Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Waugh, Healy – the list of Australians who so easily dispatched England’s hopes of Ashes victories throughout the ’90s and early ’00s could go on and on . . .
But with the Aussies down in fourth in the ICC Test World Rankings and England comprehensively winning the Ashes ‘down under’, the tables have turned and the Australian success story is nothing more than a distant memory.
Former test captain Ricky Ponting continues to play on, but it can’t be long until he joins the likes of Warne in the TV Studio. Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee also remain from the squad that whitewashed England 5-0 in the 2006/2007 series, but the new generation haven’t managed to fill the gaps left behind with much success.
Highly rated batsman, Usman Khawaja made his debut in Sydney against England in January, but has struggled to make an impact and has only played in 2 tests since. He enjoyed some success in this season while at Derbyshire, but he was far from spectacular.
In fact, since the 2006/07 ashes series, the Aussies have handed debuts to 23 players compared to England’s 16 new caps. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, paceman Peter Siddle and batsman Marcus North are the only 3 players on that list to have played in 20 or more tests since making their debuts.
The Australian selectors have their work cut out to find a spin bowler that can be considered even half as good as Shane Warne or an opening partnership that can match the famous Slater – Hayden and Hayden – Langer duos. The resignation of team coach Tim Nielsen last month after 4 years has added to Cricket Australia’s woes and interim coach Troy Cooley is unlikely to be the long term replacement.
Michael Clarke led his team to a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka in his first series in charge but a tour to South Africa has led the new captain to admit his team visit the Proteas as the underdogs.
“Playing anybody on their home soil is always harder because you know your conditions so well,” he said.
“They have had a lot of success in their own country, so it’s as tough a challenge as you face in world cricket, no doubt.”
The next year will go a long way to deciding the future of Australian cricket, an expected new coach and the emergence of new talent should enable them to climb the rankings once again.