South Africa do what was unthinkable a year ago
The inevitable happened. India've kept huffing & puffing
at Australia for the better part
of the last decade
, and eventually the house fell, not to India but to South Africa
, who became the first team in nearly 16 years to win a test series in Australia
In fact, South Africa are the first non-Indian team to have defeated Australia 2 tests in a row
in the last 18 years. The West Indians in 1993 & 1999 and the East Indians in 1998 & 2001 were the only sides to have done it.
South Africa have played brilliantly and it has been a total team effort - its tough to pick the top performers from Steyn, Smith, Duminy, de Villiers, Kallis & Amla. Essentially though, Australia's weakness against good quality swing bowling has been shown up yet again. It was the case in 2003/4 against India, 2005 against England, 2007/8 against India, 2008/9 against India and now against South Africa. Maybe its something to do with the batting technique or just the attacking instinct. Australia better get its act together on countering swing bowling, because now that the formula is out there, more teams will use it hoping for success, sometimes without having the quality of resources.
I have no sympathy for Australia though. The side and the cricketing establishment have been in denial mode ever since the defeat in India, and especially after thrashing New Zealand. Over rate problems? Let's blame the sightscreens
and talk of maintaining the spirit of the game
when a series was at stake. Lee's "performances"? Let's blame his breakup. Hayden in terrible form? Let's talk of poor umpiring decisions & run outs (as if he wasn't responsible for the runouts!). No spinners? Let's say they're young & inexperienced when they've had 15 years to groom someone to take over from Warne
The first thing Australia's selectors need to do is to drop Hayden. His batting has been hopeless. It's not just that - he doesn't even look like he wants to be out there batting! In fact he wants to get off the strike so often - maybe thats what's got him run out twice in the last few tests! I've always thought he was over-rated
. Among the top run-getters since 1 Jan 1990
, only 2 batsmen (Mark Waugh & Alec Stewart) have worse away batting averages. Hayden averages 42.7 outside Australia compared with 58.4 at home. It's quite obvious he's a home town bully. He doesn't deserve to be rated amongst the modern greats, let alone the all-time greats!
The second thing Australia's selectors need to do is to pick a new captain. I just think they have a hopeless moron as captain right now. Ponting's captaincy has been 'moronic' in my books right from the time he sent England (0-1 down) in on a superb batting wicket at Edgbaston in 2005
minutes after McGrath had been ruled out of the test (& possibly the series). His subsequent acts (Nagpur, for e.g.) merely confirmed the belief.
Despite South Africa's series win, in my opinion Australia are #1 until the time they actually lose home and away. India can't claim the #1 spot because after all, they didn't win in Australia. I'd say that the return series against South Africa & the 2009 Ashes will give a fair indication of whether Australia will remain #1 or not.
Think about it - despite losing Langer, Warne, McGrath & Gilchrist in the span of a year, they've more than managed to hold their own most of the time. I know that isn't a great benchmark for #1, but you do need to give weightage to the quality of personnel lost. India're bound to go down that road sometime in the next 2 years and we'll eagerly see if the batting holds up.
Labels: australia, india, rankings, south africa, statistic