Once upon a time — in the bad old days of the early to mid eighties — Australian cricket was the laughing stock of the world. Teams queued up to play us. Spectators flocked in droves to watch their teams slaughter us. Television guides listed all our matches under the comedy section.
Until we picked ourselves up and turned ourselves into cricketing giants.
We became virtually unbeatable. Teams feared us. We had a cornucopia of talent that saw our team become better and better. Champions retired only to be replaced by new champions. Until the last round of retirements five years ago. A slew of champions left and we were left with…let’s just say that I thought a cornucopia was forever; I was wrong.
The experts said it was a transition phase. Nothing to worry about, mate. She’ll be right, mate. A minor hiccup, that’s all.
A hiccup that lasts five years is hardly minor, is it? Mate?
The sad truth is that Ricky Ponting leads a ragtag band of mediocrity while his brilliance is fading with age. The poor guy is now in the history books as the first Australian captain to lose the Ashes twice. He was captain when South Africa won their very first test series in Australia. And last night Sri Lanka won their first ever series of anything in Australia. They lit up Guy Fawkes Day while we provided the damp squibs.
Awwwww, Rickeeeeeee. (Please don’t sue me Desilu Studios.)
So what are the problem areas? Let’s see now:
1. Mitchell Johnson and company just can’t get the last two or three batsmen out: England’s last pair held on for hours to turn an Aussie win into a draw; India’s last two wickets put on ninety odd runs to win a match that was Australia’s; Sri Lanka’s ninth wicket scored a world record to win a match that was Australia’s.
2. Our batsmen find ways of getting out, often gifting their wickets. Mid innings collapses are now the norm. Where once somebody would put up their hand and pull us out of a hole we now just dig the hole deeper.
3. Our fielding is less than spectacular. Those who saw Michael Clarke hit Shane Watson in the leg last night will know how far our standards have fallen.
So what’s wrong? Well that would be the batting, the bowling and the fielding, wouldn’t it? Fix those soon and we just might win back the Ashes.