No format in the game tilts the scales in favour of the home team than it does in Test cricket. Pitch conditions, weather and the type of ball used for play differ greatly from one country to another, and this disparity plays a significant part in handing the advantage to the home side.
Hence, an overseas Test tour remains one of the greatest challenges for any cricket playing nation. Over the last few years, a trend of teams doing well at home while being mediocre overseas has become even more prominent than before. In the past, there were the great travelling Test teams of the West Indies, Australia and South Africa.
However, it is hard to name a side which travels as well as those legendary outfits in the current era. Below, we look at which of the teams have performed better than others in overseas Tests in the past decade. For the purpose of the argument, overseas Test results since January 1, 2010 have been taken into consideration.
Win/Loss Ratio: 1.000
For nearly a decade, South Africa were simply unbeatable away from home in the Test format. Between July 2006 and December 2015, the Proteas side did not lose a single overseas Test series. This amazing run included victories in Australia, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, along with draws in India, Pakistan (UAE) and Bangladesh.
As good as they were overseas in the first half of the most recent decade, the South Africans have been unable to maintain that intensity in the latter stages. Two comprehensive series defeats in India, including a more recent 3-0 whitewash, has punctured their travelling credentials. Despite their declining overseas standards in the last five years, they have still managed to conjure up impressive away series wins in Australia and New Zealand.
While they might have lost their overseas invincibility of late with successive defeats in Sri Lanka and India, they still remain the best travelling Test side of the past decade.
Win/Loss ratio: 0.703
Indiaâ€™s longstanding reign over the top of the ICC Test rankings has come to an end recently, with Australia knocking them off their perch ahead of an eagerly anticipated four-match series towards the end of this year.
However, Indiaâ€™s grip over the No1 ranking was very much built on their formidable home dominance rather than their overseas showings. They were absolutely dire away from home at the start of the decade under MS Dhoni, being whitewashed emphatically in England and Australia.
Overseas results have improved under the leadership of Virat Kohli, with a first-ever series win on Australian soil in 2018-19 being the crowning achievement. Two overseas series victories apiece in Sri Lanka and the West Indies have further bolstered Indiaâ€™s record with Kohli as skipper. Yet, setbacks in England, South Africa and more recently in New Zealand have taken the shine of the overseas strides made in the recent decade.
Despite this, Indiaâ€™s overseas record is second only to that of South Africa in the period and marginally better than that of Australia.
Win/Loss ratio:Â 0.689
The last decade has seen Australia lose the overseas aura they carried around with Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting at the helm. Though the Aussies have largely been able to maintain their supremacy in New Zealand and at home, their records in other countries have suffered a beating.
In the last 10 years, they have fallen to three series defeats in India alone including a 4-0 clean sweep by the hosts in 2013. Similarly, they have suffered twice at the hands of Pakistan in the UAE along with a 3-0 loss in Sri Lanka in 2016. A 3-1 defeat in South Africa in a series which became infamous for the ball-tampering saga has further dented the credentials of a team which were an overseas powerhouse at one point.
Nevertheless, beating New Zealand and South Africa twice away from home, along with solitary series victories in the West Indies and Sri Lanka, has helped Australia keep pace with India in the decade.
Win/Loss ratio: 0.633
Just behind Australia are their old Ashes foes England, who have stitched together a few notable overseas wins amongst some otherwise ordinary displays.
Inconsistency has riddled the overseas sojourns of a side who have never been known for their travelling prowess. One of their high points of the decade came in 2010-11 when they beat Australia to retain the Ashes Down Under. Nothing would have tasted sweeter for them, however, as much as a famous series win in India in 2012-13.
It was their first series win on Indian soil in nearly three decades and it came under the captaincy of Alastair Cook. Apart from these notable overseas victories in India and Australia, England have done well to forge two successive series wins in South Africa along with a historic 3-0 whitewash of the Sri Lankans in 2018-19.
The good though, has been interspersed with the bad for England. They have lost a total of eight overseas series since the start of the last decade, including defeats in New Zealand, Australia, India and the West Indies.
Win/Loss Ratio: 0.565
It is Sri Lanka who are the fifth-best overseas side in the period surprisingly, edging out New Zealand in the process. Despite a string of high-profile retirements which have robbed them of valuable experience, it has indeed been a decade of many firsts for Sri Lanka overseas.
Though the islanders have been on an alarming downward spiral in the limited-overs formats, they have garnered some completely unexpected victories in red-ball cricket.
In 2014, they notched a dramatic 1-0 win in England to record a first-ever series triumph on English soil. In 2017, they became only the first side to beat Pakistan in their adopted home of the UAE with a 2-0 series sweep.
No result, however, comes close to the jubilation of their 2-0 victory in South Africa last year. Riding on a best-innings-of-all-time contender from Kusal Perera, the Lankans became the first Asian side in history to conquer a South African Test tour.
There have been many defeats and whitewashes too along the way for Sri Lanka, and they have often been beaten at home in this period. However, what they have managed to achieve overseas cannot be ignored.
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