That’s how bottoming out works. It’s not like bouncing back. When you bottom out, you’re not at your worst any more, but you’re still very, very close to it.
Australian batting collapses come thick and fast these days. Why is it happening?
A proper collapse by definition starts with the openers, so Australia have got that covered. Since Simon Katich played his last Test this time last year, the openers have scored 15 runs or fewer on 10 occasions. That’s pretty special.
But the heart of a collapse lies in the middle order. You’d expect Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey to be able to halt a crumbling innings. But they don’t.
Actually, Clarke did stop one – Australia’s first innings at Newlands was essentially a collapse with an intermission, so we can consider that another black mark against Ponting and Hussey.
These guys hadn’t appeared in too many collapses until recently, so what’s changed? We don’t think age makes much difference, particularly for Clarke. Age is just an easy, catch-all explanation. We also doubt whether it’s lack of faith in the bowlers. The Newlands collapse happened with a first innings lead of almost 200 and South Africa having been dismissed for 96.
So why then? The mere presence of Brad Haddin? The metrosexualisation of Australian society?
Maybe it is age. Maybe a minuscule slowing of reflexes isn’t exposed on a flat pitch or against the old ball, whereas on the occasions when the ball does a bit and the top order fails it suddenly makes the difference between survival and dismissal.
If the top order weren’t dog shit, maybe the old guys in the middle order would be knocking out hundreds and we wouldn’t even be mentioning their age. Problem is, the top order IS dog shit, so what do you do?
In our eyes, the middle order could work, the top order doesn’t. Our solution is that Australia should pick Mark Cosgrove and we’re not being dissuaded from this by the fact that he hasn’t scored any runs this season.