Nasser Hussain has flicked open the debate about the aging Aussie team, and what he says is a slight decrease in performance compared with that of 6 years ago.
Is age a factor?
Are the Aussies beginning to see a decline in performance?
I think they're not doing too bad at the moment and I can't wait till we play the poms because all of a sudden they think they're world beaters beacause they beat the West Indies in the recent test series. I reckon my U13 B side could have given the West Indies a run for their money the way they played in that series.
Here's that Hussain article:
Australia are an ageing side, says Hussain
Wisden Cricinfo staff
September 3, 2004
Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, feels that Australia are an ageing side and no longer the great team that they were a few years back. "If you asked this Australian group to play against the Australian team of six years ago, then today's team would probably lose," he was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper.
"That's no disrespect to them," he added, "because they're still a bloody good side. But they were great back then. Glenn McGrath isn't quite the same bowler he was two or three years ago, Shane Warne isn't quite the same as when he bowled Mike Gatting with that ball [in 1993], and Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie have had a few injuries."
However, Hussain warned the English fans against being too optimistic about the Ashes campaign next year. "Their [Australia's] competitive instincts aren't dwindling. Even if their performances start to slow, there is still a feeling of, 'You've got to beat me over my dead body'."
Hussain captained England in two Ashes series, and experienced Australia's ruthlessness at first hand both in 2001 and 2002-03. He attributed that to England's lack of depth in the bowling department, and said, "The key against Australia is taking 20 wickets. We've had the batsmen over the years but it's been an absolute nightmare trying to get 20 wickets.
"You might take a few early and then someone like [Adam] Gilchrist walks in at No. 7 and blasts a hundred past you. If the wickets do a bit, we've got a good chance but if they're flat then we'll really have to do something to get those 20 wickets."
England have won seven Test matches in a row, whitewashing New Zealand and West Indies, and talk of winning back the Ashes - which Australia have held since 1989 - has been doing the rounds among English fans. Australia play Tests against India, New Zealand and Pakistan before embarking on the trip to England next year.
© Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
Ask anyone who the world's best cricket team is, and you'll get the same answer as 6 years ago - old or not, we even won the World Cup last year! It seems to me that these things come and go in cycles - as you said Danny, the West Indies used to be the benchmark, and now... But for the moment, Nasser, come on mate, you can't bag a team you can't beat! I mean, he's just asking for a "I know you are, but what am I..."