As the ICC Cricket World Cup approaches as does the various team’s preparations and dress rehearsals, while England are dealing with the reeling loss in Test cricket, Australia appear to be moving backwards in the limited overs cricket as well, not a good sign for the world champions.
It is too far to predict how the Australian squad shapes up in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup although going by the current trend of exiting people and unsure composition of the team, it seems Australia will have little choice but to include David Warner and Steven Smith back into their ranks, irrespective of where the players stand with the rest of the team or in terms of their own rustiness after having served one year bans. For one, the Australian support staff continues to be on a tizzy run and it was spelt out louder with the immediate exit of David Saker, their bowling coach. It is certainly one pull out that has set the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of where things stand with Australian cricket.
At a time when one would have expected Australia to pull together as a core unit before their final travel to India and Pakistan for the limited overs cricket series as a precursor to the World Cup, it appears that it is not just the team that is in limbo. David Saker, the bowling coach turned assistant coach to Justin Langer who took over from fellow compatriot and former Australian cricketer, Darren Lehmann, in the aftermath of the ball tampering incident, tendered in his resignation but with the catch: immediate effect.
Not too many teams would look to shake things up, particularly less than six months in the run to a World Cup expedition. It would have seemed more prudent for team to make such changes at the end of an event rather than in the race towards it. But while Langer seemed to suggest that Saker was in discussion for a while about his continuing role, it seemed out of character for even the studious and practical Langer to think he could throw the media off the scent.
There was no doubt that the assistant coach who served as a bowling coach was at odds with the bowlers who seemed cantankerous by his standards, the result revealing itself in the Sydney Test when matters seemed to have come to a head publicly. That the players were involved in a heated meeting behind closed doors with the coaching staff was hidden in plain sight and arguably even Saker did not mince words for what he thought was the Australian bowling effort.
Mitchell Starc’s praise for a coach outside of the ranks then seemed as a direct slight to Saker who must have surmised that in the absence of a cohesive coordination, the working relationship had become untenable and beyond a point although many in the current lot began their career or honed their success and their skills with Saker at the helm. It would explain why his departure has been so sudden and unexpected, at a time when the support staff and the possible squad should have closed ranks and used every opportunity, particularly on foreign tours and alien conditions to those that they will have to contend with in England. At a time when Australia, as the defending champions and five time World Cup winners, should have been setting the example and fine tuning for the tournament, they appear a highly unsettled lot, on and off the field.