COMMENT: Whitewash or not, was Pakistan’s entertaining fight worthy of more than three Tests?
We were hoping for a great contest, and we got one!
Dave Warner might have gone out a winner, but there were many moments in that final Test at the SCG where Pakistan showed that they have a lot of good cricketers on the horizon – and even better than that, plenty of talent right here, right now.
They should be commended on the spirit of this series played. Usually, most cricketers can appreciate a good sledge or two, it comes with the turf. The provincial turn of phrase designed to put off the opposition, or the straight-up old-fashioned insult that cuts right to the chase.
Aamer Jamal was brilliant with the bat and ball, but it wasn’t just that – he was an aggressive bastard. He wanted to get in there, get in the Aussies’ faces, and take his chance to pull off an upset victory.
Did he get it? No, but he sure left an impression. The last time I can personally recall a debuting overseas player leaving one that strong was JP Duminy when he played his first Test for the Proteas back in the 2008/09 series, scoring his maiden Test century and powering South Africa to a series win.
It’s impossible to turn Aamer into the villain right now, like say, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, or Virat Kohli. His lack of baggage works in his favour – who knows what he can achieve next time he is back on Australian soil!
While there are many disappointments Pakistan will rightly take from this series – the many dropped catches, questionable fielding performances, the fact that their superstar batters Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel failed to fire – there were many players that showed glimpses of greatness.
So… should this be a longer series?
While Shan Masood may have been in over his head as captain at the start of the tour, his decision-making and more aggressive tactics in the Boxing Day and the New Year’s Test matches asked questions of the Australians.
While execution left a lot to be desired, when his players did deliver (enter Aamer, stage left), the visitors put themselves within striking distance of ending their near thirty-year Test victory drought on Australian soil.
As encouraging as the visitors were, Pat Cummins showed why Australia are ranked first in the world – a good side knows that when you are asked questions, you still have to find ways to win. It’s such a shame then, as it feels like the contest was just starting to get interesting, it’s over. Just like that.
Leave us hanging much? What if this series continued on? There was plenty of spirit shown in the Pakistan side to suggest a win could have been on the cards in a four or five-Test series.
Still, it is what it is. Now we await the arrival of the West Indies, hot off their T20 series win over England. Question is, can their Test side live up to the promise shown by Pakistan?
Judging by last summer (seriously, that’s when they were last here), they have a long way to go to contend with the side that last defeated Australia at home in February 1997 – in a five-Test series.
It does beg the question, though: should longer Test series be brought back?
Dave Warner goes out a winner – now what?
So, he’s gone. David Warner ends his career with his baggy green, a lot of love, and a lot of references to sandpaper.
Considering the discourse seemed neverending about him, to now have the conundrum of who replaces him in front of us is, honestly, relieving.
We don’t have to wax lyrical about it anymore! Finally, it’s going to happen.
Regardless, what Cricket Australia and the selection committee do next is telling, not just because of who they pick, but what it signifies.
While comparing them against the golden eras of Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting is next to impossible, there’s no denying that the Cummins tenure has been a huge success so far, with a stacked trophy cabinet, wins aplenty across all formats, and many players making a name for themselves.
That being said, generational change is coming. The average age of the squad that took on Pakistan in Sydney was 33 years and four months, the oldest Australian Test XI to take the field since the 1928-29 Ashes series.
Marcus Harris (31) looms as an obvious choice to replace Warner if they want to maintain the dynamic of an aggressive opener that can tick the run rate over, supported by a more traditional anchor in Usman Khawaja at the other end. However, he wouldn’t exactly be around for long.
The slightly more junior Matt Renshaw (27) or Cameron Bancroft (31) looms as an option as well, but his selection would signify a shift away from the opening style that has yielded so much success for Australia.
The risk is for CA to handle: they need to identify young guns coming through the ranks, and the sooner they can get them in alongside this pack of Australian players, the better.
Otherwise, that trophy cabinet may find itself emptying as quickly as it was filled.