Here are a few thoughts on the just completed series between Australia and New Zealand.
Australian cricket has now reached a critical juncture. They could go east, they could go west, sampling the delights to be had as they travel either of these exotic routes dominated by talented youth whose best years lie ahead, or they can keep going straight along the road to oblivion.
Decisions are required post haste.
At some stage there surely must come a time when tough choices have to be made. Older players whose best years have regrettably passed them by must be moved aside to allow for the regeneration of a team that is now at its nadir.
Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are two whose places are at risk – or should be. The talent is available. Names such as Warner, Marsh, Watson, and Khawaja and, of course, Clarke.
A youthful line-up of bowlers is in place. Come the Ashes in 2013 they will be firing on all cylinders. The shame of it is that they may not have adequate back-up in the batting department.
Inertia cannot be allowed to rivet its way into the heart and soul of the baggy green on a permanent basis. Depth in the game is at a premium, and is suffering more so for the demise of Australia.
Cricket needs a strong Australian side. They are currently in a stand-off with the affects of age.
For at the present time, there is a big Mac hurtling their way, with both the accelerator jammed and the brake cable broken. They must act fast or they will end up a cricketing corpse searching for the abode of the dead.
Only time will tell if they can avert the current crisis. Tick-tock, tick-tock...
There is as much chance of any self-respecting music buff admitting to liking Abba as there is of Ponting welcoming in a new age of batting greatness on his part. At thirty-seven years of age, time has finally caught up with the Tasmanian. Quite simply, he is no longer the great batsman he once was.
It pays to remember that talent is not infinite. Father time does eventually catch up with us all. Some hold it at bay longer than others, and Ponting has been fortunate on this count. But it is obvious for all to see that Ponting is no longer seeing the ball as early as he once did and time has passed him by.
No true fan of Cricket could take any satisfaction in seeing the sad sight of a once great batsman struggling on despite his abilities being on the wane.
So please no more of this. If Ponting won’t let go, the Australian selectors must see the light, do him a favour and put an end to the madness. There is no enjoyment for any of us in witnessing the downfall of one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
Potential. It’s a word that ends after nine letters. And that’s the thing about potential, there comes a time when the excuse of having potential can no longer be used as a justification for sub-standard performances and one has to start generating performances that are at the very least close to what their true ability is. That is the Black Caps for you. Full of potential, but rarely do they play to that capacity.
Their performance at Bellereve Oval was one of the rare times they went past potential into the realm of genuine talent.
So if they could do it there, why not more regularly? It is not like they lack talent. They have a top six that are all capable of being world class performers. The majority have been around for long enough that they should now be operating at, or close to, the optimum of their abilities.
Simply, there is no excuse for the batsmen. They are seasoned and are capable of averaging in the forties. Admittedly the Hobart pitch was the batsmen’s equivalent of a horror movie. But New Zealand also failed to bat to a high level at the Gabba, too.
The irony of this team is that the bowlers are the inexperienced component of this side, yet are the best performed and most consistent.
It’s time for potential to end and performance to begin.
The decision review system. Despise it, hate it, loathe it - don’t talk to me about it. Well, that’s the attitude of India. Fortunately, though, the good majority of the world’s cricket family are all for it. After all, anything that can assist umpires to make the correct decision has got to be a good thing. With the DRS now in place, ninety-five percent of decisions are correct. This in turn has taken much of the dissent towards umpires that previously existed out of the game.
So all is good in the world of the DRS? Well, almost. You see, with Australia nine down in their heart stopping chase for victory on Monday - and the Black Caps pushing hard for the one remaining wicket needed to secure victory - twice the Kiwi’s appealed for LBW. Both times the umpire raised the dreaded finger to send the batsman on his way. Wild celebrations would normally be the order of the day at this stage. But, of course, Australia challenged the decision. Both times it was overturned. So the right decision was attained. That’s the good bit. The bad is that it can take away from the spontaneity of the moment. Sport is about more than just winning and losing. It is also about the emotions that come with winning and losing. And the DRS potentially takes that side of the game away.
A minor quibble, admittedly.