Thursday, March 6, 2008

Where do Australia Go Now?

My fellow Australian bloggers have reflected on the lost CB Series and moved on to commenting on the England vs New Zealand matches. On the other hand, the Indian bloggers are still basking under the glory of their first ever victory in the annual Australian tri-series. In the meantime, I have been away on conferences and have been wondering what went wrong for Australia?

I'd be a fool to call this the end of the Australia supremacy - when I did that last year after their consecutive losses to England and New Zealand, they went on to win the World Cup without losing a match.

But doing some scrutiny never does any harm.

The Australian bowling has been beautifully led by Lee and was outstanding. Bracken, Johnson, and Clark were all good with the ball and Hopes looked better with every game.

The batting was the obvious downfall for the Aussies:
  • None of their batsmen averaged over 50 compared to 4 of them who did against India in the September series.
  • Ponting and Symonds averaged below 20 in their 10 innings.
  • Apart from Gilchrist no batsmen played more than 3 significant innings in the 10 matches.
  • Even Gilchrist managed only 4.

Was Ishant Sharma the only difference? Or has Dhoni grown as a captain since his first ODI series as captain in September? Or did Sachin time his return to form to perfection? Were Australia bogged down by the IPL hype and their stand-off with CA? Or were they too sucked into a prolonged Gilchrist farewell? Or did Dhoni, Bhajji, and the rest really get under their skin like no one before?

It was in the end a combination of all of the above I think.

Or maybe the bookies had a hand in this. Nah I doubt it.

Ponting's form is definitely a worry. Sure he scored that 100 but apart from that there was nothing from his bat. The last time an out of form Australian captain lost a home tri-series, he was sacked from the ODI captaincy. That too a year and a half after leading them to a World Cup victory!

Will Ponting go Waugh's way? Will CA tow BCCI's line, the way they have been in all other issues, in following a youth policy? Some people have been calling for it, but is Micheal Clarke ready? Moreso is Australia ready to deal with an ODI team without Gilly and Ponting?

A shift to youth also means leaving out an ageing Hayden. Both his test and ODI partners have hung up their boots and it shouldn't be long before Hayden does as well. Next Australian summer? probably. Next World Cup? Definitely not.

Even Ponting is unlikely to be around the ODI team come World Cup 2011. So maybe the CA should in fact tow the BCCI and build a team that they view as the one to defend their title in 2011.

I did say I'd be a fool to call an end to their supremacy but I do feel that Australia have a lot of questions to answer, particularly regarding their batting.

Where do they go from here? Hopefully Pakistan!

Before I close, a word on Adam Gilchrist. A glowing career has come to an end and the man who defined the role of wicketkeepers as it is known today has hung up his gloves. He will definitely be missed - both by Australia and the fans. Shane Warne ended his career after a 5-0 thumping Ashes victory. Glen McGrath did so after a 3rd World Cup triumph. Gilchrist probably deserved better than both, but then not everything in life is perfect. Thanks to the IPL, we haven't seen the last of him.

Australia have become weaker but I'm still not questioning their supremacy, just wondering what the future holds for them.

Make your pitch on this post...

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11 Pitched:

  1. David Barry said...

    It's weird that the batting was the problem, but it's reassuring from an Australian perspective. We've got plenty of players who can bat, and I'm confident that the scores will come. Bad runs happen, and they're not always serious.

    Spin bowling, as ever, is the concern. Going on the domestic one-day stats, it's a battle between Bryce McGain, Xavier Doherty, and Dan Cullen for Hogg's spot. Nathan Hauritz doesn't seem to be doing well.

    Looking long-term, picking Cullen might be best, in the hope that international experience will be good for him if he ever becomes a Test bowler. But he's averaging 60 in first-class cricket this season, and hasn't been a regular in the South Australian first-class side in the past couple of seasons.

    Xavier Doherty has excellent one-day numbers, but his first-class average is truly, ridiculously, extraordinarily bad: 56.23. If you put pretty mild qualifications on (5000 balls, 1.5 wickets per match), that's the worst in first-class history. So you could pick Doherty for the ODI side but that's all you'd get from him.

    I'm not sure that McGain will be a viable option at the next World Cup, so it's probably not worth picking him as a stop-gap ODI spinner for a year or two. I'd pick him as a stop-gap Test spinner for a year or two though.

    So I think the best option's an expensive spinner who doesn't seem to be doing justice to the talent that everyone seems to think he has.

  2. David Barry said...

    Did some bad editing on that comment... that expensive spinner I refer to at the end is Cullen - he's gone for 5 an over this domestic season, whereas Doherty and McGain are around 4.25.

  3. Anonymous said...


    To correct a wrong impression, we, Indian bloggers are not still basking in the glory. It is just 3 days so please let us enjoy the rare success.

    As for the Australian bloggers as far as I can see they don't generally indulge in navel gazing. Having lost it is easier for them to move on.

    Coming to Australia. I dont believe that Australia has lost its supermacy.It is just a combination of events.

    For starters I felt the Sydney (PR)debacle did them more harm.After that, I get the feeling that Ponting abdicated and the team was meandering on.

    As I had mentioned elsewhere, they never had a plan B and found themselves stubbing their toe at every turn.( Their coach could be a reason.)

    Its a pity that a side supposedly strong mentally, cringed and the side which was supposed to cringe, proved themselves mentally stronger.


  4. Q said...

    Hi David - thats exactly why I said I'd be a fool to call it an end to their supremacy. The problem was that the batsmen failed collectively - it wasn't a case of one of them out of form, but majority of them. They'll be back, I'm sure but I do see the opening being a problem after Gilchrist.

    Haddin could do it and so could Hope or maybe Australia could go with Jacques, not sure. But it won't be the same explosive starts Australia is used.

    And it will weaken further once hayden moves on, probably in less than a year.

    The spin I think will be a bigger problem in test matches, for the ODIs, even without a world class spinner the Aussies would be fine. Its in the test matches where they will find it difficult to fill the hole left by Warne, McGill, etc.

  5. Q said...

    Ottayan - I in no way meant that it was wrong of you guys to be basking in the glory till now :-) I still am raving about Sachin and India beating the Aussies 2-0 and I can assure u if it was Pakistan, I would have gone on for another 10 days or so.. Bask on my friend, u deserve it!

    And I agree with you, I think the Indians were mentally stronger than the Aussies this time round.

  6. straight point said...

    where they will go now...


    ponting is having nightmares of consistently pulling each delivery he faces…

    gilly sulking his retirement tour(s) ended so early…

    hayden has thrown all radios from his home…

    binga has got another copy of tape that says ‘india is great’

    roy is chasing full monties…

  7. Anonymous said...

    re the one day series: key players were out of form at same time for us. No one came to the rescue.

    In general India will surpass us in Test and ODI's as the no.1 in the next few years.

    No dynasty/empire can last forever.

  8. Q said...

    Brad - I agree no empire can last forever but I'm not too sure about India being the number 1 test team in a few years.

    The number 1 ODI team is definitely a possibility for India. But for the tests - in a few years India's big 5 will be hanging up their boots so an inexperienced test team will find it difficult to be number 1.

  9. Q said...

    SP - I hope Ponting's nightmares last longer, well atleast till the Pak tour. After that he can come back to his high scoring ways..

  10. Soulberry said...

    Nice write Q. Australia are the one team which can rebound faster than anyone. Batting, I can understand...such things happen with increasing longevity..and was an important cause.

    More importantly, Stuart Clark wasn't of much help and Mitch wasn't quite what he was expected to do. Bracken,Lee and Hopes...the remaining 20 overs went for a bit (by Oz standards) when earlier (even in this series in early matches) that quota of 20 too shut out opponents.

  11. Q said...

    Thanks SB.

    But despite the 20 overs going for more, there were no huge scores against Australia in the series.

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