Have standards slipped in Australian cricket under Ricky Ponting, or Tim Neilson?
Ponting was very magnanimous in defeat at the Oval on Sunday evening Australian time, and betrayed his surly demeanour by being a credit to Australia and taking the defeat with grace.
What was however galling was the lack of unity from his team. It may be a small issue but beneath the exterior lie bigger issues.
England’s players all came out all in whites and all wearing their cricket caps for the official presentation ceremony. They looked a team and they looked the part. Australia however looked the rabble that they were at times on the pitch. Katich was not even in his whites, Ponting wore his baggy green with pride while a number of the other players opted for the sponsor’s baseball cap. There was no unity, no uniformity. They looked a ragtag bunch and at times their performance was the same.
A petty issue you may say? But ask yourself this would Steve Waugh who respected everything that wearing the treasured baggy green cap of Australia meant, the history and the honour, have tolerated such standards? I think not. He would have expected the players to maintain certain standards at all times, even in defeat.
I fear that as with the Socceroos after the World Cup and when Graham Arnold took charge at the Asia Cup, standards have dropped, and those standards off the pitch are reflected on the pitch. Who is to blame is not a question that I intend to answer, but once again the foot soldiers ion all walks of life take their lead from those in charge.
Viewers in Australia will have seen Merv Hughes’ – a national selector- appalling attire on Fox Sports throughout the series. Surely again there is a standard that needs to be adhered to when you hold such a position. It was embarrassing to see one of the selectors not only compromise his position continually appearing on television and being so open about his thoughts, but to be attired like some beer-swilling fan on the hill is equally inappropriate.
Time to raise the standards of those at the helm, and ease of the Captain as not all the blame can be lain at his feet.