How good is it to see the Australian cricket team more or less command a summer of cricket from start to finish?
It began with Twenty20 series victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan before controlling wins in Brisbane and Adelaide over Pakistan in their two match test series.
Australia’s dominance then followed on to matches against New Zealand, with an emphatic win in Perth followed by equally commanding performances in Melbourne and this week in Sydney.
It almost feels like a throwback to yesteryear, touring nations coming to Australia, and being dealt with comprehensively, Australia rarely beaten in tests and the envy of the cricketing world.
It was only this time last year the Australian cricketing fraternity was licking its wounds from the ball tampering saga in Cape Town – the darkest day in Australia cricketing history.
It would be negligent to say that this is now a distant memory, it will always mar not only the Australian team, but the legacies of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
It’s a hard and disappointing truth, as much as I believe that Smith doesn’t deserve quite the level of hatred he has received from a sizeable portion of the cricketing public.
A disappointing world cup semi-final loss in the UK for the Aussies led to retaining the Ashes in the same country only a short time later, and it was Australia’s bowlers and a heroic return from former captain Smith that saw to that – reaffirming his status as the world’s best test batsmen with multiple displays of brilliance that saw English crowds look on in admiration behind their disgraceful boos.
Australia’s ecstasy of retaining the Ashes on English soil was England’s agony, and it has led to some soul searching for an English side that struggled to find runs against the Aussie quicks.
Australia’s revival as a force in the test arena comes at a relatively good time.
South Africa are undergoing a rebuilding period following a successful period with the retirements of test stars Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
England’s problems have been well documented and they don’t have the batting depth or starpower of previous years.
New Zealand, who entered Australia as the ICC’s number two ranked test side showed that they really weren’t worthy of that mantle, whilst Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan are off the pace as far as being an elite level test nation.
The big one is of course India, who are unbelievably strong and rightfully the number one side in test cricket, but they are the standout from the aforementioned above.
Everyone is savvy with Australia’s brilliance with the ball in hand, the pace quartet of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson is the best in world cricket, and it’s more than amply supported by Nathan Lyon, who’s reputation continues to grow as one of the world’s best spinners.
It’s with the bat however that gives scope as to why this Australian team could ascend to prominence in the near future.
Marnus Labuschagne is the story of the Australian summer and rightfully so as he made it his own, cementing his spot as Australia’s number three and reaching four tons in five tests, his double century at the Sydney Cricket Ground the pinnacle of his summer.
After a horrid Ashes series in England, where Stuart Broad essentially had the ball on a string to him, David Warner was brilliant back on home soil and his unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in Adelaide sees him hold the second highest individual test score by an Australian.
The emergence of Labuschagne, and resurgence of Warner ensures Australia has two world class and in-form batsmen at the top of the order to partner the great Steve Smith, whilst Travis Head also continues to develop into a good player, his hundred in the boxing day test central to Australia’s win.
It would be derelict of me not to mention the man leading Australia back to the top of test cricket in captain Tim Paine, he’s not Adam Gilchrist, nor is he Ian Healy, but he’s the man who led Australia through the Cape Town crisis and out the other side – and that cannot be underestimated and it should not be forgotten.
Australia are once again a brutal force at home and the next question is as to whether or not this will transpire to when they travel abroad.
If this summer is anything to go by, Australia are on their way back to that number one test ranking, and a date with India in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final in 2021 is looking all the more viable.