Usman Khawaja could be in doubt to play the first Ashes Test after being left out of the 24-man group for the Australia vs Australia A match starting Tuesday, the final game before the Ashes.
As we all agree, Australian cricket is being slowly murdered by park-level batting, selectors and childhood obesity. But beware: the threat of an unjustified fat kid is nothing compared to the devastation of not getting it to ‘go’.
Reverse swing has proven difficult for Australia to extract recently, as evidenced by our bowlers and their record numbers of new balls and cross-seam pea-shooters.
Achieving mystical sideways movement with the ‘oldie’ was nigh on impossible against India, even despite the Aussie quicks experiencing no trouble moving it erratically to all parts of the ground.
Some experts believed it was a tactical issue, while others claimed it was merely skill-based. This was underlined by stats revealing the bowlers delivered only eight per cent of balls hitting stumps, and the concerning fact they were aiming at them the whole time.
But whatever the reason, it seems reverse swing has dried up for our bowlers ever since the ball-tampering saga of Cape Town.
For those unaware, this fateful day saw the nation brought to its knees by the nefarious premeditated plans of a select group of instigators, later revealed as South African broadcasters.
It was a flashbulb moment that stupefied the nation, mainly because it associated our side with behaviours it had never been known for – dishonesty, stupidity, and reverse swing.
Unrelenting eternal humiliation aside, it also reinforced the notion Australia has no idea about reverse swing. Unlike the rest of the world, it’s another modern concept our cricketers haven’t adapted to, like flat pitches, switching between formats, and cricket.
This confusion was further magnified in the Cape Town fallout, with those involved pleading they weren’t tampering to make the ball swing, but because of the pay dispute and culture.
Nevertheless, the team’s frigid relationship with reverse swing would be changed forevermore, mainly because Australians were instructed to never touch the cricket ball again. It’s the chief reason we can’t bowl it off the straight – and because we have a minority government.
However, our cricketers must set about immediately thawing our frosty barriers with the concept. But why?
Because it is a must if we are to ever feel the collective thrill again of avoiding a monstrous declaration. Plus we are hideous at every other facet of the game. So what’s left but shady swing?
I guarantee this: if the team commences a focus on reverse swing from this moment forth, we might even knock over Cheteshwar Pujara by the next series.
But firstly, the basics. How does reverse swing work?
For the uninitiated and conscientious, reverse swing is a phenomenon of physics whereby unconventional curve is achieved using the changing aerodynamic principles of the old ball, and a bottle cap.
While most professional cricketers will laughably claim it can be attained via organic means, getting it to ‘go Irish’ is expedited with a range of grubby tricks such as mints, dirt, or captaining South Africa.
So how does Australia make it move, so we can be moved again?
This is an answer for either the experts, or wildly unrealistic speculation. But there is a litany of options, each more immoral than the last.
We can curate pitches of pebbles, make it mandatory for players to take up classical guitar, or even breed a brood of Bumrahs. And Kevin Roberts must know someone at NASA from his days at New South Wales.
Finally, Australia can round off its moral rebirth by taking the high ground with something more ethical, like bribing trade secrets out of someone from Pakistan.
Whatever path it takes, Australia needs reverse swing.
Not only to prevent becoming an associate nation because no team can defend a first innings of 108 with curve-free arrows, but because it would feel right to restore its putrid reputation using the dark arts.