Aussies Expectations and In Support of Draws

30 11 2010

Aussies Shifting Expectations

As English cricket supporters, it makes highly entertaining reading to dip into the Australian sports papers this morning. The levels of bitterness, disappointment and sheer confusion as to what went wrong is highly amusing and reminds us of what we could expect picking up any of the similar English offerings in the 1990’s.

There are people suggesting that Australia have reached a nadir similar to the one they experienced in the mid 1980’s; there are articles castigating at least half of their players; there is even faint praise for the English players – something that is very uncharacteristic of the Australian press being as it is usually so scathing of opposition teams. The Australian even feels the need to remind the Australian cricketing public that winning is, despite what the propaganda machine may have suggested over the past 15 years, not a birthright of the Baggy Greens – shock horror.

Australia are a side in the midst of what could easily turn into being one of their least successful periods for quite some time. This includes their drawn series against Pakistan in the English Summer, as well as the two test white wash in India a month or so ago. Couple that with their losses in the ODI series against Sri Lanka at home only a matter of weeks ago and you have a side that has rapidly lost the confidence of the Australian public and press.

In our eyes, however, this is a bit silly and demonstrates the lack of clarity and realism as to where the Australian team were going over the past year or two. A year ago, Australia appeared to be back to somewhere near their ruthless best as they dispatched a poor West Indies side and, subsequently, a Pakistan team in a series that has since had questions asked about its validity. In truth, however, any reasonable side that couldn’t dispatch these two teams from whence they came whilst playing at home – well, that would truly be a poor side. This fact though was either conveniently forgotten or perhaps not even realised and the public carried on in the assumption that Australia were still the best.

Bearing in mind that, before last years Summer of glory so reminiscent of an earlier era, England had reclaimed the Ashes meaning that the only times Australia had played a top five side in the last 18 months (India and England) – they had lost. It is a bit of a surprise to us that articles such as Malcolm Conn’s in the Australian are only now being written – in our opinion, Aussie cricket fell off its perch probably two years ago with the home defeat to the South Africans.

The reality of the world of test cricket is that there are now five sides around the world who you would back against any of the other top five when playing at home but would have real concerns about their ability to win overseas . Even India, who are currently the only side looking like they could possibly dominate, have distinct weaknesses and can’t really quibble with that verdict.

The Australian public it seems are only now waking up to the fact that the Australian cricket team do not automatically win; that they can’t bully sides anymore and that they aren’t as good as they used to be.

But, and this is an important but, they are still not that bad! Australia could still win this Ashes series and beat any of the top five sides at home – and even possibly away given some luck! (The first test of the recent India series would have been won by Australia nine times out of ten for example giving a drawn series – not a win but equally not a defeat).

Essentially Aussie supporters, who are apparently leaving Australian cricket in droves, need to deal with their frustration and come to terms with Australia’s newly acquired status in the game otherwise, the view that many of them are simply ‘fair weather supporters’ has some distinct validity. After all, a side losing several once in a generation players along with a couple of ‘all time greatest’ are going to struggle by comparison to that all conquering team. They are amongst the ranks of mere mortals – very good mere mortals – but fallible none the less.

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In Support of Draws

It is not often you get someone speaking up in support of draws in cricket but we feel that we have to speak up. There has been a lot in the press recently about the recent number of high scoring ‘bore draws’, much of which has been very valid. We have also spoken up time and again on this blog about the docile nature of modern pitches and the frequency of high scoring matches draws – particularly on the sub continent.

However, to criticise the test at the Gabba as Peter Roebuck did this morning is missing the point of test cricket somewhat. Perhaps from an Australian point of view it was in the end a boring and irritating draw, but (and all coins have two sides), for England it was an exhilarating, positive result to be celebrated by their many supporters.

Undoubtedly it was a flat pitch and was hard work for the bowlers but Australia still managed to spill five chances! If even two or three of these had been taken things could have been very different and, rather than celebrating/bemoaning a draw, either team could have been one nil up in the series.

Guaranteed then there would be no moaning at the pitch. Given the problems the groundsman (or curator if you will) had with rain in the lead up to the test it is probable there would have been much praise for his ability to get a result wicket that lasted the distance!

 

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