x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Are Australia the new softies?

Are Australia the new England? A new version of the old England, perhaps, because the Ashes holders have bucked up their ideas since the dark days of 2002.

Are Australia the new England? A new version of the old England, perhaps, because the Ashes holders have bucked up their ideas since the dark days of 2002. That was the winter when England's attempts to break Australia's 13-year grip on the urn reached its farcical nadir. On that tour, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Darren Gough, Michael Vaughan, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Andy Caddick, Chris Silverwood, Alex Tudor, Craig White ... take a breath ... Ashley Giles, John Crawley, Jeremy Snape and Matthew Hoggard all missed game-time due to injury or otherwise.

It all got a bit ridiculous when Silverwood was summoned from England to replace Jones, only to break down after four overs with an ankle injury of his own. How the wheel has turned. Australia have lost two of the three Ashes series since. It seems they have become the big softies, too, judging by their current injury list. Yesterday, James Pattinson was ruled out of the squad for the one-day series in India with a back injury.

If everyone was fit, there would be at least nine bowlers ahead of Pattinson, but he would likely have played in India had injury not struck. He was covering for Josh Hazlewood, who was next in line to cover for Ryan Harris. Brett Lee and Shaun Tait are already yesterday's men in terms of Test cricket. The 2009 rubber between these two sides lacked much of its previous intensity because many of the greats of the Australia side were by then retired.

Now that even the understudies are doubts for this winter, the series which is the lifeblood of Test cricket could lose its lustre. 

pradley@thenational.ae