For all their faults, and they’ve got plenty, there’s no doubt that following Australia is anything but dull. Michael Clarke has spent 2012 as a one man advert for Test cricket, plundering runs by the bucketload, making hilariously maverick declarations and forcing the likes of Matt Wade to bowl just to keep himself amused. Around him the rest of the side has veered from professional and efficient (Mike Hussey’s batting, the seamers vs. India) to complete and utter shambles (Shaun Marsh’s batting, Shane Watson’s batting, in fact everybody else’s batting). Add in the fact that Australian fast bowlers are about as sturdy as one of those giant Jenga towers that you get in the pub and you end up with a whole heap of fun and games.
It’s the top order that really sets Australia apart from other novelty acts. David Warner continues to be hilariously inept but at least comes off once or twice a year; Shane Watson doesn’t even bother with that. Now that the Ricky Ponting retirement saga is finally over there’s space for Phil Hughes as well. It certainly bodes well for the more challenging assignments that Australia have coming up in 2013.
Having said all that, Australia still found a way to pull out some decent Test results this year. Beating India isn’t as impressive at it once was but they still did it extremely efficiently. Then came a series win in the West Indies before the series against South Africa where they huffed and puffed before eventually having their own house blown down at the WACA, a result that probably says more about where Australia are than any other. Certainly, beating Sri Lanka in damp seamer friendly conditions in Hobart doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.
The limited overs formats produced some distinctly less impressive results, noticeably the 4-0 spanking in England where Australia were lucky to get nil (and only the weather stopped England getting five). Reaching the semi-finals of the World T20 was a decent effort, albeit one that consisted almost entirely of Shane Watson winning every match on his own.
Before the start of the year 2012 was penciled in as a period of transition and that’s certainly been the case. Australia are still desperately trying to figure out their best sides in all three formats and the sudden retirement of Mike Hussey won’t help. As they’re not currently picking Steve Smith in any of the three formats that he bestrides like a colossus, we think it’s fair to say that they still have some way to go.