Sunday, July 12, 2015

Is Australia Over Rated?

Well, its a pertinent question, is it not?

Sure they are the number 2 ranked Test Team in the world with a clear 10 point lead over the team at number 3. But the difference between South Africa at the top and Australia is 19 points. That is a huge difference.

What that really means is that Australia is close to the same level as Pakistan, New Zealand, India, and England. Only 14 points separate Australia at 2 and England at 6. Furthermore, they were clean swept by the number 3 team just last year.

That is not even the reason why I asked the question though.

The fact that really surprised me was that Australia has won only one of the last 15 tests they have played in England.

Yes. ONE. Out of FIFTEEN.

Damn! Right?

But there's more to the story.

In the entire history of Test Cricket, Australia is the only team that has won more games away from home than it has lost.

However, in the past 5 years that is not the case any more,

In all Tests played since the beginning of 2010, Australia have lost more than they have won away from home. Their W:L record is similar to England's, who have traditionally been considered poor travelers.

It is clear that Australia has lost some of its mojo when it comes to playing tests on foreign shores. Especially in England.

Even the personnel is not good enough.

Besides their captain Micheal Clarke and Chris Rogers, none of the top 6 batsmen in their line up have a record to speak of in England.

While Rogers, mostly due to his significant exposure to English conditions through his county stints, averages slightly more (43) in England than he does in his career (40), Clarke averages 6 runs less in England.

David Warner has a career average of 46.47, but his average in England is almost half that - 25.9. In fact Warner's test record is entirely due to his record at home in Australia and his 3 centuries in 3 tests in South Africa, where pitches play similar to the way they play in Australia. In India, he averages a meager 24.4, and in West Indies, he averages 26.9.

Steven Smith has rapidly become Australia's most reliable batsman and the heir to the all important number 3 spot previously occupied by greats like Ponting, Langer, Boon, Chappell, and the greatest Sir Don Bradman. His career average of 55 and 9 test centuries in only 29 Tests shows why he is considered to be the best of the lot. But even he averages more than 20 runs less than his career in England! Smith's record is also inflated by his performance at home, which yields an average of 66 and 6 test centuries. He averages 34 in England and in the low 40s in India and the UAE.

Adam Voges is too new to be judged yet, but even that questions why the Australians would play a green batsman at 5 in an Ashes series when the likes of Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh are warming the bench.

Moreover, how can they even think of benching the Marsh brothers while playing Shane Watson at 6!??

Watson has a career Test average of 35. How that gets him into an Australian top 6 is beyond me. Australia's infatuation and persistence with Shane Watson is beyond me. He never really made is as a test cricketer, and now when he is over the hill, he is still being preferred. Mindboggling!

It is not only Australia's batsmen who do not perform on tour as well as they do at home; even their bowlers have found it tough in foreign locations.

Mitchell Johnson, who is this lean mean machine on Australian pitches and makes the batsmen hobble around, transforms into a medium pacer who is so easily bullied in England and other foreign locations. He averages 24.5 in Australia; his averages in New Zealand (23) and South Africa (25) are also respectable. However, in England he averages a shocking 41.9! He averages above 40 in India an Sri Lanka as well.

On top of all this, they lost Ryan Harris, the one bowler who was their premier strike bowler, especially in Ashes Tests.

So while Australia is still ranked number 2 in the ICC's test rankings, I believe they are grossly over rated. Their players dominate at home and become the tamed on tours. This used to be true for teams from India and England in the past.

Now, even he Aussies can be tamed.

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