Monday, September 12, 2011

Australia post-Argus: Hope springs eternal

Ben Roberts

Trust me - I am expert in these matters. As a supporter of the Richmond football club, I have borne first hand experience of sporting teams re-births. I have lost count of how many times the jungle drums have beaten, signalling for the mighty Tigers that long-awaited success is just around the corner. 

But I have also lost count of the number of times I have been disappointed. The re-emergence of the Australian team immediately post-Argus appears different.

Ido not wish to take back my earlier remarks that until changes are made at the very top of Australia's administration we cannot rest, and I will not yet fully allow my emotions to again rise and fall with the Australian side. I also believe that we need to remain calm post-Argus as many bridges need crossing before Australia's ascent to the top of world cricket again even begins, let alone arrives. But despite only the tiniest of samples to go on, I believe we can hold hope for the future.

We have begun the Sri Lanka Test series in fine style in difficult conditions for both teams.  It is encouraging that Australia were far more willing to put their hand to the plough and get a result. I am currently observing the early period in the second Test and they have picked up where they left off.

Our batsman appear as though they may unite for the first time in 18 months behind our warrior cricketer in Shane Watson. Who would have though five years ago he would have been described as such? There are clear messages having been given, we will begin to select on form in the future, not whatever it was previously that Hilditch and Co. did. There has been further experience for the likes of Hughes and Khawaja, and a debut long overdue for Shaun Marsh. Overdue not because of previously having deserved it but because of his unwillingness to take the chances offered him, preferring like many Australian cricketers to rely on a charmed existence than a body of good runs.

We have selected a bowling lineup along a horses for courses principle. Siddle missed out to Copeland in the first two test. This was the correct decision, come a greener surface in Cape Town or Brisbane the Victorian will be best placed to take over. The spin bowling fraternity remains somewhat confused, but at least (ed: as a frustrated spinner) the skipper has more understanding of tweakers than his predecessor.

There are still glaring holes. While we seem to want to select a bowling lineup based on horses for courses there seems no end in the near future to the man love shown to Mitchell Johnson. The man they should be building the attack around is currently at the other end. Granted, his stocky and hairy torso may not look as good in a pair of Y-fronts as Mitch, but Ryan Harris is far more deserving of being attack leader and first choice.

When the former skipper flew home to witness his child's birth, David Warner was flown in as replacement. I really hope that two dozen other first-class batsman in Australia just happened to be busy at the time because I am at a loss as to how Warner, unproven at most levels but particularly first-class, could possibly be the best selected. Lets try and put the best team on the field, not invent our own version of Virender Sehwag because its more marketable.

Finally on the subject of our former skipper, If he can average 40 for the rest of his career and help guide the next generation of Australian batsman, he will have done more than enough. I am strong in my hope that he will do this - let's not get carried away that he will return to his heady best.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast”. Below which my heart may once again be the Australian cricket sides. Just not yet.

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