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BEN ROBERTS discusses four cricketers who appear to embody the new phase of Australia’s rebuilding process under Mickey Arthur.
Regardless of the result in the upcoming four test series against India, the winds of change blowing through the Australian cricket team are bringing great joy. In this writer’s opinion there are two characteristics in a rebuilding phase (and really any phase) that should be prioritised in selecting a team – prevailing form and the right attitude, not necessarily in that order. We know the following four individuals are meeting the former, however the presence of the latter is what excites most.
1. David Warner
Australia’s latest superstar after two tests (with thanks to the Australian tabloid media) is owed many an apology from cricket fans, and this writer is no different. Where we thought that Warner’s amazing eye and power both through and across the line was a flash in the pan combination suited for highly paid sub-continental pursuits, we were wrong. From evidence of the first two tests of his career and a mountain of first-class runs in the past 24 months Warner does have what it takes to apply his skills incredibly effectively to the longer formats.
Warner couples his tremendous physical giftings (watch him in the field next time and you will see his amazing agility) with an attitude that is second to none. The guy just loves playing cricket, whatever the format, whatever the level. In his first innings of the Big Bash League Warner turned, for those of us in attendance, a soulless and confusing event into an enjoyable evening. Even though the stage was not the biggest, when he passed his century he leapt for joy and deserved all of the standing ovation he received.
2. Ed Cowan
There are a number of worn out phrases that could be used to describe Cowan. A journeyman, Yeoman, and hard working cricketer all come to mind, but these sell short the undoubted talents that Cowan possesses. He has been picked for Boxing Day based on a portfolio of runs in all formats of the game that is the envy of most incumbents in the test team.
Cowan is also an accomplished cricket writer (albeit with a rival website and a cracking new diary out) demonstrating his deeper thinking about the game than most. But the eloquence of his prose, the thoughtfulness of his comment, and the desire he has to source comment from watching the game despite it being his profession display a deeper emotional attachment than just abstract thought. A deserved selection for a genuine cricket lover.
3. Dan Christian
The kind of cricketer this writer loves, the cricketer you can build a team around. Christian, if he played tennis would not be ranked number one, but would be taking them to five sets every time; playing Rugby Union he would be the Number 8 with his nose permanently at the contest and into everything; in Australian Football a player who can go back or forward and change a game. Whatever the situation, with bat or ball, Christian will be giving it everything his heart can muster, if not more.
His selection to the Australian squad is based on a phenomenal start to the Sheffield Shield season with the bat, and the bonus is that he will more than support the bowling attack with his bustling approach. Watching Christian gives you the impression that if he was to be spending Christmas with his family, rather than in Melbourne in hope of a test debut, he would be first to grab the bat and ball and get everyone outside after the meal is done.
Lyons selection into the Australian team six test matches ago should appear as the definition of the phrase ‘nothing to lose’. No-one had heard of him, and even less had seen him bowl, yet there he was playing his first test. A laid back individual from the country Lyon played it as he should have – he had a go. Unlike most of the spin selections of recent the greater majority of Lyon’s balls are thrown above the batsman’s eye line rather than resorting to flat ‘darts’ – increasing the risk that the batsman will hit him, but the reward of such a ploy is far greater.
But even if he gets hit you can see it in his expression, his demeanour that he knows just how fortunate he is to be there. Playing to his strengths he is is own man, with his own game, not trying to be Warne or Murali. But do not mistake this clear enjoyment and comfort for a lack of competitive drive, we saw his desire in clear view when his wicket finally fell to the victorious New Zealanders in Hobart. It was never going to be his fault if Australia lost, yet it still hurt.
These four are not the only ones in or out of the team. Kick back over the rest of this summer and soak up the attitudes of Australia’s new team. They love playing and win or lose will make cricket what it is meant to be for those of us spectating.
How do you feel the new Australian line-up is shaping up?
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