Is Australian cricket heading the West Indies way?
Is Australia heading the West Indies way? It sounds unbelievable, but the facts present a hard-hitting picture.
From being the dominant team in the 70s and 80s to being dominated later on, West Indies have seen the extremes from Clive Lloyd to Carlos Brathwaite.
The graph seems similar for the Aussies as well. The dominators of the 90s and 2000s have started to see the extremes from Allan Border to Aaron Finch, or even Ricky Ponting to Tim Paine!
2018 couldn't have gone any worse for Australian cricket. With just a few months left for the 50-over World Cup, the defending champions seem like a handicapped squad, with their top two players banned.
The team has struggled ever since David Warner and Steve Smith left. But would they have made any difference to the downfall if they had been present?
The after-effects of the ban
March 2018, during the Test series between Australia and South Africa, was when the ball-tampering issue came into limelight. With Warner and Smith stepping aside along with Bancroft, Tim Paine took over the captaincy and lost the fourth and final Test by a whopping margin of 492 runs.
Little did we know that this loss was just a start.
Since then, the Aussies have failed to rise up from the shame that hit their sport. In the last eight months, Australia have played 3 Tests, 8 ODIs and 11 T20Is, out of which they have managed to win only 4 T20Is and 1 ODI.
The captaincy burden was split between Tim Paine for Tests and Aaron Finch for the limited over formats. But that didn't yield anything to get them out of recovery.
After the forgettable South African series, Australia suffered twin whitewashes from their age old-rivals England - a 5-0 loss in the ODIs and a one-off T20 loss. The only notable moment about that one-sided tournament was the third ODI, when England registered the highest total in an ODI game - 481/6. Australia unsurprisingly failed to chase that, losing the game by 242 runs.
In the tournament, the Aussies had to chase a 300+ target every time they chased. That clearly shows that even if Warner and Smith were available, things wouldn't have been much different.
Dependency on Finch
Australia's first win in the aftermath of the Warner-Smith ban came 127 days later, against Pakistan in the T20 tri-series also involving Zimbabwe. That tournament, where they ended as runners-up, is their best outing this year if we exclude their win in the one-off T20 against UAE.
Aaron Finch has single digit scores in every game Australia have lost in this rough period. Along with the less experienced bowling unit, the batting failures have just added fuel to the fire.
The 3-0 whitewash loss against Pakistan in T20s saw a string of single-digit scores from Finch. Even in the recently concluded one-off T20 against the Proteas, Finch failed and the batting order promptly collapsed. Australia got all out for 87 chasing 109 in a 10 over game!
The dependency on Finch has been massive; he has been the only impact player for them apart from Glenn Maxwell. If Finch fails, the team almost always loses. And what makes matters worse is that even Finch has performed only a few times.
With India visiting Australia now for a long tour, it's high time the Aussies do something to arrest this poor run and put up a real fight before it is too late. After all, we don't want the defending champions to go the Windies way, and be in danger of missing out on a place in the World Cup too.