The intention was to have a week off on arrival back home but the clamour for more ‘Down Under’ diaries has forced me to get back in the saddle slightly ahead of schedule!
If Australian cricket is heading towards a dark cellar, then the door at the top of the stairs has barely been opened. The residual ‘attitude’ after 15 years of world domination will take a long time to be wiped away and, in the meantime, players continue to speak and behave in the manner of the glory years. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin had his gloves in front of the stumps when the Kiwi batsman, Neil Broom, was ‘bowled’ by Michael Clarke and yet his outraged protestations were all about Daniel Vettori’s comments after the event. Vettori suggested that there was something ‘wrong’ with the dismissal and Ponting suggested that Vettori was calling Haddin a cheat, an allegation that Ponting said was “a bit low.” But the truth is, Haddin WAS cheating by having his gloves in front of the stumps and he should have had the good grace to admit his error. Australian teams have been able to wear their arrogance justifiably, based on their results and talent, for over a decade, but now is the time for humility, and they need to learn that lesson quickly.
The only reason we refuse to acknowledge the evidence before our own eyes is because it involves Australia and, just like the Australians themselves, we are finding it very difficult to accept that they are unravelling – quickly. Ponting has clearly lost his zest for the captaincy and equally clearly lost the support of the majority of his players. He has displayed a truly astonishing disregard for the importance of moral leadership in his position – particularly over the Andrew Symonds affair – and the subsequent fall-out between him and the CA chief executive, James Sutherland, will spell the end for one of them. And I’d back a chief executive over a captain any day.
The squad chosen to tour South Africa will be the most inexperienced to leave Australia’s shores since the 1980s yet, so cautious are Graeme Smith and Mickey Arthur about an Aussie ‘bounce-back’ they reacted by bringing forward the date for their own squad to gather before the Wanderers Test. Instead of a three-day ‘camp’, they will now be together for five days before the series begins.
Australian cricket will bounce back, no doubt, but the players will find it far easier to succeed with a slice of humble pie rather than a superior sneer.
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