How the mighty have fallen

August 15, 2021

Australia, once a powerhouse of cricket, have been quite lacklustre during the past one year

How the mighty have fallen

The Australian team was the most successful cricket team in all formats of the game for a long time. They won five world cups, in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015. They were the runners-up in 1996.Australia also won the Champions Trophy in 2006 and 2009. The Kangaroos also set a record of 21 consecutive wins in ODIs in 2003.

The Aussies also remained number one Test team for many years. But the team that dominated the game of cricket for over two decades and was number one has recently been beaten by Bangladesh - their tour to Bangladesh ended with a 1-4 defeat in the Twenty20 series.

Bangladesh cricket team created history by clinching their first-ever series against Australia in any format. It was Australia’s fifth straight series defeat in the shortest format.

After losing the series in the first three matches, the visitors bounced back in the fourth game and it was expected that by winning the final T20, Australia would end the margin 2-3.

But the Aussies lost the game by a huge margin of 60 runs while chasing only 123. They were routed for mere 62. Australia’s previous lowest was 79 all out against England in 2005.

It was Australia’s shortest international innings in any format in their 144-year cricket history. It was also the baggy greens’ ninth defeat in 11 Twenty20 Internationals.

Once again it was their fragile batting which was the biggest problem for the visitors.

Australia have lost 8 consecutive T20Is while chasing. Their last successful T20I chase was during the three-match T20I series against England in 2020. Only Zimbabwe (10 defeats) and Sri Lanka (9 losses) have longer losing streaks than Australia while chasing in T20Is.

Australia have lost five T20I series in the last 12 months — against England, India, New Zealand, West Indies and now Bangladesh.

How the Aussie batsmen failed to handle Bangladeshi bowlers on spin tracks can be judged from the fact that Australia’s three lowest unsuccessful T20I chases came in this series. They failed to chase down 123 in the fifth T20I, 128 in the third match and 132 in the opening game. Bangladesh’s three lowest totals successfully defended came in this series.

In the fifth game, Australia’s innings lasted only 82 balls. It was the shortest all-out innings in all international cricket. Their previous shortest innings — 87 balls - was against England in the Southampton T20I in 2005.

On the other hand, Bangladesh have won 8 T20Is out of 9 at home. Australia’s 62 was also the lowest score by any team against the hosts. Afghanistan’s 72 all out in the 2014 World T20 game was the previous lowest T20I total against Bangladesh.

During the fifth T20 game, Shakib became just the second man to take 100 T20I wickets. Shakib is now just six wickets away from surpassing Lasith Malinga (107 wickets) as the most prolific T20I wicket-taker of all time.

A few years back, Australia dominated the world of cricket and was the most successful team.

That was an era when Aussies conquered forts in all parts of the world and rolled over other cricketing nations in all the tournaments.

But Australia have never won a T20 World Cup. Only once have they reached the final — in 2010 in the West Indies which they lost against England by 7 wickets.

Not only in the limited overs cricket, in Test matches too had Australia have lost the momentum. In the last five years, every team except Zimbabwe has won a Test in Asia. But Australia have not. Their last win in Asia came against Sri Lanka in 2011.

Since 2013, the average Australian Test innings total in Asia has been 236 while it’s been 332 outside Asia. In this period, Australia have been bowled out seven times for less than 200 runs in Test cricket. Four of these occasions have been in Asia.

Despite all their batting capacity, the Aussies fail to justify their talent when they play in Asia. Since 2013, Australian batsmen have averaged 51.66 at home and 43.07 anywhere outside Asia, but in Asia, their average is just 22.42.

There was a time when Australia had Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. They could destroy any batting lineup. They had Mathew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, who could chase any target. They had Ponting and Langer, who were the backbone of the Australian team and all of them were very consistent.

The downfall of Australia began with the retirements of these players. Those who replaced these greats are good but not good enough to maintain the supremacy of Australia. In January this year, an inexperienced Indian cricket team defeated Australia by three wickets to end Australia’s 32-year run at the Gabba. This happened although there was no Virat Kohli, no Mohammed Shami, no Jasprit Bumrah and no Ravichandran Ashwin. Without an experienced bowling attack, India beat Australia and won the Test series on their soil.

The Twenty20 World Cup is to be played in October in the UAE. Australia don’t have a good record in Asia and the UAE. It is time for the baggy greens to find out the best combination for the upcoming mega event to restore their pride.

How the mighty have fallen