Australian Cricket Continues To Die
Bundled out of the Twenty/20 World Cup, their best all rounder gone, and a real sense that the hegemony that was Australian Cricket is truly behind us.
But, worryingly for the English, there is still a sense of lurking power underneath this rebuilding icon.
Their last test match series in South Africa proved that. Despite having suffered the indignity of a 2-1 loss at home in the tests and a 4-1 thumping in the one day internationals, against all odds the under siege Baggy Green came to the temporary holders of the ICC number one ranking and somehow defeated the Proteas to restore the balance.
But one felt that all it did was paint a mirage over the glaring cracks not only of the team itself, but also something deep in the heart of Australian cricket.
The Twenty/20 debacle in theory would not worry the purists of the game. After all, but a few decades ago the 50 over game was just an intruder on the sanctity of test cricket. Surely this twenty over aside playground means nothing to the world, or to Australia.
This is dead wrong, as the new shortened version has proven, it is here to stay. It has, in the form of the IPL, irrevocably changed the landscape of the game—for better or for worse, and is now legitimately one form of three cricket styles.
And in the World Cup, its grandest stage, the Australians could not even win a game.
Sri Lanka is one thing, but the West Indies is in a horrific state at the moment, and the Australians, filled with enough talent to win the title, never looked close to a top team.
It is said that the key turning point was the sending home of Andrew Symonds.
But, irrespective of the side of the fence you see Symonds; one could argue that Australian cricket should have never have put themself in the position with the truant in the first place, and should have taken a far harder stance with the Queenslander a lot earlier.
With the Ashes on the immediate horizon, surely the pinnacle of cricket for an Australian team, there is no real aspect of them being ready for a defence of the little urn.
Is there an element of history repeating, when Australia lost to England in a Twenty20 match before falling apart to Bangladesh in 2005?
But it is the administration that causes the real concern.
Late last year, Tim Neilson received a contract extension. This was ushered at the same time Australia were beginning to look like anything but the No. 1 cricket nation in the world. This decision made no real business sense.
In a world of results, this reeked of poor business.
And now, we see the Australian cricket players prospective earnings jump to huge levels, thought by most to be staving off the threat of independent cricket such as IPL.
In an era—and a first for many years—where Australian players are far from the dominators we have come to expect, they are on the cusp of earning, at the highest level, as much as $2 million.
The overall player payment pool is estimated to rise to an astonishing AUD$96.2 million over the next two years, a jump of nearly 14 percent. Players will be remunerated for Cricket Australia sponsorship work, and the top six players will receive fixed contracts with all monies for match payments paid out in advance in full.
So the earning power of the elite players of Australian cricket would not be affected by rotational or resting policies.
But is there a player who we could really call an elite cricketer in Australian cricket at this time?
Even the twin pillars of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke are looking remarkable fallible at the moment. Ironically, as CA move to protect their prize players, should not these men playing extra cricket in leagues such as the IPL make them better players?
No doubt these top Australians looked out of their depth in Twenty/20 whereas IPL veterans in the competition looked battle hardened.
News has also come to light that former Australian coach John Buchanan will be joining up to spend a week coaching England, with his link up scheduled to be just prior to the first Ashes test in Cardiff. There is a speculation that he will be offered something more permanent with the ECB.
Not the first time Australian intellectual property has been taken by the old enemy.
Is it the fraying edges of Australian cricket behind the scenes that is causing so much damage to their once all powerful side?
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