The gap between Australia and the rest have been bridged with the series defeat

Australia could have won the Nagpur Test but for Ponting’s poor leadership

London: More than just winning the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have initiated the beginning of the end of Australia’s hegemony in world cricket, according to the British media.

Dwelling on the implications of India’s stunning 2-0 win against the world champion, the press here said the series defeat has punctured Australia’s aura of invincibility and the Ricky Ponting-led side is clearly on the decline.

Walls tumbling down

“All empires crumble. Some hang around longer than others and most, at their zenith, seem as though they will be there for ever. But they go only one way eventually, and in central India on Monday there was the unmistakable sense of walls tumbling down,” said a writer in The Independent.

In the article titled “The end of an Australian empire?”, the writer said, “In Nagpur, a place renowned for its oranges, they ended up looking like lemons and widespread regret may be difficult to discern.”

According to him, Australia was never the same force once players like Damien Martyn, Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist quit the game.

The Daily Telegraph believed likewise and said, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Australia certainly hit the ground with a thump in Nagpur on Monday.”

Onus on Ponting

Writing in the daily, Simon Briggs said the onus was on Ponting and his men to beat New Zealand and South Africa at home, failing which they run the risk of losing their stature in world cricket.

“Now they need to regroup with decisive wins over New Zealand (straightforward) and South Africa (far more challenging) in home conditions. If those aims are not achieved, there really will be a sense of a great empire crumbling,” Briggs said.

In The Guardian, Mike Selvey wrote the gap between Australia and the rest have been bridged with the series defeat in India.

“Surely now, after India’s triumph in Nagpur, even the most myopic, delusional, down under diehard (and some would seem to remain) will concede that fings ain’t wot they used to be.

Not great anymore

“Australia are on the slide, not by any means to the bottom of the heap but back into the mix with those who, not so very long ago, were dispatched routinely and ruthlessly with a swagger. They were a truly great side. Not any more they are not,” said Selvey, who played three Tests for England.

Discussing “Five things this series taught us,” Selvey said Australia has been robbed of the fear factor.

“No side will now go into a series against Australia facing invincibility. Home and away this year the Indian team have shown the way. Australia will still hold their own in most company but necessity means it will be a different, more cautious, side that we see in the future,” he said.

According to Selvey, Australia could have won the Nagpur Test but Ponting’s poor leadership — especially keeping strike bowlers out of action to revive over-rate — doomed them in Nagpur.

Glimmer snuffed out

“...for a brief period (Australia) saw the faintest glimmer of light in the final match. But that was snuffed out by captaincy which from any team would have been questionable, but from the leader of a side with the culture of self-belief cultivated first under Border, then Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, and carried on by Ricky Ponting, seemed either an aberration, incompetence or the action of a fellow who has lost his captaincy marbles,” he said.

“So the remote chance of squaring a series against the team the Australians see as their greatest rivals was sacrificed for the expedience of trying to avoid the captain missing a forthcoming Test against New Zealand. Already it has been described as one of the biggest blunders in the history of the Baggy Green,” he added. — PTI

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