For Australia to even compete in the Ashes they need absolutely everything to go right. So for Michael Clarke to collapse in a screaming heap after trying to lift his luggage from the carousel at Heathrow is not exactly a good start. Even more worrying for Australian cricket is that these back flare ups are becoming ever more frequent. We have pointed out before the implications of Clarke being forced into an early Test retirement owing to ongoing injury concerns. It is a ticking bomb threatening to blow Australian cricket back into the Early Middle Ages (you can’t say Dark Ages anymore, it would offend those who lived through the period if ever they heard it). Australian cricket currently stands at DEFCON 2.
Even more of a concern (if things weren’t concerning enough) is who will replace him as captain. At the moment the only long term option is David Warner. Yeah. Just let that one sink in. It’s akin to handing the reigns of the ECB to Jade Dernbach. The manner in which Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland and Clarke defended Warner over Twittergate (or whatever it was called) suggests he is still the long term incumbent for the position. Paradoxically that should be cause for concern for Warner. Right now Warner is in rubbish form, which gives the selectors the perfect excuse to do what they traditionally love doing to incumbent captains: drop them. Australia has a long history of dropping key players; Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Clarke, even someone called Don Bradman. It’s almost as if the selectors want to see how they react before entrusting them with higher honours. All of the above of course bounced back stronger. Except for Bradman, who drifted into alcohol-fueled obscurity.
So Warner should definitely be looking over his shoulder right now, particularly since the selectors would love to appease Shane Watson by parachuting him into the vacant openers spot alongside Ed Cowan (who should also be looking over his shoulder, but that’s another story); such is the tortured and confused state of Australian cricket right now. Of course, if Warner never does rebound, instead choosing to spend his time slagging off his detractors on twitter (it’s @51allout Dave), Australia has a ready made replacement to step up to the plate instead. We don’t need to tell you who that is.
The final point of news is that Qantas have set aside a 747 specifically to fly Fawad Ahmed to Blighty to join up with the Australian A squad. We assume that since Ahmed will be the only passenger on the flight, Cricket Australia officials will use the occasions to educate him in the values of his newly adopted country, such as sledging, dropping all pretensions to being ‘cultural’ in order to match David Gower’s expectations (we would like Gower to define what English culture is by the way, aside from being miserable and hating everyone), and learning the cast history of Neighbours.
The haste with which Ahmed has been rushed into the Australian setup is curious, to say the least. If he was a batsmen, sure, we could easily understand the situation. We wouldn’t be surprised if both sides of the Australian parliament came together in one giant orgy of cross-party collaboration if that was the case. But Ahmed is a leg-spinner. And Australia already has a perfectly competent spinner in the squad in Nathan Lyon (he took nine wickets in his last Test outing dontchaknow). The only reasoning for the selectors unseemly haste in rushing Ahmed into the side is the hope that the presence of a genuine wrist spinner in the country will result in the English batsmen falling to absolute pieces. Even if he doesn’t play.
Or maybe Ahmed really is so good he deserves this sort of special treatment. Cameron White rates him, as does Shane Warne, so there is that at least. Er, yeah, with those kind of endorsements, maybe we’ve reached DEFCON 1 already.