Australian cricket is learning the hard way that a team of champions is nothing compared to a champion team. Cricket Australia is learning that the majority of their current crop of players do not actually fall into champion category. Every frustrated fan would surely prefer a selfish team of champions than the selfish, inconsistent rabble currently being selected.
For the first time since 1999, Australia is not the holder of an ICC trophy. Long gone are the days of Adam Gilchrist’s blistering 149 against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup final, or the way Shane Warne took Pakistan apart with four wickets to start Australia’s streak of three consecutive World Cups.
It’s difficult not to be nostalgic when you compare the magical memories of the past to today’s nonsense.
While we all reminisce on the good times and question where it all went wrong, time waits for no man. In the next six months, Australia will compete in back-to-back Ashes series and face the morbid reality of losing both. On current form, this is the most likely outcome.
When trying to pinpoint what’s wrong with Australian cricket, it’s tough to look past the players’ attitudes.
After going 2-0 down in the four test series against India, the players were given the task of listing three points on how their individual performances and those of the team could be improved. In what would have taken all of five minutes, four senior players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, were dropped from the team for not completing the task.
Just last week, opening batsman David Warner was involved in an alcohol-fuelled incident in a bar with English batsman Joe Root.
In times where the Australian team was crying out for leadership, players have repeatedly let the team down.
After being comprehensively crushed in the second test in Hyderabad, the Australian players should have been jumping out of their skin to improve their game.
Similarly, the Australian team – especially Warner who is seen as future captain material – should have been desperately trying to start their England tour off on the right foot. Instead, Australia ended the Champions Trophy winless from three games.
It could be said that Australia has been lucky to be blessed with natural talent for the majority of the last 20 years, and that bunched retirements took its toll on the team. It’s not often that the players of the highest caliber such as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist all retire in the space of a year.
There’s no denying that champion players are near impossible to replace. To expect junior talent to come through and replace the world’s best fast bowler, world’s best spin bowler, and world’s best wicketkeeper-batsman is unrealistic.
But when players are getting into fights and aren’t doing their homework – things you would expect of primary school students – these reasons become void.
In a game where the exact opposite is one of the biggest factors in being successful, a bad attitude will get you nowhere. The team always comes first, and self-interests will always eventually be identified.
There are no excuses when it comes to ones attitude. Poor performance can be forgiven, but in the case of players putting themselves before the team, the Australian public deserve better.
Why? Because these men are representing the Australian cricket team. Little kids look up to their heroes and say, ‘one day that’s going to be me’. Legends of the past would be looking at the current state of Australia cricket and questioning how things came to this.
To stand any chance against England, a team who has only lost one of their last nine test matches, Australia must unearth some self-belief. Teams no longer fear playing Australia. In terms of natural talent, England, South Africa and India have overtaken us.
Additionally, when it comes to attitude and self-confidence, Australia has fallen behind which is totally unacceptable. The recent tour of India exposed Australia’s soft underbelly, with the team at times looking frustrated and disinterested. Apart from a handful of glistening innings from captain Michael Clarke, the rest of the squad had nothing to write home about.
Needless to say, runs need to be scored and wickets need to fall for Australia to be successful; that’s just how the game works. And as of late they haven’t been doing very well at either.
Before the Australians look at regaining the Ashes, they first need to take a look at themselves. If the Australian team turns up with the right attitude and play to their potential, there is no doubt both Ashes series are up for grabs.
If the Australian team turns up and simply goes through the motions like they did on their tour of India, it could be a long winter and even longer summer. It’s up to them. If they believe they can win, there is no reason why they can’t.