Australia has continued its fine form from the Australian summer, continuing to dominate in the world of cricket. Fresh off a 12-1 belting of England when they toured here, Australia beat South Africa 2-1 in the recent test series, and continued the host’s embarrassment going through undefeated in the twenty20 games that followed. Now sights are set on the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh, where the Aussies are first playing Pakistan, notorious surprise packets (especially at world cups!).
The test series win in South Africa was a consolidation of all of Darren Lehmann’s hard work since he assumed the role as Head Coach. The team looks happy, and is playing very well, a massive turnaround from the Micky Arthur days. The individual performances that went into winning the final test so emphatically just prove Australia’s dominance at the moment and why, very soon, we will be the number one test nation again. Michael Clarke weathering an absolute storm of bouncers from Morne Morkel to go on to post 161* was incredible and showed the captain’s resolute courage. What makes the innings that much better is recent scans which show Morkel’s unrelenting bowling injured Clarke in the early stages of his innings, breaking a bone in his shoulder joint. Even more amazing was the effort of Ryan Harris who in his own words admitted, “My body is done … that was bloody hard.” Harris was bowling with floating cartilage in his knee, which was so bad he could barely walk on Day 4. For him to come back on Day 5, and take the decisive wickets of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in 3 balls to win the test, beggars belief.
The Proteas to their credit did their best to push for a draw, facing up with an incredibly disciplined display of dour batting, but fell short with 27 balls remaining. The second session was the decisive one, with AB de Villiers falling in the fifth over after lunch and Faf du Plessis departing in the fourth over before tea. The pair had been the basis for the Proteas’ great escape at Adelaide Oval 2012, and against India in Johannesburg three months ago when they also survived for approximately four-and-a-half sessions. However, it wasn’t to be in Cape Town. South Africa, never interested in chasing the historically impossible target of 511 runs set by Michael Clarke on day four, were bowled out for 265.
Australia’s lead up to the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh continued well in South Africa, making it five straight Twenty20 victories, ending the tour the way it started – with a resounding victory at Centurion. This has continued in Bangladesh, showing a change of conditions and a long haul flight won’t halt the Aussies’ seemingly unstoppable charge. In a warm up match against New Zealand, opening duo Aaron Finch and Dave Warner posted an incredible 113 from eight overs on the way to Australia’s total of 200. The pair were each retired by Darren Lehmann to a) give other batsmen an opportunity to impress and prepare for the upcoming pool matches, and b) give some sense of mercy to the New Zealand team, also trying to prepare for the tournament.
If the last series Australia has played in are indications of anything to come, the World Cup campaign of Bangladesh is looking good. Watch this space!