The latest in my deep dives into hypothetical Test XIs takes me to the notorious Ashes tour of 1985.
Australia – the dominating force in cricket world from about 1995 to almost 2008. Then the retirement of the greats and the transition – which we must say has wobbled and rocked and has shown lows like series whitewashes and highs like the 2015 world cup win.
It is one hell of a ride for the hardcore Aussie supporters like us.
As we look at another important Ashes series down under, here are some of the interesting issues and facts surrounding Aussie cricket right now.
Selectors in the golden era were too ignorant and never really thought enough about the passing of the baton.
The selectors’ form has gone from bad to worse in the last 3-4 years. They have been trying the wrong players, selecting from the same pool and basically been afraid to throw in the youth.
This has started to change a little bit with the introduction of Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Travis Head, who have not had the mental scars of the post-golden era happenings.
Another major hindrance has been a massively failed but persistent attempt to have a Flintoff at no.6 in Test side – for cricket’s sake just stick in a good young batsman at six and persist. Mental toughness is the one aspect they should be giving more weight to.
2. What happens to the 24/25 group?
In my opinion, blokes like Kurtis Patterson, Jake Lehmann, Nic Maddinson, Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris are good enough and would cut it at the international level given the proper chance and vote of confidence.
What happens to this group who are now 24-25-years-old? If they do not get selected in a year or two in favour of the same old stale pool, they would be almost 27-28 which might be too old for a debut.
3. Rise of the lefty
Just a look at any sort of domestic batting tables and you would be amazed at the number of young leftie batsmen in that table.
I think a batsman like Head is not in the Test side only because it would add another leftie in the already leftie-heavy side. This is pure coincidence and really amazing. You can probably put out two teams of lefties currently!
4. Aggression and positivity
Two words that define Aussie cricket, but two that are thoroughly missing right now. Tentativeness has crept in and poking out instead of hitting out is what we see many times from this team.
Bring back the aggression, positivity and grit in the game – no reverends, please. Getting right in the collective heads necessarily would lead to getting right on the field.
Is Smith the best choice for the post? Best batsman in the world without a doubt, but is he an aggressive and innovative enough skipper? I have always thought that Warner would be a much better captain, leaving Smithy free to score his customary tons of runs.
6. Young Aussie batsmen
I just love tracking the U17 and U19 championships and Futures League. But how many of the table toppers there make it forward really?
We need a good strong grassroots structure to propel and support the talent identified at this level – in order to groom them to be good mentally and skills-wise in the international arena. Talent is in abundance.
Even with all these facts, the team has won away series in South Africa and New Zealand, won two of five in England and recently started turning around subcon results with two Test wins and a draw out of six Tests on the subcontinent this year.
Now we need to build on this and give some thought to some of the points mentioned above if we want to create the dominance again.