Cricket doesn’t only test talents that make up a playing eleven, but also the fans.
If you delve deep into the game, you’d realize there’s a great sense in calling it the sport that tests one’s patience.
And that the same way an Alan Border and Steven Waugh batted sessions in continuity, safeguarding their wicket, the fan too, gets his patience tested for he expects nothing but greatness from Australia.
But while it is easy to celebrate a great win, it’s ever so hard to bear an outcome that results in a loss. The clatter of the celebratory drinks, the running around the stadia, the selfie moments and all of that, spare a thought for the Australian cricket fans.
For right now, they aren’t in a position to experience any of that.
Are they to be blamed?
In fact, is Tim Paine to be blamed alone?
That Australia is in a mess can be heard on Saturn.
And there’s nothing the fans can do to spring a revival. A piece of advice, if it could be offered, would be to stay put and bear the way they are playing in Dubai.
The seats are empty.
Maybe, it’s the best thing right now to happen to the tourists. For just wonder what would have those felt seeing Australia bat the way they are?
Tough being an Aussie fan right now
But the difficulty to accept the truth that Australian cricket is in a precarious situation seems more tedious to fans given the DNA of their cricket.
For a country so enormously talented- the demand for an immediate turnaround, impractical from the perspective of fans that it may be- has a profundity to it.
Simply put the likes of Mitch Marsh, John Holland, Labuschagne- regardless of their potential- against names like Waugh brothers, McGrath, Warne, Haydos, Gilly, you can see the onerous path the current lot need to cover.
Australia’s been the standard bearer of greatness
Forget winning series overseas unless miracles were to occur, surviving and playing competitively in true Australian definition, seems as important as the significance of a Boxing day Test.
Australia has produced Alpha-males that once excelled in world domination.
One needn’t elaborate-that has been a true bastion of cricketing excellence.
It’s the land of Sir Don. It’s birthed, Victor Trumper. It’s a land where reading an opinion column by Gideon Haigh educates readers on the culture that’s Australian cricket.
Australia has contributed more to international cricket than the military contribution of USA toward the country’s GDP.
And maybe that is why this doubt surrounding the fans right now, whether what they are seeing is but a frail shadow of what was formerly a great ‘has-been’ that’s worrisome the most.
Is it not?
Ever since the temporary ouster of Smith and Warner- for Cameron Bancroft doesn’t matter yet – the fans have wondered, as have purists as to what might the fate of this team become?
Tim Paine’s pain
To that regard, when Tim Paine was appointed the captain and new coach Langer stepped in, a classic Test player, part of the indomitable nineties Aussies team, there were concerns.
And if not so much about Langer’s credentials, then surrounding those who he was to coach and therefore, foment the much-needed transformation.
For starters, one wonders whether Tim Paine- who hasn’t struck a hundred since turning captain, dropped catches, endured an average English tour in ODIs, even managed to lose a tooth whilst playing a contest- did get accepted by fans as an automatic replacement in this tough period?
And in here rests the key.
Lamenting Tim Paine, who, one could argue has been appointed captain more on grounds of experience than skill is about as useful as planning a barbeque during peak monsoons.
Every captain needs a team that can play collectively well. To that end, Paine’s pain is lessened when he realizes in blokes like Finch, Khwaja, Starc, Lyon, Shaun Marsh- there’s a firm nucleus. Moreover, don’t forget Siddle is there.
There’s potential- can Paine galvanize it?
While it’s fair to say facets like Hazlewood’s unavailability, often made only worse by Finch’s indifferent form hurts Australia big but does Paine have no one at all who can contribute?
In the youngsters like Labuschagne, there’s hope. That Paine needs to bring all together instead of individual talents meandering like a headless chicken is something that the 33-year-old has to demonstrate.
To a good measure, he’s already earned the wrath of supporters, whose doubts of his less than fantastical batting abilities aren’t helping the cause. Against this narrative, if Paine can affect a reversal of fortunes, maybe get a little less tacit, more interactive, and lead by example, then he’d pass the Litmus Test of both skill and unwarranted character assassination he’s being subjected to.
A lesson in a rich cricketing history
The same way Allan Border was given the task of reforming a side that in the absence of the biggies- Greg Chappell, Rodney Marsh- Tim Paine’s task is to hang in there and contribute.
Chop and change become the order of the day when nothing gets right.
There can be off-days for the most talented of batsmen. There might be more occurrences like the Dubai Test where nothing seems to go right.
It’s what you do when the going gets tough, that defines your character.
If you were Tim Paine, you’d either lose your head by the extremity of pressure or, you’d do what some of his predecessors did in a similar position.
Allan Border didn’t give up
He was hard to dislodge. He put a price on his wicket back then. That is when those innings like the Perth heroic were birthed.
What’s the best bet of the buck that Paine’s put right now? We know what Steven Waugh, not the best stroke-maker, when compared to Mark, did to his craft and thus, to the team.
Tomorrow, Paine could be easily replaced.
In fact, if the selectors were to perhaps receive fan-telepathy, they might even bring back George Bailey.
But before any of that happens, Tim Paine will be judged by history by whether or not was he able to absorb the pressure and make something out of the major absences he inherited.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Paine’s team has a few months to rebuild before ICC World Cup 2019 arrives.