THE problem with the current Australian One Day International cricket team is that there is a distinct lack of characters.
And I don’t mean a good team character, as in reciting team values and communally chanting mantras cross-legged in a circle.
I mean actually fair dinkum, entertaining, cricketing characters: the angry, the wacky, the elusive, the flashy match winners and the somewhat unfit yet still surprisingly effective.
The ones with household nicknames like Pigeon (Glenn McGrath), Bing (Brett Lee), Churchy (Adam Gilchrist) and Alf (Justin Langer). THAT is what is missing from the current Australian day-night line up.
When the Aussie one-dayer team lost quite shamefully against Sri Lanka on Sunday it was, even to a cricket lover, unbelievably boring.
The result was decided pretty much by the time Australian opener Aaron Finch spooned the ball to Jeevan Mendes to be dismissed for four.
After that, a list of non-descript Aussie batsmen and bowlers traipsed out onto the Adelaide Oval, each more mundane and less-notable than the last.
The lacklustre 11 were drearily led by rather anonymous captain, Tasmanian George Bailey, who I truly reckon most cricket tragics couldn’t pick out of a mug line-up. The most disappointing aspect of the convincing loss was that it made cleaning the kitchen seem entertaining.
Sunday’s game certainly didn’t help the cause of one day cricket, which many commentators declare has one foot in the grave and another grimly hanging on to its heyday in the 1980s.
To me, the answer to one day international’s woes is fairly clear – there needs to be more personalities, and pronto. This doesn’t mean selectors completely have to start again. They could turn Sunday’s eleven into entertainers but it’s all about developing a persona, which can be achieved by various methods.The first, and most popular, is to develop a wacky hairstyle.
The prime example of this is Jason “Dizzy” Gillespie, who became a cult figure and a more polished bowler once he grew a luscious, curly mullet, which was so wild it used to escape out the air holes of his batting helmet. What goes hand in hand with the wacky hair is extreme and unnecessary use of zinc.
Zinc is rarely used in any other aspect of life than on a cricket field. Placed on the lips, nose or over the entire facial region, it can really separate your stock-standard cricketer from the rest.
Another persona-developing tool is by being a little bit of a bad boy. Andrew “Roy” Symonds falls into this category, who eventually got ejected out of the team for bad behaviour, ill-discipline and a self-admitted binge drinking problem.
Symonds had a lot of bases covered, as he also belonged to the “wacky hairstyle” and “excessive zincing” groups, and thus was a long-standing crowd-favourite.
Another good trait is to be erratic. Slinging fast bowler Shaun “The Wild Thing” Tait was a marvel at this, and fun to watch because you never knew what was going to happen next.
Or you can just be really, really good, which, running an eye over Sunday’s scorecard, no one in the Australian team really seems to be at the moment.
But there’s also a place for the slightly chubby, good Aussie bloke.
The success of Darren “Boof” Lehmann and Mick “Tubby” Taylor can really be put down to the fact they look like they should be starring in one of the VB ads, which only hit the screens in summer around cricket time rather than taking their place in a national sporting team.
They are the kind of men that blokes could look at them and think, “It’s not too late for me to become an elite sportsman while still eating four meat pies a day”.
It’s not necessarily time to start afresh with the Aussie one-dayer team, just time to grow a bit more hair, wear a bit more zinc and eat a few more pies.