There was a period from the early till the 1987 World Cup, when Australian teams throughout this era were considered as “No-Hopers” of the cricket world. A string of below average performances in both ODI & Test cricket, in home & abroad series meant that a nation of the sport’s greatest batsman, was in a serious dump. If it wasn’t for Alan Border’s inspirational leadership, the Oz team that won a World Cup on tough subcontinent conditions in 1987, would have remained a mediocre set up. That particular victory inspired a generation of great leaders in Australian cricket, who maintained a tough & effective image in the cricket world for over two decades.
Today, Australian cricket is in a similar situation. Off the field events gain more prominence than what its’ cricketers do on the field. Even an inspired performance goes unnoticed. When the Australians came to India earlier this year, they were expected to put up a fight. Especially given the fact that a strong Indian set up at home had been humbled in their own den by a wily English side. The Indians were also having an ordinary period in test cricket with nothing but a series victory against New Zealand to show for. Yet, an over confident batch of Aussies were battered and bruised and literally muscled to the mat. Past Australian teams had atleast managed to salvage some pride in India with an odd test match or even a series victory. But this particular 4-0 drubbing has dented Australia’s confidence in such a way that they are finding it tough to stand up on their own two feet. The players’ misadventures off the field isn’t helping the cause of a possible resurrection. Despite having the same amount of wit and talent as Steve Waugh’s Side or Ricky Ponting’s team, Micheal Clarke’s men are struggling in a way that no one can explain. Lack of discipline, disrespect of management and casual approach are terms that have become synonymous with Australia.
Former coach Mickey Arthur’s attempts have failed, as Australians saw him a misfit in the current setup. A coach who help propel South Africa to a strong position in International cricket, has struggled to create the same magic with arguably an even more talent bunch of youngsters. The newly appointed coach Darren Lehman, who has been a part of the Australian success story, right from the late 90s to the mid-2000s has now taken charge of a ship that is repeatedly failing to unhook its anchors. David Warner and Shane Watson were players who were seen as the next big thing for Australian cricket after the likes of the Husseys & Pontings took a bow.
Even talented players like Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan, Clint McKay, Mitchell Marsh & Mitchel Johnson have failed to delivered at crucial moments. A side that was once nicknamed “Invincibles” has lost all that air. The English media is already taking potshots at them. The upcoming Ashes series will prove to be a crucial litmus test not only for the big names mentioned above & coach Lehman, but will also prove to be a deciding factor as to which direction Australian cricket heads towards. Though they are hated, one can be sure of the fact, that cricket fans across the globe would atleast expect them to put up a resistance.