x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Once dominant Australia going the Windies way?

Most of the greats from Caribbean exited from the international stage around the same time. Australia have suffered from a similar exodus.

No one yet is predicting a West Indies-style implosion in Australian cricket, but the once-mighty side, the "Invincibles" at the start of this decade, clearly are falling from grace. And the reasons are very similar to those which wrecked West Indies.

How could you possibly find worthy replacements for Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd or even Larry Gomes? The likes of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh come together once in generations.

Most of these greats exited from the international stage around the same time, save Walsh and Ambrose, leaving a vacuum that West Indies cricket is still struggling to fill. Australia have suffered from a similar exodus.

It was not a "system" that kept Australia at the helm, but the services of Steve and Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. That team and their success was built on talent and pride, fortified under an inspirational captain.

Ricky Ponting is an ageing veteran of that generation, struggling to arrest Australia's slide. And Mike Hussey, the rock of their batting today, had struggled to get into that squad of yore.

Australia's bench today looks bare. They were struggling to pick their squad for the Ashes and there has been a clamour since to bring back Warne.

What does that mean? "System" is simply a notion, as good or bad as the players carrying its flag. Great cricketers do not fall off assembly lines.

arizvi@thenational.ae