Posted by: nestaquin | November 9, 2009

Depth & Desire

VictoryThe last six weeks in India has been a very rewarding experience for Australian cricket. Initially, New South Wales dominated the domestic Champions League and then the national side, absent many of their first choice regulars, swept a strong looking India aside with a match to spare in the seven match series.

In retrospect 2009 has been a reasonably successful year. The squad may have surrendered The Ashes and failed at the World T20 but on top of their most recent success they defeated South Africa away, Pakistan in Abu Dubai, cantered the Natwest Trophy and retained the Champions Trophy.

Not bad for a team in apparent decline.

One aspect of this recent series that cannot be ignored is the confidence that Ricky Ponting creates among his men. Almost every new player that has come into the team of late, and there have been about a dozen, has performed admirably and made significant contributions to the team’s winning habit. For the younger players Punter is an icon who they want to impress and his stated desire of rebuilding Australian cricket in much the manner of Allan Border did after the retirements of the Chappell/Lillee/Marsh era is well ahead of schedule.

With this series being used as practise for the next World Cup, Australia can feel buoyant that they have every chance of recording a remarkable fourth consecutive trophy when the tournament begins in 2011. Almost every player on the fringe of the national squad has gained experience this last year and very few have been abject failures, Bryce McGain excepted.

Tim Paine, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus, Dave Warner, Phillip Hughes, Callum Ferguson and Shaun Marsh are some of the new faces that have enhanced their reputations while Cameron White (in limited overs cricket), Shane Watson, Nathan Hauritz and Peter Siddle can now join Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Lee, Johnson and Haddin as first choice players when fit.

With so many now having a taste of tough international cricket, competition for places will be intense this domestic southern summer and it is this astonishing depth of ready-made talent where Australia still have an edge in international cricket. There will be a few losses along the way but the momentum that began with Allan Border holding the World Cup aloft at Eden Gardens in 1987 is far from diminished.

After Australia’s Ashes loss in 2005 they began a run that annihilated record and opponent. If their cricket since the disappointment of The Oval is any indicator perhaps history will repeat itself except this time the majority of the squad won’t be retiring in the duration.

Not a popular prospect within the wider cricketing family but one they’ll learn to accept as Australia’s next batch of young cricketers are probably more advanced technically (Phillip Hughes excepted) and psychologically than their legendary forebears at the same age.

There don’t appear to be players of the ilk of Ponting, McGrath and Warne among them but their overall ability and spread of talent is far broader. Australian cricket recognised early that in this age of three formats, T20 leagues and never ending scheduling the depth of every nation will be tested and those with the greatest resources will triumph.

In recent months, Australia has proved its resilience and exceeded expectation, and in doing so, have sown the seeds for a bright and blossoming future where a fourth consecutive World Cup looms large.

That is the primary Australian goal in white ball cricket at the moment and considering how easily they won the Champions Trophy and the Hero Honda Cup, the new brigade have a golden opportunity to make this outlandishly ambitious and historic dream a reality.

Image [Getty]


  1. Nesta,

    Far too many injuries to the established Australian players. That’s not a good sign.

    As for 2011, too early to speculate, but I think Aus deserves to feel good about their chances.

  2. On the surface the injury toll does appear bad and yet, to name but two of several positives, it has exposed players like Tim Paine to international cricket far earlier than expected and given Cameron White an opportunity to establish himself in the ODI team.

    When you think of the invaluable experience and confidence gained it’s been a blessing in disguise.

    At present there is hardly an off-season for international cricketers – Australia’s finest have been on tour since February – and Australia won’t be the only team in the near future to suffer a bout of injuries that decimate the First XI.

    That’s why in the coming decade depth will be a very important factor in team’s success. Perhaps, even more so than a clutch of star players.

  3. The resilience of Australian cricket is a remarkable thing indeed, with the bounce back since The Oval, a wonderful achievement.

    Despite The Ashes being lost primarily as a result of three poor first innings, I still think Aus need to find a couple of bowlers to win consistently in Test cricket.

  4. ‘Tis true, there is still a way to go in the Test arena to climb the dizzy heights of yesteryear yet much of that success was built with outstanding and consistent performances in the ODI stuff during the 90s.

    I doubt the Windies will offer much resistance in the next month so we will have to wait for Pakistan’s arrival to see if the bowling attack of Johnson, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Hauritz can continue to improve as a unit.

    I’m confident they can in home conditions and if they don’t I’m sure Lee, Clark, Bollinger, Krezja and co would love a crack at another Baggy Green.

    There’s also a couple of young Queensland quicks that look very much future internationals. Ben Cutting is one and 18 year old Alistair McDermott (a chip off the old block) is another.

    Collectively, the squad still has a lot to learn but I reckon Australia are well placed to remain in the top three Test nations for the next decade or more.

  5. Is it Scott Walter a very young Qld left-arm swing quick who is looking good as well?

    The series win in India is a very, very big win, I feel. Punter looked so delighted about it.

    It is great that Bollinger has come through, now they can stop picking Hilfy for one day cricket. He shouldn’t be in the squad really.

    I think the test series against the West Indies will be tougher than it seems. Our test bowling was so patchy (cheers Mitch, he is no closer to consistency in one over, let alone one game) in England. None of them have had enough rest, not even Siddle to face yet another 4 months or so of cricket.

    But the depth is reassuring, at least there hasn’t been any real mugs turn up in the past 2 months and Cameron White’s form has been a real surprise to me and a boon to the team.

    Now if they’ll just make him 20/20 captain…

  6. I haven’t laid eyes on Scott Walter yet but he has had a very impressive start to his career no doubt.

    Agree Hilfy shouldn’t play the white ball stuff and should be doing the hard yards in the Shield before the Tests begin.

    On Mitch, he bowled very very well in his opening spell in the last match. When he gets it right he is very special indeed especially when he swings the ball back in at 150kph to the right handers.

    I’m sure he’ll find some rhythm and form when back on home soil.

    Cam White T20 skipper? With Pup’s chronic back injury we could see it eventuate this summer.

  7. But that first over, there was a short wide trash ball that got rightly thumped over the boundary rope then a wide Harmison would have been envious of, then the creamy cracker of an inswinger to get rid of Segwag followed by a repeat to completely fox Ghambir.

    It was like his career in miniature. Absolute amateurish crap to dream balls in one 7 ball over. I don’t know how or what to think of him, but he sure takes up a lot of the Aus cricket thinking space in my head.

  8. Nesta, you make it sound so rosey. For mind it is the senior guys finally standing up to help Punter which has proved the big difference of late. Our change in one day fortunes can be traced back to only two men. Neither are youngsters coming through.
    Watson being able to stay fit and deliver, and M Hussey’s return to form, are the key differences between now, and say, the SA one day series.
    The new fellas have all had their moments, (Paine for PM!) which is all you can wish for with guy’s coming into the set up. Things are looking good at the moment, but still too much work ahead to get too carried away.
    Having said that, if we want to win the next world cup then Marsh is a must to open, regardless of who is fit. He just seems to be a natural for Indian pitches and conditions.

  9. Ever since The Ashes things seem to be getting rosier and rosier, Jim.

    In the last three months with unprecedented personnel changes they’ve won three tournaments on three different continents.

    That’s a top notch effort in my book.

    It’s true that Hussey and Watson were the foundations yet many of the replacements were influential. Bollinger and Marsh in the last two matches are examples. That so many looked the part under pressure bodes well.

  10. Yes nesta, and being Oz fans, no historical need to pretend that winning ODI’s aren’t important.

    These touring wins are huge I think. Considering the newbies to the team and the real lack of experience in players who were already first picks, the year is not looking bad at all so far for one with an Ashes series loss in it.

    Siddle is getting to be a proper international cricketer as well. He bowled very well in India.

  11. Team Australia definitely has the characteristics of consistency, attitude, and winning mentality that any other team yearns for.

    The ability of 2nd or even 3rd choice cricketers being called upon and having an immediate positive impact only adds to this.

    The team management does a great job of defining roles and responsibilities of each player, and more often than not, they play it to near perfection.

    Reading the views on this blog gives a great picture from the other side! LOVE the blog name by the way- very classic!
    Excellent series win guys, congratulations!

  12. You got that one right. Regardless of who you’re playing, it is the confidence that you have in those men which matter more. The Indian team had a great set of players who were capable of giving their best. They didn’t. When it mattered most, they faltered, often running themselves out and choosing the wrong shots.

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