The Test (Season 2)
If you were to ask me what my favourite sport is then it would be cricket hands down. I have been following and playing the sport right from my impressionable years and it is a sports that has been vital in shaping up the person that I am today, be it on or off the field. And one thing that I enjoy doing outside of movies is analyzing the game further. But my interests also lies in the little dressing room talks or talks in general outside the field leading up to the big game. And to get a little insights into these elements, we have books on cricket or documentaries to watch. It was probably during(or perhaps a little before) the first lockdown that I happened to watch the Documentary series The Test on Amazon Prime which did trace the path of the Great Australian Cricket team during its darkest phase of ball tampering, leading up to their resurgence in world cricket. The documentary was so engaging and inspiring that I did go and watch a little bit of it every time I was low(and there were plenty of instances in the past 2 years). So when the series was renewed for its second season, I was quite interested in what the trajectory of the series would be this time. So then does The Second Season Of The Test live upto its hype, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
The second season of The Test traces the journey through the 2021 Australian summer from the onset of the Home Ashes up until the Tour Of Sri Lanka. As an Indian, I really would have loved to witness the Indian Gabba victory again, but from the point of view of the Aussies. But sadly that wasn’t to be and I wonder if those episodes were snipped off. This is because the screenplay standing at just 4 episodes of 40 odd minutes did feel kind of incomplete to me. If you would recall, the first season did have a season of 8 episodes that did paint a holistic picture of the turmoil and the even rise of Cricket Australia.
The series does start with the then captain of Australia Tim Paine stepping down days before the Ashes on Australian soil. The buildup was tense as the captaincy was handed over for the very first time to Pat Cummins. But slowly and surely with every passing game, the Aussie team steps up to the occasion. I did like how the focus across the 4 episodes was on various players be it Pat Cummins, Marnus Labuchagne, Usman Khwaja, David Warner, Scott Boland, Glenn Maxwell or even Steve Smith who are currently the core members of the strong Australian team. Each test match which was covered did give the viewers an interesting insight into the show behind the scenes, leading up to and during every game.
Having said that, the screenplay is a little politically correct this time around. It does steer clear of a couple of the controversies which otherwise would have made for an interesting watch. The replacement of Justin Langer as the coach of the national team was a huge talking point back then and a burning topic for Cricket Australia. But the docuseries just about touches on the controversy as a passing reference without wanting to comment on it further. That for me was the differentiating factor between season 1 and 2, where season 1 was a little bolder in addressing issues related to ball tampering as compared to the tight lipped season 2. While the proceedings are interesting, and they did make for a good watch as the Aussie team after being unbeaten at home did travel to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, it did end on a very abrupt note which kind of left a sour after taste, just undoing some of the good work here. But overall, the screenplay is engaging and watchable.
The thing that I did like about the series was that it did give a glimpse into the never say die attitude of the Great Aussie team. So some of the locker room talks were engrossing and definitely did lead to an upbeat kind of a vibe. The documentary was also highlighting the journey of a couple of blokes like Scott Boland and Usman Khwaja. The former was only the 2nd indigenous cricket to play for his country and the 32 year old did have a banger of a debut in front of his home crowd. The latter, now a 35 year old, having being dropped from the national team earlier was suddenly pulled in for a comeback. And those twin hundreds did seal his fate and he still finds himself in the Aussie team to the upcoming tour of India. Not only were these rousing human tales but quite inspiring as well. Even the insecurity between players was nicely touched upon.
On the downside, the docuseries did brush aside atleast 3 potential controversies. One being the sudden stepping down of Australia legend and coach Justin Langer. I really would have liked some opinions from the players being thrown in. Another burning topic was Australia’s tour to Pakistan after 24 long years! That was a landmark tour and probably a bit of perspective could have been provided with respect to the hospitality of the nation and the point of view of the players which was just briefly discussed. Yes, the bio-bubble life was an interesting case point and probably would have been a deterrent while shooting for the series. But that is how the cookie crumbles. Another controversial topic was the situation of Sri Lanka when Australia were touring, and that topic seemed to be rushed towards the end. Again, these events could have been fleshed out better. But overall, it does make for a breezy watch.
Australia is regarded as one of the strongest teams of world cricket at the time of typing this review. And make no mistake, the team can never be written off completely. They have been fighters on and off the field, traditionally speaking and so you need to be strong not only physically but mentally as well to beat them. As India is on the brink of a qualification for the WTC finals, they have a mighty opposition in the form of Australia to overcome in what promises to be a mouth watering contest come February! We’ll see how that goes!
The second season of The Test is a good watch but nowhere close to the outstanding first season. So do manage your expectations with this one, it is a breezy watch but politically correct and steering clear of controversies. Available on Amazon Prime.