SOAP BOX: Aussie XI's decline is just not cricket

LADIES and gentlemen, we are in crisis.

A crisis of the worst kind.

Our national icon, the Australian Cricket Team, has fallen off a talent cliff.

Plunged more than fell, and the decline appears a long way off halting.

Aside from a rain- interrupted rearguard yesterday, it's pretty hard to argue we are not in a cricketing conundrum.

The talent pool just looks a little too thin for our liking.

Gone are the days of Mike Hussey, Jimmy Maher, Stuart Law, Brad Hodge and other prolific run-scorers who have been out of the Australian frame for years. Or of Stuart MacGill's ripping leg breaks in state cricket, yet waiting for Warney to be injured.

We had a long line of Test-ready stars plying their trade in Sheffield Shield, waiting for an opportunity to acquire a much sought-after position in the Australian XI.

That line appears pretty short these days.

Scanning around the states, there isn't a raft of household names that jump out and scream 'I should be playing Test cricket'.

So what is the answer?

I saw a funny letter to the editor the other day saying the size of backyards in new homes was to blame for our nation's decline.

Bit of a stretch, but there is some merit in what he's saying. Perhaps new developments should now be conditioned to include a cricket net or pitch in each new park they create?

I could think of nothing better and no easier way to safeguard our national pride against embarrassing middle-order collapses.


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