Stars align for Australian cricket

The stars are aligning nicely for Australian cricket. The English empire is crumbling and Australia is motoring along nicely in the UAE.

It’s been a big week, and the resignation of Andrew Strauss was by far the biggest part of it. His decision came as no surprise. He has been in ordinary form for two years and the job has certainly appeared to have worn him down over the last three months. A confused mind is usually the cause of a batsman being bowled without offering a stroke, and so it was in Strauss’ last Test innings at Lord’s. He did the same against Douggie Bollinger in Adelaide, and he could easliy have been given out first ball shouldering arms in Brisbane in what turned out to be a series-changing innings.

Strauss has been terrific for English cricket. Until his recent lean spell he was an excellent Test opener. Even more importantly, he is a rock solid, modest and logical man, and his leadership encapsulated all of those qualities in an endearing way. His departure was no different. He believes he is spent, and there was no point in trying to deny it or put emotional spin on it. What a contrast to KP, the bloke who is shortly off to Sri Lanka to commentate during the World T20 on blokes he presumably wants to rejoin on the field at some later date.

The England team is in some disarray, and it will take all the managerial skills of Andy Flower and co to stabilize the ship. Despite the shaky form of Strauss, the batting had a reassuring look a month ago; now it looks inexperienced and lacking class. In addition, the spirit within the team seems flaky. Swann is cranky, so too are Broad and Anderson. The big-hearted Bresnan looks like the county cricketer we first thought he was, and little Johnny Trott just hides away in his own secluded world.

There’s one big reason for this, and it’s called South Africa. They have been brilliant, wonderfully led by Graeme Smith and with each man playing his role without exception. So it’s not coincidental that English morale is down  –  wickets and runs are hard to come by, and you can throw poor fielding into the mix. In such circumstances small irritations become issues, and of course there was the Pietersen circus.

By contrast Australia is travelling beautifully, and the magical touch of skipper Michael Clarke continues. Their preparation for this current tour seems to have been spot-on, and all players appear fit and focused. For some years we had some terrible decisions being made at the selection table and around the team. Now there is logic and understanding where none existed previously.

Our victory over Pakistan on Tuesday was a case in point :  pace was considered the way to go, and Pattinson, Starc, Johnson and Christian delivered. Clarke’s promotion to no.3 should now be permanent, if not in all forms of the game he plays then at least in the 50 over version. And the identification of Glenn Maxwell as a potent striker of the ball at no.7 was insightful with the World T20 coming up  –  just don’t budget for a full complement of overs from him.

Maybe we just weren’t ready for the one dayers in England in June, because we looked terrible. Now Pattinson looks strong and balanced, Starc has enormous potential and there is Watson to come back into the mix. Forrest and Bailey have been given extended dress rehearsals side by side, and maybe chairman of selectors John Inverarity is going to be rewarded for the huge faith he has in Bailey as both a player and a person.

There is huge amount of cricket to take place before England and Australia face off at Trent Bridge on July 12th next year. There is a T20 title to be won, then we face the Proteas here before Christmas for three Tests. And both countries have tours of India to negotiate. But at the moment the pendulum has swung prodigiously from where it was on that final morning in Sydney in January 2011 when the Ashes were lost 3-1.


  1. Mmmm.
    As you say, Brendan, there is a long way to go yet.
    Some bad old habits crept in last night in the walloping from Pakistan.
    20 wides is school-boy stuff. The possibility that Starc is injured. M Johnson unimpressive yet again.
    Thankfully, it looks as if they have settled on Wade as an opener rather than shunting him up and down the order.
    But the age-old problem of our batsmen being unable to play spin is a still a glaring problem.

  2. England’s batting line up in Test cricket without Strauss and Pieterson looks vulnerable. Are Bairstow and Taylor up to it? Who opens with Cook? With question marks over our batting line up as well it will be a very interesting next 11 months before the next Ashes series.

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