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2007 in review: Australia's domination
'Teams clueless about playing Australia in Australia'
December 26, 2007
Cricinfo's panel of experts analyse why Australia continue to dominate and who their challengers could be
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David Lloyd: "Australia are the best team in the world because they are the most organised team" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: In the second of our year-end specials on Cricinfo Talk, I asked our experts why, despite the retirement of certain key players, Australia continue to dominate world cricket. Is it because the standards of the other teams are falling? I also asked them to pick the team they thought was most likely to challenge Australia. Let's start with Michael Holding's views.

Michael Holding: Well, Australia are a very good cricket team and a very good cricket nation at the moment. It's not just the XI who are playing, I think they also have some outstanding reserves, especially for their batting line-up. As far as the bowlers are concerned, I think we need some time to see how things [the new bowlers] develop. Since they lost Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, they've only played one Test series. That series was against Sri Lanka, at home. I would like to see them go overseas and play some series outside their own country without Warne and McGrath, to see how well they do. They are still an outstanding team and they are still the best team in the world at the moment. I don't think people need to be worried that they've been winning for so long - they do lose occasionally, and it's good to have teams setting standards for people to aim at.

As for the No. 2 team, who is best equipped to challenge Australia - that's a bit difficult at the moment [to pick one team]. I think they [Australia] are pretty far ahead, irrespective of what the ICC rankings may say. It's a bunch [of teams] at second spot and the team that's playing better than the rest will be the one to challenge Australia. I don't think that there is one team that sticks out.

AR: Now the views of someone who knows a thing or two about Australian cricket, Ian Chappell.

Ian Chappell: Well, I don't think it's to do with the other teams slipping. It's just that they haven't gained any ground. The point that worries me is that no team has a clue about how to play Australia in Australia. Since Australia became the world champions, when they beat West Indies in the Caribbean in 1995, there have been 68 Tests played in Australia, of which they have won 51 and lost only six. To me, that's a sad indictment of the opposition. So the other teams have got to vastly improve their planning and their state of mind when they tour Australia, because if they don't, I see this trend continuing.

I don't see any team that is taking the right steps to correct that [their planning and mindset when they tour Australia], and so I really don't see an end to Australia's domination at home. I think they'll get beaten overseas sometimes.

To me, the future of the other sides looks bleak, mainly because a lot of teams have taken the attitude: playing against Australia is pretty tough, we'll wait for them to falter rather than challenge [Ricky] Ponting's team. If you go back to West Indies' domination [in the 80s], Pakistan always ran them very close because they had a leader in Imran Khan who always wanted to challenge West Indies because they were the best team around. I don't see any team at the moment that has that attitude, particularly when they come to Australia. I'm hoping that perhaps India will do it this time around.

AR: England managed to put it past Australia in 2005 Ashes series but have struggled against them since. Here are former England coach David Lloyd's views.

David Lloyd: Australia continue to be a juggernaut team. They are the best team, and in my view this is because they are the most organised team. I think their domestic structure is foolproof. When you start playing as a youngster in Australia, everybody wants to be Ricky Ponting - they all want to captain Australia. The structure of domestic cricket, the facilities they've got, means they are going to be on top for a long time. I admire everything that they do. The way they play their cricket is tough and uncompromising, and very rarely do they step over the line. But everybody that plays against them knows that they are the best team.

I'll pick two teams that should challenge them. India should challenge them. With the amount of cricket that is played, I think India need to get themselves sorted out with respect to the changing of the coach and the alleged infighting that happens. I also think that there is a bit of an easy street with them: once you get into the team, it seems pretty easy after that to stay in; it should actually be tougher.

The other team that should challenge Australia is England. There are signs that England are getting their administration at the highest level right. If it's right at the top, there's every chance that it'll be right on the field. But again, the county structure in England lets everybody down. People want their county teams to do well and that's why we have so many Kolpak players playing in English cricket. This is a grave danger, because we're not producing our own players. But those are the two teams that should challenge Australia.

AR: In the recent past India have been one of the teams to challenge Australia. Let's hear what Sanjay Manjrekar has to say.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Well I feel that Australia is one country that does everything right. It is a country where there is natural talent because of the culture and environment. They produce excellent athletes, and if they decide to specialise in cricket then it's a huge advantage. Most of the kids who make it to the final grade are excellent athletes. Australia has a very competitive club cricket structure, they have the right ideas while playing cricket, they play to win as a team. Individual performances do not take precedence over the team's performances. Their first-class structure is also very competitive.

I think that the side that's best equipped to beat Australia is Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, and to a lesser degree, India in India. As far as playing against Australia in Australia is concerned, I just don't think anyone's going to come close Tony Greig

Unfortunately, not too many other teams in the world have the kind of system that Australia have. They [the other countries] are not working at the grassroots level, which produces excellent cricketers for Australia. There is also a tendency for the other teams to feel that they're not going to win against Australia. It's like they have resigned to the fate that Australia is the best team and they seem to be thinking, "Let's just try and challenge them in this series. If we cannot, we'll move on and try and challenge the other teams."

The team that could challenge Australia in the future is probably South Africa - if they pick the right team. The cricketing conditions in South Africa are similar to those in Australia. The subcontinent teams will always find it difficult because they do not play enough on the kind of pitches that Australia have. They might challenge them in one series, but to do it consistently might be difficult unless things change at the grassroots level and below first-class cricket.

AR: Tony Greig has been a been a big supporter of Australian cricket. Here are his views.

Tony Greig: Well what's happening as far as retirements in cricket are concerned is that players these days are fitter. It wasn't long ago that guys like me, for example, would consider 32 to be the time to be retiring. There were two reasons for that: one, we didn't work hard enough on our fitness, and two, we also wanted to look after the rest of our lives because we were paid so badly that we needed to go out and get a proper job. These days, when you look at the likes of Ricky Ponting and Co, and the South Africans to a lesser degree, it seems to me that they are all much fitter. They are earning so much money these days that they want to keep going. So I suspect that we're going to see the same faces and the same names in that Australian team for a while, especially since they've just lost McGrath and Warne. That, of course, is unless the game produces some form of alternate superannuation. There's a bit of that happening down in India at the moment in terms of the Indian Premier League and the Indian Cricket League. So there lies a possibility that that could bring about a few more retirements slightly earlier.

In respect to Australia's position and their dominance in world cricket, I think that the side that's best equipped to beat Australia is Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, and to a lesser degree, India in India. As far as playing against Australia in Australia is concerned, I just don't think anyone's going to come close.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Sumanth on (December 27, 2007, 23:43 GMT)

It all boils down to a few factors: discipline, toughness, adaptability, making the most of opportunities. In Australia, every player seems to have these traits. In the other teams, maybe 3-4 players have them. And that's not going to be enough.

Posted by mateen on (December 27, 2007, 19:36 GMT)

I'm afraid to say, cricket is cricket. When you come across a mighty team like the Australians, you feel a certain desire to defeat them and celebrate one of those rare victories. But the Australians are truly very tough to beat, especially in their own country. The Austrlian team emits aan elegant flambouyance which no other team currently in the world can keep at bay for too long. Its just the Aistarlian's supremacy, and their ability to terrify the opposion and always be on the stronghld of things. The team that is most likely to pose a threat on the Austrlians is South Africa, but Pakistan, India, and Srilanka are not too far behind. Some team has to defy the Austrlians and tell them who actually is cotrol of things. But unfortunately, Austrlia looks too domineering, by many standards.

Posted by Niranjan on (December 27, 2007, 17:07 GMT)

I personally subscribe to Sanjay's observations.The other teams are making too much fuss about the rare failures of the Aussies.But I think these failures have contributed to the Aussie resolve.As for challenging the Aussies,I can not see any team doing that consistently enough to be considered a threat to the Aussie supremacy.In this,I partly agree with Tony that Srilanka can pose a threat to Ricky and Co at home.But what if Murali is not there ?Of course, Jayawardhena's captaincy has not made Fleming's absence felt.

The pity is that the other teams are busy in exaggerating their rare victories against the world champions to an extent that it seems ridiculously monotonous.One thinks as if they are trying to hide their prolonged failures and inconsistency by blowing things out of proportion,and hence can't see the whole picture.The 20-20 World cup is a case in the point.They'd better shed their willing ignorance,or it's giong to stay like this for ever.

Regards Niranjan

Posted by Ravi on (December 27, 2007, 17:00 GMT)

Teams clueless about playing Australia in Australia:

I think most of the pitches are prepared considering Aussies pace bowlers which are giving more advantages to their team. Also the main point here we must note is: Lot of caught behind appeals are made by Aussies in which 30%-40% of all are NOTOUTS which are given OUTS after several replays. This is the main cause where good batsmen of other teams are not able to perform successfully. So, I think technology should be developed so that umpires be should given some chance to rethink by requesting to 3rd umpire if they are not sure of decisions... Until and unless this happens, we can see a lot of unfortunate decisions in every match which gives batsmen losing confidence.

Posted by sidharth on (December 27, 2007, 15:42 GMT)

what makes the australian team such an invincible side is not their talent and their potential but their performance and their attitude. in india you come across legends like sachin, dravid, ganguly, laxman, kumble. no country can match the potential of these players. and then you have youngsters like r.p.singh, sreesanth, dhoni, yuvraj,uthappa. there are not many equalling their talent. but what makes australia tick is their ability to perform beyond their potential with inconceivable consistency. thier attitude is straight forward - beat the opposition with ignominious result. their strategy is simple - attack and annihilate their target both on the field and mentally. their ability to jolt the opposition psychologically enables them to prevent any sort of resistance and competition from the other teams.a consistent team with less potential is better than a non performing side even if it possess huge potential. only india can halt this australian juggernaut with dominating cricket.

Posted by anil on (December 27, 2007, 15:12 GMT)

Teams are clueless because Australia does not host round the year all the teams like other teams do in the world. They just do not give any chance to other teams to settle. This is no sphynx to reveal. Moreover Australia tampers the pitch to their standards more than enough. Makes it a lively pitch with more bounce than probably any country has. Hence the reason. They cannot play on Dust bowl because they are still weak in spin. On a turning pitch only India or may be a SL can play, considering pak is in the reviving stage. Australia play less international cricket too. They play round the clock only internally. Australia before any series looks relaxed composed and ready and that gives them 50% edge while the incredible line up albeit a bit less than the Indians (when they are fresh) makes it up for the rest. The true test of Australia and India more will be seen in the second and third test if they can put up good fight. Australia is hyped more I feel..... it aint so...

Posted by Mira on (December 27, 2007, 14:52 GMT)

Ofcourse Australia is a world class team and their batting line-up is amazing.I reckon that it's not only Shane Warne and Glenn Mcgrath who made up the team after all a team is not a one man band , but it was the support they got from the other players like Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist.Similarly Australia's bowling attack still remains the same even though they play not very experienced guys like Johnson and Hogg because of the encouragement of bowling attack leader, Brett Lee. The main reason for their success is their team spirit. I think the teams who can play Australia are New Zealand and Pakistan!!!

Posted by Ragunathan on (December 27, 2007, 12:41 GMT)

I think David Lloyd has it right when he says that in other teams when a player gets in it becomes easier to stay in then it is in Australia. We have seen in Australian selection policies the determination to have the best players currently available and also an eye on the future. Cricket Australia did not hesitate to jettison Steve Waugh when they thought the time was right even though he had provided years of sterling service, they did not hesitate to drop Hayden when he was not performing well and when youngsters get in they are given a decent run in the side.

If compared with India after winning the World T20 practically the whole team was disbanded - one of the promising performers Sharma is not even in the team in Australia at the moment. Cricket Australia know that when performances are good the results will follow and when results are good the money will follow. The other teams are trying to get instance riches without wanting to pay the price.

Posted by Vidyashankar on (December 27, 2007, 12:41 GMT)

This whole affair of the world's best teams trying to beat Australia in Australia is a farce.People should stop traveling to this nation as their players always use the art of intimidating the umpires into believing that their appeals are worth upholding.And they invariably will always get the benefit of doubt.Punter would have gone overboard if at all he had ever got a cruel decision like the one given to Yuvraj or whatever Tendulkar has suffered till date in his life.How often has that happened in the history of Ponting's cricket?And when Karthik (Murali) did not walk after he had nicked one in the Mumbai ODI he made such a huge issue of the whole thing! The Aussies just want to win at all costs and this is killing the game of cricket.It is now bereft of all uncertainties.Only one thing is certain - Australian victory!It is better that the Indian team calls off it tour in wake of what has transpired ever since they have arrived on Australian soil.Billy owes a huge sorry to India.

Posted by sadishkumar on (December 27, 2007, 11:50 GMT)

The thing that makes Aussies to shine even after the quit of some of their senior players is the confidence that they have in themselves.They believe that they are the best.The only team at present that could very closely challenge Australia is India.At present its the only team that could compete with them.

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