Ashes 2013: Team preview: Australia
‘What do you call a great Australian player? – Retired!’
This was quoted by former England captain Michael Vaughan from his personal Twitter handle during the India series. Maybe it was on the lighter side, but the current bunch of players resemble a shadow of one of the greatest legacies in the history of the game. Ever since the players of the golden era hung up their boots, Australian cricket has gone down the wrong line everywhere – from the management to the players. They were overshadowed by the visiting Proteas, whitewashed by the Indians and were humiliated in a no-win campaign at the Champions Trophy, reflecting the deformation they have gone through over the past 7-8 months.
Off the cricketing field too, the Australians have had their own share of controversies, with four players including Shane Watson getting suspended from the Test side for not completing their ‘homework’ and David Warner losing his mind on two occasions, once on Twitter and the next time in a late-night party.
And as if these were not enough, Mickey Arthur was sacked as the head coach, weeks prior to the tournament, giving former cricketer Darren Lehmann a stint at the position. Their team selection for the Ashes has also been quite baffling, with in-form men like Mitchell Johnson, Steven Smith and George Bailey left out of the first-choice squad, before Smith was recalled a few days back.
With all these issues, they enter cricket’s most prestigious tournament, the Ashes.
The Australian batting revolves around two players – Shane Watson and Michael Clarke. The former, who is all set to be back at his favourite position on the batting order, will hold the key to Australia’s fortune in the Ashes. Lehmann has also assured that the 35-year-old Chris Rogers, who will be playing in only his second Test match for the side, will accompany Watson at the top in the first game.
Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja have promised a lot more than they have actually delivered. Philip Hughes’ inability to handle spin has been very often exposed and this series will be another opportunity for the southpaw to make his presence felt in the Aussie side. David Warner has been going through some awful time, both on and off the pitch, though he has received the backing of the head coach.
All eyes will be on Michael Clarke’s fitness rather than his form with his troublesome back stopping him from gathering runs in his golden period with the bat. Although this format of the game doesn’t very much get along with Steven Smith’s style of play, he has worked really hard to keep himself in contention for a place in the team. Brad Haddin has been recalled after being on the sidelines for over a year and he will be eager in justifying the faith shown on him by the management.