A Little Step For Australia to Get Back the Lost Pride

After that 2018 nightmare in Australian Cricket, They drew the Test match in Dubai to take the first step in their Redemption.

The last week of March, 2018 was the toughest time on Australian Cricket; it wasn’t just because they lost the Jo’burg test match and went on to lose the series, but it was about shame for cheating in the form of ball-tampering. The national captain of their side was frog-marched out of South Africa like a criminal; their vice-captain and a young batsman broke down in tears with reports looming around their end of career. All’re suspended and the next morning began with a news of their coach, Darren Lehman had stepped down.

Beginning of An New Era:

Couple of months later, the CEO of Cricket Australia, declared former player Justin Langer as the head coach of the side. It wasn’t going to be a cake-walk and he was well aware of the fact. One of the answers of the reporters just made it solid how tough it’s gonna be to get back the pride of the fans of the country and around the globe. The administrations went south and rewarded a calm person, Tim Paine as the Australia skipper. When you look at the career stats of Paine, you realize how hard it was for him to break into the side but here he is, taking charges of the troops. Yes, he is a really good bloke but CAPTAIN OF AUSTRALIA?

The challenge wasn’t only to get back on the winning track but the scrutiny was also on the behave of the bunch on and off the field. Why I am saying it was so tough for Langer is because he was never part of the side that saw downfalls; that period he played in was a golden era, that side had hardly rough days. So, for him to point out the foot-holes and rectify those in a newly looked side was so demanding. The response from the rest of the side was so creamy as it’s not easy to get used to a new captain and a coach along with his new direction.

The beginning of a new career wasn’t an ideal one. Just like 25-years ago, when his side was smacked around the ground, with him had to take too many blows on the body for a scratchy 20, these Australians were going through a nightmare losing to England in their home summer by 5-0. Thousands of records were broken over two weeks; the fingers took zero seconds to raise on Langer and his vision.

The Worst Australian Side?

To be brutally honest, it wasn’t an easy schedule for any side to face England in ODI cricket; they were no more those rickshaws of 2015 and the World cup winning moment can be used as a supporting statement. Fasten your seatbelts, their next tour is test matches against Pakistan in UAE!!

“People saying, we are one of the worst Australian sides ever seen; so that’s what was driving us.” Expressed Tim Paine in the documentary called A New Era of Australia’s Team. “Because even the best Australian side have been to Dubai or India or against any subcontinent sides haven’t been able to do it.” More than doing well or even thinking about having a series victory, the main goal for Justin was to build a team which after those games, they had India to come in the summer and then the Ashes after the world cup. In that 38-40 degrees, all have to be fit to keep the same intensity, attention, energy through the course of the game.   

Playing spin with multiple people around chirping in your ears and waiting for grabbing your slight mistake, it will go on to test your character, especially for the young blokes but more than that this side need to get back to their old structure. And that black board they use to make a statement of besides playing hard fought game, they always have to try their level best in making their countryman proud on and off the field, in the lunch or dinner room or wherever they go.

Test Cricket is Not a Development Game:

The day arrived finally and it looked quite unique to see three (as far as I can remember) debutants in an International Australian Test Side. “It’s not like the footy codes where they blood them young and get them in and give them gems.” Stated journalist Gerard Whateley. “Cause Test Cricket is not a development game.” Because you have that many new legs, there was the long cap presentation ceremony and to be fair, when I watched Nathan Lyon presenting the baggy green cap in the documentary, I literally broke down for the first time, that was so surreal but emotional moment. To play Test cricket for your country makes you a fighter.

The last thing you want in Dubai is to have a long day in the field under 38-degree hot and humid temperature. Hmm; Paine lost the toss and Skipper Sarfaraz didn’t take one second to choose bat. It couldn’t be worst than that. All the coaches seemed to be scratching heads of drawing the first blood; all the physical and mental practices, discussions the team had appeared to be running be vain. When they got the first breakthrough in the 63rd over, the best thing they do was hanging in there and not letting easy run flow and in result that brought 2-more in quick sessions. Still, Pakistan shouldering on hundreds from Hafeez and Haris Sohail posted a mountain of 482. Both the Aussie openers did well not to lose a wicket after 164 tireless overs on the ground.

The start was exactly what Australia would dream of but the rest ran into a nightmare. after Finch got out after a maiden half-century, the scoreboard read 142-1 and just after 30-odd overs, the whole side packed up in 202; 4- ducks and he next highest was 12 leaving opener Khawaja’s 85.

A Test of Showing Real Character:

The inexperience of the lads just ballooned all over the world.  Pakistan with no rocket science just went with the momentum scoring quick runs and posted 181 to throw a target of 462 in 140-remaining overs!!! Could they go with the follow-on?? I wasn’t keen on that time too about that!!

Langer, I guess did a great job in the backroom to give the players confidence; Australia hadn’t played worst cricket but they had 2-damaging hours period and that could cost them the test easily. “It was assumed Australia would lose that Test match but what Australia was looking for was a test of character.”

They had again a good opening partnership but the moment one fall, two more followed that. With 7-wickets in hand going into the last day, you’d think, they had still a lot of work to do tomorrow. Spin bowling coach Sriram did make a really great statement of how the Pakistanis were feeling the pressure more than them of winning it. Well, it never rains in Dubai, at-least in 20-25 tests I have seen, there was one solitary test when it rained and that too for 20-mins.

Today is Another Opportunity:

The over-night pair played really well, especially Khawaja, smashing the bad balls but also playing sensible and didn’t let the pressure to grind on him. And a push at the covers brought a magnificent century to keep the match still alive. 9-hrs against quality spin bowling on turning wicket!! The captain arrived next. He was under enormous pressure; he slipped, danced, missed, edged and did everything but kept the positive mindset.

When the last hour began, the kangaroos lost Khawaja putting more burden on the Tasmanian. When the last over began, they had 2-in the bank. First ball was dabbed on the third man with the next being driven off Paine and most significantly when all the rest of the players were sitting in a nervy position praying to God, he ran to take up his average. Well, he survived the last three and with that THE CELEBRATION BEGAN; AUSTRALIA OUT OF NOWHERE DREW THE TEST MATCH.

They might went on to lose the Abu Dhabi test match losing the series, but a fighting heroic draw in those circumstances, drawing on a batsman who batted selflessly throughout the 5th day of a sub-continent test match and lastly a young captain taking Australia to coast; “As storyline, it hit the perfect tones for the starting point of a new era.”

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