Australian cricket is back in turmoil. In March this year, they had scaled the heights of being the World Champions for the fifth time. Now, in the space of five months, they have lost the Ashes. They have not just lost the Ashes, but they have surrendered it feebly. The defeat in Trent Bridge has resulted in one major casualty. Australian skipper Michael Clarke has announced that he will retire from international cricket after the end of the series. (England Thrash Australia)
The pressure on Clarke both off-the-field and on the field in this series has been immense. The team now finds itself in the same situation as it was in the 2010/11 Ashes when they lost to England for the first time at home after 24 years. In that 3-1 series loss, it resulted in the end of Ricky Ponting as a captain. Now, five years later, it has resulted in the end of Clarke. (Michael Clarke Retires)
The loss of Clarke has come at a wrong time for Australia. This series loss has only compounded their poor record overseas. This was Australia’s fourth consecutive defeat in England and it has made Clarke as the Australian captain who has suffered the most losses in Ashes contests with seven. Their performances in England is a perfect indicator of their woeful performances overseas in the last couple of years.
In the early 90’s, India were tagged as “Tigers At Home and Lambs Abroad”. This tag can comfortably be shifted to Australia in the current period. They have lost 10 out of 12 Tests played in India since 2008 and were comprehensively routed in the series against Pakistan in the UAE in 2014. Barring South Africa and West Indies, Australia have been terrible everywhere.
In India and in the UAE, their techniques have been shredded by spin, be it off-spin, leg-spin or left-arm orthodox. In England, their techniques have been dissected by some immaculate swing and seam from the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. Ever since Clarke took over the captaincy from Ponting in the Sri Lanka series in 2011, they have won seven and lost 13 Tests.
After the end of the Ashes, Australia will be led by Steven Smith on the tour to Bangladesh and in the home Tests against New Zealand and West Indies. He has a massive task on hand as Australia look to bounce back. Great teams perform in all conditions and they maintain consistency in alien conditions. Australia may be the world champions, but their recent overseas performances suggest that they are far from the best.