Hard-wicket home ground bullies. Is that a fair label for Australia?
- Three wins from the last 20 Test Matches played in England
- One win from the last 17 Test Matches played in Asia
The public’s memory is shaped by strong performances either side of Christmas. Mid-year series losses on the sub-continent are obscured by the winter football codes.
The fifteen years without an Ashes win in England is papered over by the two 5-0 thrashings of England in Australia (the notable exception being Australia’s 3-1 loss at home 2010-11).
This summer promises something different. Australia is on the back foot.
It faces strident opposition with three Test Matches against South Africa beginning on Thursday in Perth and ending with a pink ball day-night fixture in Adelaide.
Then its three Tests against Pakistan around Christmas.
Australia will find it tough to prevent a summer of losses. Both touring sides look more stable and Pakistan have form and a formidable line up.
The Proteas will miss the injured AB de Villiers but the batting looks solid. Their attack is capable of shredding the collapsible Australians and the Saffers have beaten Australia at home twice in the last decade.
Meanwhile Australia doesn’t know who its best eleven is.
Shaun Marsh is back again, this time to open. Marsh scored a ton in Sri Lanka when he replaced Joe Burns, so his place is vindicated but we’ll see Burns again before 2017.
Crowd favourite Peter Siddle also returns and Adam Voges is the middle order glue.
Peter Nevill needs runs. Usman Khawaja was dropped for a lack of them in Sri Lanka but is back again. If Warner and Smith fail, who will go big?
Mitchell Marsh is a concern.
We all have big hopes he can become our Ben Stokes, a thriving all-rounder capable of winning matches with centuries (Stokes has 3 from 27 Tests, Mitchell has none from 18) and bowling tight spells when the strikers need rest.
Marsh averages 36 with the ball, which is OK. But Marsh’s batting worries most. He averages 24, a paltry return for a number 6.
You need 20 wickets to win a Test and if Mitchell Starc fails to blast away touring batsmen, Australia’s bowling suddenly looks mild.
Hazlewood is accurate, shapely even but was virtually impotent in Sri Lanka. Nathan Lyon failed to make a dent on spin-friendly decks there either. If Lyon has a lean summer, is his time up?
Success at home is common but Australia’s record away is poor. For some this is tolerable, as long as the legendary Aussie summer is punctuated by tumbling opposition wickets and big runs.
But this summer will offer intrigue and high drama because the Aussies will be under siege.
The hard-wicket home ground bully tag may become irrelevant should the tourists dispatch the locals over the fence.
How would the public respond?