Former captain argues Australia are not back to their best March 31, 2006

Simpson concerned at Australia's future

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting hit twin-hundreds at Durban - for the third time in his career - and led Australia to a series victory. Bob Simpson argues that Australia have had it easy for too long © Getty Images
Bob Simpson, the former Australia captain and coach, has stated that Australia's dominance in the past decade might have a detrimental effect on their future. Following their victory against South Africa in the second Test at Durban, Simpson has rejected claims that Australia are back to their very best, while adding that the regular absence of players representing their state sides is harming the domestic competition.

"As a fervent Aussie, I am concerned about the future of our cricket," Simpson wrote in the Indian magazine Sportstar. "Over a long period we have rightly been lauded as a superb team. We have had numerous great players and still have.

"However, they may have now reached the age and position in their careers, when, while they might perform fine deeds, there is little or no chance they will improve their game."

Simpson cited the decline in standards of other nations as a significant factor in Australia's dominance in recent years.

"Whether the team will produce the greatness of the last decade, I doubt. History has shown that once a great team loses key players and the rest get older, there are few, if any, ready replacements in the domestic competition," he said.

"This is just about where Australian cricket hovers right now. The final 2-0 result to Australia against South Africa earlier this year seems to indicate that they dominated the Test series. But was this so? No, for in two of the Tests, a very mundane South African team were in a dominating position to win," he said.

"The Australian selectors expressed their concern about our cricket by adopting a safety first policy for the South African tour. They were forced into this situation by the worrying realisation that there is a shortage of younger players with the skill and application to bridge the gap between the first-class and Test levels."

Although Queensland beat Victoria by an innings and 354 runs to win the Pura Cup final - they rattled up an astonishing 6 for 900 in their only innings - Simpson is nevertheless concerned at the standard of Australia's domestic competition. With the lack of Test players representing their state sides, he argued that the younger players don't have the benefit of wisdom an international player can offer.

"Unfortunately for the Pura Cup players, the overall standard has slipped with the Test players playing so few domestic matches," he said. "This has prevented the young promising players from testing their mettle against their tough heroes. They have also lost the benefit of watching and playing with them."

Australia are currently in action against South Africa in the third and final Test at Johannesburg, and lead the series 2-0.