Over the past month, the Australian cricket team was convincingly defeated by Sri Lankan, getting whitewashed in a three match Test match series. Such a loss is as rare as snow in December down under.
A lean patch endured by great sporting nations, including Australia who have a strong history in cricket, is neither new nor unprecedented.
My memory goes back to a period between 1976 and 1979. A depleted Australian side lost its key players to Kerry Packer’s world series.
The Test side of next-best players, under the leadership of captain Bobby Simpson, followed by Kim Hughes, were a fraction of the force they once used to be.
The Australians came back with the Kerry Packer’s players back in the main in late 1979. They did well until 1984, when lead players Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillie and Kim Hughes retired in quick succession.
From 1985 things looked dire again. Whipped by England in their touring Ashes series of 1985 and at home when they hosted the Pommies at home in 1986-87. But they came back, famously winning the World Cup in 1987.
From the late 1990s, until well into the 2000s, Australia was at the pinnacle of their cricketing success, winning three World Cups in a row – 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Then we saw a bit of slump, after the retirement of stalwarts like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, and Ricky Ponting, yet again came back to win the 2015 World Cup.
Such temporary loss of form isn’t just limited to cricket alone. In football, the Brazilians won three World Cups from 1958 to 1970. After retirement of Pele and many other heroes they fared badly in 1974 and 1978 tournaments. With Zico and Socrates on their side they had a super team in 1982 and ’86 editions of the Cup.
After the retirement of Zico, they fared badly in 1990 Cup, until a resurgent Brazil won it again in 1994 led by indomitable Romario and Bebeto. They couldn’t win the 98 Cup, but with players like Ronaldo on their side they again won the World Cup in the year 2002.
So the point is – we have seen both peaks and troughs of great sporting nations in their national sports. I am positive that this slump in form by the Australians is just temporary for a champion nation in sports.