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Udayan Nag
Tuesday , January 03, 2012 at 14 : 18

Current Oz lineup a likeable lot


For long the Aussies have been the ones whom everyone loved to hate; apart from their winning ways post the 1999 World Cup, the fact that their game-plans often included gamesmanship and rattling of the opposition with constant needling and a war of words, went some way in defining their very existence on the field.

However, they have not always been the best of sports when the favour has been returned, as was epitomised during the infamous Glenn McGrath-Ramnaresh Sarwan spat, even though it would be universally agreed that the former fast bowler's wife Jane who was battling cancer and later passed away as a result of it, should have been left out of the ugly exchange.

It has long been felt that the Aussies stop at nothing when it comes to getting the results to go their way. The members of the squad, the ex-cricketers, the press, all have played their part as far as intimidation of the visiting teams is concerned, from the time they land, right to the eve of the tour opener, and it never seizes to end from then on.

As far as the match officials are concerned, Sunil Gavaskar, who left the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a huff after being declared leg before wicket to Denis Lillee during India's 1981 tour, had referred to the Australian playing XI as a 13-member unit during the days when there were no neutral umpires.

Historically, Australia have been the team to beat in their own backyard, and the reason has to do with the fact that the battle lines are drawn on as well as off the field. Things are a bit different now that the four-time world champions have been displaced from the top, which could solely be attributed to a series of retirements by some of the very best to have ever played the game.

The changes have been thick and fast as far as the new-look Australian team is concerned, and what is refreshing is that the selectors have opted for young blood this time around which was against the trend in the years gone by. If 18-year-old Pat Cummins was built up as the next best thing in Australian cricket after his six-wicket haul in his debut Test against South Africa, then James Pattinson, aged 21, has proved that he is not too far off the mark, which was well-exhibited with his back-to-back five-fors in the Test series against New Zealand.

The third rookie pacer in the mix, Mitchell Starc (21) might not be in the same league as the two mentioned above, but then the opportunities that have come his way have been few and far between.

On the batting front, the top order also looks a decent bunch with Ed Cowan, David Warner and Shaun Marsh having the ability to get the side off to a solid start before the experienced pros Ricky Ponting, along with skipper Michel Clarke come into the fray. Of course, one has to mindful of the fact that a completely new dimension will be added to the team once allrounder Shane Watson returns from his injury lay-off.

One might also add that the current crop of players though aggressive, don't give the impression of being foul-mouthed like their predecessors in the McGrath-Warne era; having said that the stump microphones being turned off does not exactly give an idea as to what's going on in the middle.

Even Ponting, who very often got under the skin of the opposition in his younger days due to his on-field antics, has mellowed down in the course of time.

Altogether, it has to be said that although in transition, the present Australian outfit could well go on to earn the respect of their contemporaries apart from setting the standards with their performances.


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