The Sydney Morning Herald is awash with articles on the rejuvenated Australian cricket side’s whitewash of England in the Ashes, and rightly so.
A lot of the credit is heaped on Darren Lehman, the ex-Aussie player who replaced SA born Mickey Arthur after the latter’s fall-out with senior players during the tour in India.
The cricketing world is poorer without a strong Australian side. While a world record crowd of over 90 000 attended the test at the MCG, there were hardly any spectators at the test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Rodney Hogg, who holds the record for the most wickets in a series, albeit it 41 in a six-test series, likened the performance of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris to that of legendary duo Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee in their heyday.
Johnson, in particular, proved to be the nemesis of the Proteas in the previous tour, and will no doubt be the big threat later this year.
One has to ask, as did my colleague Bobby, whether the Aussies were really that good, or whether the English toured badly? Trott’s sudden withdrawal, and Swann’s announcement of his retirement, indicates that this English side was comprehensively cowed by a belligerent and aggressive Aussie side.
The English team received the usual vitriolic criticism from people like Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott. Calls are made for the heads of the English captain and the coach, but Cook’s ex-teammate, Paul Collingwood, felt that Cook and Flower should retain their positions.
“I’m sure this has hurt a lot but you’ve got to move on and have that determination to put things right for the future. What Andy Flower has done for English cricket has been incredible. He’s a real leader and certainly the man I would have at the top to take England forward.”
England coach, Andy Flower, who reaffirmed he would not be standing down, has admitted the team needed to change dramatically to turn its fortunes around.
Asked directly whether besieged star batsman Kevin Pietersen would be part of the future, Flower said: “This will be a new start, and so it should be. It does feel like the end of some type of era. We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again.
“And we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months.”
England has five months before they host Sri Lanka for a two-Test series, by which time a full review into the Australian debacle will have been completed. SMH.
Australia will take on South Africa in the first of three tests on 12 February in Centurion. This will be the real test of their actual standing, and the one thing we cannot afford is our trade mark poor first innings. I am not concerned about our bowling, but the batsmen need to knock the confidence out of the Australian attack from the very first ball, in the same manner they did to the English. Somehow, catch-up cricket against this side, brimming with confidence, will be a far bigger challenge than we have had to face for a number of years.