We’ve lost the Ashes. There is no easy way to say this. What’s worse is this followed a 4-0 drubbing by India and a sketchy home series where we lost to South Africa and beat Sri Lanka. However, looking back on my lifetime of watching, playing and loving cricket, Australia has had it pretty good and now like any great team, Australian cricket is in the form slump we deserved to have.
The first signs of the impending slump was the disastrous 2005 Ashes lost in England. The team literally fell apart and heralded the era we are now experiencing. They did well, though, to fight themselves out of their issues, bouncing back and wining the Champions Trophy, Ashes and the World Cup in the space of a year. To put our current year in perspective, on top of the three series losses from the last four, Australia failed to make it to the second stage of the Champions Trophy.
As a life long dedicated fan of the side, it has been painful to sit up late at night and watch the English attack spear through our hopeless middle order, or wake up in the morning and hear that having gone from a wining advantage, the side lost nine wickets for 80 runs. Then I begin to think about the good times. Adam Gilchrist leading us to a series win in India in 2004, the Ashes white wash of 2007/8, and Ricky Ponting’s hundreds in both innings in his 100th test match. I have been a privileged supporter of cricket and have seen domination many other fans around the world would give an arm and a leg to see.
Not only does Australia deserve this form slump, world cricket needs it. As the West Indies of the 80s showed, no one team can stay on top forever. The Caribbean ascendancy pushed other sides, especially Australia to lengths to topple the world dominators. That is what Australia has done. Whereas we used to consistently dominate, except for in India (which was finally conquered in 2004), other teams have that advantage now. India, South Africa and England are all pushing for the number one test ranking, and Australia is falling. For the good of the game, and its development, this changing of the guard has to happen.
The domination of the Australian cricket team was led by a core group of players. These men who became heroes were automatic selections in the team, and there wasn’t much room for development and new debutants. I’m not saying it was bad we had names like the Waughs, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Ponting, and Hayden floating around, but it meant people like Stuart Law and Michael Hussey were given little opportunity, or overlooked for a considerable amount of time. Now, as we experience this slump, people like Chris Rogers are finally given a berth (for which he has given back tenfold in the recent series) and youngsters such as Steve Smith can step up to the plate, as he so eloquently did in the first innings of the fifth test at the Oval, smashing his maiden test century
This aim of this article isn’t saying how good it is that Australia is losing and how glad I am we are experiencing the slump. On the contrary, it is devastating for me to consistently watch us lose. However, in saying this, it is the slump we deserve to have, and I will accept it begrudgingly (but I still hope that we can turn our form around in time to beat the Poms on our own soil!)