Australia maybe have been a champion need for the past decade however once you are at the top of the mountain there is nowhere to go but down. India has shown this by beating Australia consistently this year in Twenty20 games, at home in India and in the CB Series at Australia. South Africa is now the #1 one-day side. Mighty Australians no more.
India has had Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid as a solid back bone in the ODI lineup for the past decade, but now Sachin is the only one left from that three. He is the only one who can keep up with the youngsters. With the inclusion of so many youngsters in the ODI side the future doesn’t look for Ganguly and Dravid.
MS Dhoni’s policy of selecting youngsters is starting to pay off. India has only one player above 30 in their squad and that is the master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar. This ensures that the entire current team can play the next World Cup in 2011. The younger players may not have as much experience as their senior counterparts but they are learning on the tour and in bits and pieces they are contributing to the team. India is building a team for the future. The younger players running between wickets, fielding and enthusiasm make up for any runs they don’t score with the bat. India may still lose a lot of matches but they are building a team for the future.
The situation for Australia on the other hand is looking quite bleak. They have only 3 players below 30 in their squad – James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson and future Captain Michael Clarke. Let’s take a look at Australia’s key players with the 2011 World Cup in mind:
- Mathew Hayden – He is 36 right now and in 2011 he will be 39. Unless he finds the fountain of youth it will be highly unlikely that we shall see him there.
- Ricky Ponting – He is 33 right now, in 3 years he is 36. Depending on his form, personal life, IPL he may or may not be there. However, there is a good chance he is still around to lead the side. But we can’t predict his form at 36.
- Mike Hussey – Currently 33 – He will be in the same boat as Ponting, the World Cup maybe his swan song.
- Adam Gilchrist – 36 years – Retired. One of the most prolific partnerships in ODI history is broken. This is going to hurt Australia a lot because it means a completely new opening pair at the top of the order.
- Brad Hogg – 37 years – Retired. Australia’s one-day specialist since Shane Warne is gone. Over the years Brad Hogg was an effective foil to Lee, McGrath and Gillespie picking up crucial wickets in the middle overs and being a useful batting option lower down the order. Australia has no quality spinners left. Stuart MacGill is an exception but he is old and struggling with injuries as well. Now Australia has to go find an unexperienced newbie to start in the XI.
- Brett Lee – He is 31, comparatively young but he is a fast bowler, the fastest bowler. Bowling at 150kph for another 3 years with his current form is going to take a lot of effort and mental strength. The world cup maybe his final ODI appearance too.
With the exception of Brett Lee, Australia’s bowling unit is very inexperienced in the ODIs. The next 4-5 years is going to prove crucial for Australian cricket as a lot of old warhorses will go out form, retire themselves or be forced to retire (like Steve Waugh). They have to introduce a lot of youth give them a little experience and if they have to survive, follow India’s example and make the tough choices. Cricinfo takes a look at what Australia’s 2011 World Cup team could look like. There are a lot of new faces in there but no Hayden, Gilchrist, Hogg, Hussey, Symonds.
The winds of change are blowing and Cricket’s future looks promising.