Jan 31, 2009

Sport - Cricket;Australia no longer at par with India, SA in world cricket

Coming hard on Australian cricket team's 1-4 ODI series defeat at the hands of South Africa, the Australian media has said Ricky Ponting's side's aura of invincibility is over and the world champions are no longer among the elite league of the Proteas and Indians.

"Whether South Africa are ready for the No 1 ranking is irrelevant, because Australia is no longer on their level, nor India's. The crown is gone and Australia are languishing behind the other two nations in form and depth," said the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Gone too is the killer instinct and ability to forge back-breaking partnerships when it matters most. Having lost the tri-series to India last season, Australia have been humbled this time around by a youthful and developing South African team," the report added.

The Courier Mail added salt to the wound, saying, "Even the most optimistic now wouldn't expect Australia's ageing, sidelined stars to make a difference."

The 39-run victory in Perth on Friday saw South Africa dethrone Australia from the top of the ICC ODI championship table and the media here was of the view that ageing Ponting's team was no longer a formidable match for developing teams like India, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

"India and the Proteas will fight it out with Australia for the No 1 ranking in coming weeks but where the foreign teams are rising, Australia have clearly fallen."

'Aussies crumble', a report in The Australian read, "South Africa minus Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn were still too good for Australia."

The Daily Telegraph in its report headlined Humbled Aussies lose No 1 rank said the 4-1 series result was ample evidence of changing world order in the game.

"South Africa's fearless rookies have stolen Australia's No 1 one-day ranking, invincible aura and self-belief. There was ample evidence of the changing world order unfolding apart from the statistical fact that South Africa would take the No 1 one-day ranking," the newspaper wrote.

The report also mocked at Australia's loss to a rookie South African side sans heavyweights like Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis.

"Australia was beaten by a side with 836 one-day games experience sidelined in the form of Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis," it said.

"Depressed fans found solace in connecting a beer snake across the length of the John Inverarity Stand. Australia was unconvincing."

The Herald Sun, on the other hand, praised South Africa for outplaying Australia in their backyard in both the Test and ODI series.

Former Australian opener Justin Langer said the loss of the world No 1 mantle "would really hurt skipper Ricky Ponting" while Michael Slater said the loss of the No 1 ranking would be "absolutely crushing".

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