Australia at the bottom of the cycle

Seeing the plight of the touring Australians in England over the last few days would invoke a feeling of pity among even the most hard-nosed of cricket followers.

is scarcely believable that Australia was once led by stalwarts such as Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting — captains who instilled a never-say-die attitude that was the envy of other sides.

Even those fans who have been the receiving end of the Aussie domination can hardly take much pleasure in the pain the erstwhile giants.

Whatever other reasons being offered for Australia’s decline, it clear that no team can hope to on top for ever.

Australia never lost a Test series when Ian Chappell was at helm during the 1970s, but retirement of greats such as Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh and Ian’s younger brother Greg prompted a long period of struggle and under-achievement for team.

It took Allan Border quite a few years to shape the team in his mirror image as the foundation for a decades-long domination was laid.

Subsequent leaders like Taylor, Waugh and Ponting reaped benefits of a steady flow of talented cricketers and unmatched work ethic which made the Aussies the most admired, if not universally liked, outfit in history of Test cricket.

But like it had happened in the mid- 80s, once the reservoir of talent dried up, the quality of players wearing the Baggy Green cap also took a hit.

The result: Six straight Test defeats and the unthinkable prospect of the Don’s country losing three consecutive Ashes series.

England fans will be enjoying rubbing salt into the Aussie wounds right now, but they better be modest in their hour of triumph.

They have the bitter memory of losing eight Ashes series in a row before 2005. Before the turn of the century, they were the punching bags for most of the other Test- playing nations.

It was Nasser Hussain who introduced a dogged mentality in the team and subsequent captains such as Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook have taken the legacy forward.

No instance of downfall in Test cricket can be more pronounced than that of the West Indies. The men from the Caribbean islands were invincible for a decade and a half under the likes of Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards.

But as discipline and work ethic took a hit in the 1990s, the team suffered such a collapse that it is struggling to recover ever since.

India is also not a stranger to the vagaries of cricketing fortune.

The efforts of Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni engineered India’s rise to the No. 1 spot. It won India a lot of admiration worldwide as they started being a force to reckon with abroad. But eight consecutive Test losses overseas, as well as the home defeat to England, are wounds that will take some time to heal.