Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 5th day December 30, 2008

It's not funny anymore

Australia's rebuild has turned into a major unplanned renovation after the series defeat to South Africa
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Tell me when it's safe to look: Ricky Ponting's time in charge has become increasingly upsetting © PA Photos
 

Until the final day at the MCG it was fun watching Australia flop about, letting South Africa recover from positions that only the teams of Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor could escape from regularly. It was satisfying to see the cockiness drain from the experienced Australian players, the ones who have been claiming for weeks they are still the best in the world despite not seeing the bushfire surrounding them. And it was pleasing that the series defeat would lead to more of the younger players, the famed depth that everyone with an Australian cap repeats as often as "execute plans", being on show in the dead rubber in Sydney.

But when Shane Watson was on TV before South Africa wrapped up the series, saying he wouldn't be bowling for up to six months, it started to hurt. At that point what was about to happen at the MCG, and what will continue to happen as Australia's rebuild turns into a major unplanned renovation, registered as a massive change of lifestyle. No Brett Lee, no Stuart Clark, no Watson, no Andrew Symonds, no decent spinner, an unfamiliar Matthew Hayden, no wins and, soon, hardly any trophies. The fall since the tour of India has been more slippery than any single-day drop on the stock exchange. For 16 years Australia had been impregnable at home; in 14 days they folded to South Africa.

Since Watson's announcement I have stopped smirking along with the rest of the world and may start to sulk. Not for this team. Not for the players who didn't see what was wrong, or the selectors who thought they could pick anyone and see them succeed, or the room full of coaches who need to execute - as in kill - plans that eliminate instinct and individual thought. But for what went before through Border and Taylor and Waugh, and under Ponting with McGrath and Warne and Gilchrist. The teams that made Australia envied instead of mocked.

In the commentary box Ian Healy and Shane Warne spent the past two days imagining, with degrees of seriousness, how Australia could win. The hope and cheerleading became embarrassing. "If this last pair can hang around and get a partnership of around 200, it will make it hard for the South Africans." It wasn't quite that bad but it was close, with Warne recommending Michael Clarke match his best figures of 6 for 9 and recalling the Sri Lanka Test of 1992, when Australia defended 181.

That was the match when Warne showed what he could do with 3 for 11 to steal the game. Like the senior men on the field, the relatively recent retirees with the microphones expected the superheroes to arrive. All the Australian capes have disappeared along with Telstra phoneboxes.

The problem with the past- and present-player dreams is that Australia not only miss a Warne or a McGrath, but they don't even have a Gillespie or a MacGill, or a Reiffel or a May. At the moment they own a Ponting, a Clarke and a Johnson. Ponting is the most magnificent batsman but an un-inspirational captain whose pockets must crinkle with schedules to follow. How he ignored Mitchell Johnson on the fourth and fifth days while a hobbling Brett Lee bowled brave medium pace is as crazy as blaming luck for Dale Steyn's match-changing 76 from No. 10.

Underneath Ponting there is Clarke and Johnson, who have had excellent years and deserve to help mould the next teams. Who will join them is a guess. Hayden is lucky to be in Sydney and Symonds, who is having knee surgery, has been as loose as his pre-2003 World Cup days. Michael Hussey's first extended international slump shows how much he has been ground down by the long absences from his family. After Lee's past four months it would be dangerous to expect him to return at his best.

 
 
This side of one current great, a few very goods, a muscular opener on the way out and a collection of mights and might nots has lost Australia's first home series since 1992-93
 

This side of one current great, a few very goods, a muscular opener on the way out and a collection of mights and might nots has lost Australia's first home series since 1992-93. Over the past year they have given up the final tri-series prize, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and now the South Africa silverware. Over the next year the side may have to watch videos of West Indies and New Zealand to remember what it's like to win.

The team may only be No. 1 on the rankings for another week, but even those spruikers inside the Australian dressing room can no longer believe they deserve it. That rating came over consistently outstanding performances at home and away, and was inflated by players who will remain revered long after this slump has been corrected. Australia can always remember the deeds, but those involved in the game can no longer hope for repeats. The current squad is an average one, in comparison with its predecessors, and has carried a previously unrealistic view of itself.

In 1992-93 Australia almost beat West Indies at home, giving up a 1-0 lead with a one-run loss in Adelaide before, exhausted and overwhelmed, they succumbed in Perth. Those players were fighters - Taylor, Boon, Steve Waugh, Healy, Warne et al - and their toughness allowed the next breed to turn into aggressive believers in any situation.

In 1995 they were responsible for beating West Indies and earning the world champion crown that has slipped so suddenly from Ponting's forehead. To erase the hurt of this defeat, for players and Australian followers, a more steely approach will be required. No more batting like millionaires, which most are, no more bowling like domestic representatives, and no more prayers for match-winning miracles.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samdanh on January 6, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    Well, it is news when a 13-15 year Champion team is faltering. Loss of top match winners through retirements over the last 2 years - almost 8 of them, has led todays situation. No other team has undergone such a transition in recent times. Let us all realise and digest this fact. Australia may not be able win as much as they were, but they can still continue in the race and heat up the competition. I do not foresee West Indies like decline. Rather we can expect well contested Tests and one day matches among atleast 4 teams -SA, Aus, India and England with SL pitching in too. Instead of one team dominating the scene we may see 4-5 teams moving up and down the rankings all the time. Good for cricket and for fans.

  • stuartk319 on January 2, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    Well said BSimon. Personally I am also getting tired of hearing how losing 2 matches to an excellent South African team means the end of the world for Australian cricket. There are even Cricinfo journalists now attempting to suggest that Matthew Hayden was only ever a flat-track bully. This is extremely unwarranted.

    I do agree with Peter English's references to uninspired team management and leadership. However, he makes little mention of injuries to Stuart Clark and Brett Lee other than to use them to criticise the rest of the players.

    SAf have batted well, but may not have got out of the tight batting situations that they have been in against Stuart Clark and a fit Brett Lee. Frequent injuries to fast bowlers, IMO are more to do with the international cricket schedule being far too busy to allow them to recover.

  • captainbucket on January 2, 2009, 3:23 GMT

    Even George Bush knows you need someone to hate to consolidate your power. The rest of the World loves to hate Australia. Fair enough. Personally, I never get sick of winning and we're so far ahead of all the whinging Poms, Subcontinentals and displaced Dutchmen from the Transvaal, that we can rest on our laurels awhile. By the way, be careful what you wish for, a strong Australia is vital to World cricket. When the West Indian empire crumbled, everyone thought.."great..time for someone else". Did we really expect the basket case they are now? Let's hope all those potential Australian cricketers of the future don't just turn on their x-boxes instead of Wide World of Cricket over the next few years.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 2, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    I find the terms of use for posting replies to opinion writers and so-called journalists to be self serving in the extreme. Why is it that a writer can criticise a player(s) or team and be published to elicit response, but the public has to agree not to 'attack' or criticise the opinion writer? This form of journalism is all too prevalent in mainstream media. I think you devalue your integrity by allowing articles as ridiculous as 'It's not funny anymore', whereby a writer can call for the end of a professional players career, based on failure of a small percentage of his tenure, however respondents can't do the same to the writer based on public dissatisfaction of the said writer having a similarly measurable failure in his career. So if Hayden should voluntarily curtail his career if he has three poor innings, should not a journalist fall on his sword for three poor articles. They're both in the public domain. Why is one fair game and one a protected species?

  • gerardpereira20 on January 1, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Australia to use a boxing analogy were staggering around the ring like a punch drunk boxer. Eight hard fought tests against India had taken their toll. Injuries retiraments and poor form all contributed to a jaded team playing well below par. India softened Australia to the point SA had only to apply the coup de grace. In the long term Australia will still be formidable opponents in any form of the game.As for SA I think they are a good team but a long way behind the West Indies of the 80s and 90s or the Australians of the last fifteen years.As of now four teams Australia, England, India and South Africa can be considered equals.

  • popcorn on January 1, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    I compare Australia with Roger Federer. No one could come close - until Rafael Nadal did,and beat him,like South Africa beat Australia. But Roger Federer bounced back at the US open, and Australia will bounce back in the return series against South Africa.

    The good news is the Australian System is so strong, that - unlike Federer whio is an individual,will grow old and retire, the Australian Cricket team will constantly evolve like a tree with a strong trunk,continuing to bear fruits.

    Mark my words - in one year's time, Ricky Ponting will be hailed as the next Allan Border - the saviour of Australian Cricket - Australia will rule again - and will stamp the Australian dominance in the cricketing world as convincingly as the 5 nil whitewash of England.

  • gsrli on January 1, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    I agree with a lot of people mentioning that the dominant Aussies of the past 15 years were not liked because of the arrogance. Compare that with the dominant Windies who in general were universally liked and nobody said that their dominance was detrimental to world cricket. That was because they had character but didn't sledge!

  • lawton on January 1, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    Comparing the champion WI teams of Clyde LLoyd and Viv Richards to the Australian teams of the last thirteen years is akin to comparing the great Mohamed Ali to Mike Tyson respectively.The former all grace and charm and the latter an ugly and the most disliked champion.

  • Aashish123 on January 1, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    It's really very Pleasant to see the Aussies being thrashed , may be in near future bangladesh will eye a whitewash

  • sammykent on December 31, 2008, 23:43 GMT

    Having the mantle of best cricket team in the world gives the Australian team a lot to talk about in the field and puts pressure on touring sides in particular. Having a psychological advantage is a significant component in dominating an opposing side and Australia have always been good at applying pressure and instilling uncertainty in lesser sides. Now that the dominance is over, probably for some time, Australia seem to have lost the ability to inspire fear in their opposition. Losing so many greats was not supposed to be a problem and my Aussie mates would always tell me that there was a stable of greats waiting in the wings. The fact is that great players are rare and Australia has benefited from having a handful in every team for the last ten to fifteen years. I fear that the loss of the greats has exposed what so many have thought for some time, Ponting just isn't that good a captain.

  • Samdanh on January 6, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    Well, it is news when a 13-15 year Champion team is faltering. Loss of top match winners through retirements over the last 2 years - almost 8 of them, has led todays situation. No other team has undergone such a transition in recent times. Let us all realise and digest this fact. Australia may not be able win as much as they were, but they can still continue in the race and heat up the competition. I do not foresee West Indies like decline. Rather we can expect well contested Tests and one day matches among atleast 4 teams -SA, Aus, India and England with SL pitching in too. Instead of one team dominating the scene we may see 4-5 teams moving up and down the rankings all the time. Good for cricket and for fans.

  • stuartk319 on January 2, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    Well said BSimon. Personally I am also getting tired of hearing how losing 2 matches to an excellent South African team means the end of the world for Australian cricket. There are even Cricinfo journalists now attempting to suggest that Matthew Hayden was only ever a flat-track bully. This is extremely unwarranted.

    I do agree with Peter English's references to uninspired team management and leadership. However, he makes little mention of injuries to Stuart Clark and Brett Lee other than to use them to criticise the rest of the players.

    SAf have batted well, but may not have got out of the tight batting situations that they have been in against Stuart Clark and a fit Brett Lee. Frequent injuries to fast bowlers, IMO are more to do with the international cricket schedule being far too busy to allow them to recover.

  • captainbucket on January 2, 2009, 3:23 GMT

    Even George Bush knows you need someone to hate to consolidate your power. The rest of the World loves to hate Australia. Fair enough. Personally, I never get sick of winning and we're so far ahead of all the whinging Poms, Subcontinentals and displaced Dutchmen from the Transvaal, that we can rest on our laurels awhile. By the way, be careful what you wish for, a strong Australia is vital to World cricket. When the West Indian empire crumbled, everyone thought.."great..time for someone else". Did we really expect the basket case they are now? Let's hope all those potential Australian cricketers of the future don't just turn on their x-boxes instead of Wide World of Cricket over the next few years.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 2, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    I find the terms of use for posting replies to opinion writers and so-called journalists to be self serving in the extreme. Why is it that a writer can criticise a player(s) or team and be published to elicit response, but the public has to agree not to 'attack' or criticise the opinion writer? This form of journalism is all too prevalent in mainstream media. I think you devalue your integrity by allowing articles as ridiculous as 'It's not funny anymore', whereby a writer can call for the end of a professional players career, based on failure of a small percentage of his tenure, however respondents can't do the same to the writer based on public dissatisfaction of the said writer having a similarly measurable failure in his career. So if Hayden should voluntarily curtail his career if he has three poor innings, should not a journalist fall on his sword for three poor articles. They're both in the public domain. Why is one fair game and one a protected species?

  • gerardpereira20 on January 1, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Australia to use a boxing analogy were staggering around the ring like a punch drunk boxer. Eight hard fought tests against India had taken their toll. Injuries retiraments and poor form all contributed to a jaded team playing well below par. India softened Australia to the point SA had only to apply the coup de grace. In the long term Australia will still be formidable opponents in any form of the game.As for SA I think they are a good team but a long way behind the West Indies of the 80s and 90s or the Australians of the last fifteen years.As of now four teams Australia, England, India and South Africa can be considered equals.

  • popcorn on January 1, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    I compare Australia with Roger Federer. No one could come close - until Rafael Nadal did,and beat him,like South Africa beat Australia. But Roger Federer bounced back at the US open, and Australia will bounce back in the return series against South Africa.

    The good news is the Australian System is so strong, that - unlike Federer whio is an individual,will grow old and retire, the Australian Cricket team will constantly evolve like a tree with a strong trunk,continuing to bear fruits.

    Mark my words - in one year's time, Ricky Ponting will be hailed as the next Allan Border - the saviour of Australian Cricket - Australia will rule again - and will stamp the Australian dominance in the cricketing world as convincingly as the 5 nil whitewash of England.

  • gsrli on January 1, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    I agree with a lot of people mentioning that the dominant Aussies of the past 15 years were not liked because of the arrogance. Compare that with the dominant Windies who in general were universally liked and nobody said that their dominance was detrimental to world cricket. That was because they had character but didn't sledge!

  • lawton on January 1, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    Comparing the champion WI teams of Clyde LLoyd and Viv Richards to the Australian teams of the last thirteen years is akin to comparing the great Mohamed Ali to Mike Tyson respectively.The former all grace and charm and the latter an ugly and the most disliked champion.

  • Aashish123 on January 1, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    It's really very Pleasant to see the Aussies being thrashed , may be in near future bangladesh will eye a whitewash

  • sammykent on December 31, 2008, 23:43 GMT

    Having the mantle of best cricket team in the world gives the Australian team a lot to talk about in the field and puts pressure on touring sides in particular. Having a psychological advantage is a significant component in dominating an opposing side and Australia have always been good at applying pressure and instilling uncertainty in lesser sides. Now that the dominance is over, probably for some time, Australia seem to have lost the ability to inspire fear in their opposition. Losing so many greats was not supposed to be a problem and my Aussie mates would always tell me that there was a stable of greats waiting in the wings. The fact is that great players are rare and Australia has benefited from having a handful in every team for the last ten to fifteen years. I fear that the loss of the greats has exposed what so many have thought for some time, Ponting just isn't that good a captain.

  • Robeli on December 31, 2008, 23:01 GMT

    Ignore my question on the 16 consecutive wins - initially I couldn't find the info. They did it twice.

  • Robeli on December 31, 2008, 22:28 GMT

    NTMacca, when did Australia win 16 matches in a row?

  • klempie on December 31, 2008, 19:43 GMT

    On the contrary! I find it DECIDEDLY funny! As a South African cricket fan who has had to endure the pain of choking it against Aus for the last 15 years, this is so so sweet! Punter getting out on 99 was the cherry on the hilarity cake! LOL I'm delighting in seeing the Aussie media sledge them to pieces. Retribution for their unsportsmanlike "mental disintegration". While the Proteas will obviously have the odd word or two to say, they don't stoop to the level of insinuating sleeping with one's new bride as did the Aussies to Jonty (a devout Christian). They may have been the best in the world, but no one respected them for it. gerardpereira20 said that SA are a bunch of nice guys and that's a pity. I put to you that the All Blacks (who dominate rugby) are respected by South Africans (their biggest rivals) BECAUSE they are gentlemen yet we still love beating each other. My hope is that Biff forges the same kind of respect for the Proteas. Go boys! Whitewash the pants off them!

  • Tumbarumbar on December 31, 2008, 16:13 GMT

    I find it difficult to come to terms with both the tenor of the article and most of the comments. Before Australia lost the last two series just about every journalist in world cricket moaned about how damaging to cricket Australia's dominance was but now the same journalists are all over the team like buckets of dead fish. Many comments have been made about Ponting as a captain, he must be a reasonable one to get the results he has, you only have to look at the talented Pakistan and Indian sides of the past two decades that rarely won games to realise that the captain does make a difference. Also you don't bring in new, young players against the world's best fast bowling attack and expect them to prosper, that's ridiculous.

  • Choppered on December 31, 2008, 15:00 GMT

    In true panto fashion:

    "It's not funny anymore"

    Oh yes it is!

  • NeilSidd on December 31, 2008, 14:52 GMT

    I agree with some of the views put forward by Mr English. I think that the Aussies relied a lot on psychology, sledging and arrogance to dominate teams since the mid 90s. Now, their players are not good enough to back up this arrogance - which led to them losing Tests from good positions in recent months against India and South Africa.

    The Aussies have played good and exciting cricket during the last 15 years, but their sledging and yobbish behaviour towards opponents did not make them a likeable side. They lacked humour and humbleness - particularly McGrath and Warne. Ponting is also very surly and cold when he speaks about opposing players. I just hope that the next generation of Aussie cricketers can learn from this nonsense and play cricket with more of a smile.

  • IsDon on December 31, 2008, 9:32 GMT

    I cannot believe the continuing obsession the the selectors to keep Hayden in the team. Yes he was a great player, he is not one now !! Fantastic record no doubt about it but if we are going to include players with fantastic records why not bring Chappell G and Border out of retirement.Both have better records than Hayden and also both have almost made as many runs as him in the past year.................

    The one opponent that nobody can escape from his Father Time and he has caught up with Matthew Hayden..........The real problem as I see it, that Test cricketers are so well paid now that they are loathe to give it away. Border, Healy, Waugh S and M and no doubt others got the tap on the shoulder from the selectors.If only we had selectors now with the balls to do the job properly......................

  • Governor on December 31, 2008, 9:06 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is an inspirational captain. Who remembers his innings in Brisbane in 2006 that set up the Ashes series whitewash?

    How about his innings at the MCG where he led by example, but he does not have the bowlers who can bowl a good side below 300.

    At the end of the day, Ricky Ponting does not have a good bowling lineup that works well in pairs to bowl sides out below 300. He has an inexperienced bowling attack that needs the extra guidance from Troy Cooley.

    Mitchell Johnson has come of age during the 2008 year. But, he needs to back this up with good performances in SOuth Africa and England. He also needs to learn how to swing the new ball away and into the right handers.

    Brett Lee has to re-invent himself as a fast bowler. He has to learn how to bowl in a similar fashion to Allan DOnald when he hit his early 30s; NZ great Richard Hadlee and of course his mentor DK Lillee.

    WE have to rebuild the side from scratch.

  • Megel on December 31, 2008, 8:46 GMT

    Now that Australia has lost two test in a row, it is time to determine who was the greatest: Windies or Aussies? Between 1973 and 1995 the Windies never lost a home series (22 yrs) Also when we were dominant we never lost away ora t home. It is clear that WI was a more dominant team but for some reason the media makes it seems like Aus was the greatest. All the records suggest WI to be the greatest test team of all time. Aus are going throught the same thing the WI WENT THROUGH and will have to be careful they don't go into freefall. Windies forever!

  • patil1pd on December 31, 2008, 6:51 GMT

    I am surprised to see few reader's comments that it would take a significant work for SA or India to come even close to what Australia at their peak were. While it is true, I think the discussion here is not to compare these teams to once dominating Australia, rather it is about the very likely end of their dominance.

  • cooldewd on December 31, 2008, 6:19 GMT

    Alot of ranting and Indian gloating here. Every team will surely slip when a clutch of stalwarts retire. It happened to South Africa 6-7 years ago and make no mistake my Indian friends, I will watch with interest all the hand wringing from the Sub Continent when in the next two years both Dravid and the mighty Sachin Tendulkar retire as the sun is surely setting on both their illustrious careers. Australia will rise again and new heroes will emarge - they always do. The reality is, we are unlikely to see anyone of the calibre of Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist as these were both once in a half century cricketers. Still Brad Haddin is a wonderful replacement...I just cannot see where our next quality spinner is going to come from. This South African team is an excellent all round combination and I have enjoyed their talents. No shame losing to such quality, just as there is no shame losing to India in India where they always play so much better. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  • OldAussie on December 31, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    English sounds a Roebuckian 'Englishman' in his awful sledge. Yes, we have fallen now in two pulsating games, helped by big umpiring errors [hello India], fielding and bowling errors, and MANY injuries. Sure, Ponting is not a great captain, but he'll stay until he quits as a great champion [say 45 100s?]. Re-building? We have very good depth, but those like Hodge and even the Husseys may be discardable when we need to blood champs young like we once did. S. Marsh, Hughes, Klinger? Jacques too. Is Pup a forceful enough leader? Symonds has overstayed his Tests, Haydo will, but there's a lot to look forward to in the fast bowlers and young bats. Have we forgotten that we've only lost 2 tests, and there are 3 more for South Africa [not 'SA', that's South Australia]. It's really a 6 test series. A lot of you blokes will look pretty silly if we can win there with new blood and Tait. Pity about our all-rounders. We need more, spinners or not. Johnson is nearly there.

  • Howie_CrowEater on December 31, 2008, 3:14 GMT

    I cant believe South Africa came from behind twice to comfortably win the series. Full credit to them. Every session has been entertaining. It's good to see the Aussies struggle, it makes the game more interesting for everybody. I must say it's nice having a bunch of strong, mature cricketers tour this season as opposed to the whinging trouble makers last time. Well done South Africa wish we could play you guys all the time. I reckon we'll come back though..... watch out!

  • Ozcricketwriter on December 31, 2008, 3:01 GMT

    As is often the cause of shocking defeats the world over, much of the cause of this loss (and the loss in India), was due to poor selection. Why is Australia insisting on having a spinner just for the sake of having a spinner? Warne was great, but before that Australia was bad because we kept insisting on having a spinner when there was nobody worth the spot. Now, that is even more the case. Why are the likes of Nathan Bracken, Shaun Tait, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger and Ashley Noffke reduced to the scrap heap when they play 2nd string first class spinners, who can't even make their state sides, like Hauritz and Krezja? It is similarly upsetting that Australia insist on playing the best batsman who keeps wicket - Haddin - as opposed to the best keeper. Then there are the batsman problems. David Hussey should be playing, period. There are also others about that make the current selections seem foolish. If we had gone in with our best side, it would be a different story.

  • SHANTIRATNAM on December 31, 2008, 2:39 GMT

    True the aussies are not the best any more, but it doesnt mean everybody else are on top of the aussies. The SA boys have always played better than everyone else, luck has prevented them the crown for all these years. Ricky was lukcy when he had excellent guys in his team, now he has the same brand of guys all other teams have, so this makes cricket more interesting.

  • NTMacca on December 31, 2008, 2:06 GMT

    The bottom line is this:

    One series win over Australia does not make SA or India as good as Australia were. Consistent victory, home and away, over a number of years might begin to see them regarded similarly to the Aussies over last sixteen years - might!!!!!!!

    Let's see one of them win sixteen matches in a row - not likely!

  • josh-1980 on December 31, 2008, 2:02 GMT

    yesterday was one of the greates days in australian cricket. i cried true tears of joy. finally now the weak selectors might actually grow some balls and stand up to a very ordinary captain in ponting. No imagination, no clue and all he wants is his purple circle of mates playing, well that time is up. Bye bye roy, cya bing, adios haydos. Soon they will lose the ashes and ponting b sacked as captain and the circle wil;l be complete and finally we can build a side again

  • NTMacca on December 31, 2008, 1:46 GMT

    I sit here depressed while considering the next several years of likely Test cricket results for Australia. Not saddened at the thought of defeat, rather saddened because the selectors could have lessened the impact of the future by blooding younger players one or two at a time over the last two or three seasons. We have long been aware that we've had an ageing test team and have done nothing about it. The Aussie Rugby League team have been on top of the world for decades because they have the best doestic competition in the world and they use events like State of Origin to blood young players and bring up to Test standard so they can perform when they finally have to. I don't know what the cricket alternative might be seeing as the Shield competition is a weak one at best? Here's hoping it won't be too painful!?

  • reddyuta on December 31, 2008, 1:07 GMT

    world domination by any one team is a hindrance to sport-i would argue that cricket was in the doldrums for 15 years because one team was winning and others were not putting up a fair fight or they were unable to because of australia's dominance.we need england ,sri lanka and especially west indies and new zealand to step and be more competitive.this is crickets golden age and the name of the game should be" competition".

  • Bainer on December 31, 2008, 0:48 GMT

    Peter English shows his small mindedness yet again. Such a sad little bitter man. Well done South Africe, gutsy performances from atleast two players per test.Unfortunately for Australia, this was all that was required, in the past it would have taken more, to topple the Aussies at home. Neither the selectors nor Ponting could be blamed for the failing elbow of S. Clark, the combined form slumps of Hayden and Hussey (shocking decisions have made it hard to assess Hayden for the last 3 months, and Hussey could make similar complaint. Peter English (and I imagine Roebuck - don't get me started on Roebuck - I'd almost prefer listening to Ian Smith than reading another word of his) fail to acknowledge that Australia only lost two days of cricket, or more importantly South Africa only managed to win two days of cricket. To suggest Australia folded is sensationalism at best. Australia has a great system for producing tough, competitive cricketers...gloat while you can Peter.

  • nirvanam on December 31, 2008, 0:03 GMT

    During the last 6-8 years of the West Indian domination, there was only one opponent that was capable of trouncing them. It was Pakistan under Imran. The Pakistani teams of the 90's should've taken over the reigns from the Windies but fate had other things for them (in-fighting, bloated egos, non-existant board, et, etc) and sensing the oportunity to go for a kill the Aussies took it away from the Windies. A similar parallel can be drawn to the losing of the world beaters tag by Australia. Through out 95-08 Australia have been stopped in their tracks by one team: India. Well, Sout Africa has finally finished off the job and can rightfully claim the throne. But something tells me the Indian cricket set up is not as unprofessional or naive that the Pkaistani set up was during the 90s to let a golden opportunity go by. Cricket fans can be rest assured that there will be some real exciting cricket coming up in the next few years when SA and India meet.

  • nirvanam on December 30, 2008, 23:59 GMT

    On the home front Australia have been invincible between 93 and 2008 giving them 15 years of home control as opposed to the 22 years of home control of WI. But where WI seems to have done better than Australia is during the real dominating age when both teams were so good that losing anywhere (home or away) had to be impossible. WI did that for 15 years consecutively. But Australia lost 5 series (all Away) during this period. Thus giving them a Series W/L Ratio of 7.8 i.e. Australia lost one of every 8 series they played. Most notably these were series against India (4 times) and England (once). The recent SA drubbing of Aus is not taken it account because I am using it as a series from where Australia are no longer world-beaters. Similarly while analyzing WI victories I did not consider their last test series defeat to Australia in 95. This particular series results were used only for Australia to demarcate exactly when their Away dominance started. to be contd..

  • nirvanam on December 30, 2008, 23:55 GMT

    contd... Australia's dominance at home started in 93 against New Zealand and was ended by SA this week giving them around 15 years at the helm in their own backyard. Now, when the Away series are considered then the actual start of Aussie domination is in 1995 which coincided with the end of WI domination. Therefore Australia have been at the helm for almost 13 years. Or have they? Strictly going by numbers, they have not achieved what WI did: go for 15 years in international cricket without being defeated in any series whether at home or away, and also go for 22 years in international cricket without losing a sinmgle series at home. Year M W L D W/L SeriesW SeriesL SeriesD S.W/L '92-'08 H 89 65 9 15 7.27 24 0 3 Infinity '95-'08 A 76 44 19 12 2.32 17 5 1 3.4 '92-'08 A 91 50 23 17 2.17 18 6 3 3 '95-'08 H+A 154 103 26 24 ~4 39 5 3 7.8 How do Australia stack up against this standard of WI? to be continued...

  • Dan2 on December 30, 2008, 23:51 GMT

    Australia were knocked off their perch when India last toured here. It was only the poor umpiring that saved Australia during that series. Why all the hue & cry now that South Africa have beaten them? Dont blame the players, blame the selectors who would have surely seen this coming after the retirement of the McGrath, Warne, Langer, Gilchrist. They should have started grooming younger players at that point of time. Congratulations to South Africa on the last two victories & I do hope you guys (SA) win in Sydney also.

  • nirvanam on December 30, 2008, 23:42 GMT

    I have seen quite a few posts comparing the current Aussies to the Calypso Kings of 70s and 80s. I thought I would bring a different perspective by presenting a few easily understandable data items. A quick look at the two dominating teams (WI and Aus) during their respective periods of dominance. WI did not lose a home series between 1973 and 1995 i.e. for 22 years. Once you bring the perspective of away series, this period of domination shifts to 1980 through 1995 i.e. for 15 years. Remember during all those 15 years WI never lost a series home or away. So obviously their series Win-Loss ratio for these 15 years is infinity. Year M W L D W/L SeriesW SeriesL SeriesD S.W/L '73-'95 H 67 36 8 23 4.50 14 0 2 Infinity '80-'95 A 67 31 11 25 2.82 9 0 8 Infinity '74-'95 A 97 40 20 37 2 12 3 9 4 '80-'95 HA 115 59 15 41 ~4 20 0 9 Infinity Australia's dominance at home started in 93 against New Zealand and was ended by SA this week giving them around 15 years ... contd

  • Trivalve on December 30, 2008, 22:35 GMT

    Those who think Australia is dead and buried, consider that, although we lost both tests, we were in winning position in both as well. We won't always fall over. Everyone who thinks they've seen the last of Australia winning is deluded. We are back with the pack, that's all. If you want to think that SA or India are what we have been since 1995 - go do it for the next 10 years, then start gloating and boasting.

  • Babbi on December 30, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    Mr English,

    Your article is a mere summary of the status quo. I have not yet read anyone launch a scathing attack on the Australian Cricket Academy (the Marsh boys) on the way they have rested on their laurels. ACA does not have the necessary vision, commitment or purpose...a la the West Indies Cricket Board. They have not nurtured the budding talent of the counties over the last 5 seasons at least. Neither did the Australian selectors create any fringe slots for the likes of Stuart MacGill to proliferate any chances of spin bowling in Australia. It's a wonder how Dennis Lillee spotted the talent in Mitchell Johnson. It makes me wonder if the guys at ACA have any clue on the shelf life of a pace bowler these days with so much cricket being played. Just consider the list and you can get close to ten pins with this count. ACA must adopt a more sustainable approach...similar voids occurred when Kim Hughes, Rod Marsh et al hung up their boots.

  • immortalpop on December 30, 2008, 21:48 GMT

    The open personal despise of the australian team which you unprofessionally flout in you article is for me laughingly contradictory to what British media dished our during the 2005 Ashes, when the English team were lauded for displaying 'aussie like' aggression and swagger. Whatever your own feeling are towards them, the attitude they display has been what others have been aspiring to emulate in order to displace them. The Australians have been convincingly beaten on their home soil - there's no mystery about it the better side won and the aussie's reign is over but their marvellous feats of the last decade or more already form part of cricketing history. The game has changed for the better because of the achievements of the Australian cricket team in the last 15 years so why not pay them a tribute instead of making the same old cheap, personal digs?

  • RG2008 on December 30, 2008, 21:46 GMT

    Why don't we congratulate the South Africans on a wonderful performance - it must be their equivalent of our away win in India. Australia have obviously slipped and are not the magnificent side they were when all the greats were playing but South Africa seem to be a side on the rise. At this stage I'd love to have to chose between Dumminy & Prince and how many runs would Smith have scored if he didn't have a dodgy elbow and not been able to hit straight down the ground. Hopefully Australia can continue to be in the top 3 or 4 sides while we rebuild - heaven forbid test cricket may be a little more interesting with some evenly matched teams.

  • moikei on December 30, 2008, 21:33 GMT

    In an era of strict partisan-ship let's not lose sight of the fact that the Australian side this past 10 years or so has contained some of the irreplaceable greats of the game. Like life itself, sporting nations rotate in a cyclical routine - some a lot more frequently than others, with Australia near the top of this "league" and England pretty well near the bottom ( I write this as a disillusioned English man, wondering if our turn will ever arrive...) So, Australian Cricketers, you were near anough to being best most of us are ever likely to see...pity about the sledging though and not enjoying life when you were on the receiving end .... Let's hope for the top two teams, India and South Africa, to now show the way for the rest of the cricketing world. R.I.P Oz.

  • Grahame on December 30, 2008, 20:25 GMT

    Well it had to happen. The writing has been on the wall for some time it's just that the Aussie selectors, fans and players have just failed to see or acknowledge the obvious over the last 18 months or so. The worst aspect of the decline of Aussie cricket is the lack of grace they display, a sort of begrudging acknowledgement, to their opponents. Even some commentators are embarrassing.

    One would have to wonder why the Aussies stick with players who have attitude problems and fail to deliver when it really matters (Symonds).

    Why pick players who are not 100% fit (Symonds & Watson).

    I used to admire the Aussies when they would look at their youth when times got tough. But the lack of available quality bowlers of all types just staggers me. Where are the academy players coming through?

    Sorry I have to write this but it's all so true.

    If the Ashes get dropped I guess the Aussies will be rated somewhere near the Windies or New Zealand. C'mon see things for what they are!!

  • vijayd1980 on December 30, 2008, 19:47 GMT

    I just don't understand. What did you guys expect? That Australia will be dominating world cricket for eternity? Give me a break! I thought Indian public was the worst in terms of expectation (at least we had a reason, until the late 90's we were hardly a force to reckon with outside the sub continent and in the world's second most populated country where cricket is seen as a religion more than a sport, it is completely justified), the Aussie press, critics and public are probably the worst of the lot.You guys should be so proud to have had a fantastic cricketing nation that dominated world cricket and even made it so utterly boring for more than a decade. Where were you guys expecting? That you will find another Warne and McGrath immediately?Congrats to South Africa for a fantastic win. But let me tell you no one nation- neither SA or India is going to be the clear dominator in test cricket leave alone trying to ape the Australian's winning streak.

  • varty on December 30, 2008, 19:35 GMT

    Can someone tell me why you've got a limited 33yr old and a struggling 37yr old opening the batting in a meaningless Test? I've never seen this lad Hughes play but everything suggests he's something special. Australian selection is reminiscent of English selection policy of 15 years ago. Hey, even we realised that Vaughan wasn't the way forward for the winter tour of the Carribean. Oh, and what's happened to Casson (and Krezja?). McGain is 36 for god's sake! At least Crazy tries to give it a rip and then you bring it a John Emburey type bowler to give you control.......Hauritz is no more a Test bowler than I am. Your selectors now need to identify 5 or 6 young players and have the balls to stick with them....time will tell.

  • Shreyans.B on December 30, 2008, 19:09 GMT

    Im an Indian and watching aussies fail in defending the border gavaskar trophy and suffering a loss against south africa at home just pleases me. The main reason is that a team like australia got their title by playing hard gritty cricket according to my opinion but they had the skilled players to do it for them. All i will say is that ponting is not a good captain in cricketing terms but he is a lucky captain.I am sure people will agree with me because ponting had the players of impact till recent times where those players have either retired or are on the verge of retiring any time in the future. Players like MCGrath Warne Gilchrist and Hayden are the players who made the difference between the teams during a certain series. Now their replacements cannot perform the same job consistently in every series especially whn aussies have a spin dept problem. So in conclusion I say some team has to start a new era of dominance and it will be either SA or IND depending on who takes over 1st

  • Robeli on December 30, 2008, 18:55 GMT

    "It's not funny anymore" by Peter English. Oh yea, this is VERY funny, especially to the rest of the cricket world. Aussies, welcome to what the rest of the world had to endure the last 15+ years. It is payback time.

  • Petes_Pick on December 30, 2008, 18:55 GMT

    Peter English , wake up and stop living in the past.Australia did not lose the series, South Africa won the series - no mention in your artical of a great 100 from the SA skipper nor an unbelievable 166 from a man whom no Aussies had probably heard of before now- and lets be honest will be unlikely to forget (or forgive) for three generations. The West Indies, prior to Australia's domination were the world beaters, Oz has had a turn and the best thing that has happened for world cricket is the hiding deluxe the arrogant Aussies have received at the hands of a talented South African side in their own back yard. India would also beat them in Oz and the Ashes will unfortunately be claimed by England, but hey doesn't it make cricket more interesting when it's not one-sided?

  • Rajesh. on December 30, 2008, 18:36 GMT

    I'm an Indian & not an Aussie..... still you got to give credit where it's due. India and South Africa may be playing really well at the moment but they need to do what Australia have been doing now for such a long time to be called the undisputed champions......... Australians earned it because they emulated the great West Indies Teams of the late 1970's and early 1980's. West Indies set the bar & Australia matched it. Now anyone wanting to take Australia's place as undisputed champions should emulate them......

  • Vishnu27 on December 30, 2008, 18:08 GMT

    I'm an ardent & hardcore Aussie cricket fan, but full credit & congratulations must go to S.Africa. They have completely outplayed us in all facets of the game. Their batting, bowling & importantly fielding has been of a far superior calibre. Australia has certainly had some good opportunities throughout the series, but has not once been able to capitalise or get any great momentum going. This S.A team is also a lot more likeable & not as brash & outspoken as past teams, which softens the blow a bit. Kudos to Graeme Smith for being fairly humble in victory. Ricky Ponting could use a little charm schooling, not to mention captaincy advice. Sadly RPs form with the bat never translates to good onfield leadership. He is largely clueless as a captain, as the last 5th day clearly showed. I look forward to the SCG with talk of new blood. New players will take time, but this is a team in transition & it must happen sooner or later. You never know we could uncover a Duminy. Come on Aussie!!!

  • ajaydesai on December 30, 2008, 17:53 GMT

    South Africa outplayed Australia in all departments and so they deserve the victory in Test Series. Superb alround down by Steyn and extraordinary batting by newcomer Dimmny sealed win for South Africa. Congrats to South Africans for ending great era Australia of being unconquerable.

  • china_cricket on December 30, 2008, 17:51 GMT

    ahhhh, enough already, deal with it. Times change, so what?...good cricket will continue to be played..India will rise and fall, South Africa will rise and fall, Australia will rise again and fall again....all this couch potato philoso-nonsense means nothing. "whatever happens is indeed...whatever happens"

    Test cricket rools OK! Who-ever is best.

  • gerardpereira20 on December 30, 2008, 17:36 GMT

    for ten long years and beyond India has fought Australia tooth and nail. The series tally stands four three in favour of India. Ten tests a piece.I mourn the loss of a great love hate relationship.I will miss Australia at number one because they set the bench mark.I will miss the sledging, the tantrums and the great cricket played in between. South Africa at number one? I am not so sure.They caught Australia on the way down. South Africa don't play spin to well, they seem vulnerable against swing bowling, but most important of all they seem to be a bunch of well mannered nice guys and it is no fun beating nice guys

  • kingstonsfinest on December 30, 2008, 17:32 GMT

    I'm a big Aussie fan but i'm hoping they lose the next match and end the series 0-3. I think CA needs a major shock like a whitewash to jolt them enough to get rid of these stupid selectors who didnt play a top spinner in India and continued with Hayden despite his continued lack of form. It was in 1995 that the Australians ended the West Indian dominance at Sabina Park, now its their turn.

  • nozza91 on December 30, 2008, 17:13 GMT

    What a day for world cricket this has been, today world domination in cricket changed. Australia have lacked in the last year, only mangaging to beat West indies, India at home narrowly and beating New Zealand. These are changing times in the world of cricket, these new emerging teams like India and South Africa are competing at their highest, and knocking Australia off the number one post. The Aussies need to find a method and formula quick if they want a good 2009, being a englishman i thought i would never see the day when Australia lose their touch and greatness they have shown over the years, next year's Ashes should be a thriller to watch.

  • Clyde on December 30, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    We get very little commentary on pitches and the kind of ball being used, which must have a hugh influence on the game. The drop-in pitch in Melbourne seemed to me to play slow and with an uneven bounce, from the beginning. Bowlers did not get the foot of conventional swing, just in front of the bat, of a Terry Alderman, and it seemed the humidity in the air above the pitch was less than with a conventional pitch. I have vaguely heard that in Australia now there is a new ball, only described as 'lighter red'. The pitch seems to lack grip on the spinning ball, and the ball is probably harder to grip. In general then, the unpitchlike pitch in Melbourne and its possible combination with a different ball was to me more striking than any of the players, as good as many of them were. I found the pitch extremely disappointing, lacking the characteristics of any piece of normal ground rolled and with the grass cut.

  • Sudhirhk on December 30, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    Good article Peter. Good to see Aussies topple, congratulations to Smith and his players for playing fantastic cricket to put it across their opponents. It was the shallow arrogance of the Aussies that was one of the primary reasons for their downfall. They should really talk less and show more in their actions. Even before the series started, the Aussie coach made a mountain out of a molehill regarding some comments mde by SA coach, a clear ploy of mental games. Ponting started playing his own brand of mind games with his "they have lost in their previous series..blah blah blah" talks. Then McGrath, from the cool confines of wherever he is now said "It is still 3-0 for Aussies." Now it is about to go just the reverse of it. Lee started targeting Smith even before the SA team hit the Australian shores and where is he now? Was he able to get his supposed 'bunny' even once in the series? The Aussies should stop all this nonsense of mental disintegration and concentrate on their game.

  • Robeli on December 30, 2008, 16:10 GMT

    Clearly Smith is now the best captain in the world - by miles. Ponting's shortcomings has been exposed in this series. He never had to fight and come from behind, let alone keep an 'unexperienced' team together. His body language in the last 2 tests showed that, not to mention his comments afterwards. Dhoni and Pietersen shows some potential, but both need another year or two to show what they are made of.

  • CiMP on December 30, 2008, 16:10 GMT

    The Australian parallel with the rise and fall of West Indies is by now well recognized. The danger is extending the parallel any further. Since 1995 WI has never really resurrected itself. If Australia is looking for a quicker turnaround it must make sure it does things differently from what the WICB did. While the socio economic fabric of the multinational West Indies is very different from what obtains in Australia the complacency (as seen in the selections for Sydney) is a shade worryingly similar. The chop and change policies post Chappel-Lillee era and the English selectors pre-Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher era must also be eschewed. Perhaps the Post Cronje South African policy is better model to start with and tweak as one goes along. A strong Australian test team is vital for the health of world cricket and hence every cricket lover should hope that the CA gets the course charted correctly.

  • Hiteshdevilliers on December 30, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    In my view, a lot of people probably never saw this day coming. I mean how long can you be number one and so dominant. Australia have become so impeccable since the last decade that no one ever imagined they could have fallen so much in such little time. The famous West Indian team that was even more destructive than the Aussies during the 70's and 80's lost it's grip too eventually. What is important to realize is that other teams have also had similar runs such as Australia's but not lasted as long. In this day and age with the game so heavily in favor of the batsmen, it's not going to be easy to find another warne and mcgrath. The batsmen are going through a lean patch like all batsmen do, but with the pressure off at the Sydney test I think the these Australian batsmen will come back, in particular, Matthew Hayden.

  • jokerbala on December 30, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    I have to agree with you about the cocky aussie commentators.I was watching the match today and south Africa was 121 for 1 and these guys where saying things like, "another 3 wickets before lunch,could be interesting" and "stranger things have happened in cricket" when there were only 3 overs left beore lunch.I can understand their job is to make the fans watch the idiot box, but their premise was ridiculous.

  • USGunny on December 30, 2008, 15:43 GMT

    Yes.....It is time for Self retrospection, very much like MAK Pataudi suggested. The dominant times are over. It is time to blood new talent and ofcourse nurture them for a period of time until they stand up to face the world and challenge strong opponents.

    I will miss Mathew Hayden, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds etc. I think their times have come. Even if Brett and Andrew do make a come back I doubt they would be as effective as they have been in the past. Hayden, I think will retire after this series. As far as Ponting is concerned it will be his responsibility to guide some of the youngsters in the team and then hand over the reigns to Micheal clark. Out of the current lot of cricketers I do not see anybody in the class of Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Justin Langer, Mathew Hayden, Shane Warne, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist, Glenn MCgrath, Dizzy Gillespie etc. So the chapter of Australian dominance can be considered over.

    Time for a new WC winner.

  • P.S.B. on December 30, 2008, 15:40 GMT

    I think we should point out that INDIA have competed with Australia for the past 10 years and not just since their greats have retired. Since the Border Gavaskar trophy began, INDIA and Australia have played 26 test matches with INDIA winning 10 tests, Australia winning 10 tests and 6 draws. The last 26 test matches between Australia and South Africa and Australia vs England have been pretty much in Australias favour. SO i would say that INDIA is the NUMBER 1 team in the world at this moment in time.

  • coolram on December 30, 2008, 15:28 GMT

    What will be more interesting to see is how long will SA or India hold on to the no. 1 spot in case they achieve it. So lets wait and hope for an enthralling year of cricket in 2009 rather than pulling down Aussies and over reacting to performances by India and South Africa.

  • gerardpereira20 on December 30, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    The writing has been on the wall ever since Australia's shameful display against India in Sidney. A spent force, a broken arrow, a barking dog with no bite.India opened the door and South Africa barged in. It is impossible to replace cricketers of the calibre od Warne, Mcgrath, Langer,and Gilchrist and still keep the party going. It does not get any better Hayden,Ponting,Symonds,Lee and Hussey are all the wrong side of thirty. It is going to take a lot of the legendary Aussie steel just to compete with the likes of Sri Lanka and the West Indies.I see the Poms handing out another hideing in the summer of 2009.All the Sledging Strutting won't get you through. Australia in Steve Waugh's words have mentaly disintegrated. South Africa and India are the new kids in in towm with lots of emerging talant, Ishant Sharma,Rohit Sharma, Gambir, Yuvraj Singh, AB,Steyn and JP to name but a few. Good day Australia

  • coolram on December 30, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    Opinions do differ but we need to understand one thing as was rightly put forward by one fan. Why didnt something like this happen when warnie or Mc Grath were around? They held the no. 1 spot for over a decade and i feel during this process of rebuilding that the Aussies should not be worrying too much about the rankings. As a cricket fan, i certainly hope to see a resurgent Aussie team fighting it out for the top slot with India or SA. This would certainly enhance the popularity of the game which over the past decade mostly turning out to be one-sided affair when Aussies were around. So lets hope for a fitting rivalry between teams to prove their worth.

  • cricman007 on December 30, 2008, 15:15 GMT

    Australia lost the series because of a number of reasons. 1. Hayden averaging 11 with the bat. 2. Hussey averaging a mere 2.5 with the bat. 3. Innocuous bowling by the bowlers except Johnson. 4. a lack of aggression in their approach after they had South Africa on the ropes with seven wickets down under 200. Amazingly the much maligned Andrew Symonds averaged 30 with the bat inspite of his dodgy knee. This guy continues to be a scapegoat and has to keep playing under intense scrutiny and pressure. He was not in India yet they lost the series 2-0. They should look at the real reasons for their slide or they will soon hit rock bottom.

  • nishs on December 30, 2008, 15:09 GMT

    No other team in the world has faced up to Australia like India has in the past few years, even the Ashes seem comparitively boring. I think India has lead the way and shown the world that Aussies are not god! They can be beaten at their own game, whether it be the skills or the sledging. Major credit goes to the Indians for exposing and cracking the bullies! Having said that, if India and S.A were to play against each other, there is no doubt in my mind that India would be on top! After a few players retire from Australia, it's going to take them years before they regain the top spot again, perhaps in the mean time they can keep busy playing Bangladesh! LOL

  • Ashes2009 on December 30, 2008, 15:07 GMT

    This is all good news for England and the ashes, my only worry is Australia are now so desperate they will probebly get Shane Warne out of retirement, it's the only hope they have of retaining the ashes over here. and if he does agree to it, he will probebly win it for them, our batsmen struggle against ok spin, but world class spin such as Warne, they wont have a hope.

    Australia without Gilchrist, Warne, and Mcgraph as is being shown, are not anything special, although you cant blame Ponting, he does not become a bad captain over night, and hes still their best batsmen by a mile, their must be a reason he was using lee on the 4th day in the last test.

    Either way i will be in Cardiff hopefully watching the continuation of the destruction of a great Australia era of world domination in cricket.

  • bivu on December 30, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    Then what we all are expecting?a winning captain will keep on winning winning and winning?he simply cannot endorse the idea of getting defeated at all simply?we all say that stephen fleming was a great captain?but have you guys ever looked at for all his credentials how many tests has newzealand won under his captaincy?

  • khlfn14 on December 30, 2008, 14:52 GMT

    First of all conguratulations to SA.But i am unhappy about australia in all departments.See in the 1st match they would have won if they could dismiss SA but they let them chase 414 ,its a massive target.Earlier they use to defend 150 or more and now they cannot defend 414 ,and in the 2nd match they let them to reach a massive score of 459 while SA being 198/7 at stumps day-4.They dropped 3 catches of steyn and if ponting would have caught the catch SA would have been 317/9.So aussies gifted SA the series by letting them win in both matches being in great positions.In this series the experienced guys have not played but young ones have played, the experienced guys were not good but flopp and nil while the young ones were not excellent but good.Ponting have been criticed but i dont think he has done anything wrong.His captaincy is good aand batting too when needed but little bit defensive then before.At the end SA are champions and they deserve.I hope that AUS win the next match. GD.LK!

  • shahbanm on December 30, 2008, 14:38 GMT

    one thing for sure - the Ashes are almost looking a dead rubber in favour of England too. i dont Ricky Ponting's ability as a batsmen - probably the best in the world, but as a captain - no way, they should seriously think about giving someone else a chance, BUT WHO? Clarke i dont think is ready so this is a real challenging time for Aus.

  • Godof86 on December 30, 2008, 14:26 GMT

    Maybe it's all about selection policies. AB and Steyn were throw into the top end with little experience... their talent was backed to the hilt. Ditto Ishant Sharma and ages ago, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh for India. But Australian selectors are so determined to have their players to have proven their mettle, that they wait and wait and wait on their best young players. When Symonds was not able to tour India, that was the best time to ground a talented youngster with little experience in Moises Henriques. an even better time is the next test.. a dead rubber. But they choose a limited but experienced guy instead... On the other hand, we have had a bucketload of over-aggressive sledgers under the baggy green cap, does the cricketing world really need a preening prima-donna in Cristiano Ronaldo's cousin (as Henriques is).

  • Migwana on December 30, 2008, 14:26 GMT

    For a team in total disarray the Australians were not far off winning both of these test matches. They had their chances but could not strike when necessary. Injury (Stuart Clark), form (Hussey) and inexperience (Kreza/Hauritz) combined to leave them in short of the South Africans. Take out one or more of these factors and they probably would have won. Looking at it another way, one good batsman and one good bowler more and they were well in it. This is all against a team that claims to be the number one in the world. The Aussies may not dominate as they did in the past, but they will not be far away from the top, if not on top in the near future.

  • sunder.gopinath on December 30, 2008, 13:44 GMT

    It is time for a India Vs South Africa series... Now with the Pak tour of India cancelled, we should have India play South Africa at a neutral venue to decide who tops the World Charts both in Tests and ODI's..!

  • ami52350 on December 30, 2008, 13:44 GMT

    The fall of the Aussies can be attributed to several reasons: 1) Very poor selection for many months as older players like Hayden are retained despite their very lean run over the past 12 months.The selectors have been like ostriches burying their heads in the sand. 2) Ponting's captaincy at many times lacks inspiration and he takes some very strange decisions when the team is in a winning position. 3) I also would like to add that the other cricketing nations would constantly criticise Australia due to inner feelings of jealousy due to Aussie domination over so many years. Lets be realistic. No country can proclaim to be well mannered these days. We should acknowledge that Australia have played brilliantly in both Tests and ODIS for more than a decade and you can not be on top of the perch always.Its sad that their decline has been so swift. 4) By the end of 2009, my projections of Test rankings are SOUTH AFRICA (1), INDIA (2), ENGLAND (3), AUSTRALIA (4 OR 5).

  • CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on December 30, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    ...well SA easily the best team at the moment in the test arena.. but if they wanna b the world beaters like the Aussies they have to b at their best for another decade long and have to win 75 % matches in ODIs and T20s as well as more than 90% matches in the tests.Australia has set a benchmark in modern cricket by performing at their attacking best as well as being cliniical.SA has to do that..else I think they'll b remembered as good or fine side not as g8 side.I still do think Hansi Cronze's team was much more talented than this team,but somehow they couldn't compete with Aussies in the test arena..actually they were beaten comprehensively..Now its upto the current lot to prove they r really the best!!!

  • gauravk on December 30, 2008, 13:37 GMT

    To be honest, I do not know much about the bowlers in domestic circuit in Australia but I am surprised that Nathan Bracken, who is regular in odi side, is not even considered for a place in tests.

  • Suchchin on December 30, 2008, 13:26 GMT

    Good article..As the Aussie team ages, transition to the enxt generation becomes important. Clarke is 27 and its time to pass the mantle to him. Its clear that Ponting has lost touch with leadership skills and has only banked on his true and trusted (but badly injured) long time collegues. Aussie selectors have backed him as well. its time to give young aussies a good chance whether its Marsh Jr or Hussey Jr or the bunch of Bowlers waiting in the wings. Ponting can play on as a batsman ONLY. If he cannot play under Clarke, Ponting must be dropped. Against India, 7 of 11 aussie players were well over 30 year old and lost all stamina as tour wound onwards. The same continues for SA series. This does not auger well for Aussies. As schedule becomes rigourous and matches occur every month , Aussies must get younger players in..and oldies like Ponting picked to play only for tough series like SA etc. Get te youngsters tpo bat against NZ, WI, SL etc and build their confidence.

  • No.10 on December 30, 2008, 13:17 GMT

    I agree with the title, and even Peter's article is a testimony to that -I usually smile while reading his pieces.

    Aussie cricket since Border's days has been brilliantly summarized: "aggressive believers in any situation". That is what kept us glued to the TV even in crazy situations; we continued to watch Langer & Gilchrist smash them to victory against Pakistan at Perth; shook our heads in disbelief when Brett Lee ran out of partners at the finish line that fateful Ashes day at Edgbaston.

    There will be a lot of opinions on what Australia needs to do; here are my 'management' 2-bits (literally) on the way forward:

    1. Change the CEO - Ricky Ponting's initial success is as much a legacy momentum carried over as it has been owed to extraordinary players who stood large and together. Michael Clarke's inevitable date with destiny must be advanced.

    2. Be consistent in selection - the same philosophy that Australia pioneered, adopted so well by India and S. Africa, needs to be reapplied

  • romero1 on December 30, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Australia's downfall was signalled in 2001 when India beat them. That series highlighted a glaring weakness Cricket Australia did not target. Warne had been nullified by the Indian batsmen in Kolkata and Chennai. Miller's back up off spin was ordinary. McGrath, Gillespie and Kaspers could not finish India off in Kolkata and Chennai. No second spinner existed in Aus. India almost won the 2003-4 series in Aus. India won Adelaide, stumbled in Melbourne and nearly sealed the series in Sydney after scoring 705! MCGill failed. Cricket Australia needed to look for fresh blood then. Instead Australia plodded on and lost the 05 ashes. Regaining Ashes against an underprepared England in 06-7 only covered up the cracks. Hayden has been a butcher of poor attacks. Teams lacked good opening bowlers, fielded & caught poorly. Now India and South Africa have the fast bowlers to expose Hayden. He might recover but it is too late. The world has caught up with Aus. OZ Talent is plenty, experience isn't.

  • Percy_Fender on December 30, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    Australia won against India in Sydney early this year which, having come after Melboune win, gave them the series even if India won at Perth and drew the last one at Adelaide. When one looks back one can see that but for the horrible umpiring in Sydney,India might just have won that series as well. So in reality, though the South Africans have won well now, the process of shaking up Australia's confidence had already hapenned in the India series early this year.Ponting,Clarke, Hayden and Hussey before that,seldom failed together. Australia's hegemony was never threatened as a result. It was only after the India Australia series early this year that they began failing in unision. India it was which showed the world that Australians could be beaten, having softened them up and then beating them convincingly in India. It is all very well to hail the South Africans, but I believe India is the one that set the rot in the Australian team and dented the confidence of their galacticas.

  • Ribs on December 30, 2008, 12:46 GMT

    HI, The problem with the current Australian team is they are not realizing that their dominance is already over. Their bowling standards falls considerably and there is no proper replacement for Glenn and Warne. Still they are good team and not the best team like before. Other teams raised their standards and so Australia needs to do some hard work to retain their world No.1 spot. Before West Indies were in a similar situation but they never recovered from their down fall. Even it may happen to Australia as well if they fail to improve their standards. Indians exposed their weakness and SA capitalized on that. It is nice to see that future competition for the No.1 spot is between India and SA. Ribas from kuwait

  • 68704 on December 30, 2008, 12:40 GMT

    Yes Australia is really facing the heat. Others have improved while Australia has stagnated at best. I think the future is going to be a lot more fun for the cricket lover as these two test matches were really, really gripping with twists and turns, with Australia coming out on the wrong side of the result on both occasions unlike in the last fifteen years. Australia needs a quality spinner and the next three years Australia could slide to no.4 if it continues under the same insipid leadership of Ponting.

  • Umair_umair on December 30, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    "Ponting is an un-inspirational captain" ? "Those players were fighters" ? ha ha. Comeon Peter. Its right, everything changed suddenly. Even the writers.

  • blackd on December 30, 2008, 12:20 GMT

    The fall of the Australian cricket team could have been avoided with some better player management and leadership. The process for this was started 18 months ago and Johnson and Haddin are good results from this but when things have got tough as it was obvious it woudl be at some stage as the next generation found their way the leaders have lost their nerve. The selectors take alot of the blame for this - the treatment of the spin bowlers has been apalling, continuing with Symonds whose head let alone his body have not been fit enough to play test cicket and Hayden who has been a great player but is 37 and his best is BEHIND him and and not in front of him. Ponting's apalling comments today reflect this lack of leadeship - to blame the inexperienced guys is wrong - it has been Lee, Symonds and Hayden that have let the team down. The first thing that has to change is the selectors then get rid of Hayden and Symonds - if they are good enough they will come back through the Shield system

  • cyborg2k8 on December 30, 2008, 12:16 GMT

    Replace Nielson as coach and bring in Shane Warne as coach. He will be able to lift the team mentally and bring much needed tactics. Bring in Hughes, Bollinger and Klinger to replace Hayden, Lee and Symonds. Nothing to lose now by selecting some young guys. It is the ideal time to blood them into test cricket. Also make Clarke captain. He has the energy and enthusiasm needed plus with guidance from Warnie could become a great captain.

    Wonder who Ponting's blaming now...Pitch, Umpires, Selectors, Weather, Food, Health, Form, Spectators...or all of the above.

    Let's not forget that Australia lost to a class act South Africa ..no. 1 in the world....sorry India but SA is the best in the business.

    Empires have fallen before and will go on falling. But when we look back in retrospection the true grwat cricketing empire was that of the Windie's becuase of the way they carried themselves on the field. Do away with all this sledging and play cricket. As the old adage goes, keep your eyes on the ball.

  • Rajesh. on December 30, 2008, 12:15 GMT

    Very good win for South Africa as it was for India a month ago but are a couple of series losses enough to knock Australia off the pedestal ? Forget the rankings which might show SA as number one if they complete a clean sweep of the series in Sydney..... Australia have built this reputauion as World Champs over a decade and more and not just in a few series' and it's illogical to say they don't deserve to be the best anymore...... True that may be it has evened out a bit more in terms of the gap between the teams but that doesn't neccessarily make Australia a bad side..... The very fact that a couple of series losses for Australia is such a hot topic for discussion shows how rarely they have been losing matches / series over a decade or so. They have raised the bar superbly over the past decade or so and let's salute them for that rather than wasting time in discussing their recent losses........

  • Dan-argent on December 30, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    Australia's slump is good for world cricket as it makes it more exciting and Australia realise the No. 1 spot is not their birthright. South Africa have been consistently excellent over the past year, drawing in India and winning in England and now Australia, and fully deserve the best team in the world mantle. I look forward to England regaining the Ashes next summer and I predict a 5-0 scoreline to atone for that which England suffered two years ago.

  • RBKal on December 30, 2008, 12:10 GMT

    We all have to agree that we are definitely witnessing a changing of the guard in Australian cricket. The one thing that i find bewildering is that, the rest of the world seem content, that, they themselves have not risen to the challenge to overpower possibly the most successful Test team in history by playing a higher standard of cricket, but by patiently waiting for this team to retire one by one. Don't get me wrong, i think it will be great for cricket in the long run, but come on guys don't lose sight of the fact that to beat this Australian side in this fashion the likes of Langer, Mcgrath, Warne, Gilchrist & Co. had to retire. Enjoy your time at the top guys, but remember, Australia is still managing to compete(snigger) at the top level whilst introducing new players and finding a new team balance. We as Australians have been spoiled in the last 15 years and are now being brought down a peg or two, But be warned. We're down but not out and we'll be back.

  • sanjeevmukherjee2006 on December 30, 2008, 12:02 GMT

    Well yes, we must not forget that Aussies have won the world cups three times on the throt, which is a great achievement, they had also beaten virtually every teams in their own backgrounds, this year was tough for them, few legends have retired and few are on the verge of retiring, now India and South Africa have proved, Aussies are now not numero uno but now teams are catching up. Dont discard the Aussies, in few months time, things may change, but they will not have a easy time facing either India or SA. Coming back to RaghuramanR comments, I find his comments in poor taste, in last few years India has beaten Pakistan in Pakistan, West Indies in WI, England in Eng, India drew with Australia in 2003 and India could have won the series in 2007 in AUs but there were umpiring blunders in Sydney test. India also won T-20 Wc and triangular series in Australia, so check out the stats first before making comments Raghuraman. Yes India's fielding is poor in Test team but not in ODI team.

  • fk360 on December 30, 2008, 11:55 GMT

    We need a wider perspective here.

    So Australia's glorious run has come to an end and South Africa's form over the last two years has seen them as worthy number ones, India are still number 2/3 because of their inability to win in Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand on their last tours.

    But apart from adding England how many competitive teams are there? How many play enough matches to even have a chance of being number one.

    There are more uncompetitive sides than competitive ones New Zealand and West Indies face major problems because of the lack of popularity of cricket. Political problems have ostrisized Pakistan and to a lesser extent Sri Lanka, the lack of finances means ICC is unwilling to change this.

    Zimbabwe have been completely taken out of the picture and Bangladesh only improving very slowly.

    So the future battle of being the best of four sides is interesting but at the same time quite sad and misleading potrayal of test cricket today

  • Bumpster on December 30, 2008, 11:54 GMT

    Australia are going to really struggle without a decent spinner. For all the talk of Krejia and Hauritz, their first class averages are terrible. Bowling is the weakest area in their team, and they dont really have that many pace bowlers coming through apart from maybe 2 or three. Lee is past his best and is struggling physically and mentally. Batting shouldn't be too much of a problem as they have plenty to choose from once Mr Hayden retires,and they get rid of Symonds. The latter's committment is a big concern as anyone who watched him, could see that in his body language. He'd much rather be fishing.I dont feel sorry for them and i hope this alledged slump lasts at least another year as it will teach them better conduct,humbleness and sportsmanship in the meantime.

  • boooonnie on December 30, 2008, 11:48 GMT

    While we have lost a number of bowlers to retirement and injury Aussies should be excited about this new era and a chance to see some of our new talent show their stuff. Personally I dont see the point in Aussies going overboard with the Ponting/Selectors/Hayden bashing. There are enough South African/Indian/English cricket fans dancing on our grave for that. Instead lets be positive about rebuilding our cricket into the future. It may take a bit of time but we will get there - afterall we are Aussies, we are born to win!

  • RajivT on December 30, 2008, 11:41 GMT

    Good article Peter. For this series,dropping Krezja after the 1st test did not make any logical sense. My test team for the Ashes:

    S.Marsh Katich Ponting Clarke Hussey Haddin Noffke Lee Krezja/Casson Johnson Tait

  • Squizza on December 30, 2008, 11:38 GMT

    As a New Zealander I think the current situation actually shows up Ricky Ponting as a captain. Don't get me wrong, he is a fantastic captain and a wonderful batsman, but it is clear too see now that he has relied on the stars the team now lacks. If something was not going right, he would chuck the ball to McGrath or Warne and they would clean it up. But with out these world class bowlers it shows that he is a volunerable captain. He may have all the plans in his head, but he can not execute them as the team lacks experience. I think thats what seperated him and Stephen Fleming. NZ has not had the world class of Australia (except Bond & Vetorri), we have had bits and pieces for a long time, but Fleming always found ways to make the plans stick.

    At the end of the day every country goes through a rebuilding stage. Australia is in one now, and there are going to be massive changes between now and the 2009 Ashes. Its the way of life. You cant have the good things forever!!

  • dar268 on December 30, 2008, 11:36 GMT

    Australia are finding out that eternal truism that everything passes. As the seasons turn round so, eventually, does one team's sporting domination. There do not appear to be major structural issues in Australia so they will come again (and will not be easy beats in the meantime) but maybe not for a while. It is hard not to conceal a smirk to see some of the most pious and unlikeable cricketers (Ponting and Hayden step forward) being brought down a few pegs.

  • cnandu on December 30, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    All teams go through good times and bad. Australia have ruled the world and deservedly so. However, they have certainly set a bad example for young sportsmen to emulate by their behaviour.

    Look at the Champion West Indies team of the past. Look at the current Champion side (in my opinion) of South Africa. Do you see them making derogatory comments at their opponents or showing disrespect? They quietly go about their business and win.

    The Australian team has taken sledging to new level till it has been discussed by the ICC. The game doesn't have to be played in a hostile manner to be played well. Aggression is all right, but not hostility. There is no uniformity with the ICC's dealing with players appealing. There seems to be different standards for different teams and not strictly based on behaviour but 'who' is appealing.

    Australia failed to see the warning signs when they somehow managed to beat India at home with a lot of help! They are paying for it now!

  • LozzaG on December 30, 2008, 11:30 GMT

    Clearly we haven't learnt from the past. After the pain of Lillee/Chappell/Marsh you would think the need to filter in the new to learn from the experienced would have sunk in. Langer should have gone earlier to let the new blood settle in with Hayden prior to his exit. A group of "NEW" 32 to 34 year olds is not the way to set up the future. It was always going to be a nightmare when Warne and McGrath retired but the prior planning was abysmal. Better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late. The master of succession Wayne Bennett should be in charge, he made the hard unpopular decisions which benefited the team first and the individual second. Clearly we "MUST" have a wrist spinner in Australia, I am a Queenslander but what has Casson done wrong that precluded him after his initial tour? Hughes must come in for Hayden even though he is inexperienced. Symonds was out of form and injured in the last test. Lets think about the next 5 years not the next 5 minutes!

  • Edmond on December 30, 2008, 11:26 GMT

    sometimes there is a fine line between winning and losing, South Africa has on many occasions lost this way. At this level of cricket the skill level of most of the players are similar and each team generally has a couple of outstanding exceptions. To me, what makes the difference is leadership & confidence - South Africa has that in abundance at long last! :-)

  • sri1ram on December 30, 2008, 11:24 GMT

    CORRECTION: The west-indies match in Adelaide that the WI won by one run is here, http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/statsguru/engine/match/63593.html Not at, http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/statsguru/engine/match/63630.html as the link points to - please correct.

  • MrCosgorve on December 30, 2008, 10:48 GMT

    After having watched both of these tests, I have to say more concerning is the lack of inspiration. The bowlers had no fire. Tt wasn't that they were bowling bad balls: they were bowling in a clinical manner, just expecting something to happen, they were not fired up , they were not extending themselves, they bowled with passion on one day and they got the wickets. It doesn't only reflect on the bowlers, it was the fielding that had no passion, the batting was lacklustre. Australian teams of old got what they got with passion, Where has it gone? Perhaps it is not only time for a few new players, but a new captain. I am not suggesting that Ponting should retire, or be removed from the team. They need him, but not as a captain, His bowling changes of late have lacked any element of risk or deeper thinking.

  • Chinmuzic on December 30, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    i think its good for world cricket that Australia have lost. And none other than South Africa deserved it. India may have defeated them easily at home but i guess they are still far from number one spot. India & even South Africa must realise that its almost two decades of relentless, clinical cricket that had taken Australia to the peak which now it is slipping from. Hayden , i guess deserves one more chance. In fact, the way he's made runs in past decade, it'd be a little too harsh to axe him now. Anyway, Jaques is injured & blooding Rogers/Voges would in such circumstances would be a bad idea. What i m now scared of is the nightmarish prospect of whitewash Australia are facing.I hope they're able to salvage some pride at Sydney. By the way, its just some sort of poetic justice that Hayden at Perth & Hussey here got some howler of bad umpiring decisions, same way India had their share of ill-luck @ SCG early this year.

  • andrew-schulz on December 30, 2008, 10:31 GMT

    Calm bloody well down, the lot of you. Especially you, English. Your warped joy and hysterical overstatement at seeing the demise of a great team is pathetic. Nipun, Sri Lanka whitewashed SA in July/August 2006. And wait for SA to make a world cup final, even one, before you start talking about 'all forms of cricket.' Don't hold your breath though.

  • riz2g00d on December 30, 2008, 10:31 GMT

    This thing was bound to happen.when Australia was conquereing the cricket world no body looked at the grass root level.when there were warnes and mcgraths nobody thought what will happen after them.if we see only them were the world class player for last 15 year.other played in their shadow Moreover loss of australia is celebrated in the whole cricket world because of their behaviour over the course of time of their dominance.now we are seeing ponting doing what he made others to do

  • CharonTFm on December 30, 2008, 10:29 GMT

    Well at the very least the selectors did the right thing by calling in three new young players, but whether or not they are selected to play on the day remains to be seen. Hayden maybe a great opening batsman but it's unfair on the younger generation to let him continue. The Ashes are just around the corner and even if he still able to play what about the future, when we could have younger openers learning the roles.

    I thought it was a bad idea to drop Krezja but now that they have, they should keep with Hauritz who has done a great job so far. Maybe international cricket will make him a better bowler. If no one is going to give faith to these boys who will.

  • Raju_Iyer on December 30, 2008, 10:18 GMT

    Talk of hitting the nail on the head. Enough has been said by everyone about the retirement of champion players. Don't other teams all over the world go through the same? What is different in the case of this team is their stubborness to accept reality and the ridiculous, almost farcical lenghts to which they go to try an portray an air of invincibility. When India exposed their weaknesses at Sydney last year, they tried to bluster their way through. Rather than assuming an air of injured innocence, Ponting and the Australian selectors should have gone back to the drawing board and done a reality check.Similarly after the Nagpur fiasco, Ponting could not take in the right manner feedback from ex-greats like Ian Chappell and Border. As Harbhajan Singh observed recently, they seem to talk more and concentrate less on the basics, while other teams have been working hard to topple them. The fact is no amount of history can help a team with a mediocre captain and average performers!

  • Proteas_no-1_Fan on December 30, 2008, 10:12 GMT

    Yeah I totally agree with Peter.Yes Australia are learning how the rest of the world lived over the past decade.I am 100% confident that Proteas will Whitewash them at Sydney to take the top spot.

  • crickstats on December 30, 2008, 10:05 GMT

    Today is a gr8 day for cricket, it is good for the game that Australia lost, and it is even better for South Africa to have won today and show the world that Australia can be beaten, not once, but twice, and not in your own backyard but in Australia. That too not narrow wins but a convincing ones. Personally, in contrary to popular belief I think Australia would have lost even if Shane Warne was there, or a Mcgrath was there. Because South Africa is a determined team and they have an even more determined captain.

  • kr_from_melbourne on December 30, 2008, 10:02 GMT

    Ponting is undoubtedly great with the bat, but has to rank as one of poorest thinkers for being the captain of a premier test cricket team. Watching his field placements at the MCG was laughable when not depressing - none original, all borrowed without a sense of context from Vaughan, Dhoni or Smith who devised their short covers or a 7-2/8-1 field to attack a specific batsman's weakness while using the strengths of the bowling attack they had.

    Given that there is no new Warne or McGrath in the Australian horizon, let alone landscape, the next best thing is to have an inspiring man-manager for a captain - someone who can make the most of the limited skills at his disposal. If Clarke is the heir-apparent, it is time to fast track him to the job. At this stage it looks like even Haddin would make a better captain than Ponting.

  • nksobby on December 30, 2008, 10:01 GMT

    Well Peter,you have thrown light into the Australian mistakes very well.Its really shocking to see the Australian bowlers struggling to take the tailenders of many oppositions...but at the same time while the aussies strength have decreased slightly,certain nations have improved their talent base and level of cricket to challenge the aussies.The series against India and south africa where the only occasions where the aussies have fallen apart but it was not a cake walk for both India and south africa....they fought hard and had certain new talents like ishant for India and steyn for SA......The level of intensity of the aussies is not the matter for question but their talent pool is with the absence of a genuine spinner been the most important of all.

  • IndianSiva on December 30, 2008, 10:01 GMT

    Nobody wants a Champion to lose - say Brazil in Football, Pete Sampras or Roger Federer. Its like almost everybody wants them to win irrespective of nationalities. But in the case of Australia, looks like everybody (except of course Aussie fans) had a pervert pleasure in seeing them losing - captains, players, other countries fans, media included. The arrogance of Aussie team is there to see - MCcGrath predicting 3-0 win in favor of Australia, similar to the last years prediction - Perth game will be over in four days. In both the cases - foot in the mouth - looks like a saner comment. Let the Aussie players (former and present), commentators come to the reality, be little more humble, rebuild the team .....

    Sivakumar

  • RaghuramanR on December 30, 2008, 9:57 GMT

    This series win actually highlights how far India is behind the 'top cricket' teams in the world viz Australia and South Africa. If South Africa wins the series so convincingly and India barely drawing the series in Australia, it shows the yawning gap between India and South Africa. India seems to be celebrating that they won over Australia or England at HOME, which is not a great thing compared to winning series abroad. The one thing that is common between Australia and South Africa, which India can never catch up, forget matching is the superlative fielding and athleticism on field. No matter, however young Dhoni can claim about the 'younger' feet of Indian cricketers, they simply are not in a position to match Australia, forget South Africa.

  • smcory on December 30, 2008, 9:52 GMT

    well written we all must remember all sporting dynasties come to an end think west indies , st george dragons ,chicago bulls etc , and one also must remember the quality of players who have retired over the last 4 years not just the test players you mentioned but also great shield players /test players like stuart law , adam dale , darren berry , de venuto , jamie cox , dene hills , lehmen , bichel ,kasper , sean young etc all players who would have played many tests or more then they did in any other era , so its time to stop wingeing and to support what we have got and to look to the future in our young up and coming players

  • KiwiPom on December 30, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    Yes Australia has come back to the pack. However you look at it the only player of the great team who is really missed is Shane Warne. The one thing Australia used to be able to do regularly with Warne was clean up the tail cheaply. Good wrist spinners are traditionally good at that. Richie Benaud was the same. Those people who used to criticise Warne for getting mainly late-order wickets may care to have a rethink.

    For the rest - there's still Stuart Clark around to come in. Mitchell Johnston will carry on improving if his body holds intact. The batting is still more or less intact. One good wrist spinner would make all the difference.

  • gramedgar on December 30, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    Interesting article, but Hussey has been sawn off more than once and its very unfair to ignore Katich from any praise. Still, it makes a change for Australia to be flapping about like we English often do. Still want to reduce the Ashes series to 3 tests or will they be competitive?!!

  • oziak on December 30, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    It raises the question, does Cricket Australia have the best system? even if someone says yes, it doesnt means other countries are far. Especially kind of young talent India & South Africa are producing.

  • svengali47 on December 30, 2008, 9:28 GMT

    There are three main reasons and some minor reasons why Australia need to make changes for the future now. How CA could schedule a test in Perth after a long series in India was crazy. We should have played NZ in Brisbane and Perth and then SA in Adelaide Melbourne and Sydney and the Aussies should have had at least one home game before the series began (too much money involved of course) The Selectors were hopeless and lacked judgement and courage. This problem started in India and the final straw was picking two injured players and two out of form players in the second test, instead of having the courage to choose young guns like Bollinger, Hughes and Hilfenhaus. The selectors should take them all to South Africa and guarantee them at least 3-5 tests to find their feet before heading to England to become part of The Ashes folklore. It it past time to build a fresh team around Ponting, Clarke, Johnson and Haddin, and to send Cameron White straight to Shane Warne for full time lessons.

  • Hammond on December 30, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    The time is right to examine what has really happened over the last few months. And it might be expedient to blame the selectors but the truth is they haven't had much true test quality material to deal with. The facts are these. This is a team that has been running on the fumes of it's reputation for at least 2 years. A thrashing of a terribly weakened England unit disguised the fact that we did not have (as so many jingoistic Australian supporters would have us believe) a second XI capable of beating anyone. It doesn't and never did mean an Australian passport guaranteed you an excellent extra-cover drive. And don't believe the rot about the "amazing" domestic set up either. We were lucky that we had a dynasty of genius players that began with Border, the Waughs, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, even that brawler Ponting. The country got such a big head and was so inward looking that it refused to admit that other countries like England, India & SA were catching up.

  • pypkmsrikanth on December 30, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    Interesting views. I feel time has come for Australia to may be look at the SA and Indian example of getting a raw captain. Both Graeme Smith and Dhoni were pitched onto the spotlight with pretty much no notice and both have trusted their instincts and in Smith's case slowly but steadily has managed to reach a level which could possibly rival the Australia of the last decade. May be its time to give Pup a free hand to re-build a team once again so that we could have a new world order of 3 teams matching each other closely for the bragging rights, Australia, SA & India.

  • TheDoctor394 on December 30, 2008, 9:24 GMT

    It's been reported in the paper recently that, due to the amount of Tests Australia will be playing in the near future, they might have to rotate players to avoid burnout. Do they have enough quality and fit players to do this??

  • ArjunPandit on December 30, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Very good article, I think Ponting & co. should forget about the mind game and concentrate on game itself, it didn't work when India went to Australia or Austrelia went to India and now SA beat them easily.Haydon is a burdon to the team, he should be dropped if doesn't retire gracefully, Ponting should give up Captaincy and groom Clark and concentrate on batting.

  • Lovetesh on December 30, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Australia had dominated the world cricket for past decade on the back of once in a generation players like Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist etc. not because of any captancy skills. During all their period of dominance, Australian team has picked up themselves on the basis of their performance. This leaves selectors to do very little. I still feel that Australia is a good team, its just that they are no longer a great team. I expect Australian to start behaving like a good team also and stop throwing their arrogance around. The world of cricket is flat now.

  • Chewie68 on December 30, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Peter, great article but you have missed one of the major points. All Aussie kids dream of playing for Oz and I think it is disgusting the way that this team earns millionaire salaries, go and play in India, spend half their lives filming ads and then whinge that they have been away too long! We need to get some young blokes in there who want to play for their country and don't go chasing the dollar. I see that in Ponting; maybe Johnson, Haddin and Clarke but not the rest. I am a miner and spend twice as much time away from home as these blokes - if they don't like it they can always work at Coles; same choice.

    I can't agree more with your point re "Heart." How could Brett Lee miss most of the first innings yet bowl today? He should never play again. Symonds should never have been back.In the terms of country teams, this team are "Easter Eggs" -no guts. Where is a McCosker, Healey or Merv H? There aren't any in this bunch.

    Is Bobby Simpson too old to come back once more?

  • danmcb on December 30, 2008, 9:09 GMT

    Whatever happened to Phil Jaques? I thought he looked like a tidy opener. Aus need to face reality and get down to rebuilding a solid team with new blood in it, quit acting like all-conquering heroes (not much choice now) and sort out the basics. They'd maybe have saved this game had they taken catches and been a bit more solid in the field. You're not king of the hill no more, and in all honesty, world cricket is probably better for it. Quit crying and accept it.

  • Maestro_Mukund on December 30, 2008, 9:00 GMT

    Australia losing a home test series, just doesnt get any better, i think its time for a change of the mantle of world champions, the contest is now between india and south africa,.

  • julaboy on December 30, 2008, 8:58 GMT

    This loss should bring Australian selectors to their senses. Australian selectors have brought this onto themselves with mindless selection. Why do Australian selectors wait for players to reach 30 before they can be selected. It might work for batsman but for bowlers 30's are almost end of their careers. McGrath, Ware, Gellispe all started internal cricket in their mid 20's. Look at Clark, Bracken Both of them looked very good for 1.5 years and are now struggling with fitness and are probably nearing end. I don't see Australia capturing the glory of previous years unless selectors change their approach.

  • nanduz on December 30, 2008, 8:55 GMT

    Well said Peter. Perhaps CA has not seriously looked into the bench strength during the prolonged winning period when the likes of Gilchrists, Mcgraths, Warnies,Langers, etc ruled the roost.. As someone said when you have such powerful performers and a team full of rich talents it is pretty easy to lead that side .. When the chips are down only the captain has to prove himself.. I dont think anything is seriously wrong with Ponting. The sudden poor performances of the players collectively has really hit him often pushing him to unknown and challenging situations. best thing now is to bring in younger ones and do a revival and be willing to take some set backs in the process. Wonder where Bracken is now?

  • sazen on December 30, 2008, 8:51 GMT

    Can anybody tell me what has happened to Nathan Bracken? Is he still recovering from his knee surgery? If not, why isn't he even considered for the Test Squad? A standing ovation for the Proteas! They have arrived. 3-0 is a serious possibility!

  • Sampdoria on December 30, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    A really good article. It may turn out after all, that Australia does not have a proper group of bench/fringe players? The problem could be with the administration's less "jugular" approach (compared to previous years) at maintaining player standards by sticking to old guns like Symonds, Hayden etc for too long.

    The big question is, will Australia do the unexpected like they did years back and axe Ponting off the team like they did with Steve Waugh? Will they suddenly replace the team with new players and captain like South Africa did pre-Smith?

  • vepesh-XI on December 30, 2008, 8:47 GMT

    I agree with the fact writer is mentioning. Around all this drama surrounding CA one thing is clearly exposed about Ponting's captaincy. I heard many legendary players of CA picked Ponting as the all time best captain. I think they got their odds wrong and got to rethink on this. I definitely agree he is a fine batsman (lucky many time with umpiring decisions) but not really a great captain it only players like Mc Garth, Warne, Gilcrist made him look good. Its also like three master of the game working along with the captain, A king is not powerful unless his ministers are effectives. Now when we look at the senior members of the team it is Clarke, Hayed, and Bret lee each having problems in their own department adding problems to the captain and the captain is all left alone. And also at times the umpire decisions were also biased towards Australia which added to their dominance over the years

  • Fella_Down_Under on December 30, 2008, 8:43 GMT

    So all in all i see a slump to 3rd in the rankings at worst, its good for world cricket to see other teams raise there level of play and make a genuine competition in the test arena.

    So Peter, enjoy the great display that the South Africans put on and get ready for the Australians to come out fighting when our backs are to the wall like we always have and always will do.

  • Anujm on December 30, 2008, 8:36 GMT

    Aussies have themselves to blame ...

    Ponting says - "We found it difficult enough over the last year whether it's been in India or here in Australia with guys that have played a little bit of cricket let alone guys that have played no Test cricket. We know that they've got the raw skills and talent there but as we've seen with the younger guys it doesn't necessarily come out straight away."

    It is appalling to see this attitude towards younger players, where as Dravid, Dohni, Smith never saw the inexperienced "raw talents" like Gambhir, Ishant, AB, and Duminy as an excuse but as an opportunity to bring out the best in them. This statement reflects that having seasoned pros like Warnie et al. really got the CA and Aussie team leaders complacent and in comfort zone so much so that they fail to see the virtues of fresh blood.

  • Fella_Down_Under on December 30, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    Peter,

    Glad to see you delight in the failure of the aussies, you've been hounding them ever since they had the temerity to beat India in Sydney at the start of 2008. You sir have a bad case of tall poppy syndrome. Why dont you give the South Africans credit for raising their game far enough to win this series rather than just having a crack at the Australian cricket team.

    As for having a crack at Warney and Healy you should be ashamed, the two of them are commenting on the game and are supposed to offer there opinions, to suggest setting 200 for the South Africans could be a tricky target is correct and you know it, and you full well know Warney was talking tongue in cheek when he brought up Clarke's 6/9 with the saffers needing all of 15 to win, so what exactly are you on about.

  • Foxx74 on December 30, 2008, 8:29 GMT

    Hey Popcorn; are you eating your words now "mate"?

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on December 30, 2008, 8:08 GMT

    While the reasons for the downfall might be many, India first and South Africa next have shown the will to believe in winning against Australia. Australia's bluster got them through some tough times post-Warne-McGrath but it all finally came unstuck in India and SA have now finished the job off. Two thumping loses to their closest rivals in Test cricket cannot just be ignored. Aussies are in big trouble and the solutions to get back to their old ways will not be quick.

  • popcorn on December 30, 2008, 8:07 GMT

    You predicted the same gloom after we lost The Ashes in 2005. I don't remember what you said after we thrashed England 5 to nothing in 2006-07. IT IS BAD LUCK that AT THE VERY SAME TIME,we have lost Stuart Clark, Brett Leem,Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson. What was life before Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath? Didn't we win? So why keep harping on these two?I predict that the return series in South Africa will shock South Africa.Like it shocked England when they won in 2005,and we pasted them in 2006-07. Rememember,we won 3 to nothing in 2006 IN South Africa in 2006.Stuart Clark,Brett Lee,Andrew Symonds,Mathew Hayden will be back.Very typical of you to be so foreboding,and looking for quick fixes.Remember,all these players came through the SYSTEM - which is acclaimed as the best,by EVERYONE, all around the world.Ponting is an uninspirational captain?Did you think he won 16 consecutive Tests,The Ashes 2006-07,South Africa 3-0 in 2006,ONLY because these guys were around?

  • Parth_Pala on December 30, 2008, 8:06 GMT

    Being an avid follower of cricket, Australia doesn't have bench strength because it hasn't had any real talent coming in from the lower ranks. There are currently no up and coming future class. Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke are the last of this potential breed. Secondly it is not fair to criticize Australia, Mcgrath , Warne etc were once in a century players. Regardless just because India and South Africa have beaten Australia, other teams shouldn't feel as though they can since they themselves were beaten by these team. Furthermore it's the bench strength of these teams which separates them from others. India for example have players like Sharma and Dhoni come through. In the bench lies U-19 world cup finalists and winners like Pujara, R.Sharma , Kohli, Sreeshant etc. Something to think about, when realising why India and South Africa with U-19's WC finalists (Di Villiers, Steyn , Amla)have done so well. For me it is grass root talent combined with the proven individuals.

  • Karpagam on December 30, 2008, 8:04 GMT

    I think Australia has been living in self-denial; It is a shame that a country flooded with talented cricketers is ruing the retirement of players who left couple of years back - so much for succession planning! Yeah - the slide started then. Why complain about the Hussey and Hayden dismissal - they should remember how they screamed and got Indian wickets at Sydney last year. They are at the receiving end now - fair and square. They missed the downward slide due to proficient batting; And when that started to fail - they are where they are today; the intervening series against New Zealand after the series loss to India was nothing more than a morale booster; an average team beating a poor team. Since Oct heir batsmen have scored few innings >400 and bowlers cannot bowl out oppositions twice in a test match.

    If the management had taken courage to field new players and then lost, at least they would have picked some new players for the future!

  • SanjivSanjiv on December 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    A stark warning from Peter is a reminder how quickly the game of cricket changes (and may be rankings) for the teams who are not performing irrespective a brand name like Australia. Its a reality check for any team to understand, what happens when the great players are not around. Great players are called great because they have the ability to turn around the results in their favour. Everyone knows how to play cards and win when you have got a good deal but it is always a huge challenge how to play good and win when you have got a bad deal of it. Even the luck doesn't favour when you are losing. May be the God is always on the side who are brave and dare to win.

    Congrats to Smith and South Africa for a wonderful victory. What else you can ask for? A series whitewash! I don't remember when did Australia lost previously the first two tests of the series at home. Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • Percy_Fender on December 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    The Australians' losing the No 1 position was waiting to happen. When the West Indies were riding roughshod over every team with their teams of the 80s no one could have imagined them sinking to the level they have descended to today. Yet that is how it is. It is not as if the West Indies do not have very good players even now. They do but they do not have their place in the cycle which is what it is for the Australians now. They are going to have great individual players even after 2008. But it seems unlikely that they will ever be No 1 again till the baton goes around amongst other worthies. It coud be South Africa or India or others. But the cycle must go on. The sad part is that the great Australians will not be remembered with the awe one reserves for the West Indians of the 80s because they were arrogant all the time. That is what they will be remembered for not any hubris so associated with conquerers.The world will be delighted I am sure, at the Australian loss.

  • smaco on December 30, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    The end of an era! Sixteen years of global domination has come to an end. The rest of the cricketing world has finally moved up to level pegging with Australia. It will make for a period of intense competition and excitement. I must say that towards the end of Australia's long reign I was getting very bored with cricket. I had almost forgotten the exquisite agony of watching a test twist and turn over 5 days. Utterly engrossing; a genuine epic contest between 2 teams of supremely talented and triumphantly fit athletes. This series between South Africa and Australia has reignited my fascination with this wonderful game.

    For 16 long years Australia raised the bar and dared the rest of the world to play better cricket than them. The rest of the world has finally risen to the challenge. The result will be exciting cricket.

  • Banksiaman on December 30, 2008, 7:43 GMT

    What is going on with the hierarchy? Doesn't Sheffield Shield and touring selections mean anything anymore? Why the irritating persistence to find the champion allrounder-WHY??? Sydney test - blood the cannons, not the pop-guns. Where is the wrist-spinner? Shame, selectors, shame. How much input does the coach have in all this?? Better to have Haddin batting at 6 and try 5 specialised bowlers. Stick it to them - select power, not puff. The skipper needs urgent help in strategy. If it offends "mahogany alley" BAD LUCK! Have we all forgotten where Ian Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne (to name a few) came from?? BALANCE THE ATTACK with bowlers that provide variation and firepower and , if the batsmen don't perform, REPLACE THEM. Give the younger players due regard

  • aussieump10 on December 30, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    it has been obvious to everyone except the selectors that this team was going down hill all summer. How Boon, Hughes,Cox and Hillditch can trot out Hayden again in Sydney is proof that they are clueless. Also how does Troy Cooley pick up his pay each week without embarrassment, he is the biggest sham in international coaching. First thing to do is sack the selectors especially Hughes, then start to get some young blood in the team.Australia wouldn't be in this situation if the old players weren't replaced with old players. Get Hughes in there immediately and then Hillfy. Siddle is a goer but not up to international standard yet. The handling of the spinners is one of the biggest disgraces ever. Let's get some intelligent people selecting.

  • kris_mg on December 30, 2008, 7:37 GMT

    Not at all funny as you said.. Not any more.. We knew this Australian team was nowhere near the the force it had been.. But what we have seen in the past 14 days was even outside our wildest thoughts.. When I saw that Aussies were starting to slowly disintegrate I started to cheer even more harder for them.. Every day I was hoping for an innings of real grit, a spell of fury, a game changer, a miracle.. I was hoping the Aussies to end it in a even keel when when I knew that their opponents were far far better and motivated.. I had never rooted for them like I had been for the past few days.. It was for the likes of Warnie and Waugh and McGrath and Taylor.. Have no words left.. Only despair.. And a lot of respect to the man named Graeme Smith who made it happen.. who showed the Aussies of today how they played cricket just a few years back..

  • Nipun on December 30, 2008, 7:35 GMT

    It's fair to say that South Africa has been the best team in 2008 by some distance.For all talks of India being the next superpower,it is important to point out that India only won 2 HOME test series this year,& 1 of them was against an abject English team which had only 3 quality players in Pietersen,Flintoff,& Strauss.India had to prepare a shocker of a pitch in Kanpur to prevent SA from winning the India series.In contrast,SA has not lost any series since June 2006,& that's an INCREDIBLE achievement,for a team labelled as CHOKERS,being unbeaten in a TEST series for over 2 years. India has never managed to beat the Aussies so comfortably in Australia even in a test match! If this SA team can repeat this performance when Australia returns to SA,then I can see no other team competing for the World Championship,be it in any form of cricket.

  • rangasub on December 30, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    Insightful article, Peter. There can be no more hiding from the fact that Australia have slipped. Blame the retirees? No. Blame the selection board for not building bench strength? YES! CA is as much to blame as Ponting and all the others you name. There was a time when in-form players would be rested to allow someone else in (think Shane Lee, Gilchrist in ODIs). That's not been happening of late, has it? Blewett has been cast out, David Hussey hasn't merited a look-in, and Krejza is back to hunting 'roos in his backyard. Who selects these selectors? I hate beating the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" drum, but I can't help feeling that Warne would have definitely made a better captain. Off-field shenanigans be damned - it wasn't like he "lost his flipper"

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  • rangasub on December 30, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    Insightful article, Peter. There can be no more hiding from the fact that Australia have slipped. Blame the retirees? No. Blame the selection board for not building bench strength? YES! CA is as much to blame as Ponting and all the others you name. There was a time when in-form players would be rested to allow someone else in (think Shane Lee, Gilchrist in ODIs). That's not been happening of late, has it? Blewett has been cast out, David Hussey hasn't merited a look-in, and Krejza is back to hunting 'roos in his backyard. Who selects these selectors? I hate beating the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" drum, but I can't help feeling that Warne would have definitely made a better captain. Off-field shenanigans be damned - it wasn't like he "lost his flipper"

  • Nipun on December 30, 2008, 7:35 GMT

    It's fair to say that South Africa has been the best team in 2008 by some distance.For all talks of India being the next superpower,it is important to point out that India only won 2 HOME test series this year,& 1 of them was against an abject English team which had only 3 quality players in Pietersen,Flintoff,& Strauss.India had to prepare a shocker of a pitch in Kanpur to prevent SA from winning the India series.In contrast,SA has not lost any series since June 2006,& that's an INCREDIBLE achievement,for a team labelled as CHOKERS,being unbeaten in a TEST series for over 2 years. India has never managed to beat the Aussies so comfortably in Australia even in a test match! If this SA team can repeat this performance when Australia returns to SA,then I can see no other team competing for the World Championship,be it in any form of cricket.

  • kris_mg on December 30, 2008, 7:37 GMT

    Not at all funny as you said.. Not any more.. We knew this Australian team was nowhere near the the force it had been.. But what we have seen in the past 14 days was even outside our wildest thoughts.. When I saw that Aussies were starting to slowly disintegrate I started to cheer even more harder for them.. Every day I was hoping for an innings of real grit, a spell of fury, a game changer, a miracle.. I was hoping the Aussies to end it in a even keel when when I knew that their opponents were far far better and motivated.. I had never rooted for them like I had been for the past few days.. It was for the likes of Warnie and Waugh and McGrath and Taylor.. Have no words left.. Only despair.. And a lot of respect to the man named Graeme Smith who made it happen.. who showed the Aussies of today how they played cricket just a few years back..

  • aussieump10 on December 30, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    it has been obvious to everyone except the selectors that this team was going down hill all summer. How Boon, Hughes,Cox and Hillditch can trot out Hayden again in Sydney is proof that they are clueless. Also how does Troy Cooley pick up his pay each week without embarrassment, he is the biggest sham in international coaching. First thing to do is sack the selectors especially Hughes, then start to get some young blood in the team.Australia wouldn't be in this situation if the old players weren't replaced with old players. Get Hughes in there immediately and then Hillfy. Siddle is a goer but not up to international standard yet. The handling of the spinners is one of the biggest disgraces ever. Let's get some intelligent people selecting.

  • Banksiaman on December 30, 2008, 7:43 GMT

    What is going on with the hierarchy? Doesn't Sheffield Shield and touring selections mean anything anymore? Why the irritating persistence to find the champion allrounder-WHY??? Sydney test - blood the cannons, not the pop-guns. Where is the wrist-spinner? Shame, selectors, shame. How much input does the coach have in all this?? Better to have Haddin batting at 6 and try 5 specialised bowlers. Stick it to them - select power, not puff. The skipper needs urgent help in strategy. If it offends "mahogany alley" BAD LUCK! Have we all forgotten where Ian Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne (to name a few) came from?? BALANCE THE ATTACK with bowlers that provide variation and firepower and , if the batsmen don't perform, REPLACE THEM. Give the younger players due regard

  • smaco on December 30, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    The end of an era! Sixteen years of global domination has come to an end. The rest of the cricketing world has finally moved up to level pegging with Australia. It will make for a period of intense competition and excitement. I must say that towards the end of Australia's long reign I was getting very bored with cricket. I had almost forgotten the exquisite agony of watching a test twist and turn over 5 days. Utterly engrossing; a genuine epic contest between 2 teams of supremely talented and triumphantly fit athletes. This series between South Africa and Australia has reignited my fascination with this wonderful game.

    For 16 long years Australia raised the bar and dared the rest of the world to play better cricket than them. The rest of the world has finally risen to the challenge. The result will be exciting cricket.

  • Percy_Fender on December 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    The Australians' losing the No 1 position was waiting to happen. When the West Indies were riding roughshod over every team with their teams of the 80s no one could have imagined them sinking to the level they have descended to today. Yet that is how it is. It is not as if the West Indies do not have very good players even now. They do but they do not have their place in the cycle which is what it is for the Australians now. They are going to have great individual players even after 2008. But it seems unlikely that they will ever be No 1 again till the baton goes around amongst other worthies. It coud be South Africa or India or others. But the cycle must go on. The sad part is that the great Australians will not be remembered with the awe one reserves for the West Indians of the 80s because they were arrogant all the time. That is what they will be remembered for not any hubris so associated with conquerers.The world will be delighted I am sure, at the Australian loss.

  • SanjivSanjiv on December 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    A stark warning from Peter is a reminder how quickly the game of cricket changes (and may be rankings) for the teams who are not performing irrespective a brand name like Australia. Its a reality check for any team to understand, what happens when the great players are not around. Great players are called great because they have the ability to turn around the results in their favour. Everyone knows how to play cards and win when you have got a good deal but it is always a huge challenge how to play good and win when you have got a bad deal of it. Even the luck doesn't favour when you are losing. May be the God is always on the side who are brave and dare to win.

    Congrats to Smith and South Africa for a wonderful victory. What else you can ask for? A series whitewash! I don't remember when did Australia lost previously the first two tests of the series at home. Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • Karpagam on December 30, 2008, 8:04 GMT

    I think Australia has been living in self-denial; It is a shame that a country flooded with talented cricketers is ruing the retirement of players who left couple of years back - so much for succession planning! Yeah - the slide started then. Why complain about the Hussey and Hayden dismissal - they should remember how they screamed and got Indian wickets at Sydney last year. They are at the receiving end now - fair and square. They missed the downward slide due to proficient batting; And when that started to fail - they are where they are today; the intervening series against New Zealand after the series loss to India was nothing more than a morale booster; an average team beating a poor team. Since Oct heir batsmen have scored few innings >400 and bowlers cannot bowl out oppositions twice in a test match.

    If the management had taken courage to field new players and then lost, at least they would have picked some new players for the future!

  • Parth_Pala on December 30, 2008, 8:06 GMT

    Being an avid follower of cricket, Australia doesn't have bench strength because it hasn't had any real talent coming in from the lower ranks. There are currently no up and coming future class. Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke are the last of this potential breed. Secondly it is not fair to criticize Australia, Mcgrath , Warne etc were once in a century players. Regardless just because India and South Africa have beaten Australia, other teams shouldn't feel as though they can since they themselves were beaten by these team. Furthermore it's the bench strength of these teams which separates them from others. India for example have players like Sharma and Dhoni come through. In the bench lies U-19 world cup finalists and winners like Pujara, R.Sharma , Kohli, Sreeshant etc. Something to think about, when realising why India and South Africa with U-19's WC finalists (Di Villiers, Steyn , Amla)have done so well. For me it is grass root talent combined with the proven individuals.