Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wishful thinking or considered speculation?

As might be expected, there has been considerable talk of Australia getting knocked off the favorite's perch for the World Cup. I could understand this if the matches used as evidence for this claim were actually taking place during the World Cup. But they aren't. Much as it might pain Australia's opponents to realize this, these results have occurred too early (and hence, at precisely the wrong time as far as they are concerned). A team like Australia (or even the system that backs them up) doesn't get to be on top for so long without having coping mechanisms for these sorts of failures. I expect Australia to pull together in time for the Cup, to be mighty ornery now in their preparations, and to not take anything too lightly when their matches begin. The kind of hubris displayed by Buchanan's idiotic remarks about not getting enough competition (have Australia ever had a more embarassing coach?) will be put on the backburner, and good old-fashioned cricket skill will take its place. Far more worrying for Australia, and here I admit, there is some truth to the chatter, are their injury worries, with those to Lee and Hayden being first and foremost.

Which matter raises another issue: lost in the hubbub over the length of the Cup has been the issue of how much more likely injuries are in it, given the greater number of games to be played in it. Its going to be mighty silly if some top player blows out in a game against some minnow.


Blogger Homer said...

What struck me most was the manner in which the Aussie press went after their own..

It was more like reading the English press after the Ashes defeats..

10:31 PM  
Blogger shakester said...

true0 what I've mentioned elsewhere as well is that the worst thing that can happen from these defeats (from a world cricket perspective), is that the Aussies bounce back with a vengeance.
But I have a feeling it might not be that easy- for one, there is not that much time between now and the wordl cup, and for another- like you mentioned- the injuries are no small matter. I would say Symonds loss is more crucial than Hayden's (potentially), and his return, whenever it does happen, will be hampered in its firlding and bowling, at the very least.

So there is hope yet for the rest!

12:10 AM  
Blogger cricket_fans said...

The problem Australia is having is because of loss of andrew symonds and weakened bowling attack.
If they indeed dont get Symonds and Lee back by the time super 8s start - I believe they will suffer to an extent.
I think they still have one of the best batting lineups n Hayden, Gilly, Ponting, Clarke etc.. but Symonds provided them with experience, balance and ability to hit over the top. Watson can do that to an extent but I dont think he has the experience to pull it off consistently.

McGrath is not as effective as he used to be and if Lee isnt there then Bracken, Johnson, and Tait dont constitute the best bowling attack. The reason Aussies were so successful in last 2 world cups was because of McGrath, Gilly, and Lee firing in 1999 they had warne as well.

I think their recovery will depend on whether they can get Symonds and Lee back in time and in full form. If not, they might struggle to get past the semis.

10:24 AM  
Blogger samir said...

Thanks everyone for your comments; I can't believe I left Symonds out of my list of crucial Aussie players affected by injury.

Homer: I'm not surprised by the Aussie press' reaction - they've been used to singing hosannas for very long, and if nothing else, it just makes for a break in writing the usual "yesterday, the juggernaut rolled on". Having said that, the way in which the Australians lost was going to spark some adverse comment, and who better to rake them over the coals than their own press? The others could merely gloat; ones own are always the ones that hand out the real tongue-lashings.

Shakester: The injuries are very crucial, more so than any lack of preparation or bounce-back ability. One thing is for sure; the bowling isn't the same. They haven't had Warne for a while in the ODI squad but if McGrath is fading as well, then things don't look so good (has the business of Clark's omission been raised already?)

cricket_fans: No disagreement; I tend to think Watson is a bit overrated myself. I think they will get to the semis, and theres the rub, because from there, its either a lottery, or the one that keeps its cool goes on to win it all. But still, there were good reasons why Australia won in both 1999 and 2003: besides their own abilities, their opponents froze on the big stage.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Homer said...

It was the intensity of tongue lashings that startled me!!!

It was not this bad when Stephan Waugh failed to make it to the finals in 2001(?) or after the Ashes loss.
I think Michael Clarke was missed too..His left arm spin is pretty handy, plus his fielding and batting gives Australia added depth.

But for Brad Hodge's catching, the Australian fielding in NZ was pretty ordinary too.

With Watson not quite there, and Symonds injured, Australia seem to be missing the multi dimensional players who are explosive batsmen, handy bowlers and super fielders.

Since the rest of the side is full of specialists ( barring Gilly, but he wont be there for the first 3 weeks of the WC), there is something for the rest of the teams to work on and exploit ( if they are good enough).

9:15 PM  

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