Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stand We Here in Disbelief

Given these stupendous events of the past few weeks, (which I have been confined to following in scouring over scorecards, devouring bulletins, and pestering only half-interested friends for details,) you can imagine my bewilderment on entering this maelstrom now raging in our nation. It is fantastically grotesque, and while I can't exactly say that the novelty of it delights me, certainly it is scintillating and I am completely enthralled. For the past fifteen years Australia have dominated world cricket and the monotony has been so boring. Further they have done so with a swagger and often arrogance which is ill-bred, ugly, and discredits the game. However since hosting India over the summer of 2007-2008, chinks have appeared in the team's impenetrability. Now they stand barely half-clothed and totally vulnerable. It is proof that I am a poor patriot for rather than being petulant with the turn of events, I am giddy with excitement at the upheaval, if somewhat aghast and horrified by its extent. Though partly just the passage of time, in many ways this present plight is the deserts of the leadership and administration's hubris. There is some sour justice in this then like the crumbled effigy of Ozymandias.

It is not my intention to reiterate the views which have been sounding out around the country, nor to dwell too heavily upon the play with the Adelaide test only half done. I would however like to make known my views and disgust on several of the more heinous decisions that have been made just recently.

Foremost is the treatment of Nathan Hauritz. Poor benighted chap. His career has been such an unaided struggle and his sacking is not merely a mistake but an insult. Making his surprise debut in place for the injured Warne in India in 2003, the off-spinner gathered the very respectable first innings figures of 3/16 including the scalps of Tendulkar and Laxman. His reward however was to be cast out into the wilderness, shunned by his native Queensland and forced to forge a way into New South Wales. Half a decade later, once his nation had dogged its way through half a dozen other fellows and made a joke of the profession, they returned to the outcast. And goodness wasn't he jeered! For it became a national pastime to point out the man's limitations and inadequacies, particularly after he failed to remove the English tail at Cardiff. Steadily though Hauritz improved and rewarded that faith shown in him. Without making a spectacle of the matter, he modestly but constantly took wickets making his desertion for the Oval a mild national outrage.


Last summer Hauritz went so far as to even endear himself to the country. He played a solid supporting role to Hilfenhaus at the Gabba and made an invaluable half-century against the West Indies. While in the next match he again failed to dislodge a stubborn tail, his later heroics in the season included consecutive fifers against Pakistan, both match winning performances. In this manner Hauritz established himself as no great practitioner of his art, but a steady performer and reliable option for Australia's immediate future until Smith or otherwise should take the mantle. This was followed by a somewhat disappointing tour of New Zealand before a lengthy injury kept him out of those fiery matches against Pakistan in England. Unfortunately though his reputation has been gauged on that recent performance in India. He had a rotten series but if that is reason for dismissal most of the team should be out on the street. Additionally in his defence, just about every touring spinner in India has been trounced and the man wasn't even allowed to play his natural game for his inept captain wheedled at him distracting nonsense about lines and ignored him at his due moments. To then be abandoned on the eve of the Ashes for a comparative novice is a slap in the face. Australia's oversight in this matter has been ably displayed. It is for Hauritz's benefit though that he is apart from the team at this hellish time. Once Australia manage to regroup themselves, he will be recalled and hopefully justify his place till the selectors grow skittish once again. I am shocked by the short-sightedness of their actions. I cannot believe that they considered Doherty a long term prospect. The only reasoning that exonerates is they wanted some fool to bear the brunt of the present situation so as to bring Smith at some later time without any pressure upon him. This is such a negative strategy though it seems highly foreign to Australian cricket.

The reason I take such umbrage over Hauritz is that he defies that brand of ostentatious, bandying, overbearing Australian spirit which I find so offensive and fill these pages railing against. Rather he is quiet and unassuming, incredibly polite and with a warm friendly manner. Unlike the rest of the pompous, post-metrosexual twits who make up the team, he is sweet, artless and even a bit weird. When researching on his figures I came upon this odd piece in an article,

During a month spent with his foot in a moon boot, waiting for the cuboid bone to heal, he was restricted to upper-body fitness work, television, Xbox and a bit of reading. One of the non-cricket books was The Wolf of Wall Street, about Jordan Belfort, a former millionaire stockbroker who ended up in prison for shares fraud.

"I only read that book because it was about money," he said. "I love money. I love anything about that. It was an interesting read."

Already during the camp Clarke had teased Hauritz about no longer needing to lay-by his shopping. Hauritz responded by saying his flat is as big as Clarke's ensuite...

He grew up in the coastal town of Hervey Bay and retains the honest, relaxed characteristics of a country Queensland kid. "I'm very simple," he said. "My wife and family keep me pretty grounded, and I've got some really good mates.

Hauritz then is something of a class hero even though he has mild, middle-class manners, remniscent of the Australian of yester-year in distinction from his contemporaries. While we can admire his homely candour, what is this preponderance with money? What an odd characteristic for a cricketer and how interesting for the journalist to pick up on it.


I am finding this ploy of the selectors of a horses for courses policy somewhat confusing. Perhaps there are some merits to the scheme given the diversity of Australia's contracted players and the increasing evidence that few are capable of versatility and consistency in varying conditions. So far though it must be owned that their experiments in the field have been abject failures. Rather than exploiting the strengths of the greater group its has put undue stress upon individuals, dismembering team unity as hopefuls expend themselves to prove their worth. What irks me is that while this scheme may have been effective were it given substantial prior trial, it has been thrust upon all at this pivotal time disrupting what little sense of stability remained within the fragile team.

It has become obvious that the Australian administration has not had a long term plan these past two years. They have scrambled, trying to patch up those problems swooping upon them in swift simultaneity like a hydra. What a contrast this is to the cool assurance of the English who are enjoying the rewards of their careful planning and dedication to it. I think Hilfenhaus still the country's finest quick bowler but really it would not be too surprising to see wholesale changes made to the pace attack for the WACA test. North too will probably also be chopped unless he proves something in the remainder of Adelaide. I will be sad at this for I like North and have grown only the more fond of him with each survival in face of all odds. I do think that the selectors should stick with him now as they failed to march him off earlier in the year when such action was warranted. This is not me being merely affectionate. To bring in Khawaja or Ferguson or such young understudy at this juncture could be disastrous. A proven elder such as Aaron Finch of the golden form, or perhaps Shaun Marsh (though he and Western Australia have done little to credit any attention this summer,) may be the wiser move but this fosters worry for the unity of team. Australia stand on the verge of all-out panic at this point and the administration needs to do what they can to stem this trend and restore assurance to their charges. This could be done either with some savvy changes and a remodeled but inspired group, or by maintaining faith in those with whom they have cast their lot, placing loyalty above cause and effect and dignity above the flurry even should it mean defeat.


Before this descends into a rant of opinion I would like to bring up a mere point of conjecture: why did Watson admit the blame for running Katich out? After Watson's tantrum last Boxing Day, where in front of the entire nation he ran himself out then in his cantanker appealed to the umpire to place the punishment upon his partner, that disgraceful display of petulance is impossible to reconcile with this humble admission of guilt. Watson is a sneak. Therefore I can only imagine that he is making a run for the captaincy. Should Australia carry on to magnificently fail this summer Ponting will be against the wall. Clarke is looking iffy and no-one trusts him cause they feel he is a wimp. Poor fellow. (For my money I still think he will make a fine captain even with those silly tattoos). Katich is too old. Hussey is a rotten captain and led the team to bedlam in New Zealand four years back. Haddin doesn't seem to be in the equation. No-one else has solidity in the team. Watson then is licking his lips.


I would like to go on to speak of the excellence of the English team but will keep it brief for now. Where has this atmosphere come from though? For even that most surly of individuals, Mr. Pietersen, to be gushing ecstatically of the joy of the dressing room means some new spirit dwells therein. I intend to research this and write a fuller piece shortly but for the moment I think we must just marvel at Andy Flower and his achievement.

This will be a marvelous series, even should it slump into an epic disaster for Australia. So long as I am able to maintain this fantastic schedule of unlimited cricket time I will be writing my observations as often as I think them worth sharing. Please maintain your interest with Trumper this summer then and I will deliver all that I am able to.

1 comment:

  1. Your point about Watson and his ambitions for the captaincy is terrifying.