With four retirements of front line players one would imagine that there is a glimmer of hope for the rest of world cricket … alas this is not the case!
If we look at Australia’s future tour commitments … we see that this is actually the ideal time for a changing of the guard! After this series they have a one day series in New Zealand in February, a good time to blood a few of the aspirants. This is followed by The World Cup in March/April, which once again provides the opportunity of trying out some of the potentials in the less critical games. In June a tour to Zimbabwe, which, if it comes off, what better time to start settling in a new order!. This is followed by the 20/20 Tournament in September. The first really serious test match cricket is at home against Sri Lanka in November followed by India at home in December.
It is much easier in a home series to sort out which of the new comers have the temperament for the big game, on tour you are kind of stuck … and cant experiment. We know that at the technical level there are more than enough excellent cricketers in Australia to fill the shoes of those leaving … the only issues their selectors will be faced with is going to be finding the ones with the right temperament!
I anticipate that by December we will see the ICC ranking table looking somewhat as follows:
with a grouping between 100 and 110, of England, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
The absolute dominance of Australian cricket is likely to continue throughout this decade, and well into the next!
Part of this can be attributed to the wisdom of the administrators in Australia. You cant tell me that their fairly easy program for 2007 is an accident … they have known for a long time that several of the key players were reaching the end of their careers and they needed a year in which to regroup.
If we contrast the Australian program with that of England for 2007 we see the following:
After the World Cup in April, we have a series in May/June against West Indies, followed by India June/September, Sri Lanka Nov/December, New Zealand February/March, New Zealand May, South Africa June. And so it goes on. Our administrators see only the mighty dollar that test matches bring and are failing the game in this country! We tend to blame the heavy schedule on the ICC, thats not true. Out of choice, we, play far more than our obliged comitments.
While the squad system is good, to a degree, it has resulted in our top players playing far too little county cricket, it is at this level where we need to raise our game. We cannot truly assess our players if they are virtually not playing county cricket, nor can we expect players from our county cricket to easily step up into the international game as they are not being allowed to hone their skills against the best we have to offer! Can we still call county cricket first class?
Can we ever expect to compete with Australia, without a true nursery of real first class cricket?
We have the players with the skills … but … seem more intent on creating “rock stars” than allowing the potential out there to blossom!
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