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The decline of Australia

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Steve_Smith_Australia_cricketAustralia – the land of McGrath and Bradman and Warne and Kangaroos and Hayden and Ponting, and Mitch Johnson and Gilly and Jason Krezja – is not the same team they used to be.

They do have some hope in the boyish Steve Smith, who hits wide half-volleys through midwicket with a unique irreverence for the laws of physics and motion. Then there’s the other Mitch. Well there are two; one’s a dogged batsman and fearsome fast bowler, whilst the other is just Mitch Marsh. And don’t, for even a minute, ignore the presence of David Warner, the white Jayasuriya on crack.

That’s about it though. Shaun Marsh, one of the few decent Australian batsmen from the first Test, is out with injury. Voges is doubtful, which is probably a good thing. It’s not like he’s playing the West Indies again. Ferguson and Burns are promising talents, even if their names don’t bring in the crowds.

 

However, Australia – who could not beat South Africa even after Dale Steyn was ruled out of the majority of the first Test – needs a big performance from most, if not all of their star names if they are to muster a fight in the second Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. Make no mistake; they enter the second Test as underdogs, even though they are playing at the same home that used to be an impenetrable fortress.

Hobart, capital of the state of Tasmania, is one of the smaller grounds in Australia, so don’t expect 80,000 people packed in. Perhaps that is a good thing, as Australia will lose the series before the third and final match in Adelaide – the Pink Ball Test. Isn’t it bad enough that this embarrassment will be broadcast to millions around the world?

Before this turns into a regular match preview, I must inform you that I’m deriving a sick and perverse pleasure from the decline of Australian cricket: a decline that is most strikingly represented by the drain of batting and bowling talent in the country. Isn’t it just absolutely hilarious?

When I go down to the bar these days, I love me some Australians. They have no response to the trash talk. Sledge me, why don’t you? But what can they say? The 2015 World Cup is not much to brag about. It seems like a distant memory and it doesn’t matter anymore.

 

Australia is really awful at real, Test-match cricket and they don’t have too many options to fill this void and halt a decline that will only continue for years to come. Think about how a generation of Australian fans will grow up idolizing foreign imports into the BBL, not knowing the Australian brand of perfection their parents and grandparents witnessed. 3 world cups in a row! But they didn’t see it, so it doesn’t matter. Nostalgia is not important. Losing 3-0 to Sri Lanka is important. Once again, it’s absolutely hilarious.

Do you honestly think this slide will stop at Hobart? Nathan Lyon is an afterthought as he continues to disappoint those expecting another Warne-like anomaly. However, even he was underused and mistreated at the WACA.

Forget about personnel for a minute and consider the fear that has engulfed this Aussie unit. Ever since the retirement of Ponting, even during the reign of Michael Clarke, Australia has lost their competitive edge. It’s actually quite a pleasant pill to swallow. It goes down my sour throat and nestles below my adam’s apple, before a bunch of stuff happens and I drop one into the toilet bowl. Life goes on.

 

Its 2016 now and Australia are as outdated a carton of milk found 72 years after a nuclear apocalypse. These are the odds they face ahead of Hobart.

A quick look at their opponents would reveal that Steyn is set to be replaced by either Kyle Abbott or the spent force that is Morne Morkel. Rabada will once again be a key success factor for the Proteas. However, unlike in Perth, he will have an extra bowler to share the workload with. Look out for his reverse swing against a brittle Australian batting order.

I do apologize, folks. I just can’t help taking a dig at what Australia has become. They were the best, possibly even the best of all time. It seemed like their monopoly would never end. But then they lost some players. And then some more. One day we woke up and noticed they were all gone. Australia is about to find out that the phrase “down-under” is just a crude way of referring to the obvious rock bottom they have hit over the last few months. The worst is yet to come with the Indian tour not far away.

First, however, they must contend with a South African side that has front row seats to this comedy show of a team.

 

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Jay Dansinghani is a freelance writer, researcher, and author based in Hong Kong. Jay got into deep...

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