Is this the most vulnerable Australian team?

By Robert Craddock

Aussie skipper Steve Smith. Photo / Getty
Aussie skipper Steve Smith. Photo / Getty

Is Australia about to be crowned the No.1 team in the world, or are they the most gettable Test outfit this country has produced in two decades?

Bizarrely, they could even be both.

No-one seems totally sure what to make of this Australian Test team but a meaningful verdict will arrive over the next month after a three-Test series in New Zealand.

Australia gobbled up the soft serve that was a dreadful West Indies side this summer, but squeaked past New Zealand 2-0 in a series that could easily have been 1-1.

It means the Aussies can claim the title of the game's top Test nation if they beat New Zealand, who have not lost a home Test for four years.

But there has been a sense of a false economy about the summer.

Former players whisper behind their hands that they believe the current side could be the most vulnerable since Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne propelled Australia to the top of the world in 1995 and kept them there for over a decade.

With Mitchell Johnson retired and Mitchell Starc injured, the pace stocks will be carried by Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson with Chadd Sayers and Jackson Bird in support.

The batting may have lampooned the West Indies but it is only seven months since Australia was bowled out for 60 in England.

There is a feeling that for all the heroics against the West Indies, a green deck, grey sky and swinging ball could change everything in one grisly session.
The New Zealand series is a definitive time for Australian cricket, for it should tell us what the side is really made of.

Australia did not lose a Test in its past three series in New Zealand but it will do well to preserve that record this time.

The barometer batsman of a barometer series will be Adam Voges.

He destroyed the West Indies but floundered desperately against the swinging ball in England and was again exposed by it in the pink-ball Test in Adelaide.

If Voges plays the swinging, seaming conditions well in New Zealand, we can conclude the small, sweet pickings of the West Indies were just what he and this remodelled Australia needed to find their mojo at Test level.

But if he and the team struggles, then Australia may be unmasked as an average Test side.

It does not seem right Australia could lose the Ashes just six months ago then vault from No.3 to No.1 in the world if they win this series. But it is a telling statement about a world cricket scene lacking a dominant team

International cricket has no All Blacks, no West Indian super team of the 1980s or a Shane Warne-led Australian mega-team.

All the top teams have their flaws. India were beaten in recent series abroad in England, Australia and New Zealand, and few No.1 teams have had weaker attacks than theirs.

South Africa have just lost at home to England and away to India and look a side in decline. England are on the rise but they recently lost to Pakistan.

The game is craving a team to make a firm step forward.

The New Zealand tour is a good place to start.

- news.com.au

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