The recently concluded series between the trans-tasman rivals saw a rare failure from Matthew Hayden. His form though is a cause for worry, for both him and the team. In the fiercely competitive environment of earning the Baggy Green cap, prolonged loss of form can cast a pall over one's chance to retain their place. Furthermore, the Aussie cricket ethic is such that even greats like Steve Waugh and Brett Lee have been made to stand out looking in!
Ricky Ponting shone once again as a captain and as a player. One may argue that he simply inherited the best from Steve Waugh's captaincy. Be that as it may, none can deny that Ricky treasured this inheritance as one not to be toyed with and has duly fulfilled all obligations placed upon him to carry on a winning tradition. What makes his job so much enjoyable is that he has a group of men who share the same work ethic that he and for that matter Australian cricket does.
The ICC website had this to say about the Australians, and I quote: "With 3 batsmen above 800 points and McGrath close to 900, the combined points of the Australian players rank them among the best groups of players of all time". What a testimonial of hard work and perseverance coupled with the courage to make tough decisions for needed advancement!
Adam Gilchrist topped the batting averages and is set to become the highest run getting wicketkeeper in Test cricket. Way to go Adam! His One-day batting strike rate and his Test batting strike rate are up there.The Aussies at present have 4 batsmen in their line-up with Test batting averages above 50 and the rest of the batsmen are capable to rise to the occasion should one unexpectedly fail.
Glenn McGrath is 499 not out in the Test wickets tally. Given his fitness and determination to continue, even the 600 mark looks reachable in terms of Test wickets. This man just seems to be going from strength to strength. How many pace bowlers at his age can brag of still sending shivers down the spines of seasoned batsmen? His unrelenting accuracy has fetched him so many scalps and has shown that sheer pace is not always the need of the hour.
Shane Warne is 583 not out and motoring towards the 600-wicket mark with Muralitharan now at a distant second. However, that gap will narrow once Murali is back on schedule. Shane just seems to be getting better with age like McGrath. Both these bowlers will leave huge shoes to fill in once they retire.
England has their hands full this summer. The Aussie juggernaut marches on. At the rate at which they are going, it would not be surprising to see them win the 2007 World Cup as well. That would be a fitting last hurrah for a group of as the ICC bulletin put it: ".... among the best groups of players of all time".