The mighty Aussies are no longer that mighty, their domination over world cricket for the last decade and a half has officially ended. Ricky Ponting aka the George Bush of World Cricket has now realized that he is as good a captain as his team is or was. With two series defeats against India and South Africa, the confirmation has come that this current Australian team is quite a vulnerable opposition. They have suddenly forgotten how to wrap up victories when their opposition is on the mat. Take the case of India at Bangalore in the 1st Test (Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan defying them to force a draw) and that of South Africa’s in both the Tests at Perth (failing to defend a mammoth 418) and Melbourne (allowing SA in the first innings to get out of jail and take a lead) respectively which would support my views. It wasn’t long back that the Aussies would have converted even a sniff of a chance to clinch victories.
Many would say that the Australian domination over oppositions has been beaten black and blue because of the retirement of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne which is 100% right. These are two deadly bowlers who know how to plan and execute the downfall of each and every batsmen. The present bowling attack though lacks the vision of outsmarting the batsmen. The Captain – Ricky Ponting has been left to ponder about the over rates and how to stop the boundaries. The opposition batsmen have understood that if they can see off some 40 overs or so then the Australian attacks turns out to be very flat. The opposition bowlers on the other hand know that they have to get rid of Hayden and Ponting cheaply and then there isn’t much quality left. On the batting front, the Australians are missing the rescue acts of Adam Gilchrist that would blast them out of trouble with his carefree batting at no.7.
There are two players who are underperforming much below their potential. The first one is very crucial and he is Brett Lee, who is supposed to be leading the bowling attack. But the blonde speedster has not only lost 10kmph in speed but also the lethal late swing with the new ball. Lee is still clocking 150 kmph but he is not able to deliver that ball after ball. His spells remain to be painfully short, giving his captain 4-5 overs on the trot only! Mitchell Johnson has taken care of the speed department by bowling red hot deliveries but he hasn’t found any joy on flat tracks. Johnson hasn’t learnt the art of reverse swing and his wrist action currently is clearly not appropriate for any type of swing bowling. One solid criticism about Johnson is that he sprays the ball on both sides of the wicket; he is not a reliable bowler who can put six balls on the same spot.
Well if Brett Lee has been the Flop no.1, then the second major disappointment for the Kangaroos has got to be Andrew Symonds. The bullish cricketer hasn’t been as confident in his game as he was before for some reasons. Probably he has run out of all his luck and would need a blind and deaf Umpire like Steve Bucknor to stand when he is batting like how it was in the Sydney Test against India! Symonds (and also a couple of other Australian players) if kept quiet by some accurate bowling for sometime, then it is inevitable that he would play a reckless shot to throw his wicket away.
To me it looks very clear that Matty Hayden might be playing just a handful of Tests before calling it quits. Haydos has had a prolific and an inspiring career despite making an impact only when he was about 30 years of age. Hayden’s exit in the near future means that the openers are probably going to be Simon Katich along with Phil Jaques/Chris Rogers or someone who clearly do not intimidate any new ball bowlers. The middle order will consist of the same names for some more years as each player is special in his own way. Well for any country, there will not be much of dearth when it comes to batsmen but wicket taking bowlers for Test Cricket are rare to find and Australia do need atleast a couple of them. It will not happen any sooner and till then there will be more humiliation in store for the Aussies against quality sides such as India and South Africa while their wins against the lesser talented sides like New Zealand and Bangladesh will only be mere consolation. It is a very difficult period for the Aussies and it is for the fans and the Selectors to give their team enough chances to rebuild a formidable unit.