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What a shame, Australia failed to qualify for the semi-finals of a World Cup on home soil.
“Well, but we won it last year.”
“Only because we were lucky with the draw.”
“Maybe, but we dominated the Ashes last summer.”
“But England aren’t very good either, and before that we lost at home to India twice in three years!”
It seems that every few months the outlook for the Australian cricket team swings wildly one way or the other. Add to retaining the Ashes in England for the first time in 18 years (but we still haven’t won the series, but we would have if Lyon hadn’t dropped the ball…) it’s hard to make up your mind of the quality of this Australian team.
It’s because the answer is something we don’t like in Australia. They’re just good, not great. Is it possible? Sure, but not according to the clickbait, eye-catching, over-the-top world we live in.
We were riding high last year winning the T20 World Cup and the Ashes 4-0. But it was only the previous summer that we were embarrassed to be introduced to the Gabba by India, even with our full team. 18 months before, we kept the Ashes but lost the semi-final of the World Cup.
A long English tour described as successful by coach Justin Langer. Maybe for a good team, but a great one wouldn’t call for a semi-final and a successful draw series.
We Australian cricket fans have been waiting for another team to match the heyday of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, and this team has flirted with the match. But we can finally declare that they did not succeed. That doesn’t mean they’re terrible or “un-Australian” as Michael Clarke would have us believe.
Isn’t it Australian to lose? We could wish. I don’t think this team hasn’t tried like Clarke said, they just aren’t good enough. A reality that we have tried to explain for the past five years, but it is what is staring us in the face now. Australia have not been number one in the ICC ODI rankings since 2017, and only briefly in Tests and T20Is during the same period.
What makes it even harder to accept this un-great team is that it seems to be full of so many great players; Warner, Smith, Lyon and the fast bowling trio of Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood. They may be great players, but does that make a great team? Obviously not.
Because a team is judged on its results, not on the achievements or statistics of its individual players. A half-full squad of great players still isn’t great. Oh, how we struggled to find an opening partner for Warner in testing, or the perpetual uncertainty of our middle order.
This team keeps us hooked, like that Netflix series you want to give up on, but you think, “maybe it starts slow, it gets there.”
Well, this team has been warming up for five years. And based on recent announcements from Test and ODI selectors, it looks like we’re in for another round of the same good but not great show.
Perhaps if Australia had performed poorly and reached rock bottom, coaches would have been forced to seek out the next generation of players. But this team was just good enough to keep the breeders’ faith, never reaching the heights the fans or they hoped to reach.