Australian cricketers came, struggled, were conquered
The bubble has burst, the wins over India and Sri Lanka in 2011-12 now appear to be distant memories. But for the abandoned Birmingham ODI, it was a whitewash for Michael Clarke’s men.
This is the first time Australia has lost an ODI series 0-4.
And three of these matches were lost by big margins; six wickets, eight wickets and seven wickets. So what went wrong? England had the home advantage but Australians have done well in England in the past.
I doubt whether they had cricket on their mind. They looked listless and were often going through the motions.
Could too much cricket be the problem?
I have tackled this issue in my Roar post on May 1st this year.
I wrote, “If a cricket tragic like me is asking for a break from cricket, what about the Australian cricketers who have played and are scheduled to play international cricket almost nonstop for 19 months (from August 2011 to February 2013) in six countries – over 40 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day?”
Australia’s results in Tests in the last nine months have been satisfying – beating Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka last August-September, drawing with the strong South Africans in South Africa last October-November, drawing with New Zealand and then thrashing India at home in 2011-12 and this April beating the West Indies 2-0 in the Caribbean.
It must nonetheless be grueling for them.
After this drubbing in England, Australia play four ODIs and three T20s against Pakistan in August-September, World T20 in Sri Lanka in September-October then the strong South Africans in Australia for three Tests in November-December.
No wonder they looked so stale and I-wanna-go-home in England in the series concluded on Tuesday. For the life of me I can’t understand why Australia toured England in June-July this year. With Wimbledon in England and the NRL and AFL at an interesting stage in Australia who would switch on a TV for a meaningless ODI series in England?
The Ashes next year in England is different. We can hardly wait. Not only did England walk all over Australia in the ODI series, they proved superior individually. Of the top six batsmen in the series, five were English and only George Bailey proved consistent with the bat.
Also of the top seven bowlers, six were English and only one Australian: Clint McKay. And the Player of the Series was England’s batman Ian Bell.
Injuries to Shane Watson and fast bowlers Brett Lee, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins did not help. The quickies need rest. They have to be preserved for the Test series against South Africa this summer down under. Cricket Australia, please note.
Surprisingly, Australia is still ranked number one in ODIs, thanks to the abandonment of the third ODI at Birmingham. They are just one point ahead of South Africa and England. Had Australia lost in Birmingham, they would have lost their top-ranking as well.
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.