Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Is Australia Too Good?

The Australian cricket team are as frustrating as they are brilliant. Dominant for as long as many of us can remember, they have surpassed the West Indies of the 80’s and their longevity amazes us all. From Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh’s great sides of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, featuring players such as O’Donnell and Hughes in the attack, Jones and the Waugh brothers batting, to the current Ponting era. Amazingly Waugh’s side’s 16 test winning streak is now under threat just 6 years after it was set. Gone are so many, in are some super players, and improved include the skipper, Ricky Ponting. So we can all sit in amazement and watch the Aussie makeup change, but still remain dominant, almost unbeatable. Or if we support the other test nations, or even the game of cricket, we are reduced to leaning back on our chairs, and muttering to ourselves about how we wish it was the golden years still.

So the burning question on everyone’s tongue is; Are the Aussies too good? By too good, I mean that they are simply so good that action needs to be taken, as no one seems to be able to beat them. For one thing, their upcoming series against India will likely say a lot about just how good they are, India have traditionally matched up well on the Aussies, and are the team that the Australians would want least to be chasing their record against. But after so many wins in a row, many of them comprehensively, against the likes of South Africa, England and Sri Lanka – three very decent sides – can Australia be conquered? Especially at home, they are a formidable outfit.

As I asked before, as good as they are, is there a need for action to be taken? Are they truly just too good that something needs to balance the teams out? John Buchanan seems to think so, ironically just one series after he retired as coach of the team, spearheading them to all but 2 of the tests in the current streak, not to mention all the world cups and other various wins along the way, Buchanan has evidently decided that suddenly, Australia are so far ahead of the competition, that the rules of changing nations need to be relaxed, so that cricket becomes, essentially, a franchise system with the tag, ‘international cricket’ being virtually unnecessary. Personally, this writer feels that Buchanan is missing his old job and the attention, and that his idea is an absurd way to turn cricket into a money game.

Let’s face it, the only think worse than Australia’s dominance is the dominance of money in European soccer. Owners such as Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, Manchester United’s Malcolm Glazer and Ramon Calderon (of Real Madrid) – to name just 3, could all team up to solve world hunger, poverty and fund the cures for major diseases – but instead their money goes to unbalancing the tables so much that the clubs that have players who actually want to play for their club due to locality are left struggling in lower leagues. If cricket allows itself to become a franchise system, teams such as India who have and make billions of dollars (and the turmoil that they could help solve is much closer to home than the British and Spanish managers) would dominate, leaving other countries in their wake, which was the problem in the first place. Upcoming leagues such as the Indian Premier and Cricket Leagues will emphasize the growing trend at playing for money rather than pride in a club, and perhaps even nation for those banned from participating in the ICL.

To make such a big call, such an important decision, would be fairly premature I believe, and Australia will be changing a lot over the next few years as more veterans bow out, and the search for new youngsters continue. Changing nationality rules would merely create further problems, and do little to solve the current ones. And if all else fails, at least we can see a true dominant team that has been made up of natural, home-grown, ‘organic’ talent.


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Nick Gammons said...

Dean, you make many interesting points and it is a shame to see so many one-sided Test series involving Australia.

However, despite their 15 years of undefeated home dominance, Australia have only managed a best stretch of 3 years undefeated away. The great west Indies team were not beaten at home for 22 years and had a stretch of 15 years unbeaten away.

Australia have some way to go to claim the West Indies crown as the best team of the modern era. It is also worth noting that the dominant West Indies played through a time when Australia, England, India and Pakistan all had good teams, including some of the greatest players of the modern era.

Sad to say Australia has all too rarely had to contend with a top team in its years of dominance.

Tim said...

Good piece Dean, and I agree the Buchanon suggestion was certainly ridiculous.

While they remain the best side in the world, I would be very surprised if they do not encounter at least some trouble in the four Tests at home to India and three in Pakistan.

Uncle J rod said...

Australia won't be dominant in 4 years time so who cares?

Stuart said...

All wheels turn - Australia won't stay at the top forever. The other teams need to make an effort to catch up, however, and not simply wait until the Australian team burns itself out.

Nick's comments about the Windies remaining undefeated from the New Zealand series in 1980 through to 1995 is also valid. They did play under very different conditions though, with the Windies drawing a lot of games that they would probably have lost under today's rules, simply by dropping the over-rate back to ridiculous levels. In one test against England, they averaged 8 overs an hour during the final day, and the game ended in a draw.

Also, to claim that Australia had a good team during the mid to late 80s is a bit rich though. They sucked severely, and were easily the worst test team in the world in 1985.

Mark said...

No doubt about it, the Australians are still a very strong side - probably the strongest in the world. However, taking Warne and McGrath out of the equation means that there will be some games that they would have previously won that they will now struggle to do so - and therefore some series that will be closer, and possibly lost.

After all, you're taking out two of the top five bowlers EVER - 1200 plus test wickets.