For all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the Trent Bridge debacle, the Ashes wasn’t really the catalyst, crux or anything in between.
It’s the regeneration. Since the retirement of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and co, there’s been a rebuild. The 2013-2014 Ashes was combed over by England’s dreadful performances. Many of these have already been talked about, dissected and torn apart.
Yet, the one prominent factor during the Ashes was over-confidence. It has been like a brush stroke across and through the team since the first of the recent 5-0 whitewashes. Part of it feels like there’s a large hole created where some solid concrete needs to go, simply to complete the currently wonky jigsaw puzzle.
The changing of the guard with skipper Steve Smith might not’ve been the smoothest ride, but the new young captain has shown courage in the face of a harsh reality. Then there is the bigger problem essentially back home; the selection round table and radical chop-and-change shifts in the side.
One player and can go out to the middle and swashbuckle a century, another can get down to the nitty gritty and carve one out in 250 balls. Yet, for all the hours upon hours in the nets, it just has not translated out onto the field.
However, some things finally seemed to string themselves together in the only T20 in Cardiff between Australia and England, despite the five-run last over loss. Overhaul 101 time, starting from the top.
The man at the helm of just about the entire operation, James Sutherland, has been a stalwart. As one of the recommendations of the 2011 Argus Review suggests, “there (will be an) immediate creation of a new senior management position, the general manager team performance, who will be responsible for the team, coaching, selection, Centre of Excellence and will work with state cricket performance and talent managers.”
Right now, although these positions have come to fruition, the potential from the CoE seems to be fluctuating. As we have goodbye to a small handful of fantastic servants of the national team, it has been rare to see proactivity from management. Rather, the players are making the larger strides.
Even so, it is unfortunate to not see more push through of the younger generation. Joe Burns, who will be 26 next week, had to wait seven months between any form of international matches. After two half centuries in consecutive tests, he was cut and replaced.
Therein, Australia’s problem – as the diehards will well and truly see – came months before the recently completed Ashes series. It is not a matter that can be brushed over.