While Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were holding off the Australian attack just after tea on Day 2, Sourav Ganguly and Tom Moody raised the question that has haunted Australian cricket for the past few years: How do they take wickets without Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath?
Moody responded with an interesting thought he didn’t complete. “They have to find other ways to take wickets,” he said. That may sound obvious, but the larger question is more interesting: how do you change strategies to better take advantage of mediocre/good talents (as opposed to the once great ones you had)? How do you best manage declining talent?
They say that the tennis player Brad Gilbert (who went on to coach Agassi and others) never had any great weapon in his arsenal (no big serve, or forehand, or anything like that). Instead, he consistently stayed among the best by running around the court, forcing opponents into long rallies and ruining their rhythm. That’s what I’m talking about: when you don’t have great players, how do you find other ways to win games?
This is a lesson Australian cricket hasn’t yet been able to answer. Take, for example, Australia’s disastrous two-Test tour of India in 2008. At one point, the Australians decided they would remove a huge deficit by simply attacking, an approach that worked when the batting line-up included Adam Gilchrist at 7. This time, though, it fell flat on its face and they lost wickets quickly. They looked like a gang of over-aged bullies.
So what do you do instead? What teams do you know that out-perform their individual team members’ averages? (Pakistan, maybe?) I don’t know enough about cricket to answer, but I imagine the answer involves more patience, less attacking; more restrictive fields that build pressure rather look for striking gold; more variety in bowling…? Send any feedback to Cricket Australia, please.