Worrying signs for sliding Aussies
While we wait for the real contest of the English summer between South Africa and England to get under way England have quietly destroyed Australia in the ongoing five-match ODI series.
The hapless Aussies have been bullied, brow beaten and generally made to look second rate by the England team.
We all know that England is a formidable force on home soil. The way they demolished Australia is a further example of this. In fact, had rain not washed out one of the games England could well have gone to the number one spot in the world ODI rankings if they won all the matches. Impressive as they were, England can’t take all the credit for this comprehensive win.
The Aussies have been pathetic. There is no other way to describe their performance. A while ago when they won the last test match against the Proteas at the Wanderers they looked to have the world at their feet again. The makings of a very strong side looked imminent. There were some young players coming through and some experienced players in the ranks. It all looked good for Australia.
Subsequent to that Mickey Arthur took over the coaching role amidst some criticism in Australian circles. The feeling was that Australia needed a harder coaching style and had to return to old-school values to take the team forward. Micky is the opposite of that. His fielding coach, Steve Rixon, was also a front runner for the job and epitomises the tough Aussie approach.
Cricket Australia generally has a lenient approach to coaches. They don’t hire and fire coaches on a whim. Arthur will be aware of this, which will give him some security. Even so he will be starting to get a bit edgy. None of the Australian cricketing disciplines are working well. The batting and bowling are well below par and the fielding can hardly be described as electric.
Even the ageing convenor of selectors John Inverarity was moved to say that the Aussies are picking the best available team. The only notable absentee is Mike Hussey, who is not on the current tour due to family reasons. This admission by Inverarity doesn’t bode well for Australian cricket.
Captain Michael Clarke won’t be enjoying losing to England one bit. His captaincy started on a high with some good personal performances but, like Arthur, Clarke will be a worried man. He will take some solace from the fact that test cricket is still the Australian priority and that the test combination is better than the current ODI team.
The fear factor that used to be so prevalent among other teams when playing Australia is gone. Opposing international teams look at the Aussies in one-day and T20 cricket, in particular, as a team that is ready to be taken.
The Proteas have bigger fish to fry at the moment than thinking about the Aussies' demise. In the back of their mind though they won’t be sorry to see this happening. Unless the Aussies improve radically the Proteas will take them Down Under in November.