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Aussie Giants Prove Age Is Merely A Number

By Orin Davidson
Australia has dominated world cricket for so long it is difficult fathoming them failing in any of the major upcoming ICC competitions despite having a player core group, that could be considered Ancient by world standards.

Glenn McGrath

Shane Warne says at 37 years, he is bowling as better as any other time in his career. Justin Langer wants the world to know he is a rejuvenated 35-year-old player even after a series of hits to the head almost put an end to his career the last time Australia played Test cricket this year.

Australia’s most successful fast bowler ever Glen McGrath is one year older and is raring to resume his career without any thought of retirement.

Three months of rest has recharged Adam Gilchrist’s 34-year-old body to the extent he has long started training, although given extra rest from the Tri Nation series.

Matthew Hayden is also a key man in Australia’s dominance in the last 10 teams and like his teammates, he seems excited to continue an outstanding career long after the World Cup next year at 34.

And don’t expect Stuart McGill to think anyway different as although he is also well into his mid 30’s, the leg spinner still has an intense hunger to compete as he feels starved by the Australian selectors for not getting as much playing time as Warne in national colors.

Maybe it’s due to Steve Waugh’s success and desire to continue playing when he was pushed out at 39 years of age, that kept the Old Boys Club alive in the baggy green team.

These days the Aussie selectors don’t seem to have a problem keeping their star players whether they’re 25 or 35, but by this time next year everyone will know for sure whether age can catch up with the Australians or nor.

The Aussies are about to come off a well deserved three-month break from competition after a marathon 18-month playing period and as is obvious no major changes are being made to the squad. It means the old brigade will continue carrying the fight in the Tri Nation Cup, Champions Trophy, Ashes and 2007 World Cup between now and next year.

Regardless of the efficiency of players, any long break from competition will affect their form on return, and depending on their results from the above mentioned competitions, the world will know whether Australia’s selectors will be prompted to wield the axe or not.

From this distance, all the team’s accomplishments from 1995 to now, are unlikely to come crashing down any time soon.

Australians are a very proud people and if a single Ashes Test loss, is still making them see red, one could imagine what another failure at the Champions Trophy, or an unsuccessful World Cup defense, or worst yet - a second straight Ashes defeat, would do to the minds of their selectors.

But unless West Indies spring major surprises in India and at home, Australia are well on course to maintaining their supremacy in the One-Day game.

It may sound absurd, but more than any other team, West Indies could well be the main threat to Australia wining the Champions Trophy and the World Cup.

Not many fans will be betting on the disorganized West Indies Cricket Board
producing a team currently ranked number seven in the world, to head all others in the race to dent Australia’s limited overs supremacy.

With Sri Lanka demolishing every opponent in sight currently and South Africa setting a world record in edging Australia the last time they clashed in the shorter version of the game, not many would give West Indies a sniff of a chance to reclaim past glories with this unit.

But it is pertinent to all who have not seen the Caribbean side in action recently, they are on the rise out of the doldrums. Ask India, the team recently ensconced up high at number two, who were humbled 4-1 these last few months.

In their current state, West Indies could spring the goods at any given time like they did in winning the last Champions Trophy two years ago.

They are an unpredictable side and the performance against India suggests they are set to maintain a measure of consistency, at least in the One-Day game.

Australia would do well to watch their backs in these two competitions especially from
the men in maroon. They did not win two World Cups for nothing and although the last triumph occurred six tournaments ago, they will be hosts next year and everyone knows what home advantage can do.

As for the Ashes Australia has nothing to fear from England at year’s end, because the latter team is a bits and pieces squad which is ripe for a thumping Down Under. No one should forget what Australia did to the World XI immediately after the England
Ashes shock loss. It was as comprehensive a beating as ever meted out to the likes of Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar and company playing together, in the three one-dayers and single Test match.

Even if England were fortunate enough to have the identical side that won the two Tests and drew the other last summer that reclaimed them the Ashes after 36 years last year, they cannot in any shape or form re-produce that result.

On the whole though, it is refreshing Australia is not as programmed as three years ago, to rid the team of those mid 30s and over players.

Once good enough, players of Warne’s and McGrath’s special qualities should be allowed to continue pleasuring the fans and maintain their love affair with the sport.

Brian Lara is now 37 years old but less than a year ago he claimed the world Test aggregate batting record and only three years before, became the first man to notch 400 Test runs in one innings.

And one does to have to be a tennis fan to be jollified by Andre Agassi’s momentous run currently in the last tournament of his career. At 36 years he made 21-year-old Marcus Baghdatis grovel like the older man Thursday night at the U.S. Open.

It is clear that those superstars like Agassi and Lara who keep pushing the envelope past normal limits prove that desire and commitment are the keys to maintaining success for the 30 plus club.

And don’t forget Warne who at three years short of his 40th birthday can still nab 40-wicket Test series hauls and play County cricket at the same time.
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