To don the ‘Baggy Green’ is the greatest honour an Australian Cricketer can dream of. To lose it however, is quite another story.
An inundated 31-year-old vice-captain of the Australian Cricket team, Shane Robert Watson, called Watto, Danger-Man and such, has been left high and dry amongst his own. As a wise grey-haired old man had once said that ‘chaos’ has some balance to it; the balance is supposedly tiptoeing in.
The magnetism of the baggy green has indeed pulled Watson out of regression despite widespread opposition against the all-rounder.
Watson, however, has faired plausibly better than his other teammates, hitting four half centuries along with a ton in the last eight Test matches that he has played. His return, therefore, might just be the impetus that the Australian team requires to bring its show back on track.
Michael Clarke evidently is fighting injury and Australia’s makeshift replacements for the four axed cricketers have, quite simply, put in desperately poor performances as well. To add to the drama, the building tension in the dressing room, amongst and between the players and coach respectively, has come in to the public domain and has most definitely opened avenues for the opponents to exploit. It’s curious to see that Clarke was one among the lashers, when the skipper has underperformed himself, despite his prior experience in the subcontinent. The skipper has apparently failed to make peace with Shane Watson. One can only hope that the teams face off on the field, competing on aptitude, rather than attitude.
The scenario is such that Test greats such as Steve Waugh, one of the most highly regarded Test cricketers of all time, have had to step in, urging captain and deputy, Clarke and Watson, to sort out their differences.
A relatively inexperienced Aussie side, low on morale and enthusiasm, now approaches the Indian brigade, which is looking for a fourth Test victory on the trot. The Australian side will find it difficult to exhume any favourable result from the match.
Sir Geoffrey Boycott might argue that, “my mum could’ve played better than that,” most might agree as well.
Gone are the days when the Australian squad used to be an embodiment of temperament; that seems to be the main lacking point in this suffering Australian side. The composition and character of a Test cricketer is just settling into the players, who failed disastrously.
There was an era when the West Indies dominated world cricket, from the 1970s to late 1980s. The era of Richards, Lloyd, Holding, Lara, Ambrose, Walsh and many more has passed. Their present squad however has failed to continue that dominance.
The Aussies would most definitely like to avoid a similar fall from grace. As barring a few, the current Australian squad is parched of match winners, who helped the Aussies dominate world cricket for the last decade.
The Indian bowlers, particularly spinners, have expertly bunged out their Aussie opponents into submission. The inexperience of playtime in the sub-continent, and the hopelessly low team spirit might be the prime culprits.
Feroz Shah Kotla has not proved to be the the most favourable venue for a pace attack in recent times, which will clearly work against a limping Aussie team. As Australia seek for their second ever win at the venue, after they last won here in 1959. Now might just be the best time to salvage some pride though, which might do them a world of good, as the Ashes double-header knocks on the door.
In all probability, England are the favourites in the upcoming 10-Test match face-off between the oldest cricket rivals in the world. However, it’s never a sure thing in the Ashes. But, what we can be sure of is that Michael Clarke and company are in dire need of some experience and some stability in the locker room.
It’ll be interesting to see how both the teams fare in the Delhi Test due on Friday. Who might prevail? It’s anybody’s guess. However, it’s a sure deal that both teams are playing for pride and the players on both sides, vying to prove their mettle.
Finally, should Shane Watson return as the Captain of the Aussie team in the next Test, with Clarke presumably too injured to play, it’s going to be a test of character for the whole Australian team which is still in the mould. What one has to watch out for is, will this squad reach the heights that the teams of Border, Waugh and Ponting achieved? Or, will their ‘might’ plummet deep into the abyss of disappointment, defeat and obliteration.
First Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 17:14