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Wheels coming off the Aussie team - Suneer Chowdhary Column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Feb 07, 2009
They say that success breeds success. Or nothing succeeds like success. However, it seems lot worse to be unsuccessful in cricket, after breeding successful champions for decades on end. It almost exponentially raises more failure, and the amplest proof of this has been Australia's current predicament. While losing the champions cricketers of the yesteryears would have had caused some dent on the Australian side, it hasn't helped that two of the other teams have looked to have peaked at the same time.

Yet, it has come as a major shock that a team that prided itself so much on its unity, would find themselves so disintegrated, that it almost seems that it is the Pakistani team on display. And one almost gets the sense that while it may take time for Australia to find suitable replacements for their talented, retired personnel, it would require something much more drastic for them to get out of their reverie - read, the denial mode that they find themselves in - and get back on track.

For starters, there seems to be more shuffling and changing in the Australian team than what one sees in the Indian cabinet. Unknown cricketers have been tried, and then, without affording too many chances have been discarded, none more so obvious than Dave Warner's case. Warner has been touted as the next best thing in Australian cricket, and one would have hoped that he remains persisted with, for a reasonable length of time. Instead, the Aussies go 0-2 down against the Kiwis, Ricky Ponting's vacation gets cut short and out goes Warner! One doesn't even remember the last couple of successive matches, where the batting line-up and the positions have both remained the same for the Australians!

There are two aspects to the Michael Clarke-Simon Katich spat that had occurred after the SCG test victory against South Africa. Such disagreements are a part and parcel of all the teams, in every sport. Yet, it is very rare to find such a squabble come out open in the media from a team like Australia that, unlike the Asian bloc, have been such a well-oiled unit that these seem a part of their psyche. This time it didn't.

The other important aspect that Cricket Australia could do well to address as quickly as they can is Michael Clarke's uncanny ability to get into trouble. When the Andrew Symonds fishing fiasco unfolded this year, it was said that the Queenslander had been dismayed at been betrayed by his long friend, Clarke. Symmo himself had been under a lot of fire at that point - and ever since - and Clarke's role had been brushed aside as that of been necessary.

Yet, when the squabble with Katich became national news, and that, for a reason as petty as the choice of singer/song after their Sydney test match win, and was then followed by Clarke's snubbing of the IPL contract because he could not see eye-ball with a certain Lalit Modi, it all looked a little fishy. So badly had Clarke managed to rub the wrong side of Modi that the IPL commissioner has banned the future Aussie-captain from the next edition of the tournament as well. At least for now.

What surprised me further was the casual manner in which he brushed aside the Haddin-Vettori incident as a part of the game, despite it been clear that the Aussie wicket-keeper had erred - if not cheated - in claiming the dismissal of Neil Broom. Yet, like most of the other Australians, he has failed to claim some kind of responsibility. This, coming from someone who could lead the Australian team in the near future.

For now, the splinters are coming off the Australian team rather quickly, and they could do well to stop this implosion before it becomes an almost-irreversible process.
 
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