Faf Du Plessis, the South African Captain has Australia by the scruff. After clinching the Test series 2-0, his mission is still not over. He wants a clean sweep (3-0) on the Kangaroos soil and is showing no mercy on the battered and bruised Australian team.
There’s no denying this fact that Australia is a world class team and for any team to beat them on their home ground, is commendable. “I am embarrassed to be sitting here to be perfectly honest with you,” Australian Captain Steve Smith said after the Hobart Test loss. He seemed hurt, disappointed and dejected by his team’s dismal performance.
Being a Cricket Captain is not an easy role to play. A captain is an artist, his players the different shades of colors and the ground, his canvas. He architects the canvas in such a way which smothers the opposition skipper to throw any color on the palette and ensuing a racking pain. Du Plessis had a brilliant plan to paint his canvas and he did it with great élan. The use of De Kock as the free-spirited bird, Rabada as the galloping stallion, Philander as the tactful technician (bowling 30 dot balls in a row in the second innings), which built up the pressure and the disciplined Kylie Abbot cashed in on by taking a 6-for was a sight worth reveling.
Australia seems to have lost their pluck and it’s Steve Smith responsibility now to take them out of this humiliating and tenebrous cave. His team is low on confidence and is under the pile of detritus and the ‘artist‘ Steve Smith has to transmute this debris into an embellished canvas art.
The Australian Cricket team culture is built upon the ethos of aggression, accountability and to fight till the end. Faf Du Plessis back in 2014, referred to the Australian team as, “like a pack of dogs” in the field. They have always played their cricket like such, send off a sledge or two, get into the opposition’s mind and snatch the game away from them. Ricky Ponting continued on this way of playing and time and again crossed the line with such antics but at the end of the day he was a successful captain. He won many games under his captaincy (he must be grateful to Shane Warne and McGrath, as every time the team was in trouble he would throw the ball to them, easy. But that’s a different story and we’ll get back to it some other time).
Ponting was followed by his predecessor, Michael Clarke. A very astute, smart and tactical chieftain as opposed to Ponting who was more of an ‘aggressor’ and ‘provocative’ as a captain. Clarke because of his skill, sharp mind and hostility on the field towards the opposition as a captain brought the team a lot of success. Clarke’s infamous sledge towards Anderson, “Face up then. Get ready for a broken fucken arm. Face up,” showed the return of the old Australian ugliness; the ugliness which makes them look pretty by winning Cricket games.
A white wash (5-0) in the one-dayers against South Africa followed by this abasing test series loss, the Australian Cricket Board is under deep scrutiny. There is no dearth of talented players and I reckon it’s time to let go of the senior players who aren’t performing and bring in fresh blood to the team. Some tough decisions are needed to be made by keeping the long-term goals in mind. It’s crucial to find the root cause of such successive losses in order to disperse these gloomy clouds.
Steve Smith is an incredible player, but as a captain, he still has a long way to go. He would need to shun the ‘boy next door‘ image as an Australian captain. This job requires him to be gritty as Steve Waugh, aggressive as Ponting and savvy as M. Clarke. Australia seems to have lost their pluck and it’s Steve Smith responsibility now to take them out of this humiliating and tenebrous cave. His team is low on confidence and is under the pile of detritus and the ‘artist‘ Steve Smith has to transmute this debris into an embellished canvas art.
Photos Credit: EspnCricInfo