Myths about the Australian cricket team

October 23, 2008

There are some myths about the Australian cricket team which have tended to make it seem more formidable than it is. The constant comparison with the West Indies of the 1980s and early 1990s tends to cloud the fact that the Australians have not come anywhere near the Caribbean cricketers in their achievements.

The West Indies went 15 years without losing a Test series. Yes, 180 months without losing to any Test-playing country. And that did not include weak nations like Zimbabwe.

By contrast, how long has the Australian cricket team gone without losing a Test series? After defeating the West Indies in 1995 - the first time the West Indies had lost a series in 15 years (I can't repeat that often enough) - the Australians lost a one-off Test to India in 1996.

They then lost a three-Test series to India in 1998. This was followed by a loss to India in a three-Test series in 2001.

Remember those West Indies? They won or drew Test series for 15 straight years. FIFTEEN YEARS.

After losing in India in 2001, Australia then lost the Ashes to England in 2005. And now they look like losing a series to India again in 2008.

So how long have the Australians gone without losing since 1995? The longest is four years - from the defeat by India in 2001 to the defeat by England in 2005.

The West Indies? They did not lose a Test series for 15 years. One hundred and eighty months. Five thousand, four hundred and seventy-nine days, including the leap years. Where is the comparison?

The longest run of consecutive wins? The West Indies won 11 consecutive Tests - three against a strong Australian team in the Caribbean, five against a strong England outfit in England and then three against the same strong Australian team in Australia. This run was responsible for making Kim Hughes, a very fine cricketer. quit the Australian captaincy in tears.

Australia won 16 Tests on the trot twice - but these included wins against Zimbabwe and teams like Sri Lanka. Most of the wins were in Australia.

There is no comparison. None at all.

To whom would one compare Gordon Greenidge? Desmond Haynes? Viv Richards? Joel Garner? Courtney Walsh? Jeff Dujon? Brian Lara?

World cricket has been full of half-baked teams since the late 1990s, whom the Australians have overwhelmed by a blend of both cricketing tactics and mental disintegration.

And these Australian teams have been compared to the West Indies who were led by Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards? Chalk and cheese could not be more dissimilar.