Life After Ponting
634 // 18 Dec 2012, 09:41 IST
What happens when a commander in chief hangs up his boots? What happens when a prolific warrior states that it is time to stop and move on? There is a void created instantaneously. The team goes into a zone where their will power is put to test, a zone that makes everyone comprehend whether or not they are facing a dearth of talent.
The Australian cricket team is facing the same dilemma as one of their modern greats has decided to walk into the sunset. They are caught in a state of introspection as life after Ricky Ponting would not be a fairytale ride. Let us have a look at the Australian batting post Ponting.
The opening pair of Ed Cowan and David Warner proves the statement that opposites attract correct. Where one is an aficionado of speed, other finds glory analysing the path. While one has the approach of a dasher, other is the calming influence for the side.
Ed Cowan brings to the table a sense of the evergreen classical music in the day and age ruled by the remix era. He is unflappable in his approach and has the potential to play longer innings. His mental mobility works as his lethal weapon. He has the tendency of getting into the shell. Though, his low strike rate is compensated by his partner perfectly.
David Warner is one of the most destructive batsmen in the Test arena as of now. His amalgamation of hand eye coordination against pace and feet movement against spin makes him a different batsman all together. He has the aura of setting fear among the opponents. Though, his consistency to score regularly would be an area to keep an eagle eye upon.
The position to bat at number three is something special and filled with responsibilities. It is a position that is the spinal cord for any side. Rahul Dravid, Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting have been some remarkable batsmen at one drop. From the current Australian lot, Philip Hughes is counted upon in that position. He seems like a rock but his audacity to overcome all odds seems bleak. His technique has never been his forte; an area of the greatest concern for Australian cricket. He was once the youngest test batsman to score two centuries in a test (against the mighty South African pace attack), but more recently he is remembered for Chris Martin induced torment when he edged to Guptill in the slips four times consecutively before being dropped. Off late, he has overhauled his technique outside off-stump, and has been scoring heavily in the domestic arena, but to do that on a regular basis in International cricket (if he does so) would be a blessing in disguise for his side.
Watson at number 4 would not raise many eyebrows. He is the perfect candidate to fill in the position that Ricky Ponting spent in his last few years for the side. More than the technique of Watson for the longer format (that is not a concern by the way) his physical fitness would raise many decibels for his place in the squad. He now becomes one of the most pivotal batsmen for the Australian team. His role especially with the bat would be a key area for Australian success.
The position of number four and five seems the most settled for the side. Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey would be those calming influence even if the storm from the front has disrupted the side. Clarke is going through a patch in Test that very few players have discovered. He is a man you can count upon when the going gets tough. With much more added pressure, his mental steel would be put to test.
On the other hand, Mike Hussey is someone who craves to perform when pushed against the wall. He is a busy cricketer who will make sure the scoreboard is moving pretty well. His role as a mentor for the younger recruits would be an essential ingredient for Australia.
Amidst all the above stated, Australian top order looks shaky. The top three seems to be standing on a bridge that might fall anytime. Still, some faces can be looked upon as their replacement:
Shaun Marsh, I still believe should be in the Australian set up. He had an abysmal series against India but that should not be the only parameter he should be judged upon. His technique for the longer format is impeccable and he is one of the sweetest timers of the cricket ball.
Rob Quiney never looked like a batsman for the longer version of the game. Though, he scored well in the Shield games but that never had any impact in the way he batted against South Africa. A few more strides in the domestic level to resurrect his game in Test and he would be well on his way for Australia. His age might be a factor though if selectors seek a long-term fix.
Usman Khawaja had flirted briefly before being banished to domestic scene as well. Khawaja is young, and has been scoring heavily in shield games too, though not as heavily as Hughes. Should any of the top three fail, his form could certainly push his case.
Australian cricket would need to keep unearthing players for the longer format of the game. The word “TEMPERAMENT” should be the motto for the judgement.
As of now, a stronger fitness regime and clarity in the heads of the players should be the prime aim for the administrators. Ed Cowan recently said, “We are now missing Australia’s greatest batsmen, but it is an opportunity for guys to step up. It puts expectations on the other guys to fill the void. That is the only way”. Well said but it is time to state well done and the latter is always better in the long run