Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ashes 2013: Australian Discipline Problems Continue

Every single Ashes series between England and Australia is intense, every single series is hyped and valuable. It's possible that the 2013 Ashes will be the least hyped in recent memory. That has perhaps been best revealed in recent weeks where the biggest story-lines have circulated around ill-discipline and off the field issues, rather than being focused on the match-up.

It's perhaps a little surprising that this series isn't receiving more media attention. England have shown signs of fragility in their past series drawing with an inexperienced New Zealand during the winter and then beating them this spring, but showing signs of significant weakness as well.

Still, there simply isn't a lot of belief that the young Australian team can upset expectations. England have won three of the past four series including a remarkable whitewash in Australia in 2010/11. In many ways Australia have only become weakened as a team since that series with many of the country's great players departing including Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.

The Australian line-up is full of inexperience, it isn't necessarily especially inspirational with unlimited levels of talent and for most of the touring party, this will be their first ever test match series in England.

Perhaps the discipline discussions are reflective of the dismissal of this Australian team as a serious threat in the upcoming test series. Australia pioneered the transformation of international cricket into a highly professional and disciplined professional sport. They were able to dominate for more than a decade thanks to the development of talent, the grittiness to the line-up and the ability of the cricket board's organisation to drive through and absolutely maximize the talent at their disposal.

Incidents like the one that occurred this week when David Warner was accused of punching an England player (believed to be Joe Root) in the face during a night out in Birmingham. Warner was dropped for the Champions Trophy match against New Zealand and faces a disciplinary hearing.

This isn't the first problem with discipline that Australia have had. Vice-captain Shane Watson and a group of other players were suspended for a test match during the recent test series in India after failing to complete a piece of 'homework'. The concept of completing homework as an international cricketer may seem ridiculous, but the incident absolutely reflected the breakdown in this team.

The 2013 Australian Ashes squad has a lot of talent. They have some world class players including the currently injury plagued captain Michael Clarke, who has arguably been the best batsman in the world over the past two seasons. England have also shown themselves very capable of 'losing' a series. However, people can perhaps be forgiven for not hyping up this series right now considering the disarray in the Australian camp.

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