There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the entire cricketing world loved to hate Australia. For every chant of ‘Awesome Aussies’, someone somewhere was ready with a placard reading ‘Ugly Aussies’. We abhorred them because they always won; nay, because they just turned up. Yes, they were so bloody good. To win 16 Tests in a row once is admirable; to do it all over again is unthinkable. To win a World Cup is great; to win three in a row is ridiculous. Yes, they were so bloody good.
The South Africans displayed their contempt for all things Australian during the 2003 World Cup. Prior to the final, the country adopted an ‘Anyone But Australia (ABA)’ policy. Not that it stopped Ponting from annihilating India. Yes, they were so bloody good. A year into the third millennium, India proved that Waugh’s ‘Unbeatables’ were, well, beatable. Kolkata happened and then Chennai. Less than three years later, Ganguly’s ‘New India’ even came close to ruining Waugh’s send-off party in his own backyard. They were still bloody good. Gilchrist & Co did conquer the ‘Final Frontier’ later that year, but it had a lot to do with a BCCI president-hopeful’s utter disregard for Jagmohan Dalmiya and his monopolistic regime. Bucknorgate and Monkeygate were the talking points in 2007-08 before India hit back with a ‘Happy Perth Day’ message. Back home, we won it for Kumble and Dada. The Aussie weren’t so good anymore. In 2010, we beat Australia again before they exposed, well, everything from India’s faulty selections to misplaced priorities late last year. India were bloody bad.
Deja vu! After driving home the point that the Australian sides of yore were conquerable and, over the years, vulnerable, India have shown in the space of 12 days that this bunch of players is nothing but pitiable. Michael Clarke doesn’t deserve this. There are lows and there are nadirs. There are collapses and there is Hyderabad. It will take Australia some doing to avoid a whitewash. And the Ashes? Don’t even think about it. England are bloody good.
‘I’ve no choice but to bat higher’
In his first three innings on this tour, Michael Clarke returned scores of 135, 31 and 91 before the ball of the second Test, bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, claimed him for 16. Each of Australia’s top four batsmen is a natural opener and that’s probably why Clarke chose to bat at No 5. But after two humbling losses — especially the one in Hyderabad — the skipper made it clear that he’d bat up the order in the last two matches.
“I think I’ve no choice. Again, it hasn’t been about me, it’s about trying to do what’s best for the team, and I think now, especially in these conditions, I have to bat higher,” a visibly upset and angry Clarke said on Tuesday. When asked if he’d bat at No 3 or 4, he said, “I’ve got nine days to work it out. Wherever I can go and put some runs on the board to help the team.”
Clarke was gracious in defeat. “It’s obviously unacceptable, very disappointing. I certainly don’t want to take any credit away from India. They played very well. They showed us once again how to bat in these conditions. They showed us once you get in how to go on and make a big score. Our batting has been unacceptable,” he said.