Australia v India: Has Australia lost its way?

Border Gavaskar Trophy


In India, the home of cricket, when someone dies the body is ceremoniously but, on a pyre, and sent down a river. The Ganges if you are lucky enough.


In Australia when someone or in this case something dies, we write a eulogy and pontificate about them and that lasts in our memory for some time.


With the much-lamented Australia cricket team methinks the former should apply.  Burn the body on a pyre and send it down the Yarra, the Torrens, the Derwent or the Swan. Doesn’t sound as romantic or memorable as an Indian death does it?


Well neither it should be.


 Australia has succumbed to its own ineptness and cockiness against an Indian team that should have been beaten but this Indian TEAM has not been an ordinary TEAM. Second class, second rate, B Grade, Reserves. All thrown about by the media and quietly by Cricket Australia especially after the Route of Adelaide.


Did that deter the visitors? No! it just made them more determined to win this series and win they did with style, panache and a never-say-die attitude. Twice the pyres were set for them but they refused to die.


So, is Australian cricket dead?


Nothing so dramatic as that but an overhaul needs to occur and the body re-examined before we pass it as extinct. An autopsy needs to take place as soon as possible.


So, what went wrong in this series?


Take the opposition out of the equation is easy. They were far too good (full stop).


Australia only dropped 2 players during the series Travis Head and Joe Burns. Burns with his form leading up to and including the first Test had been ordinary or less. Should never have been picked.   Marcus Harris, selected in the squad because of outstanding Sheffield Shield form, should have been selected in the first Test in Adelaide. He sat on the pine for a month with no competitive cricket behind him and then given a game.


Matthew Wade volunteered to open in the first Test. “A hero” they cried. Does not even open for his State!  Played all 4 Tests and lost his wicket time after time playing ridiculous strokes and still held on.  The injury to Warner did not help matters but he also came back into the team underdone and performed accordingly.


Where were the replacements?  Will Pucovski was there but unfortunately unavailable due to injury for the first two games. When fit he performed with maturity until injured while fielding in Sydney.  No other player had actually been pencilled in but I dare say that Shaun Marsh would have been on the short list.


The younger batsmen?  Just running around in the money bin called the Big Bash or in Sheffield Shield where in the selector’s wisdom none of the top bowlers were playing because they were being “managed”. We witnessed how well they were being managed when they ran out of puff on day 5 in Brisbane.  We won’t mention of course why that game was played in Brisbane during January.


For once Smith found it hard to get going and the Indians had done a job on him early. Came good in the latter games. Labuschagne was the shining light and thanks heavens he was around instead of swanning around on the veldts of South Africa.


The other batting plus would be the 21-year-old Cameron Green who was touted beforehand to be the next champion all-rounder. Batting at six he looked comfortable but never went-on-with-it when needed, particularly in Brisbane. Again, full credit to the Indians as for being a “quickie” he was pedestrian at best. Time will tell.


The bowlers were never questioned and Australia went in to all four matches with the same quartet. They could not win in Melbourne or Sydney so why were changes not made?  Hazlewood and Cummins carried the other two but the form of Starc and Lyon was never questioned.  For Lyon it seemed to be all about getting his 400 Test wicket in his 100 the Test. The Indian batsmen have off-spinners for breakfast as Lyon’s figures show. Starc as usual bowled some unplayable balls but there was not enough of them. He looked tired in Sydney and should have been rested in Brisbane. His bad balls were fodder for the Indian Zam-Zammahs.


The brains-trust of Australia always seem to talk about rotation of the bowlers. Where were Pattinson and co? Running drinks of course and doing little else.


What about Captain Tim Paine? If ever a player had ups-and-downs during a series it had to be the Hobartian. Played some fine innings with the bat, probably his best efforts. However, his keeping and captaincy had some horrible lapses. Many would  say that the captaincy got to him in the last 2 Tests but that was never proffered when the team was winning.   We must not forget that he resurrected this team when they were on the pyre in Cape Town and he should be afforded at least the upcoming series in South Africa as a thank you. Just give him a competitive team.


What about the selectors after all they pick the team/squad call it what you like? Some may blame the influence of COVID as a major cause of the downfall of this team.  I prefer to think it was the inflexibility of the selectors and the influence of senior players that was the cause.


Just looked back on this summation and have realised I have written over 900 words about the downfall of Australia with hardly a mention of the victors. Why should I? The majority of the readers are “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi” and they don’t want to hear how professional the visitors were pre-game, how the coach sat amongst the players and hardly looked at a computer, how the net-bowlers were good enough to come in and win matches, how their warm-ups before the game did not include kicking a Sherrin around. Nah! They only want to hear why this team couldn’t win the unlosable matches.


India? Well in the words of Sunil Gavaskar “Absolutely, this is a magic, magical moment for Indian cricket………Young India is showing it is not afraid.” Yes, they were not afraid and they just kept coming. Reputations did not mean a thing to them. They had done their homework, they had done their training, they beat adversity and they won away from home.  What more could you want?


We may have kicked Australia while they were down but they will get up again and fight another day.


There is only one wish the writer has and that is to dumb the science and look more for the natural amongst the many talented youngsters who are out there. Leave the computers at home.



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About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. John Butler says

    Interesting observation re the respective coaches, CB.

    Not the whole story, but definitely part of it, IMO.

    I’m mulling over my own conclusions re this summer. Let’s compare notes afterwards. :)


  2. citrus bob says

    Thanks JB!
    Probably wrote my evaluation with anger and angst but will be interesting to see other comments.
    Thanks again for your support.

  3. Well said Bob. Australia were far too smug; thus this is how you end up .

    After Adelaide people spoke of 4-0: even i didn’t think it was beyond us. How wrong.

    India was so resilient, such a contrast to us. On the previous tour there were mutterings of if Australia had Smith,Warner available, being at full strength the result would be different. Well these chaps were back, but the result was the same.

    For India to lose its captain,one of the worlds best batsmen, as well as one of the worlds top three fast bowlers,as well as two very experienced spinners, then still win speaks mountains about their resilience. ( I won’t mention all the other players who got injured.)

    Bob you’ve mentioned many of the same concerns I made in my comments on your previous post.

    The bowling, our much heralded strength, underperformed with two of them having very poor series. Lyon will continue on. Starc? Starc always runs the risk of leaking runs. In the past when we’ve often won, he’s picked up wickets. This summer is different. Next time we take the field is he still there,or does J Richardson, or Pattinson get a recall. Maybe Neser can make his debut?

    Time for Paine to move on, as both captain and keeper. His work behind the stumps deteriorated, and if he’s not keeping well, no point picking him. Smith can captain again.

    I know my eyesight is getting worse but seeing the mention of Shaun Marsh on a selectors short list stultified me. Then again with the neglect of the Sheffield Shield, with our focus being on the big $$ of the glitzed up tippety runs, who’s around.You mentioned Harris was in form prior to the opening test but not picked. Looking through the aggregates/averages this season it’s a sad state of affairs. Next in line is………….

    India is a good, nay great side. Australia, we have some thinking to do.


  4. Daryl Schramm says

    Trying to get some perspective here. I attended a pre test dinner in Adelaide compared by Henry Olonga with the great Gideon the feature speaker. One of the messages was the fact that the series was getting a start was a minor miracle. When you consider all the subsequent events, directly and indirectly covid related, the fact that the series was completed was also a reflective sigh of thankfulness and relief all round. So. The result didn’t go our way when many thought it should have. No series, no bitching about selections, behaviour and expressing amazement of what India achieved. I was one who fell back out of love with our side in Sydney. I also have expressed various views on ‘the game’ on these posts. I do not subscribe to mass changes. It is all too complex. For me, I’ll let the dust settle and be thankful I was able to attend two and a half days cricket and get a square bum watching subsequent matches on free to air.

  5. citrus bob says

    GLEN – thanks for your comments. If I have a real concern that goes above what I and others have written is who will be the next captain?
    CA made a huge mistake when they originally appointed Smith to the role. Not Smith’s fault. Here was a young man whose sole passion in life was cricket. Nothing else mattered, didn’t get his drivers licence to well into his twenties. Does that say something. He was not mentally ready for the job but it was his ability with the sword that carried him through.
    Does he get the gig again? I don’t think so but who do they turn to. Head was the obvious choice but he just not crack the mustard. Who else? ?

  6. Well done Bob, you have brought thoughtful commentary and well balanced analysis of another series. Test cricket certainly had me interested again this summer. For mine, the other concurrent ‘cricket game’, rated a very poor second.
    Full credit to India for their resilience and brilliance. They were well deserved winners of what was a close series. I hope, in the wash-up of the series, that the Australian cricket fraternity doesn’t just navel gaze, but also take a hard few lessons from the Indians.
    Some thoughts:
    1. Be prepared to make changes during a series for the good of the team. The ‘baggy green’ has to earned and re-earned. Take note selectors – if it is not working try someone else.
    2. Play players in their natural positions and if you have no one to take on a role from within, pick an in form youngster. Take note selectors.
    3. Have a good long look at the scheduling of ‘cricket’. If you want to have in form players available for test selection, you must have some Shield cricket played concurrently, NOT a travelling band of hopefuls for a home series. Take note Cricket Australia.
    4. Actions will always speak louder than words, especially on a sporting field. Cut the sledging!
    5. A winning team in the long term needs belief, responsibility and contributions from all players.
    6. Do we have a back-up captain if required? India did!

  7. citrus bob says

    DS – good point that it was a minor miracle. Thank heavens for CA & BCII in this respect. Australia lost its “cool” in Sydney.

    PC – some excellent points you make which follow on from many cricket lovers who concur. One interesting fact that none of us has taken up is the appointment of a CEO for CA.
    Seems ages (June) since Kevin Roberts left the position and we still have an Interim running the Asylum. All this head-hunting that takes place usually finishes up with the guy/girl-next-door getting the gig. The test – loving public are restless so when is it going to happen?

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