I get the feeling the current Australian team is a parody of themselves. A sitcom so well scripted that, along with all great satires, blurs the lines between fiction and reality.
However, similar to the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary, this meltdown is being played out in front of a disbelieving public. If this were art, rather than a sport with careers and millions of dollars at stake, the ruse would surely already be up.
Let’s analyse what’s happened recently. Despite taking 4 top order wickets, Nathan Lyon was dropped for the 2nd test for not being good enough to be a front line bowler. He was replaced by Glen Maxwell, who took 4 wickets in the 2nd test, but was then dropped for the 3rd test for being an allrounder. Mickey Arthur explained ‘Maxi was bought here as an all-rounder type guy’. Convincing explanation. ‘I guess, in a way, he competes with Moises for one position’. They both played in the 2nd test, despite competing for the same position? ‘so we’ve decided to go with our specialist attack’. Which was the catalyst for re-picking Nathan Lyon, the front-liner who wasn’t good enough to beat an all-rounder as a front-liner for the 2nd test.
Which means that, after failing to go anywhere near challenging India’s batting in the 1st test, Arthur willingly weakened the bowling attack for the 2nd. Or, would it be more the case that, despite Australia’s sternness in planning and, recently, paperwork, Arthur hasn’t got a clue what is going on and making up policies on the hoof?
Mickey and Michael Clarke have then gone on to explain that ‘the 1%ers’ are missing. ‘The 1%ers’ was a catchphrase during the dominant Australian era, which would normally mean the difference between winning before tea on the 4th day, or just after it (valuable drinking time).
Frankly, Australia no longer have the cattle to be worrying about the 1%ers. Getting your best team on the park is what’s going to count. James Pattinson is, conservatively, worth 4 Xavier Doherty’s. Hence, dropping James Pattinson for Xavier Doherty is sacrificing 400% of bowling talent for 1% of providing feedback – since the management love quantifying these things, here it is in figures. It’s a 399% performance sacrifice for somebody not filling in a fucking form (as an aside, Mickey Arthur, who valued feedback so much after the 2nd test, has today deleted his twitter account – citing the fact that he didn’t appreciate the feedback from fans)
Further to the Mohali Four incident, Shane Watson went home. He was not wanted in the team. He didn’t want to be there, and even considering whether he wanted to be there ever again. With Clarke’s back injury, and Watson now returning to India, this same deserter will now be promoted from detention to class captain in the space of a week.
I’ll let this sink in. Shane Watson is about to captain the Australian Team in a test match. This is the same Shane Watson sacked for ill-discipline. The same person who was derided for his episodes of sulking when he didn’t get his way. The same person who was described, only last week, as ‘only sometimes’ being a team player by the man who is charge of looking after the team ferchrissakes
In the background, India have been getting their house in order. Tendulkar aside, the team currently playing is selected on talent, application and commitment, not nostalgia. Winning inside 4 days after having 400 scored against you is something to behold.
The future for Australia? Bleak. Every selection, bar Peter Siddle, is now under an injury, form, or quality cloud. As ridiculous as it sounds, Steve Smith’s accomplished performance in the 3rd test is a further issue. Like Hughes being shielded from South Africa, he wasn’t meant to figure just yet.
Some have predicted they won’t win any of their remaining 10 tests in 2013. With England not setting the world on fire just yet, I think that’s a bit harsh. Predicting anything more than 1 win each home and away would be a little more than hopeful, however.