The End Of An Era Is Now Official
The Australian side has been sliding for a while but now it is official, the glory years are over. They’re not even an average side. It’s been a 20 year ride of at least serving it to the Poms. If we thought we were going to keep doing that forever eternal, we sure as hell were going to be wrong on that one. There were some mitigating factors for the long run of dominance, and that was the seeming gush of talent that graced the Australian side during that time.I won’t bother listing them, but there was a cluster of historically great players in there.
So, did England get good or did our boys get bad? England was probably overdue for a good side to play well together. The other notable thing is that it’s actually a team full of guys at their peak years with only Strauss and Collingwood in their mid 30s. It’s a team that’s peaking at the right time in stark contrast to Australia who are fielding a group of players whose ages range from 21 to 36 with quite a few in their 30s. I wouldn’t back this side against the dynastic year Aussies but this is not longer the dynastic year Aussies.
A quick back of the envelope calculation will probably show that the current Australian team are probably short of about 150 runs per inning from the dynastic years. They’d be lucky to crack 300 runs in an inning against a decent side, and it would have to be a flat track. The other thing that is a bit troublesome is just how brittle some of the younger guys have been. Phil Hughes is still a work in progress, Steve Smith is 21, so nobody knows what they’re going to get from him on any given day.
There are some guys who should be at peak, but are uncomfortably erratic. Shane Watson and Brad Haddin look scary to me. Plus Michael Clarke’s managed to find moments of true awfulness when you least want it during his career. Michael Hussey is past his prime as are names on the periphery such as Katich and Lee and Bracken.
So this is it. Australia won’t reclaim the Ashes here and they will stagger into Sydney with not much momentum. People are calling for Ponting’s head but it’s hard to see where the plan goes from here. The last time Australian cricket was in such disarray was back in 1986. If Ponting stays, he’s going to have to pull a page out of Allan Border’s book and preside over a complete reconstruction for 2 years. If he doesn’t then the ugly part of reconstruction is going to fall to Michael Clarke. The scary part of that notion is that if there’s one cricketer Clarke reminds me of, it’s Kim Hughes – they have the same flakiness under pressure. Something tells me that a Michael Clarke captaincy will suck.