During their halcyon days of near total (okay, total) domination in world cricket, you could reel off the names of Australia’s top players. They came from a pool of around 15 players, who together consistently pummelled any side that ventured across their path.
Back to the reality of 2011 for Australia; since the start of the Ashes 12 months ago, no fewer than 10 players have been handed their baggy green cap and sent out to represent the once good name of Australian cricket.
10. Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer, Usman Khawaja, Trent Copeland, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Pat Cummins, David Warner, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.
Once upon a time you used to have to earn your place in the Aussie starting XI. Now, if they get so much as a whiff of talent, the selectors will chase down young and inexperienced players.
Michael Beer had played five First Class matches before his debut. Nathan Lyon was a curator 12 months ago. A groundsman! (Nothing against being a groundsman, I just don’t expect them to prepare the wicket and head out to play on it.)
Starc is 21 and has played 17 First Class games. Pattinson, 21 with nine First Class games. Cummins, 18 with just four First Class games. Such players would have been nowhere near Australia’s Test XI 10 years ago.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. A side that has for so long persisted with the inexcusably fragile and inconsistent Mitchell Johnson clearly doesn’t have much in reserve. Australia have resorted to praying that the kids are all right.
Compare the Aussies with the world’s best Test team, England. Ajmal Shahzad was the last player to take his England bow, against Bangladesh. In 2010.
Consistency breeds success, as Australia showed with their golden generation. During that time, England showed how not to do things by chopping and changing at will. It’s funny how things can turn around…
By Miles Reucroft