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Long summer shows Aussies are on the up
Michael Slater
10:00 AEST Wed Mar 21 2012

In bat with Slats
Michael Slater is a former opening batsman for Australia and now well respected member of the Wide World of Sports cricket commentary team.
Michael Slater

  Have your say on the summer of cricket.

Looking back on the long summer of cricket, it has been one of the most enjoyable seasons I can remember. Certainly from the commentary box there was barely a dull moment as Australia went a long way towards regaining their place at the top of world cricket.

The stand-out performance of the summer was the combined effort of a rejuvenated Australia pace attack. Coach Mickey Arthur and bowling coach Craig McDermott have worked some magic and created an arsenal which will once again strike fear into batting line-ups around the world. The emergence of young guns James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins has been a revelation. The way they worked as a team with the older guys in Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and a re-invented Ben Hilfenhaus was the main factor behind Australia's dominance over India.

I expected a whole lot more from India in the Test series, and also in the One-day International (ODI) series where they failed to live up to their world champion status. As disappointing as India were, Australia's bowling attack was responsible for their downfall from the very first Test of the tour. Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and the great Sachin Tendulkar all made half centuries in India's first innings at the MCG. At any other time, against any other attack, at least one of them would have been expected to go on to score a hundred and a big hundred at that. But Australia's bowlers stuck to their line and length, worked together as a unit and all three were bowled out, even though well into their innings. It set the tone for the whole summer and the biggest disappointment probably came from India's lack of a decent display of fight and determination from then on.

Once the ODI tri-series rolled around, we were shown the way forward for India in the form of Virat Kohli. While he went overboard a couple of times and probably shouldn't have taken things off field, I think the fire and absolute pride he obviously has in playing for India was very refreshing. It showed me that the time has come for India to start the transition from their older champions to the new brigade and Dravid's retirement shows the process is already underway.

With the bat for Australia, the emergence of David Warner was something special. The 180 he crunched at the WACA was an innings we haven't seen in Test cricket since Adam Gilchrist went wild at the same venue. The fact that Warner did it opening the batting against the new ball attack made it so very special. He brings a level of excitement to all three forms of the game that ensures the crowds will keep coming back.

The development of Michael Clarke into a great leader and a devastating batsman was also great to watch. Clarke proved that when his back holds up he is one of the best batsmen in the world. Together with coach Arthur he has turned the team around and has it heading in the right direction. A three-nil Test series win in the West Indies will push Australia towards the number two spot. If they keep improving and developing, their dramatic fall from the top will become a distant memory and a whole lot quicker than anyone realistically expected.

Arthur is an understated coach who wants his players up front taking the credit for all they achieve. He is more than happy working away in the background, making the changes and moves needed to keep this progression going. He deserves a lot of the credit, but he will be happy to escape the limelight for now at least.

When next summer rolls around, Australia will face one of its biggest tests, taking on South Africa. By then South Africa will know they are up against a mighty adversary. They'll certainly be facing a much tougher and more confident opposition than Australia would have presented before Micky Arthur took over.

Australia faces South Africa and Sri Lanka before the 2013 Ashes Tour – by the end of it I expect them to be back at number one where they belong.

Did you enjoy the 2011/12 summer of cricket?
What were your highlights from the summer?

User comments
India were poor opposition and hard to base any conclusions upon. The coming summer with South Africa promises better.
I was on a 4 day wilderness treck through Tassie in January with my wife. We emerged sore, dirty and tired after 4 days. The bus terminal in Hobart had Channel 9 on quietly in the corner. To my amazement Clarkey was carving the Indian attack like a man possessed to all parts of the SCG. We all watched him race to his triple century. His decision to stop short of 334 was the line in the sand between him being a young punk and developing into a great leading. All hail the new king!
I think England lack an x factor- Peterson and swan r over the hill and cook is gonna crumble b4 long too fragile- Aussies have incredible depth the selectors just need to find the right balance- Warner ponting haddin And hilfy will have amazing summers- and England b scared u ferrets...........
slats is way off, aus cricket team is full of batsmen with massive technique flaws, shaun marsh plays with massive gap between bat and pad as he commits straight down the wicket with front foot, hughes can't play short ball, white,smith should never play unless its a road and we are playing iceland. a number of others have no consistency only coming off when conditions suit! and others getting to 30 before giving it away. selectors dropped hauritz and gave away about 10 aussie caps to people averaging 40 (with the ball) in shield cricket due to media pressure looking for the next warne. our bowling is not as rosey as slater thinks either our best bowler harris is struggling with his body and can't play back to back games pattinson and cummins look good but cummins action looks like it will struggle to hold up for a hole season. starc looks like another mitchell johnson and i wonder how consistent he will be, especially when its not swingin.
slats comments are pure wishful thinking ,the bowling future looks very rosey but add hazelwood and find a spinner , smith needs a lot of work but worth giving a prolonged period. batting dont drop the good ones .kwal[cant spell it]hughes one fault and his out cant a good coach sort him out[bob simpson]if his still alive.david hussey has all the good atributes but like his brother they leave it very late. pick a proper wicketkeeper [hartely]theres no gilcrest on the scene
well, we go again...what an absolute nightmare the one day series was to endure. If anone thinks we are a shot in the next ashes series, they are more deluded than Slats and the selectors. We just havent got it. The writing was on the wall from when McGrath injured himself and missed the ashes. From that point on we have had no bowling thats worth a zac, and our middle order is just plain garbage, grade cricketers at best.India were disinterested hasbeens, and really were no test at all, although our bowlers did bowl good lines and superb lengths to them, with swing as well. Where was that againstsri lanka, the windiesand the poms. Back to the same old crap, putting the ball right in the slot to be hammered. We are very lucky Gyle didnt play fro windies or series whitewash for them, as England just ashes...England 5-0...goddammit
this is for god help me and he really does need help to attack a country and make insulting remarks about them all over agame of cricket if you cant lose with grace dont comment on the game its people like you that give us a bad name. we were out played in every department no excuses so accept it we have become the wingers of the world when we lose
This Natwest Series we have out bowled, batted, Fielded (Not Catching mind)the Aussie Bowling Attack needs to settle not the best in the world by a long Stretch, batting is Fragile comical Run Outs. to Michael Slater, Bill Lawry NOT THE BEST IN THE WORLD now or by 2013 get real took us 3-4 years to get there. Beat a poor Indian Side only drew against the mighty Tasmin rivals in recent series on the up ?? Lookin forward to Ashes next year !!!
who is this Clark you speak of?? Stuart Clark retired mate.. ..if you're gonna bag someone, make sure you have his name spelt correctly fool.
At least Clarks LB tatto can now mean something again, LOST to BRITIAN. Leave room to soon add an 'A' for again!!
tried to watch the odi last night and lasted two minutes couldn't get passed the pommy commentary what a sorry sack of boring dribble bleaker than the pommy rain no wonder why you guys whinge and cry sook and scream to move to australia only the best country in the world take out melbourne but your not and if we find any living convicts you can have them back to we had to cop the brunt of kiwi jokes for your unfortunate first fleet filth you'll never steal our vitamin d and how sweet the australian sun is so for now ill just turn the tele off..
The 3rd ODI being washed out and Australia retains no 1 ranking.What a farce!Why is cricket the only sport that can hand a non deserving team like Australia a false and inflated ranking because of bad weather,it is ridiculous and ludicrous.Put on an additional ODI,or play on an indoor arena,do anything to geta result.I am an Australian,and I am continually disgusted and embarrassed to have this bunch of whining cretins representing Australia.The number of matches that this team has one by default should force a rethink into playing for a result,Australia's true ranking in all forms of the game would then be below that of Ireland.
The only thing that is on the rise is their pay packets,Clarke is not worth two thousand let alone two million-consider his woeful batting against a second rate West indies,his triple centuries werelike batting against a lowly school boy cricket team.Seems like nothing has changed under Arthur-still persisting with Ponting,cronyism is still alive and well.Was good to see Christian dumped,must have been for his fraudalent claim of a hat trick. After playing real cricket teams of England and South Africa over the next few months,I am sure we will here the Australian cricket team whining about how much cricket they have had to play to somehow account for getting their butts kicked.
Unless Pattinson and Cummins are both fully fit and firing,and Ben Hilfenhaus continues his amazing improvement, Australia's ashes chances next year are bleak. Also,as his greatest fan,Ponting is wrong to try and be there - as Steve Waugh would have been to try and go to India late 2004 or even Allan Border the West Indies in 95. The worst thing about that is that someone like Usman Khawaja will be robbed of a couple of years of vital development,which could have seen him blossom come ashes 2013 ala Mark Taylor in 89.
where's englamd..dont worry mate we have been laughing at you clowns for the last 100 years.
well slates like most aussies you like to *** your own trumpet dont know how you can say australia belong at No1 they have not done anything there form has been very ordinary to say the least going to england with the same old batting line up did not do any good last ashes test so will it be any different next time.
Obviously Ricky is determined to go the England for the Ashes. My opinion is that I think he certainly deserves to because of the greatness he has shown throughout his career. I wander what other people think ?? The new coach has done a terrific job as Michael Clarke has done. But I can't stop thinking about how good the current England are. By the way!! Ihave a pet hate about the imbalance between bowlers who have the back foot in the air behind the line which is legal. A batsman with half his bat over the line but in the air is given out. Ijust don't see how it can be fair.
we're just sick and tired of DOMINATING the world of cricket mate. thought it was getting a bit stale. thought we'd take a back step and see what the rest of the world can do. South Africa are better than England mate. enjoy this very brief time at the top, Aussies will be back. also Finn wouldn't get a game for Zimbabwe.. so wouldn't go talking him up too much
You aussies love bigging yourself up all the time. You beat India at home (after we had already smashed them) then beat a 2nd rate West Indies side. I watched the Windies tour live. There was not much between the sides and the Aussie batting was shaky to say the least, how many 350+ innings? Warner the next big thing ? You have got to be kidding. It's Hughes all over again. Still with all his playing and missing at least he kills a few hundred flies every time he goes out to bat. Our pace attack is so strong even Finn can't get into the side on a regular basis and he's real quality.You have no chance of winning the ashes back in England.
Good job clarkee 5 for 89
Well done clarke, Like your aggressive style as captain, As your wicketkeeper of choice haddin, Wade has answered to your call, The first australian wicketkeeper batsman to make a century on this tour of the WI, keep it up wade well done, hope their's plenty more around the corner.
I don't think that Cowan and Warner quite cut it as opening Batsmen. Their techniques aren't good enough by Australian standards. Michael clarke's batting as a captain leaves a lot to be desired in the West Indies. You can't be out to two poor balls in as many innings like that as captain. I really wanted to see Ricky Thomas Ponting bat in Barbados but was robbed of the pleasue by a stupid run out and by chasing runs in the second innings.Mr. Ponting and Mr. Hussey are still your two best batsmen for my money.
Summer cricket is over. Ponting future is still up for question. Tasmania failed to win the shield, could had been a poor decision on the toss, ponting with no contribution with the bat. Start of the west indian tour he is still failing with the bat, even though he has three innings left to make good in the WI plus the aussie summer, selectors are being patient, Yes he was a great past player. No doubt, the future is what this is all about. I have got my doubts on ponting going over to england making a difference to what he has done in the past in england.
Warner and Patterson have added the "X" factor that has been missing since the retirement of Gilchrist and co.We have plenty of quality bowlers-this has added an edge to our attack with bowlers "in the wings" waiting for the call up.Not as many batsman putting the pressure on the establiashed.Did any of our state batsman perform well enough?Maybe D.Hussey although he is over 30.Maybe Forrest will be next to get his chance?
Definitely back on track,lead by the bowlers.Great to see the bowlers keeping the ball up and committing the batsman to play-lots of catches taken behind the wicket.Plenty to feel confident about leading up to the ashes. Will Ponting still be there to face England?
Great season of cricket from big bash on great to see new talent coming on and grwat captaincy of m clarke looking forward to tests with wi ...
Clarke and Arthur did a superb job with the tests matches. The batting in the ODI needs a lot of work still. They need a heap more consistency, we can't turn starts into decent scores.
Yes, the tests were great! I've been keeping up to date from England. I did think the ODI series was probably too long for the amount of teams.
Aus are back on track. If we can punish the windies in the three test series we will have enough confidence to take on the rest of the world and crush them. Hope the bowlers can go without injury.
In essence I agree a lot with Slats comments but I also reckon he fails to mention John Inverarity and what I believe has been a strong selection policy. Most of us were saddened to see the demise of a true champion, Ricky Ponting from the one day arena and to a lesser extent Brad Haddin however for too long it's been harder to get dropped from the Aussie side and to finally see a team picked on merit and not reputation is refreshing. Australian cricket through the ranks has improved as current players know they have to perform and younger players are taking the inspiration if they perform they have a realistic chance of being selected for their country. Keep it up Australia and in no time we'll regain the number one ranking that is always rightfully ours.

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