Cricket: Has Australian cricket finally cracked?

Shane Watson has been left in the lurch in this crisis (Dec 2010, photo mine)
Shane Watson has been left in the lurch in this crisis (Dec 2010, photo mine)

Has Australian cricket finally cracked?

All summer long (and right now, as the Aussies take on India) it has been the burning question on the forefront of the fans minds.

We have the Ashes in England fast approaching, and right now the state of the Australian side is close to a shambles.  Only Michael Clarke is putting up a consistent fight.  The rest – David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson and Matthew Wade alike – are all struggling to string together a good run of scores. 

Clarke and Australian coach Mickey Arthur have previously said that Australia can return to the number one ranking for the test championship.  It’s only a question of when – but it seems like an age away.

You have to start looking at the side’s problems somewhere.  Team confidence is one such factor that is killing our chances of regaining our supremacy of the late 1990’s to the mid 2000’s.

Our batters are being beaten by some astonishing swing bowling, surrendering their wicket early either playing rash shots or being bowled through the gate.

From a fan perspective, the immediate future looks bleak.  All players have the talent; they just cannot seem to find the means of putting it to use.

I’m not worried about the bowlers; our stock is good, and the consistency is sound.  The batting, however, spells an entirely different story.

Ed Cowan and David Warner, the current openers, have at times looked shaky over the summer.  Granted, Cowan did score a fantastic century against South Africa last November, but hasn’t passed fifty more than twice since in test matches.

Warner has definitely had a better time of it with two centuries since the first test against South Africa last November, but his ‘ability’ to have a lapse in concentration and go the tonk has been his downfall.

Then there is Phil Hughes and the ‘chop-and-change’ middle order.  Performance is going to matter if the Australians want to regain the urn, and it will not happen with half-arsed selections and trying new experiments.

I am all for choosing new talent; simply not swapping players seemingly at will.  The order is being swapped around to try and find the best balance, and the players are not really happy.

Watson has batted at four throughout all the tests he has played since the start of last summer.  In the one day format he can be brutal at the top of the order; if we (as a nation) want to be performing in tests, Watson must open.  That means Cowan or Warner must go.

Hughes (while having completed a fabulous shield season for South Australia) has gone downhill since going to India.  While the sub continent decks are by no means indicative of what Australia will face in the coming months, it does beg the question: has Hughes lost what form he had between November and January?

Skipping Clarke, we now come to Wade and the ‘all-rounders’, in particular Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques.  Protecting our bowlers for as long as possible seemed to be a tough job at times during the summer and now over in India.  The all-rounders job is to be able to bat and bowl; so far no one has been able to do both successfully.

Mickey Arthur today (Monday, March 11) has dropped four players (James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson, Watson and Usman Khawaja) from the Mohali Test squad due to the fact they failed to give a presentation (by the prescribed deadline) on key points they could improve on.  Australian cricket, right now, is at a crossroads.

No-one can get into the minds of the selectors; not even Clarke when his mind turns to which players will be in the squad for the next test.  What the fans can hope and pray for is that the side can find some way of waltzing in to a golden era.  How long is it going to take?

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