A TERRIFIC touring Test side this summer has been just what Australian cricket needed after a 2018 of discontent.
In this visiting Indian outfit, local cricket fans have been given a competitive, compelling side attempting to create history: a first series victory for their nation in Australia.
In Indian captain Virat Kohli, fans of the sport have been given a charismatic, mesmeric leader prepared to display his full range of emotions on the field - from elation to irritation to indignation.
And at Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, the series dished up see-sawing, twisting and turning matches (only seven wickets fell on the first two days in Melbourne, it’s true, but then 15 fell in a clatter on the third) that showcased the best of the Test format even as the Big Bash carnival provided colour and spectacle of an evening.
(Sydney let the series down, but cricket followers long ago learned to be accepting of bad weather.)
If Australian cricket officials could have specifically ordered up a summer opponent to follow the troubles of 2018, they couldn't have done much better than the Indians that have visited our shores.
The series, of course, didn't go Australia's way, but that’s part of what made this contest so appropriate.
There seems general agreement now that Australia's woes - not just the sandpaper incident in South Africa that led to bans for Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner, but also the way the national side's reputation had diminished - can be traced back to an excess of pride.
Our national cricketers - and, some are willing to argue, many followers of the national cricket side - had lost touch with humility, becoming ever more willing to tolerate behaviours and attitudes that weren't in the spirit of the game.
If that was the case, then this series defeat (without Smith and Warner and with a host of new faces) seems just and right.
A humbling this summer has delivered a dose of redemption that simply would not have been possible if our cricketers had come out and blasted the opposition away.
So has Australian cricket's debt been wiped after this series loss? Have we completely regained the sport’s respect? No and no, unfortunately. But this series has done more than most would have hoped in beginning to win back trust and support.
And for that, Australians owe the visiting Indians a great deal of thanks.