WHAT a great privilege it is to live in a country where an under-performing national cricket side can dominatethe week’s news.
There has been no shortage of news across the globe over the past week or so but a quick scan of Australia’s newspapers and news networks would suggest that nothing matters more to us than the cricket. And that should be something to celebrate.
A humiliating loss in Hobartto an under-strength South African side has been labelled a new low point in Australian cricket, likened to the dark days of the 1980s when a teary Kim Hughes quit the captaincy following one too many batterings from the great West Indies side of the time.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons to our situation 30 years later.
Hughes, like Steve Smith today, found himself leading a team that was still rebuilding following a series of significant retirements.
In the 1980s it was Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh who all reached retirement age together, drawing the curtain on a golden age for our national team.
Today we have seen Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers all call it quits in just three years since Australia’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash in 2013-14.
And maybe the way forward will be the same as well.
In the ‘80s, selectors took a calculated gamble on a group of young, untested players who –led by Allan Border – became the nucleus of the side for much of the next decade.
Steve Waugh, Craig McDermott and Ian Healy were all drafted into the national side before they were ready but were given an extended run to prove themselves.
The challenge for today’s selectors is to find that new crop of 23-year-olds with the technique and temperament to play Test cricket.
Not only that, they need to find players with a real desire to play Test cricket rather than take the easy money on offer at T20 tournaments around the world.
It won’t be an easy job and the public’s gaze will make it only tougher,
But the great news is, at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter at all.
If Australia’s biggest worry this week is our cricket side then things may not be as bad as some might have us believe.
What a wonderful country we live in.
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