Rather grand title, no? But as I was on another interminable subway ride, I started to wonder: why do some cricketing nations dominate, and others do not? And — given Australia’s recent fall — why do some decline?
The simplest, and possibly best, answer has something to do with the quality of players. Modern cricket has known only two great teams: the West Indies, which had the reins for a frightfully long time, and Australia. Both these teams had unmatchable players, and kept producing them. The West Indies had Viv Richards, Rohan Kanhai, Malcolm Marshall, all the way down to Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and lastly, Brian Lara; the Australians — well, you know who they had.
Once that long supply was exhausted, the team suffered, and Lara was not enough to carry it. The West Indies also missed a trick with the rise of spin, which the Indians consitently relied on, but the Australians — with one Shane Warne — took to a match-winning quality. Pace alone, and spin alone, cannot do the task; one needs both, even if Paul Harris is your one spinner (as in South Africa’s case). Australia, however, now find themselves in the same position the West Indies did in the early 1990s: gone are McGrath and Warne, and Langer and Hayden, and Lehmann and Martyn, and the Waugh brothers and Gilchrist.
There are underlying factors behind this sudden lack of resources: Continue reading