|Cornered Kangaroos are dangerous!|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Feb 23, 2007|
We all know the cliché of the cornered kangaroo being a
dangerous beast. But surely the spate of injuries and
the run of shock defeats means Australias is looking
more vulnerable than ever and the World Cup is looking
the most open since 1996.
The late withdrawal of Brett Lee from the squad, the
retirement of Shane Warne and the signs of ageing
shown by Glenn McGrath have all combined to produce a
doomsday scenario for the Aussies who have their eyes
set on becoming the first country to make it three
titles in a row.
Ricky Ponting has recovered from his back sprain. But
Matthew Haydens fight for fitness and the likely
absence of star all-rounder Andrew Symonds shows up
some obvious chinks in the mighty Australian citadel
that till just a few weeks back was looking
impregnable. Michael Clarke too is in some doubt to
make it to the Caribbean.
The stunning upset in the CB tri-series finals at the
hands of England could have been dismissed as an
aberration. But then to suffer a whitewash in New
Zealand, that too in the most spectacular and
unexpected manner, has really put the cat among the
pigeons Down Under.
It was their air of invincibility that gave them a
massive advantage even before the toss with opposing
teams psychologically on the back-foot.
That in-built advantage has now been effectively
obliterated and suddenly every team in their group is
sniffing bloodSouth Africa, Scotland, the
Netherlands. After all, the decline was first noticed
when they were stunned by Bangladesh in England in
2005. Now anything is possible.
And to think that South Africa is the country that has
finally nudged them off their pedestal at the top of
the ICC ODI rankings! Group A is certainly the group
What is surprising is the lack of effective bench
strength, something that Australian cricket has been
famed for over the years. The bowling attack looks
particularly vulnerable and their inability to defend
huge targets means any total their still strong
batting puts up on the board is now chaseable.
Stand-in captain Michael Husseys candid admission
that he felt demoralized after the whitewash in New
Zealand reveals their battered psyche.
It took rank outsiders India to stop the West Indies
juggernaut in their tracks in the final of the 1983
World Cup. They were never the same force again after
that stunner at Lords and have failed to reach the
final ever since.
It would be foolish to write off Australias chances
completely. Remember, they bounced back brilliantly in
2003 despite losing the services of Shane Warne on the
eve of the tournament.
Still, captain Ricky Ponting must be a wary and
worried man. It fell to him to become the first
Australian captain in nearly 20 years to surrender the
Ashes in 2005. Now will he become the first to
relinquish his nations hold on the World Cup after
nearly a decade? The cricket world waits and watches.