31%.
Make of that, what you will.
What it comes down is that as both nations have developed into world powers, their cricketing prowess has also grown and matured. It’s almost as if, in order to be taken seriously, a country needs to develop in two areas: weapons of mass destruction…and sport. It’s silly, I know, but I think it’s worth a deeper look at some point, by some historian, somewhere, especially in the case of Pakistan.
(Which should be interesting, as they were a world power and a cricketing powerhouse long before nuclear weapons were even first imagined. And, really, one could say that England has declined over the last 100 years.)
Like I said, it should be interesting.
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