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.