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A battle for the soul of Australian cricket

greg

State Captain
I would be interested in the thoughts of Australians about a possible crossroads (might it exist?) in the WAY that Australia play their cricket. I do not think it would be going too far that this tour represents the final end of the "Border approach" to test cricket. When histories are written about the dominance of Australia over England one of the factors often cited is the order by Border on that 1989 tour not to socialise etc with the England players. It was the epitomy of the "win at all costs" attitude (and is the basis for many of the English jibes whenever this current team have complained about upholding the "spirit of cricket). Over recent years and culminating in this tour one has got a very noticeable sense that many members of the australian team (with Gilchrist being the most obvious figure and leading figure) are fed up with their reputation and have been almost yearning for the days of the past. Some of them almost seemed to be enjoying the experience of losing to England, so much pleasure did it seem to be giving the English crowds.

Meanwhile one has heard mutterings from the likes of Border and Waugh, openly questioning whether the attitude that the Australian team has taken has been a major factor in their defeat.

Does this represent a crossroads for the Australian approach to cricket, especially once the losing of the Ashes, and the realisation that a golden era of great players may have passed sinks in?
 

luckyeddie

Cricket Web Staff Member
It was said in years gone by that win or lose, the players could still be friends off the field, and would share a beer at the end of the day's play.

This attitude is an one that had been noticeably absent for a few years, certainly as you say at the start of the 1990's, but rather than mourn its passing, I feel the opposite is the case. I don't think that surliness and churlishness made Border's (and Waugh's) Australia a great side, but having a few great players most certainly did.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
It's an interesting thing to consider. Border had long experience with being basically the only shining light in a floundering team in the 80s. After the Pakistan test at the SCG in 1984, Australia lost Lillee, Marsh and Greg Chappell at once, and basically spent 5 years struggling, through which Border played and did well constantly without the team winning much. Steve Waugh was the last guy in the Australian team who had ever played in a losing Ashes side, and in fact only Shane Warne has ever lost a series at home among the current players. This certainly has an impact on the attitudes, and while Waugh was quite a ruthless captain in many ways, it's quite true that most of the players coming through were not so much. Gilchrist is a strong competitor, but with the walking and so on he certainly made a big effort to try and make Australia the good guys as well as the best team.

I guess we'll see where Ponting goes from here. There's no doubt his captaincy stint so far hasn't been the best in some ways, but he has in fact done what none of the rest could do and led a winning team in India (even if he missed 3 tests), and also won a series in Sri Lanka. If he keeps the captaincy, he's going to oversee a changing of the guard. I don't think it will happen immediately, but probably after the next Ashes series and the world cup Australia are going to need to rebuild, and the beginnings of that will be immediate. Ponting's going to be involved in the development of all the players coming through, and his attitude towards the game, which so far seems to be quite a defensive and friendly one, will have an influence on those players.
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
FaaipDeOiad said:
, and his attitude towards the game, which so far seems to be quite a defensive and friendly one, will have an influence on those players.
Why does a defensive attitude have anything to do with being friendly (for that matter what has being friendly got to do with being a poor captain.

Ponting is a poor captain. This is not something that needs to be debated with anyone who watched the ashes series. And yes he is a defensive one...an overly defensive one which is one of the things that makes him a poor leader. But what has that got to do with being friendly ?

Pataudi was one of the most aggressive captains India has ever produced (and the finest) and was also an extremely person.

Same for Mike Brearley of England and Richie Benaud of Australia and Frank Worrell of West Indies.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
I'm not suggesting being a "nice" player has anything to do with being defensive or a bad captain, I'm simply saying that he goes about his cricket in that way and he is also defensive. I don't think he is as poor as a captain as some people make out, he's been quite excellent at times. I think some of the blame for Australia's poor planning has to go on the coaching staff, and Ricky's on field decision making was sub-par as well.

He does run out of ideas quite easily and just let the game slide though, and falls back very easily on the "Warne at one end, McGrath at the other" plan, which quite simply won't work when those guys are gone.
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
FaaipDeOiad said:
I'm not suggesting being a "nice" player has anything to do with being defensive or a bad captain, I'm simply saying that he goes about his cricket in that way and he is also defensive. I don't think he is as poor as a captain as some people make out, he's been quite excellent at times. I think some of the blame for Australia's poor planning has to go on the coaching staff, and Ricky's on field decision making was sub-par as well.

He does run out of ideas quite easily and just let the game slide though, and falls back very easily on the "Warne at one end, McGrath at the other" plan, which quite simply won't work when those guys are gone.
I was referring to his field placings. There were some glaring errors. For example when Brett Lee was trying to knock Giles block off bowling hostile short pitched stuff persistently, Ponting kept a conventional mid on and mid off while no one was close at hand in front of the wicket on either side to catch the involuntary/defensive jab or a bat/glove put up to protect the face.

Similarly his field to the new ball was perplexing with not enough in the slips area.

There were many such things through out the series.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
SJS said:
I was referring to his field placings. There were some glaring errors. For example when Brett Lee was trying to knock Giles block off bowling hostile short pitched stuff persistently, Ponting kept a conventional mid on and mid off while no one was close at hand in front of the wicket on either side to catch the involuntary/defensive jab or a bat/glove put up to protect the face.

Similarly his field to the new ball was perplexing with not enough in the slips area.

There were many such things through out the series.
Yeah, but I think those things can be worked on. Any captain can be taught the basic fields to use in different situations, and Ponting is usually okay in that respect, it's in real imaginitiveness and coming up with successful plans for specific situations that good captains set themselves apart. Ponting seems to lack that sort of imaginitive captaincy, and I really worry for him when McGrath and Warne are gone and he can't bowl Warne from one end for 30 overs in a row and rotate the quicks at the other end.
 

honestbharani

Whatever it takes!!!
FaaipDeOiad said:
It's an interesting thing to consider. Border had long experience with being basically the only shining light in a floundering team in the 80s. After the Pakistan test at the SCG in 1984, Australia lost Lillee, Marsh and Greg Chappell at once, and basically spent 5 years struggling, through which Border played and did well constantly without the team winning much. Steve Waugh was the last guy in the Australian team who had ever played in a losing Ashes side, and in fact only Shane Warne has ever lost a series at home among the current players. This certainly has an impact on the attitudes, and while Waugh was quite a ruthless captain in many ways, it's quite true that most of the players coming through were not so much. Gilchrist is a strong competitor, but with the walking and so on he certainly made a big effort to try and make Australia the good guys as well as the best team.

I guess we'll see where Ponting goes from here. There's no doubt his captaincy stint so far hasn't been the best in some ways, but he has in fact done what none of the rest could do and led a winning team in India (even if he missed 3 tests), and also won a series in Sri Lanka. If he keeps the captaincy, he's going to oversee a changing of the guard. I don't think it will happen immediately, but probably after the next Ashes series and the world cup Australia are going to need to rebuild, and the beginnings of that will be immediate. Ponting's going to be involved in the development of all the players coming through, and his attitude towards the game, which so far seems to be quite a defensive and friendly one, will have an influence on those players.
I don't think it was Ponting who won that series in India. It was Gilchrist and some of his inspired moves. He was the one who got himself upto no.3 and came in and played a crucial, and often forgotten, 49 run innings in the second dig at Chennai. Most of the praise has rightly gone to Martyn and Gillespie for saving that game for Australia, but I think people have forgotten what I consider to be a little gem from Gilchrist. He was on the field for over a day and half when India batted but to still come out at no.3 and play a solid knock when a quick wicket or two would have put Australia in much greater trouble, it was special. And he made good decisions about bowling changes, field changes when certain plans didn't work etc. and I think he was more influential than Ponting in winning that series.
 

honestbharani

Whatever it takes!!!
And it has worked for guys like Courtney, Curtly, Lara, Tendulkar, Murali, Kumble etc. I am really amazed that being friendly with opposition players is being touted as an excuse for losing the ashes by some Aussie supporters. I really wonder why they can't accept the fact that England were better than them in this series and that their side, with a couple of changes, will still be a very good one.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
luckyeddie said:
It seemed to work for England.
I don't think England played particularly "nice" cricket. The provocation with sub fielders, pre-series comments from players, attempting to get given the light in an attempt to take time from the game when they were even batting and so on were pretty aggressive "win at all costs" sorts of acts.
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
honestbharani said:
And it has worked for guys like Courtney, Curtly, Lara, Tendulkar, Murali, Kumble etc. I am really amazed that being friendly with opposition players is being touted as an excuse for losing the ashes by some Aussie supporters. I really wonder why they can't accept the fact that England were better than them in this series and that their side, with a couple of changes, will still be a very good one.
Curtley was friendly with the opposition? You really think that? He was about the most over the top aggressive player I've ever seen in my time watching cricket, and in fact quite a lot of the stuff he did wouldn't be tolerated at all today when guys get fined just for pointing at the pavilion when they get someone out. The idea of Curtley clapping an opposition century or something is just completely out of character. He wasn't even the sort of guy who would apologise if he hit you in the head. A great bowler and one of my favourites to watch, though.

Walsh wasn't a prince either, with the Devon Malcolm bouncer barrage incident being the most obvious example, but he was generally a decent guy on the field, while Ambrose was really quite nasty and from an Australian perspective in particular (given his clashes with Dean Jones, Steve Waugh etc) it's hard to fathom how anyone could use him as an example of a nice player.
 

honestbharani

Whatever it takes!!!
FaaipDeOiad said:
Curtley was friendly with the opposition? You really think that? He was about the most over the top aggressive player I've ever seen in my time watching cricket, and in fact quite a lot of the stuff he did wouldn't be tolerated at all today when guys get fined just for pointing at the pavilion when they get someone out. The idea of Curtley clapping an opposition century or something is just completely out of character. He wasn't even the sort of guy who would apologise if he hit you in the head. A great bowler and one of my favourites to watch, though.

Walsh wasn't a prince either, with the Devon Malcolm bouncer barrage incident being the most obvious example, but he was generally a decent guy on the field, while Ambrose was really quite nasty and from an Australian perspective in particular (given his clashes with Dean Jones, Steve Waugh etc) it's hard to fathom how anyone could use him as an example of a nice player.
He was nice in the sense that he never said a word to the batsmen, unless it was a guy like Steve Waugh annoying him with his words... And he has been rated as extremely friendly by guys like Dravid and Sachin. Gavaskar was talking yesterday about how good a role model he was to all fast bowlers. I don't see why he can't be called 'nice and friendly'.
 

Emcee

Cricket Spectator
I think more of Australia's tatical problems should be blamed on the coach rather than the captain. Buchanan is arrogent and useless and if Ponting was failing so misrable why didn't Buchanan send the 12th man out to tell him what he was doing wrong? Buchanan out, Border in.
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
Emcee said:
I think more of Australia's tatical problems should be blamed on the coach rather than the captain. Buchanan is arrogent and useless and if Ponting was failing so misrable why didn't Buchanan send the 12th man out to tell him what he was doing wrong? Buchanan out, Border in.
If even field placings are to be decided by the coach, we might as well do away with a captain. Ponting has to take the blame for his part of the job. The buck stops at him for some of the things.
 

Emcee

Cricket Spectator
Yeah but how much control is Ponting allowed??? I think the major problem here is CA's desire to have a likeable captain rather than a winning one. I mean why wasn't Ponting vice captain to Waugh the whole time if they never intended to make Gilchrist captain, it was all about image. If CA went for the best captain Warne or Lehmann would have suceeded Waugh. I think when he was about Lehmann helped Ponting alot and now Ponting has been left all alone without a long stint as vice, without his mentors and with an inept coach, no wonder he is struggling. The problem with sacking him now is who will captain once Warne goes???
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
honestbharani said:
He was nice in the sense that he never said a word to the batsmen, unless it was a guy like Steve Waugh annoying him with his words... And he has been rated as extremely friendly by guys like Dravid and Sachin. Gavaskar was talking yesterday about how good a role model he was to all fast bowlers. I don't see why he can't be called 'nice and friendly'.
But he did say a word to the batsman, that's the point. It's considered a famous turning point of the 92/93 series when Dean Jones asked Curtley to take off his sweatbands in an ODI game because they were distracting him from watching the ball, and Curtley went completely postal over it, and following a heated exchange with Jones proceeded to rip Australia apart. He would regularly get fired up, charge in, hit a batsman, spin on his heel to go back to his mark and try and do it again.

It's possible he had a better relationship with India than Australia, I don't know, but certainly on what we saw here he was about the nastiest bowler in the world in his time, even when he had competition from McDermott and Donald.
 

sqwerty

U19 Cricketer
SJS said:
If even field placings are to be decided by the coach, we might as well do away with a captain. Ponting has to take the blame for his part of the job. The buck stops at him for some of the things.
while I found many of Ponting's field placings disappointing and defensive I believe they largely had the endorsement of his teammates.

Ponting liaises with his senior team members more than any recent Aussie captain. He's always running things by Warne, Gilchrist and Hayden. While the buck ultimately stops at Ponting I can't help but think his decisions were largely supported by these guys......which makes it more baffling I guess.
 

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