A stunned and rather-flat Australian side returned home after being comprehensively beaten 5-0 in the ODI series against South Africa. Rarely does this powerhouse side find itself on the receiving end of a whitewash, so much so that there last win-less series was in 1997 where they lost 3-0. This would have to be one of Australia’s worst performances in an ODI series to date, and there have been a numerous amount of theory’s behind this shambolic display.
There’s no doubt that this was a series to forget for Australia, but unfortunately in these circumstances that’s not how it works. With the news that Mitchell Starc was going to be out for a long duration of Australia’s summer, the panic must have been setting in on the selectors table having limited-quality bowling options already. With the likes of James Pattinson and Pat Cummins set to make a comeback in the Matador Cup and Nathan Coulter-Nile still in recovery, the Australian selectors were well and truly under the pump. As it turned out, Australia went into the series with just one experienced campaigner in John Hastings who was joined by Daniel Worrall, Scott Boland, Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie. With Adam Zampa set to be Australia’s front line spinner for the series and Travis Head to bowl his part time spin, South Africa quickly became favorites to take out the series.
Australia’s worst case scenario became reality as South Africa’s most promising youngster-Quinton de Kock single handedly got South Africa home with 82 balls remaining in the first ODI. It was almost like the red flag had been signaled for the series and Australia were in the firing line, and the Proteas strangled the touring side for the remainder of the series. Known for their cricketing smarts, South Africa targeted Australia’s weak spot (bowling attack) and inflicted some brutal hitting that couldn’t be stopped by the Australians. For the remainder of the series, the likes of de Kock, Rossouw, du Plessis, Miller & Duminy all cashed in with that bat as they stamped there authority on the pitch.
Despite some decent performances with the ball, consistency in International cricket is what separates the superstars from the others, and not one of Australia’s bowlers could find that consistency which cost them dearly. With the omission of Starc, Australia had no X-factor who could produce a match winning spell, something that teams thrive off to shake up the contest. With no disrespect to the others, Worrall, Boland, Tremain and Mennie are just your average bowlers who were relying on their line & length, not really troubling the batsmen with the same type of delivery every ball. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa struggled to make any real impact, picking up just three wickets in five matches which might open the door for someone else. With Australia’s bowling attack currently jumbled and unsettled, the batting was a major concern as well. David Warner is the only Australian batsmen who can hold his head high after a lackluster series, scoring 386 runs at an average of 77.20. The next best was Steve Smith who managed just 151 runs at 30.20, indicating that Australia’s vice-captain played a lone hand in the series.
So where did Australia really go wrong? You’d start off by questioning the bizarre decision to ax Glenn Maxwell who sent shock waves through the cricketing world after his batting performances in the T20 Internationals against Sri Lanka in early September, particularly the unbeaten-145. Maxwell would have also been handy with his off-spin, so you’d have to say the selectors are a bit stubborn towards the way the 28-year-old all-rounder plays. The next thing I’d suggest is giving Cameron Boyce a go as the main spinner, having played a good amount of T20 cricket for Australia and showing that he’s a genuine wicket taker warrants selection. It was odd they didn’t select him for the World T20 earlier this year, so it will be interesting to see how many opportunities Zampa gets. And finally, resting Hazlewood was one of the biggest mistakes you could have done. Yes there is a long summer of test cricket coming up, but was it really worth going to South Africa and becoming a laughing stock without a strike bowler? If the selectors continue to go down this path, Australia’s cricketing legacy looks set to be destroyed.