Sport

Aussies chase No.1 ... but long way from class of yesteryear

TUBBY Taylor and Steve Waugh must be scratching their respective heads.

Under their captaincy, the Australian cricket team Australia fought its way to the top of world cricket. They saw off the all-powerful West Indies teams and made England look like a bunch of second-rate plodders.

This summer, Michael Clarke has the chance to emulate Taylor and Waugh's impressive feats in the coming Test series against South Africa.

Australia will be the number one Test nation in the world if we beat the Proteas. Surprised? I was.

Perhaps it's just me but this Test cricket line-up is far from the team that Tubby and Tugga led to the summit of world cricket all those years ago. The fact that Michael Clarke's men may again stand atop the Test cricket rankings says more about the current world crop of Test cricketers than it does about our cricket team.

This Australian cricket team is a good team, an improving team but far from a great team like some we have had in the past two decades.

Warner, Cowan, Siddle, Hilfenhaus are hardly names that have you trembling in you white boots.

Pattinson, Stark, Wade - while full of potential - are a long way from the world's best Test players.

Compare those names to Hayden, Langer, Mark and Steve Waugh, McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist, Lee, Taylor ... I could go on. For me, only Ricky Ponting is a walk-up start if we picked our best team since the watershed moment when we regained the Frank Worrell Trophy in the West Indies in 1995. Clarke and Michael Hussey are close and I'm certain Shane Watson will be soon but that's it for me.

Unfortunately, if Clarke's men do beat South Africa on home soil, like we have done every time (except 2008-09) since they re-entered international cricket, they will deservedly be the world's number one Test team. I say unfortunately because it will simply make us the best of a sorry bunch.

England's last year has been a debacle, Indian touring teams of recent years would struggle to beat a Sunday pub league team and the West Indies, while improving, remain a poor cousin to their powerhouse squads of the 1970s and 80s. Test cricket is quite simply not the field of stars it once was but that isn't the fault of Clarke and the Australian cricket team. So I will be cheering them home against the Proteas next weekend at the Gabba.

But while I do, I'll have vivid memories of Warnie's "ball of the century", Gilly and Haydos smashing the ball to all points and McGrath giving batsmen a verbal tongue-lashing after knocking over their castle.

Topics:  australia cricket team, international, opinion



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