The five biggest modern-day rivalries in cricket

Nitin Fernandes 13:52 09/09/2016

AUSTRALIA vs ENGLAND

The oldest rivalry in cricket still remains one of the most watched and intriguing battles in the sport. The two teams that played the first ever Test match in 1877 have been at loggerheads ever since.

Considered by many as the biggest prize in Test cricket, The Ashes were created in 1882 after Australia beat England at The Oval by seven runs runs.

The Sporting Times would then write a satirical obituary on English cricket, which included the line 'The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia'. When England beat Australia Down Under the following year, they were presented with an urn believed to contain the ashes of a bail and the two countries have sought to regain and retain the tiny symbol of battle ever since.

Australia dominated throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, but in recent years the match has become a level-playing field. Out of the last seven series between the two sides, England have won five, which included a famous series win in Australia in 2010-11.

In recent times, the rivalry peaked during 2005 and 2013/14, with the former regarded as one of the greatest series ever played as England regaining the Ashes after 19 years. The 2013/14 series saw Mitchell Johnson at his deadly best, terrorising English batsmen with his pace and bounce as Australia won the series 5-0.

INDIA vs PAKISTAN

This rivalry has as much to do with politics as it has with cricket. Ever since the two countries secured their own independence, there has been political tension that often plays out on the cricket field.

Although Pakistan have the better record in clashes between the sides, with a 12-9 and 72-53 win advantage in Tests and ODIs respectively, their fans have often been irritated by the fact that they have never defeated India in a World Cup match. The Men in Blue have won all six encounters in the 50-over World Cup and the five clashes in the World T20 have been the same result.

The two teams have rarely faced each other recently since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In fact, the last time they competed against each other in a Test match was way back in 2007.

AUSTRALIA vs INDIA

This is a rivalry that has really picked up in recent years. Although most consider the epic 2001 Test series to be its birth, the Indian summer of 1998 was where it all began. Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne were considered the in the world at their respective trades, making the battle highly anticipated.

Warne drew first blood in the first Test in Chennai, but after that it was all Tendulkar as the Indian maestro took the leg-spinner to the cleaners. This was followed by a tri-series in Sharjah (known as the Desert Storm) which many consider to be Tendulkar’s peak, culminating in a stunning century against Australia.

The 2001 series is well documented, and the rivalry was given fresh impetus when India toured Australia in 2007/08. The second Test in Sydney saw a number of umpiring errors which angered the Indian team, following which Harbhajan Singh was suspended for an alleged racist remark against Andrew Symonds. The Indian team, at this point, threatened to even pull out of the tour. In the end, the Indians stayed and Harbhajan’s ban was lifted.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has since brought the players of the two teams closer, but the rivalry still remains.

AUSTRALIA vs SOUTH AFRICA

Australia and South Africa have been two of the more dominant teams in cricket over the last two decades. While the former have won nearly everything on offer, the South Africans have failed to deliver when it matters most in major tournaments.

They are yet to shake the ‘chokers’ tag that follows them at every World Cup, an origin that can be traced to the 1999 when a misunderstanding between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald resulted in a run-out and Australia reaching the final that they went on to win.

South Africa have had memorable moments against Australia as well. They chased down 434 in the greatest chase of all-time in ODI cricket back in 2006 against the Aussies. In Test cricket, the Proteas have won two Test series on Australian soil over the past decade.

AUSTRALIA vs NEW ZEALAND

Australia dominate this list, reflecting the impact they have had on the sport in recent history. Unlike the others, this one centres on geography. Separated by the Tasman Sea, the rivalry has become feisty at times over the years.

One such instance, is the infamous underarm bowling incident of 1981. New Zealand needed seven runs to win off the final delivery of the match, which meant that a six would result in a tie. Australian captain Greg Chappell would go on to instruct his team-mate and younger brother Trevor Chappell to bowl an underarm delivery so that the New Zealand batsman Brian McKechnie couldn’t hit it for a six. The incident drew a lot of criticism for the older Chappell from all corners of the globe.

Recently, the two countries faced off in the 2015 ICC World Cup final, which saw Australia winning the tournament for a record fifth time.

The trans-Tasman rivals play each other for the Trans Tasman Trophy in Tests and for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in ODIs.

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