Pakistan’s whitewash of England — and India’s whitewash in England and Australia — suggest cricket is returning to a polarized world in which the white teams can’t do well in Asia, and the brown teams can’t do well in White-Land (Aus-Eng-S.A.). In the 2000s, we saw India amend this rule when it won series in England and drew series in Australia and South Africa, and we saw Australia complete its world domination when it won in India.
No more. What happened to England — and to India — showcased pitch determinism at its best; the English batsmen couldn’t deal with spin on dry (Asian) pitches, and the Indians couldn’t handle seam or swing on (English and Australian) pitches. It’s possible that these whitewashes will feed a vicious cycle, wherein home teams ask for skewed pitches (we’ve seen this already from Gambhir and Sehwag), resulting in more and more one-sided victories. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the ICC pitch inspection program may lead to more standardized pitches, or that India’s board will finally wake up to reality and prepare pitches that aren’t roads designed to give five days of cricket.
Why is this happening now? Well, with England, we know the answer — they were never really all that good at playing in South Asia. But more broadly, the impending retirement of the batting greats — Kallis, Ponting, etc. — will give way to mere mortals less cosmopolitan in their approach to batting. Once the titans who bestride the globe leave, we’re left with the warlords who jealously guard their turf.