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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Aussie Dominance - How Long?

We have seen the Aussie dominance for the last 5 years and more. What is the future? Are they going to dominate in the same way?

Were the blips faced against England (in Twenty20, ODI ), Somerset, Bangladesh recently a big thing at all? Do they want to downplay at the beginning and then show their might?

I tried some digging into statistics (as is my forte) and came up with some revelations. The statistics were not looked at, just the number of matches played by the different players in the Aussie team were looked at and that itself gave a good picture. The time-period taken was 5 years from the NZ series that was completed recently back to 2000-01 test series against WI.

A total of 59 test matches have been played in the 5 years that has gone by. The Waugh brothers, Colin Miller, Damien Fleming, Micheal Slater have played in some of the test matches and gone on to announce their retirement.

There are others who have played in some test matches but disappeared probably because of their age being held against them (like Lehmann) or they didnt perform well enough. The entire list is: Greg Blewett, Matthew Elliott, Darren Lehmann, Martyn Love, Andy Symonds, Andy Bichel, Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken, Brad Hogg, N Hauritz, Shane Watson. I feel that most of these players playing again for Cricket Australia is very unlikely.

Hayden and Gilchrist are the only ones who have played ALL the test-matches. That must be a lot of effort on their bodies, especially with the amount of ODIs played also. Langer and Ponting come close having missed 4 and 5 matches each. Martyn has played in 46 test matches. So in all, these 5 batsmen have missed about 22 matches put together in all, which is probably the reason also that they form the cream of the Aussie batting.

Among the newcomers, Katich has played 16 and Clarke has played in 12 test matches. These batsmen are still picking up the nuances of test match, even while scoring well in whatever chances that have come their way. These 2 have come into the Playing XI and replaced others in the team like the Waugh brothers, Lehmann, etc.

So, that is the induction of the Young Blood for the Aussie team. In the Batting Department, there doesnt seem to be any issues with the aging of the team members and usually, as has been seen in the history of the game, the batsmen can contribute even in their late 30's as well.



Among the bowlers, Gillespie has played in 52 of the test matches that Australia have played whereas the numbers are different for the others - McGrath 47, Shane Warne 39, Brett Lee 32, Stuart MacGill 21, Kasprowicz 17. This is where the Aussies are going to have a problem. Ideally, Brett Lee should have been bowling more than he has been doing. Of late, Kasper has been replacing him since he has been taking the wickets for the team but where is the grooming happening for the bowling department?

The spinning department is taken care by Shane Warne or Stuart MacGill mostly. This is not a worry since the spinners, especially the leggies have a typical long shelf-period. The concern is more of the fast bowlers - What happens if McGrath decides to retire?

Shane Warne will be much more of a terror only if McGrath or anyone of the opening bowlers can run through the top-order and give him leeway. Otherwise, he will not be able to make much of an impact. Gillespie is more of a support bowler and without McGrath doesn’t show the inclination required to step up as the lead pacer.

Brett Lee is not getting enough bowling at all!!! With due respects to the talent of Kasper, he should retire at the end of the Ashes. That means there is no second string of pace bowlers for Aussies - which is what Dennis Lillee had to say recently.

With limited bowling options (if and when McGrath decides to hang up his boots), the strong batting lineup will not be able to steamroll past their opponents as they used to. This was evident in the series against India in 2003-04. Without McGrath and Warne in the team, they were dead meat for the Sehwags, Dravids, Laxmans. This, I feel, was basically a preview of what is going to happen.

I think that is what is going to happen to the Aussie team. Everything goes in a cycle. They were on a high for a good long period. What is going to happen in the near future? How are things going to go for the Aussies? Which direction?

D O W N and UNDER!!!
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