Review Of The Test- Being a kid, a team that I never imagined in my wildest dreams can falter even for one single series was Australia. A contingency that bred the likes of Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and the list seems endless. Always insuperable, indomitable and the most emphasizing one, unbeatable.
A lot of myths or superstitions used to do the rounds around the Australian team at one point in time given their aura of remarkable invincibility. It seemed like a fairy tale that was always perfect. However, a fairy tale can never have a good ending unless the heroes have fallen at least for once.
The Test captured that black swan moment of the fallibility of the Australians wherefrom being implicated in one of the biggest capers on cricketing history to receiving an ignominious mauling at the hands of an overcooked England, this series lingers on the fringes of Australia’s return to collective excellence.
The Series That Changed Everything
The series started with Steven Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner being suspended for this heinous scandal that raked the entire nation. Darren Lehman, the coach of Australian cricket team at the time of Sandpapergate scandal also pulled the plug on his Australian stint shortly after the renouncement of the three cricketers.
Australia, smitten by a punch in the gut of sizeable proportions that left them in the dark, started crafting their return to glory through the appointment of their glorious test opener, Justin Langer as a head coach.
Langer himself was a rock that used to weather any kind of bowling storm at one end while Haydos, known as the illustrious Matthew Hayden, imposed the carnage. However, this wasn’t the time to showcase a storm, rather the time to weather it and anchor the contingency.
By the time, Langer answered the calling of his dream job, the team was in shards. With Smith and Warner gone, Langer was in desperate need of some magic and according to him, the magic came through a collective display.
His first litmus test was against a soaring England who thrashed Australia mercilessly. The Aussies were outplayed in every department and Langer was left scratching his head.
The best part of The Test wasn’t limited to the on-field debacle of the team. It exposed the fragility of the team inside the dressing room. Starting from choice words to paroxysms of rage and frustration, every iota of it was captured. However, the one thing that never split the Australian team was a fight amongst themselves. No matter how bad the situation nosedived into, they always had each other’s back.
What Followed Next?
With the best of the lot taken out, Langer resorted to young blood and brought out the best from the pace trio of Australia, Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins. The Test also showcased the experience of Nathan Lyon that helped the team in challenging the likes of mighty India, Pakistan and England.
After being trounced at home, where India won the Border-Gavaskar trophy under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, Australia crafted an equally strong response on the road, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat India in a One Day series.
With that convincing victory started the path of the Australian resurgence. After a year of the ban, Steven Smith and David Warner came back to the side. While Smith never felt away from home, Warner was always dubious of making the return.
With the World Cup looming at hand and Australia still trying to be at their beastly best. Langer gave the team a couple of historical visits that gave the team some introspection about themselves. Also on the reason that why should they transcend above themselves to fight for Australia.
Spanning from team meeting to the introduction of Punter and Steve Waugh to inculcate leadership and aggression into the team, Langer ensured providing ample support to the newly-promoted leader, Tim Paine. The job was never going to be easy but he was up for the challenge.
It wasn’t the invincible Australian cricket team that was being spearheaded by Paine. It was a bunch of young lads who were willing to do anything. Budding talents to take the nation back to its former glorious self.
No movie or series in the world has been successful sans a little comic twist. Amidst all the sombreness, the bromance between Zampa and Stoinis provides the much-needed comic relief.
The Langer Effect-
Also, the thunderous song performed by the Australian team inside the dressing room with the cute little quirks from Gaz aimed at Langer makes it a total enjoyment. This is a brilliant moment to appreciate them.
This series also focuses gravely on the revival of Steven Smith, who has simply turned indomitable. His rivalry with Jofra Archer makes it an intense showdown. To add to this wonderful arc, the series also showcases the rise of Marnus Labuschagne. From being a bench-warmer to an Australian regular, Marnus came out as the hero. He took the field as the first concussion substitute.
With uncertainty looming on every step that the Australian team took, a primary motive that Langer focussed on was on the imposition of a paradigm shift in the playing culture. It was something that the team was totally lacking for quite some time. A much-needed change for sure.
Langer’s motives included from ushering Australia to the promised land to winning back the lost respect of the fans. With abuse being a stringent no-no, the banter was always allowed for the Australians. The former test opener explained the thin line of demarcation between banter and abuses.
Also, the road to redemption in the series was the Ashes. With the irrepressible onus of retaining it, Australia went into it.
In a series that was not just topsy-turvy, but also tested the character of the cricketers. It played witness to the herculean showdown between the Australians and the English. The Test played the perfect episode of chronicling it step by step.