Posted by: nestaquin | February 26, 2010

2009/10 Reviewed

The Australian segment of the southern international summer has ended, and as everyone with a smidgin of cricketing interest will be aware, the home team managed to remain unconquered throughout. That’s a fair effort over 19 matches and a feat unequalled since the summer of 2000/01 when Steve Waugh’s men dissected the heart and soul of Caribbean cricket and with it, the elusiveness and mystery of the Frank Worell Trophy.

The West Indies of 2000 had lost 15 of their previous 17 away Tests, had key players injured or unavailable and one batsman a class above his contemporaries. Sound familiar? And the truth is they were horrid. Perhaps worse than this year’s Windies team and clearly inferior to the recently departed Pakistan.

Captained by an unenthusiastic Jimmy Adams, their inexperienced attack was led by the creaking Courtney Walsh. The popular Jamaican toiled heroically but was a shell, a memory, a relic and not an international opening bowler.

Traditionally, Glenn McGrath predicted his bunny for the series and it was no surprise that he chose Brian Lara as the man in his sights. Apart from a majestic 182 in the first innings at Adelaide, it appeared the mind games had their desired effect as Lara was apprehensive and agitated in every short stay at the crease.

With Lara nullified Australia won the series without too much trouble. So confident did they become that in the Fifth Test Colin Miller dyed what was left of his hair Federation Blue and Steve Waugh removed his helmet in the nineties so he could reach 100 in the commemorative BaggyGreen specially manufactured to celebrate Australia’s first century as an independent nation.

The rout continued when Zimbabwe arrived for the Tri-Nations tournament with an Australian team high on rotations winning all ten matches in style.

Perhaps it was millennium fever or the still fresh anamnesis of West Indian dominance but few people questioned Steve Waugh’s team for steamrolling their opposition all summer. Truth is, they were feted as one of Australia’s finest ever squads. Breaking the World Record winning streak for Test matches at Perth was all the proof everyone required. The opposition were irrelevant.

Fast forward to 2010. A decade on perceptions are somewhat askew. Ponting, the only survivor from the aforementioned golden summer, has had to defend his team’s achievements time and time again. It would appear that winning every match is no longer enough to satiate.

You would think that without the Ashes and the Border/Gavaskar Trophy in the cupboard Australians would be stoked with such success but that is clearly not the case. Don’t be mistaken, Australians are happy that the team is winning but in the Test arena lingering doubt remains, invisible and unpleasant, like the malodorous stench of a mud flat baking in the sun at low tide.

Admittedly, the West Indies were consistently poor and Pakistan publicly imploded but for the most part Australia played superbly, especially in the field. In the high tempo white ball formats the fielding was of such an exceptional standard that it was like watching the cricketing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

The bowlers took 20 wickets in all Tests and when defending in the ODIs they restricted the opposition so coldly, so clinically that brilliant pieces of cricket, like Peter Siddle dismantling Umar Akmal’s technique and off stump in Sydney, were viewed as ordinary everyday events.

They say, that the shorter the format the more chance the weaker team have of causing an upset but it seemed the reverse was true in the T20s. Resisting meteorological metaphors regarding Tait and Warner all there is left to say is Australia stormed to victory in all three matches.

Not weary with winning in the new format Australians wholeheartedly embraced the T20 team and they responded by performing more powerfully in each consecutive contest.

With a trio of express quicks and an opening pair that wins T20 matches inside the first half hour there are great expectations on Michael Clarke to deliver at the World T20 in a couple of months time.

The unbeaten 2009/10 Australia may not get the kudos of their legendary forebears but I think we can safely say that Australian cricket is in rosy health. Australia’s depth is unmatched within the cricketing sphere and with the U/19 World Champions on the way there will be pressure on players in both domestic and international cricket to get results in the tournaments and series that matter.

Steve Waugh’s celebrated team were soon brought thumping back to Earth by Ganguly’s India during the epic 2001 Border/Gavaskar Trophy. In the next 12 months the current mob could potentially railroad New Zealand & Pakistan in Tests, win the World T20, The Ashes and the 2011 World Cup.

If they can achieve a sweep of those events, and I can assure you they will be aiming to, the perception of this summer may need serious revision.

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Responses

  1. The World T20 already looks theirs for the taking. I can’t see India or Pakistan fluking it, and the Saffers will reliably find some new and exciting way of choking.

    The batting and bowling are all right, not better or worse than any of the other top outfits, but the key element is the insane fielding – so many WTF moments this season.

    Just when the world satisfies itself that Australia are dead and turns its back to the bathtub, up rise the Aussies like Glenn Close. This could end very badly for the world.

  2. If I remember correctly I think it ended very badly for Glenn Close!

  3. The rest of us can only hope so, Nesta!

    Fine, if not Glenn Close, the Family Guy chicken, then. I don’t think they’ve properly killed off that chicken yet.

  4. The Mo Mafia have whittled down the Australian World T20 squad to 30. The bold names are certainties and only three of the rest will make the final cut.

    Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Travis Birt, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Bracken, Daniel Christian, Ben Cutting, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin (wk), Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Moises Henriques, Brad Hodge, James Hopes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Andrew McDonald, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

    I wished they waited till Sunday evening.

    Tasmania have trouble getting Hodge out at the best of times and with a glimmer of hope to regain favour, it being a final and also his last bat of the summer my hope for another trophy cluttering up the Bellerive foyer are probably stuffed.

    • Bolly won’t be going to the T20. That would be far too many bowlers that can’t bat (not that MJ looks like he knows one end of the bat from the other at present but in theory…). So it will be Harris.

      And unless they want to rest him, which they should, Mike Hussey will probably be in the mix as well.

      I still resent that Clarke is planning on nurdling his way to the World 20/20 trophy but what can you do?

      I notice that Tom Moody has finally given up on that bunch of stumblebums masquerading as the Warriors and is looking for a new job. I don’t blame him one bit.

  5. You’re right about needing a bit of perspective to decide whether 2009-10 is a very good Australian summer or a great one. With Bangla and Pak touring England this summer, there’s a chance England may go unbeaten (though I’m sure that we’ll lose a few ODIs and T20s), but the real er.. test is The Ashes. We’ll know after Sydney 2011 if the answer to very good or great (Aus) and good or rare history-makers (Eng) – though utter shambles can never be ruled out!

  6. Nesta, nice piece. From an outside perspective, the major change between Australia then and now is this.

    The Aus team at the beginning of the decade beat teams before the first ball was bowled. The attitude of the opposition was “we can keep our heads high if we come away with a draw”. For example, see the recent comments of Mohd. Yousuf when the test series was on. All opposing teams had that mindset and hence were beaten even before they entered the field of play.

    There a now atleast 3 teams that fancy their chances against Aus.

    What I was really looking forward to though was a farewell piece to Brett Lee

    • All in good time Dement. When Bing properly retires I’ll mark the occasion by writing a proper piece.

  7. From what we hear, the BCCI, in it’s newfound enthusiasm for test cricket, is trying to make the aus aeries in oct the same as the saffer one – 2 tests and 3 Odis. Here’s hoping.

    That would make It their next real test , as well.

    Australia versus India. Finally, a reason to use the word awesome as it was meant to be used.

    • I haven’t read a word about the Australian response to this change in schedule although I was wondering why the Indian ODI series has been removed from Australia’s 2010 schedule on cricinfo.

      On the one hand Tests against India would be excellent build up for The Ashes, however, it is Australia’s turn to host the Border/Gavaskar next. I don’t like the idea India getting two bites at home. Also, with the BG Trophy being the game’s premier Test match series it should be respected and extended to five matches not reduced to two.

      Also, seven ODIs against the hosts is part of the plan to prepare for the 2011 World Cup. I thought India felt the same way.

      When it comes down to it if I had to choose I’d rather win the World Cup again even if it meant The Ashes stayed in the UK. So at this stage I hope the original scheduling remains and the next BG Trophy is played in Oz.

      If an agreement can be made for India to play two consecutive BGs in Australia then I think I could be swayed. Whatever happens the cricket will win.

  8. But 7 ODI’s again? Bit much.

    I quite like the idea of the test matches in India, I fancy watching Punter try desperately to not look like he is desperate to score runs there.

    Terrible this pattern of 2 match series though. It should be at least three, but I know that we will be seeing more and more of them.

  9. One other thing, if these test matches go ahead will that be two series in a row at home against SA and Aus?

    The Indian team has to play away sometime, don’t they?

  10. Very good wrap up Nesta. Australia do have the strongest feeder system in all of cricket. At worst they will be a step away from the top, at best they will stay on it for long periods of time. 09/10 turned out the be the year of their resurgence after some early disappointments.

    Also, get the feeling that Watson has played a big role in that resurgence. His consistency has so far been in the Kallis league and just allows Australia more options esp. the extra batsman. Hopefully he maintains it for some time. Mitchell Johnson could also help greatly by staying consistent. When MJ’s bowling well he’s probably the best on the planet, but when he looks out of it – it’s almost ugly.

    India participating in more tests is also commendable – how else would cricket lovers get to see Dravid and Laxman in action? Also doesn’t help India much to have them out of int’l cricket for extendend periods and get all rusty either. Plus, apart from Zaheer who seems to excel bowling in all formats, Sreesanth and Ishant only seem to be somewhat potent threats in tests. No wonder the Indian test team seems far more complete than the ODI team – the ODI bowling is woeful.

    Lou’s right tho – too many at home for now.

  11. Holy – When MJ’s bowling well he’s probably the best on the planet, but when he looks out of it – it’s almost ugly.

    Sometimes in the same over!

    • Frequently and possibly even usually in the same over. It makes him somehow fascinating, if completely maddening.

      As someone on AGB said, an over of MJ is ‘trash, trash, unplayable, trash, unplayable, trash’.

      • Last night in Wellington, it was trash, unplayable , unplayable, unplayable, wicket. Pause. Trash, unplayable etc, repeat 4 times.

  12. Interesting piece Nesta. They could be better then we think.
    But:
    “if I had to choose I’d rather win the World Cup again even if it meant The Ashes stayed in the UK. ”
    Wash your mouth out!

  13. Forgot to say – great pic Nesta!

  14. ye gods.. NZ has posted a mighty 216 in a 20 over match.. Mc Cullum.

  15. I am getting good pic and sound here. ‘

    http://extracover.net/

  16. I mucked up my timing,too. NZ is ALWAYS behind me, and it is an afternoon match, not an evening match. So I missed the NZ innings.

    eek. Warner out, bowled by Bond caught by I dont know whom. AU 188 behind.

    • see?? I mucked it up yet again.. NZ is ALWAYS in FRONT of me, timewise..

  17. 188 off 17 overs.. whoa..

  18. 170 off 90 balls left.. some sort of world record thingy here..

    oh dear..

  19. 114 runs from 53 balls..

  20. 8 wickets remaining.

  21. run rate required is 13.5 per over

  22. Au is batting at 10 per over.. not enough..

  23. 99 from 45 balls required.

  24. Hussey out, 7 wickets remaining 83 from 39 balls. Vettori always sets a shameless field, this one is no exception. Cameron in to bat.

  25. Mango my dog has fainted. Cameron was dropped on a dolly catch..

  26. Au batting at 16 per over…

  27. 66 from 30 required.

  28. NZ is throwing everything, every single thing they have at Clarke and Cameron..

  29. 59 from 26

  30. I’m watching the match at the MCG. Tim Paine scored a ton and after the first half dozen overs in the chase Victoria look worried. Getting Hodge will be the key to an upset win for the good guys.

    If Oz chase the 216 that will be some feat!

  31. 17 from that over.. Cameron is banging it over the fence again and again.

  32. I wanted to watch that match, Nesta!!// but I got hooked in this one.. it’s as strange a cricket match as I have ever seen.

  33. 49 from 24.. Bond into bowl.

  34. 41 from 20

  35. 36 from 18, now.. Bond has bowled like nothing I’ve seen before, but Cameron took him on.

  36. a streaker just got grounded by the NZ police.. they look so sweet and casual, but they threw this bloke about 2 metres in the air.

  37. Southee bowling, and holding his nerve, but so is Pup.

  38. Southee is strangling the batting!!>

  39. 30 needed from 12 balls.

  40. Hodge is gone!!! You Beauty!!

  41. 20 from 8. Oram bowling, and bowling lethally. But Cam is batting just as lethally.!!

  42. 13 from 7

  43. haha nesta!!/// he is hard to dislodge!!

  44. alright. 12 from 6 balls. can au do it.

  45. 8 from 3 balls

  46. 4 from 2 balls

  47. 3 from 1` ball remaining

  48. it’s a tie.. a super over now.

  49. I’ve never seen a super over.. I have no idea how it works.

  50. Watched the last three overs. Super stuff from White and Southee. Super overs hey? What’s wrong with a tie?

  51. I have no idea, nesta.. haven’t a clue what happens now.

  52. one over scenario.. seems a bit unfair to me. A tie is fine..

  53. does this mean that NZ has to bat another over as well??

  54. yup.. nz to bat one more over as well. Tait to bowl.

  55. My understanding is this. One over by one bowler. The batting team has three wickets. Normal fielding restrictions.

    I hope Warner and White are in first with Haddin next. Who bowls I’ve no idea.

  56. Southee has Warner AND Cam buggered!!!.

  57. I hope Tait’s Brudders are around somewhere, Nesta.. he really needs to BE SNOWTOWN now.

  58. I suppose the AU team is hunting up undies and pants and whatnot to get out on the field again…

  59. and NZ WINS it. !!!>..

  60. what a fabulous match, strange and eerie and simply magnificent.

    WELL played, NZ!!

  61. Tait for a super over?

  62. it’s hard to believe, but Kev Pietersen has got his beard, ( this beard and moustache looks mangy as all get out.. ) and hair ALL coverered in Brylcreem. He looks like he just stuck his whole head in a bucket of it. It’s all over the place.. dribbling down his shoulders.. agh.

    oh.. boo hoo. poor AU.. unbeaten streak broken. Poor Pup. oh well. back to the drawing board. Bang goes sixpence, and all that..

    • Rather impressive run out there from KP.

      AU beaten, but that looked a helluva match and a magnificent chase from Clarke and White. McCullum probably won’t score a run until 2011 now.

      • it was impressive.. unlike his batting.. out for 1. Bit of a trend going.. 26, 10, 6, and now 1.

  63. Was it just me or did anyone else find the super over malarkey an anti-climax after such a fantastic finish?

    In the most important match of the evening Tassie are in fine fettle and looking very likely of bringing the 50 over Trophy back across Bass Strait.

  64. Can’t argue that the Aust performance in the extra overs made them deserve the loss, but I have to agree, Nesta, that the tie was a fantastic finish.

    As for the post, surely what came before is a big difference between then and now, in terms of the hype. Celebrating the Test record was as much about the preceding years, just as comments this year as just as much about whether the Test performance is an improvement on last summer or the Ashes.

  65. Not sure if I am missing a link hidden somewhere, but the cricinfo scorecard does not as yet seem to have a way to account for a T20 tie event and the subsequent one-over eliminator thingie.
    http://www.cricinfo.com/nzvaus2010/engine/current/match/423788.html
    I was trying to get a summary of what happened in the super-over … and couldn’t find it (had to go to the commentary section and scroll all the way down to read it ball-by-ball).

    Also, the Series Result section on the right has the result down as “match tied”.

  66. good ole Tassie , ey, Nesta?? Tim Paine.. lovely.


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