Is That a Phoenix Head Poking Out Of the Ashes?
People say that you will know when the time is ripe for retirement. It is a truism that several Australian cricket greats trotted out over the last year or so. Damien Martyn, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer departed en masse after the 2006-2007 Ashes series. Adam Gilchrist followed shortly thereafter and Matthew Hayden left in the middle of the Australian summer. Australia’s cricket juggernaut had suddenly become weaker, smaller, beatable. And beaten they were.
The summer of 2008-2009 was bleak for Australian cricket fans. For the first time in sixteen years Australia tasted a series defeat at home. South Africa, ranked second, were challenging and overhauling Australia’s top spot. All they had to do was make it a clean sweep by winning the third and final test match in Sydney. Somehow Ricky Ponting managed to get a gutsy performance out of his new look young team and South Africa had to wait until the return joust on their home turf.
But this young and raw Australia went to South Africa, saw and conquered.
To an Australian cricket fan this represents the perfect tonic to the ills of the Australian summer. We have won the first two tests and, therefore, the series. The cricket has been brilliant and we have uncovered some promising talent. We have one more test to play followed by some matches in the shorter form of the game before we can look towards England and the Ashes. If we continue to play the way we have in South Africa and England continues their dire form from the West Indies tour then the urn will remain in Australia.
The Australian phoenix may well be on the rise.