A Long Road Ahead

In many ways Shane Watson is representative of the difficulties faced by his side, the only diference being that he was (at least while he lasted) in something resembling decent form.

Talented, sincere and competitive, but also lacking in concentration, fitness, and, when it comes to running between the wickets, basic technique, he's made a decent fist of filling one of the openers' berths in the Australian side over the last eighteen months. One's suspicion is, though, that his natural home lies further down the order and that he ought to be bowling more, and with more intent, than he currently does. Given his history of injuries, this is partially understandable, but, watching him over the last couple of Tests, it was hard not to think of him as a player who simply isn't achieving anything like his potential and wouldn't be worth a place in the England side.

He's not alone.

Everyone knew before the series started that Australia were in decline. This impression was confirmed and hastened by some strange decisions by their selectors and the confidence, virility and power of England. For now Watson himself, Khawaja, Hussey, Clarke (who, let no-one forget, is a superb batsman) and possibly Ponting offer the nucleus of a batting order, but Hussey and Ponting will soon be gone for good and the bowling cupboard looks bare. Some extra work on fielding, fitness and running is essential.

All the things that are being said about Australia now used to be said about England. For them it's been a long road back, starting with the appointment of Duncan Fletcher as coach in 1999 and the subsequent adoption of central contracts.

For Australia it will be no different.


Bradders said...

Everyone knew although perhaps the Aussie selectors and public did not realise quite how far they had fallen in reality.Certainly no aussie predicted how far they subsequently would against England!

Its going to be a fascinating period where everyone will be champing at the bit to play them - even New Zealand!

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Bradders.

Someone I work with told me that I predicted the thrashing but I can't remember doing so. I can only remember thinking that it would be close but that England could, perhaps would, win.

England were very good but I don't think anybody expected Australia to be quite so poor. At times they were a complete shambles and much of their selection 'policy' was absolutely crackpot.

Russ said...

It was a weird series to try and predict, this one. All the data on recent performance pointed to it being close, that Australia was waning, but still competitive (even as little as two months prior in India), that England was improving but not yet dominant. Noone could have predicted just how little Australia would get out of Ponting and Clarke, nor the injuries they'd suffer, nor the odd-ball selections. My ratings indicated an Australian win, by the barest of margins, I was doubtful and thought it would end up 2-2, with an Australian win in Brisbane balanced against struggles in the rest of the series.

That said, in a comment at the end of the Pakistan series in July I was convinced Australia would fail miserably, if they played to the same standard, and that they were swimming in self-delusion.

The data driven prediction was pretty accurate through the first three tests, the second through the last two tests of the tour. As happens sometimes in long tours, Australia was mentally shot by the finish. Once they pull themselves together the side will come around, though certain players, talented as they are, just aren't cut out for test cricket, and need to be dropped. Unfortunately the two mentally weakest links are their key batsman and bowler.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Russ. I particularly enjoyed reading your comment on AGB. You're the man that predicted it all! You could dine out on that for years!

I think the majority opinion in England was that England could and should win, but years of defeat by Australia, home and away, tend to make people reluctant to believe that what should happen actually will.

The sheer scale and nature of the England wins was a shock, at least to me, and there can be little doubt that Australia under-performed. They're better than that. This was partly due to England's prowess, but I think some of the Australian selectors' decisions were strange, to put mildly, and that clearly didn't help.

Interesting, and ironic, that Hauritz is in the ODI squad. They might have done a bit better in the Tests with him around. No world-beater, but a much better option than Doherty or Beer, no?

I assume the omission of Hauritz was down to Ponting. Clarke may think differently.

John Fuller said...

Hi B, cheers for the email, will nudge you on Twitter. Enjoy your blog as always. I'm quite pleased for Watson. he's one of the few Aussies in form but hasn't pushed on to a meaningful score all winter but certainly did in that epic ODI. But we'll still have that little urn...

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