Forgive the Lack of Perspective

October 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

There are a group of cricket writers who turn on their team quicker than a Shane Warnie leggie out of the rough, and for a while it was baffling to understand why.

It was hard to fathom why these scribes find it incomprehensible that Australia could be outplayed or have a bad game and then it became crystal clear.

If one of these writers was 13 years old back in 1989 when Alan Border’s more aggressive approach won back the Ashes for the first time in 12 years, they would be 38 years old now. Even if they were ten years old they would be 35 years old so established at a media outlet. In the last 25 years of their life they would have enjoyed a truly Golden era of Australian cricket. Alan Border was the man who created what has become know as “theĀ indomitable spirit of the Australian game.” A spirit that Mark Taylor was able to take control of and harness, Steve Waugh take to an even higher level of ruthlessness, while Ricky Ponting rode the wave of success created by those who went before him; he was undoubtedly the most challenged tactically as a captain.

If we look at the records of the Captains since Border stepped down in 1994 winning had become a habit for Australian cricket teams. Mark Taylor’s record was 50 Tests as Captain 26 wins, 13 losses and 11 draws, Steve Waugh’s was 57 Tests as Captain 41 wins 9 losses and 7 draws. Adam Gilchrist who took over the reins on six occasions steered the side to 4 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. Finally Ricky Ponting was Captain in 77 tests he won 48 lost 16 and drew 13. So in 190 test matches these four gentlemen, won 119, lost 39 and drew 32. A remarkable achievement in 20 years.

If we include Border’s record after winning back the Ashes in ’89 (54tests, 25wins, 9 losses, 20draws) the figure changes to 244 Test matches played, 144 won, 48 lost and 52 drawn. That means Australia has lost only 19 per cent of its test matches played up until Michael Clarke took over as Captain. They had won and incredible 59 per cent.

If we look at the record in terms of series played since Border’s Ashes win (the one off test versus the World XI in 05/06 is included) Australia has played 74 Test match series, they have won 50 of those series, lost 17 and drawn seven.

So is it any wonder that the cricket writers in Australia are quick to pounce on those wearing the baggy green cap today? They have been spoiled by the success of the last 25 years and some would say have never been given a sense of perspective as have fans from other Test playing nations.

Heading into this series with Pakistan Michael Clarke’s record as Captain was Played 37 Tests won 19, Lost 11 and Drawn seven. In terms of series won or lost, he has won six, lost three and drawn 2. So he is travelling at close to the average of the previous 25 years with a 54% win ratio.

Yet despite wonderful displays from a number of Pakistani players, none more so than Younis Khan, who notched his third successive century against the Australians. David Warner was hailed – and quite rightly so – when he achieved the same feat so why is Younis’s feat not met with the same enthusiasm? After all Warner was only the seventh Australian to achieve the feat, Adam Gilchrist the most recent in 2005 and Sir Don Bradman the next most recent in 1948.

Younis’s achievement saw him join a unique group of former Pakistani Test greats such as Zaheer Abbas, Mudassar Nazar and Mohammed Yousuf; batsmen to hit three 100s in consecutive Test innings. To put this achievement in context it has been 90 years since a batsman made three consecutive Test hundreds against Australia. Herbert Sutcliffe was the last to have done this, during the Ashes series of 1924-25.

Younis Khan also became the 15th Pakistani to reach 1000 plus international runs against Australia in Test cricket.He has now gone ahead of Sir Garry Sobers with 27 Test centuries and is level with Michael Clarke, Graeme Smith and Allan Border on the same number.

So this is no ordinary player. Yet rather than acknowledge the achievement of a special player, these writers who are not used too seeing Australia outplayed turn on the captain and his charges. Which seems more than a little unfair.

Yet when you look at the era in which they have grown up watching cricket, it becomes a little more understandable. Hopefully time will enable them to have a more balanced perspective.


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