Australia’s Test Cricket Team On Cusp Of Greatness After Thrashing South Africa

Australia thrashed South Africa to wrap up the series (Photo by Dave Hewison/Speed ​​Media/Icon … [+] Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Granted they’ve faced meek opposition, including a surprisingly toothless South Africa, but Australia feel on the cusp of a golden era. It just might be their best Test team since their golden generation ended 15 years ago.

Their best team in that period was probably Michael Clarke’s side during an 18-month purple patch starting in late 2013 with an Ashes whitewash and also included series victories over India and South Africa away. A lot of success was built off the stunning form of quick Mitchell Johnson, who bowled as well as anyone in the history of the game during that stretch.

But he faded away and so did Australia, who have been up and down ever since. Until now. Basking in dismantling South Africa, Australia do not feel fool’s gold even though they have an aging batting line-up.

Australia’s success is built on a star-studded attack and a reservoir of pace talent. They have six or seven quicks who have genuine claims to be frontliners with speedster Lance Morris looming as an x-factor with his sheer pace intoxicating for Australia’s hierarchy.

Lance Morris looms as a key moving forward (Photo by Darrian Traynor – CA/Cricket Australia via … [+] Getty Images)

Cricket Australia via Getty Images

He could do something like what Anrich Nortje invaluably provides for South Africa as underlined during his solo efforts amid scorching conditions at the MCG. Even though South Africa were being thrashed around on a batting-friendly pitch, Nortje was their shining light with his constant sharp pace over 90mph probing the set batters.

Morris could provide something similar and is being seriously considered to replace quick injured Mitchell Starc for the dead rubber third test in Sydney. Australia’s only potential weakness is in spin depth and they’ve been blessed with the durability of frontliner Nathan Lyon, who is climbing the wicket-taking charts.

Australia need a second spinner on what looms as a dry SCG wicket but their reserves might be threadbare. After an unsuccessful test initiation in the subcontinent against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legspinner Mitchell Swepson appears out of favor as selectors look towards allrounder Ashton Agar, a semi-regular in the shorter formats but who hasn’t played Test cricket for five years and has a modest first-class record.

Australia’s batting had for a long time post 2015 been reliant on stars David Warner and Steve Smith. They are much more rounded now with Marnus Labuschagne ascending to the No.1 ranking after a rapid rise in the past few years, while Usman Khawaja has been a revelation as an opener this year.

Perhaps more importantly for their long-term success has been the emergence of Travis Head as a counter-punching No.6 and Alex Carey as a reliable ‘keeper-batter. Both have strengthened an area of ​​vulnerability for Australia.

Above all, 23-year-old Cameron Green has the potential to be a great all-rounder – something Australia has coveted for decades and was even missing in their heyday.

Cameron Green is proving irreplaceable for Australia (Photo by Dave Hewison/Speed ​​Media/Icon … [+] Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The caveat was that the opposition has been incredibly tame with South Africa particularly disappointing. Bar 2001-02 against arguably Australia’s best ever team, South Africa have always proven stiff opposition Down Under and had won their past three Test series there.

But their batting order is a shadow of yesteryear and it’s a long climb back for South Africa, who look a mile off being able to be a top tier team in the near future. It’s a major worry for Test cricket’s future if South Africa spirals into mediocrity with the long format already struggling for depth of talent with no prospect of the number of teams expanding.

But for now, this is about Australia and their rise into potentially a great team. They have all the elements and are essentially stacked in all departments. Pat Cummins has not lost a test series in charge since taking the reins 12 months ago and also claimed a historic triumph in Pakistan earlier in the year.

But Australia will ultimately be judged by their performances in blockbuster away series in India and England next year. They are era-defining series and if Australia want to remembered as an all-timer then they need to really win them.

Time will tell, but all signs are pointing towards a sustained run of dominance for Australia.

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