Australian Cricket: How did it come to this?
I still remember the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup, when a rampaging Lance Klusener was left stranded on the crease, and while the Aussies celebrated, the camera focused on a dumbstruck Hanse Cronje. That moment, for me, was a defining moment for both Australian cricket and the rest of the world. What was to follow was the kind of mammoth gap that was created between them and the others for around 10 years, which would in turn be the rarest of the rare, in the history of any sports. The world lost ‘that’ team yesterday. Did it really have to come to this?
As a non-Aussie, let me be honest and tell you that we hate the Australian cricket team. Yes, they were ‘that’ good! In the past, they would wound you, humiliate you, and rub your faces in it at the same time. And I guess there must have been a time when selling the 4th and 5th day tickets for a Test match featuring the Australians ran out of practice. The greats leaving the scene did leave a gaping hole. But a hole so humongous in diameter that both the virtuous past and present would escape through it? Abysmally arcane.
What happened this Monday was not a result of a probable series loss in India. It was the sum total of that in SA, the one against the lowly NZ, and this one. Undergraduates are not punished for not doing their homework, for crissakes!
Perhaps the Aussies aren’t used to this. Getting all out for below 50, losing against virtual minnows at home soil, and getting humiliated by a team recently disembowelled by their Ashes foes. And desperate times do call for desperate measures. Measures like looking into the Sheffield Shield, preparing all round pitches at home, scouting for genuine young talent, etc. Not throwing your best bowler out of the series, where already whipping of certain body parts is palpable.
Spare a thought for poor Usman Khawaja. He has been trying hard to make a cut into the playing 11, travelling to different parts of the world with the team. He has performed brilliantly in domestic tournaments and might even be the last straw the drowning Aussie batting line-up could hold on to. But wait. You got to be disciplined! Even though you haven’t played a single game in this tour and you’re drilling out in the north Indian heat, you’ll be thrown out if you don’t give me a presentation over how the team you practically haven’t really been playing for, should win in possibly the worst conditions they could ever play in. Didn’t they teach you winning strategies in the cricket academy when you were 4?
Watson wants out of the Test arena. Pattinson will not be bowling at arguably the best Indian bowling pitch. Mitchell Johnson must play well (i.e IF he gets a go) in the penultimate match of the series to prove his mettle. It’s suddenly a ghastly world out there.
As an ardent cricket fan, it saddens me to the core. The levels of hypocrisy the Aussie team management is exhibiting is for the history books. And the management disaster papers as well. All I can say is that if the game doesn’t have to die a vile death, more pragmatic, heck, lot less ludicrous decisions must be made! I hope that the former valiant and enviably hard-working Aussies bounce back, maybe after this series, though.