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Cricket Australia; the present scenario


cricket-aus13By Ramneek Chawla

Quite often than not, people who claim themselves to be cricket fans, tend to support the cricket of their own country (the way it should be), but the real cricket admirers are those who apart from cheering for their own nation, lookout for any cricketing action that happen across the globe. Easier said than done, it’s actually quite bitter to delve into other nation’s cricket, which is why football fans are kept at a higher rung than the cricket fans.

Being born in a country which is so into this sport, we are bound to discuss the Indian cricket, which we eventually do. Watching each and every match in which our country participates, is actually a part of our everyday curriculum. But for the more technical and passionate cricket lovers like me, let’s have a glimpse of the once super kings of cricket who are now no better than the underdogs.

There was a time when competing nations felt hesitant to even visit that country, but now, teams go un-threatened in even thrashing them on their own grounds. Consistency was their other name once, but now lackluster persists. Yes, I’m talking about Cricket Australia.

There were times when each and every match they played made a mark in the record books. The scenario has but, gone for a complete roll. A few years back, they had a team every captain or coach would die for. Even a lot of those gaudy superheroes with the likes of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, Hulk would have shied away from coming in front of these rusty, ‘haughty in their own way’ players, who had an unconventional way of executing their finesse. Talking about the recently retired lot, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mathew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Hussey, Steve Waugh; these were such players who started from the Test Cricket and went on conquering the shorter formats of the game even when their youth departed. 2003 and 2007 World cup finals are enough to demonstrate their might. For years they had a permanent hold on the No. 1 slot in the ICC rankings.

Now let’s teleport from that wishful era to the present picture. Any person, who cherishes cricket outside of any boundaries, would be saddened by what Cricket Australia has now become. Bewildered we are, to see the dusk of the once light-bearers of the game. More than us, who are good enough for passing judgments, the ex-team members have to be sympathized with, who spent everything they had to build their team, just to eventually see it fall. Once the legendary team members bid farewell, the legacy was never really taken forward.

But what exactly made their way to the hell, is the question that startles us. Let’s sequence the step by step answer to it (the peel is thick though).

  • Looking at Joe Root of England, Virat Kohli of India, David Miller of South Africa, the biggest problem which surfaces out(which even we can make out ) is that the U-19 competitions held in Australia haven’t been an outstanding source of talent development and not enough young boys have been exposed to high level cricket at a young age. The few young players who actually have the capability to outwit opponents (David Warner for instance) are suffering from their own behavioral issues, not to forget his hitting tendencies which grabbed many headlines recently.

  • Australia’s performance in the ongoing Ashes series has been a perfect example of how a team should not play. The death dive of the team’s recent performance, including a 6th Test match defeat in succession, is the ugliest symptom of a collective malaise that has been creeping ever wider for some time now and has seen only band-aid solutions and rampant market thinking in its cause. The present team comprising of Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Philip Hughes, Michael Clarke, Usman Khwaja, Steve Smith etc. have all tumbled in front of even the part-time bowlers of England. Shane Watson in particular, has continued to disappoint, given his past performances. But whatever said in his defense, it is ultimately a battle of his own mind. Is Cricket Australia fortunate enough to have his Star-player Watson back in the right frame of mind, is just a matter of time. Carrying on, from what I’ve observed from Ashes, the Australian batting has been woeful, tragic and downright ugly the entire series. Terrible shot selection, poor technique, lack of judgment and almost zero patience have all led to the downfall of many of Australia’s batsmen.

  • Let’s for the moment keep batting at a distance, and talk about spin bowling, which according to me is the biggest challenge Australia is facing. Ever since Shane Warne bid farewell to his baggy green in 2007, no real spin star has been spotted and Ashton Agar (the recent spin addition to the team) is not the immediate answer to the problem. He can just rip the ball at about 1700-1800 revolutions per minute(source-the new rpm graphic that shows up on TV screen whenever a spinner is bowling), whilst Graeme Swann of England with similar spin action but a better experience record of course, has been able to do it at above 2300 rpm (whopping actually!) In fact, there’s no single person in the team, or around it who in any capacity can revamp the situation. Nor the captain Clarke, coach Darren Lehmann and not even the high-powered General Manager, Pat Howard.

  • Now let’s divert our hound eyes from the players, to the root cause i.e. the organizing body. It’s quite ironical how the Cricket Australia organizing body is launching a “go-go” marketing campaign for The Big Bash-league as the Test side succumbed to a 347-run loss to England(Not at all ideal). It has invested a lot of time in the Big-Bash while cuts have been made in the 1st class cricket. The issue with the organizing body is that, it is over-focusing on the shorter formats like The Big-Bash and Shield competitions for instance, because of which there has been a glaring lack of batsmen capable of playing long innings. Going opposite to the audience view, shorter formats may be entertaining to watch but they don’t produce quality players, which is why even ICC has done away with its Champions Trophy league (a 50-50 format) to make way for the Test championship (which will commence from 2015).

So, should we simply assume that the old greedy, blood-thirsty attitude of the team is gone? Let’s hope not. Because in absence of the Australia we know, Cricket won’t be Cricket. Australian Cricket can learn from its ‘Old enemies’ (England), the formula to revolutionize the state of its play, as the many humiliations that were heaped upon Team England during 1990’s, there’s an uncomfortable familiarity to be found in the current state of Australian Cricket.

  • The biggest lesson it can learn from England is that whatever success the national side might achieve, there will still be attempts to tweak the domestic structure just one more time. Australia can, like England, introduce a two-tier county championship which will eliminate much of the meaningless domestic cricket played towards the end of the summer.

  • Moreover, central contracts can be brought in to give the national set-up control over the amount of cricket the top players are exposed to.

  • Young players must be made to play the Test cricket as long as possible.

  • Pitch Development, which goes for every cricketing nation across the globe, is what Australia also needs at this stage.

For people who’ve seen Australia rule the cricketing world, ever since they knew what this sport was, it is very important that this team comes back to its glorious times and create unbeatable records. From dusk to dawn, is what we expect..

Indians we are, but above any religion, ethnicity or nationality, there’s the love of cricket, for the sake of which it’s hard to see Australian cricket rot.


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