Australia will soon name their squad to take on India in the first Test which begins in Melbourne on Boxing Day and already their cricket fans are predicting the worst.
Michael Clarke has mush to ponder ahead of the Boxing Day Test - credit: REUTERS / Action Images
Missing Patrick Cummins and Shaun Marsh as well as having a string of other players nursing injuries, there seems to be little optimism that the Baggy Greens can overturn a seven-run defeat to New Zealand in their previous match and offer India a stern challenge.
New coach Mickey Arthur enjoyed a honeymoon period lasting around seven days before his side unravelled dramatically in Hobart to hand New Zealand a first win in Australia for 26 years.
Using the Cricket World Most Valuable Player ratings, it is even more clear that Australia have had a poor year – the MVPs only take performances from the last 12 months into account to give a true barometer of who is in form at any one moment in time.
Batting: 1 rating point is roughly analagous to an average of 1 run. Aside from the injured Marsh, who is in sixth place with 66.9 points, the top Australian batsman in the Test batting ratings is Michael Clarke, who has 44.1 points at number 22 and is followed immediately by Michael Hussey (43.9) one place behind. That translates to a reasonable year but not outstanding, and Clarke’s figures are boosted by his outstanding form since taking over the captaincy.
Next up for Australia is Usman Khawaja – very much a work in progress – down at 53rd with 29.5 points and you have to drop to 56th to find Ricky Ponting, Phil Hughes is 60th, Brad Haddin 64th and Shane Watson lies 77th.
Bowling: It does not get much better in the bowling rankings although Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon are top of the pile in 20th and 21st place respectively. Shane Watson is in 29th, Peter Siddle 34th but Mitchell Johnson, to confirm what we probably already know, is down in 44th place just a few places above Hussey (49th) and Clarke (50th).
We wait with bated breath to see just how ruthless the selectors might be but the evidence based on the ratings would only guarantee Clarke, Lyon and Harris a place in the line-up. Time was when Australia dominated the ratings, both as a team and players.
Those days are now gone but can the likes of Marsh, James Pattinson, Cummins and Khawaja launch their team back to the top? India themselves aren’t able to call upon a fully fit squad of players so might the series turn out to be a little closer than Australian fans fear?
Save the date
Test batting top ten: Mohammad Yousuf, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen, Michael Clarke, Mohammad Hafeez, Michael Hussey, Mahela Jayawardene, Alastair Cook, Paul Collingwood
Test bowling top ten: Muttiah Muralitharan, Stuart Clark, Corey Collymore, Anil Kumble, Mohammad Asif, Monty Panesar, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Jerome Taylor, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hoggard
Test batting top ten: Brendan Taylor, Tino Mawoyo, Kirk Edwards, Kumar Sangakkara, Tatenda Taibu, Darren Bravo, Shaun Marsh, Ian Bell, Vusi Sibanda, Angelo Mathews
Test bowling top ten: Saeed Ajmal, Pragyan Ojha, Ravi Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Stuart Broad, Rangana Herath, Shakib Al Hasan, Ray Price, Daniel Vettori, Junaid Khan
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