Consistency: Is it the selectors or the players lacking it?
With so much vitriol currently directed at the Australian selectors, you would be forgiven for thinking they had just sent the local under-10′s team out to face Lasith Malinga without a helmet or some batting spikes.
The presentation of last summer’s infamous Argus report was thought to have pinpointed Australia’s weaknesses and provided us with ways to strengthen them.
It was then unthinkable to imagine that this year would produce even more pressure on the national set-up from a lynch mob-like Australian public that has become all too accustomed to dominating the international cricket scene.
With their now notorious rotation policy, Cricket Australia, and most notably the national selection Panel (NSP), have seemed to lose more supporters than they have gained. But does the blame for this really rest entirely on their shoulders?
Since the late 90s and most of the 00s, Australia has always been ranked in the top one or two cricketing teams in the world, particularly in Tests. With this golden generation of players featuring Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Glen McGrath, Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden just to name a few, supporters have come to expect wins and nothing less against even the most competitive teams in the world.
With these expectations, it was always going to be a tough follow up job to whoever was bestowed the honour of filling these awfully large boots. But to put it bluntly, this generation just hasn’t been up to scratch.
Australia is in the midst of a transition. The recent retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, both of whom would probably have a fair say when ranking Australia’s greatest ever batsmen, cleared away the final remnants of Australia’s much vaunted team of the noughties.
However the players currently coming through the system don’t really seem to be making too much noise at international level.
Australia is currently at the stage where they are producing good, but not great cricketers (apart from Michael Clarke obviously). There are certain players, Dave Warner and Peter Siddle namely, who are currently on the cusp of that good and great measure, but there is just not enough all-round talent and experience for this team to push the champion teams, such as England and South Africa, in a five match Test series.
The recent ICC Test player rankings back this up, with Australia only having one batsman ranked inside the top 20 in the world.
If we as a cricketing nation are serious about crawling out of this crevice and climbing our way back up the proverbial cricketing ladder, we cannot be seriously thinking this is an acceptable level to be performing at.
Our batting at sometimes is pitiful and is close to horrendous when it comes to facing genuine swing bowling. The same can be said for our bowlers. Too many of them steam in and just hit the pitch back of a length hoping the batsmen might make a mistake and get themselves out.
The most successful bowlers, such as Glenn McGrath and Dale Steyn, construct their dismissals carefully and with the utmost precision.
All in all it comes down to that one word; consistency. Without it, teams look like they are riding on the Tower of Terror at Dreamworld, but with it some can seem to be nigh undefeatable.
If Australia wants results, players have to start consistently preforming at their best. Then, and only then, will we really see what our national selectors are made of.