ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011

Australia's loss heralds the end of an era

Ricky Ponting doesn't think Australia bowing out of the World Cup marks the end of an era, but it's impossible to come to any other conclusion

Brydon Coverdale

March 25, 2011

Comments: 125 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting searches for inspiration as Pakistan's score mounts, Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 19, 2011
Ricky Ponting's tenure as captain of the one-day side may be coming to a close © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting doesn't think Australia bowing out of the World Cup marks the end of an era, but it's impossible to come to any other conclusion. For more than a decade, Australia have owned all sorts of silverware, Cricket Australia's headquarters in Melbourne more a trophy cabinet than an office. Now, the last of those major prizes is finding a new home after 12 years in Australian hands.

Over the past six months, Ponting's men have lost the Ashes and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, or to be more accurate, they have failed to regain them. Those crowns were already gone. They are clinging on to the Champions Trophy, but there's every chance the ICC will soon scrap that event entirely. In any case, it is a trinket compared to the World Cup.

Losing the World Cup for the first time since 1996 will hurt tremendously, but winning three in a row should be celebrated. No country has ever matched that feat in the FIFA World Cup. Since Steve Waugh's men began the dynasty in 1999, the football title has changed hands four times: from France to Brazil, then Italy and now Spain. Winning one world tournament is exceedingly difficult, let alone three in succession.

That is little consolation to this 2011 Australian squad, roughly half of whom didn't experience any of those earlier successes. Times change, and to be beaten by an India side that was better than Australia is no disgrace. Ponting's team entered the tournament with the No.1 ODI ranking - for now, they still hold that position - but were far from being the favourites.

There were factors beyond their control that contributed to their lack of success. Their two frontline spinners, Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty, were unavailable due to injuries, as were fast bowlers like Clint McKay and Ryan Harris, who could have added variety. Two weeks in the middle of the tournament without a match, when their clash with Sri Lanka was washed out, didn't help either.

But ultimately, Australia just weren't good enough. Four teams will reach the semi-finals, and will deserve to be there. Australia did not play well enough to join them. That is not to say that the powers that be should blindly accept that nothing can be done. Moving on and making hard decisions will allow regrowth and rejuvenation.

The natural time for change is at the end of an unsuccessful World Cup cycle, on the heels of a disappointing Ashes cycle. As Ian Chappell told ESPNcricinfo in his analysis after the loss to India, Australia must look to a new captain to guide a new team. They have a chance to begin that process with next month's one-day tour of Bangladesh.

The selectors will be loath to make any major changes, including to the leadership, before the review of Australia's on-field performance is completed around August. After the Ashes debacle, they have their own jobs to worry about without rocking the boat further. Why pre-empt the review, they will ask. But it would be wise to use the Bangladesh trip to look at some new faces, men who might become key players for Australia over the next few years.

There are no shortage of options - Aaron Finch, Daniel Christian, Steve O'Keefe, Luke Butterworth, James Pattinson, James Faulkner, to name but a few. And by the next World Cup, Michael Clarke will be the likely captain, so if the selectors are brave enough, it wouldn't hurt to give him the one-day leadership now and allow him four years to mould a side.

Veterans like Brett Lee, who was impressive at the World Cup but wants to go on and aim for 400 ODI wickets, should consider what is best for the team. Can they contribute to the next era of Australian one-day cricket? And if not, is it right to take up a place that could go to a younger man?

"It's a bit premature to say it was the end of an era for Australian cricket, it was a pretty good game tonight," Ponting said after the loss in Ahmedabad. "I didn't think we were far away from winning a game against a very good Indian team on their home soil. I thought we were very competitive tonight, we've lost our last two games in the World Cup, I'm disappointed with that. I thought we were a better team than we probably showed in the last few games. I think it's a bit too early to say it's the end of an era."

But if not now, when?

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 125 
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Posted by Parin on (March 28, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

Hope they had Symonds in the line up...It would have solved two of their major issues 1. Very good Off Spinning option. 2. Worthy and Dominant Middle order batsmen This 2 things would have made huge impact on Aussie chance for 4th consecutive World Cup

Posted by Shaikh on (March 28, 2011, 6:34 GMT)

Ponting is a true champion. Its too early to comment whether the Australian era has ended or not. Its just that they are going through a transition phase and given the cricketing infrastructure Australi has, its just few moments till the world sees the Australian dominance again. And its too early to comment on Indian taking over from Australia. The Australians have been dominating cricket for more than 15 years. Looking at the standards that Australians have set for themselves, India needs to prove a lot to justify their dominance. Just reaching the semi-final in a World Cup is not enough.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 27, 2011, 20:36 GMT)

there are still some players firing in the side , might be the end of ponting but they are good time and will bounce back

Posted by laxman on (March 27, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

Aussies players need to come down to earth. They are no more unbeatable. Unless they introspect themselves, re-building will be difficult. Ideally M Hussey should take over the reigns in the transition phase till the team comes back on the track.

Posted by nalin on (March 27, 2011, 14:27 GMT)

Era of Australian dominance began with the maturation of players born in 70 and 71 with Shane warne born 2 months earlier.Australia could form a test squad with these players-Slater,Hayden,Langer,elliott,leahman;martyn,law, bevan, blewett gilchrist, bichel, dale, mcgrath, mcgill who were all born in 70 and 71. Australia reached the top in 1995 and were unbeatable till 2007 world cup and the retirements of this group followed leaving a massive hiatus and they have slowly plugged some of these gaps and still remain competetive without being dominant.We cannot blame Ponting for the inevitable and Australia has to carefully rebuild noting that they won the last youth world cup.

Posted by Narayan on (March 27, 2011, 13:09 GMT)

Well. Ponting will be remembered while his detractors will be forgotten. But such era of dominance doesn't materialize often. This era of dominance was long after Bradman era. In between There was an era of parity and dominance of West Indies. Now most likley we will have an era of parity for the next ten years. Era of dominance are outliers of statistical distribution and won't occur on regular basis.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 27, 2011, 11:47 GMT)

This is a nonesence approach to change the entire team all at once. Abrupt changes result in disaster as with the ritirements of Ambrose & Walsh together or Gilly & Mc Grath together. Transition must take place gradually. For now only captaincy should be shifted to Clarke and senior players be kept in side so that Aus may keep winning. Gradually develop replacement for each senior player and replace him.............. like India got better replcement for Gangully in the form of Gambhir and they replaced him. Aussie found Martin as replacement for Stewe Waugh and they replaced him. Dhoni proved as replacement for Dravid and they replaced him. That is the way to go.

Posted by Mark on (March 27, 2011, 0:35 GMT)

No I don't think it is the end of an Era, regarding The Aus. O.D.I Team!! Not while R.Ponting is in the Team! He can be a solid contributer as they find good players/Batsman ,(Not from the List given) & continue to stay at the top, building towards 2015. --M.Taylor spoke on WWSports this morn. about the Fielding being an indictment on the Australian Team/Players. Maybe! --Maybe Ricky is one of the Most Brilliant Fielders Ever! He must have been 'involved in' the most Run-Outs in World cricket Ever!

Posted by Peter on (March 26, 2011, 21:53 GMT)

After watching all the QFs, I'm wondering if Aus has slipped as far from the top of the ODI tree as I initially thought. The India vs Aus game was played at the standard of a semi final. SAf vs NZ looked like a QF, but Pakistan vs WI and SL vs Eng looked like group matches. Considering at no time throughout the tournament did Australia put its best team on the paddock (under-using David Hussey, not selecting Dan Christian in the squad etc), things mightn't be as grim for the ODI team as it appears on the surface. My greater fear is the lack of Test calibre players coming through.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 17:05 GMT)

Ricky Ponting reminds me of Brian Lara ten years ago. It is the end of an era Ricky. All good things come to an end.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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