Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is Australia's.dominance over?

I am a huge fan of the all-dominating Aussie team and I am thrilled to write about them. The way they used to train and carry themselves on the field was a joy to watch, trust me. It all started for Australia in the 1995 test series in the West Indies and they have never looked back since. The Aussies started beating every team at home or on foreign turfs, and the major reason for this global dominance was the coming of age of two legends — Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Glenn relied more on discipline and kept pegging away at the batsmen until the batsman lost his patience while Warny manufactured wickets through wile and guile. Both were fierce competitors and always gave their 100% on the field, be it with the bat or the ball or while fielding. Who would have known in 1995 that both of them would go on to be the prime architects in making Australia numero uno and great examples for modern day cricketers to emulate? Both Pidge and Shane had the zeal of an evangelist and that is what has made them a cut above the rest.

But now things have changed and the current Australian team is taking the field without these legends. This is hard to come to terms for anyone who watched these legends help Australia muscle oppositions with their sheer presence. Although the Aussies have some very talented players in their ranks, I have to be candid enough to admit that Pidge and Warny are big shoes to fill in. Ricky Ponting once admitted in an interview that the team needs to keep pegging away at oppositions and that he lacks the resources he had in the past to rip through oppositions. You can't expect this current Australian lot to clean up oppositions in two or two and a half sessions on day 5. This Australian team has more of a workman-like approach and will try and play on the patience of the opposition. I am not trying to say that this Australian team is not good. It is just that the Australian teams under Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor have set great standards. It is perhaps difficult to replicate their feats.

Recently, in a test match at Bangalore, Australia failed to bowl out India on a wearing pitch on day five and that was I think the first time they missed Warny and Pidge who invariably did it for them in such situations. The cricketing world was shocked to see what happened in the Sydney test during India's tour of Australia because no one expected Australia would stoop to being cheats from world beaters. Shane Warne has got more than 160 odd wickets against the Proteas, their arch Ashes rivals England and their not-so-friendly neighbors New Zealand. As soon as Warny bid adieu to international cricket, the Proteas thought that Christmas arrived early. And they went on to win their first ever test series in Australia. Isn't this an eye opener for Australian selectors? It is disappointing to see Australia slump in their test rankings. Pidge and Warny stole all the limelight but there were a lot of unsung heroes who also had a great hand in making Australia a world-beating side: Damien Martyn, Mathew Hayden, Justin Langer, Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie, Brad Hogg, Darren Lehmann, Brett Lee, and Stuart Mcgill. And one should not forget the inimitable finisher Michael Bevan who used to come down the order and invariably helped the team romp home to success. And how can we forget Gilly, the tall and devastating southpaw who always smashed his way out of trouble. Australian selectors will have a tough time finding replacements for these unbelievably talented players who made cricket look a piece of cake.

All that I can say is that today's Aussie players will suffer in comparison and I believe that it would be highly unfair to Punter and his boys to draw parallels with retired legends. I would like to conclude by saying that Australia needs to get their act together or teams like India and South Africa will gobble them up. The whole world will then ask the same question that I am asking: is the Aussie dominance over?