Australians are emerging from a summer of endless drama with the wind in their sails

Justin Langer won the Ashes but lost his job.Credit:Getty

On October 31, Australia lost to England in 12 overs at the T20 World Cup. The fortunes between the two teams then diverged. The England men’s team descended into incompetence, while their female counterparts played hard, fought and were beaten by a very strong team led by Meg Lanning.

A set of Ashes to Australia. Matthew Mott and his team could be proud of their management and they have created palpable self-confidence as the World Cup approaches.

The men’s team lost its coach; or rather, he lost them. The issues of micromanagement, miscommunication and inevitably a lack of flexibility and adaptability were terminal for Justin Langer. The alarm bells had been ringing for several months.

The matrix of COVID-19 and La Nina variants were almost too much to handle, but the show went on. Meetings have been cancelled, postponed and moved on short notice. Hotels have been booked, cleaned and isolated. To many people’s credit – coaches, medical, travel and hospitality staff – there have been minimal matches infected with the virus: a few at the state and BBL levels, but none at the international level. .

At one time team meetings were limited to groups of three, except in the outfield at the end of games. Players have been known to complain from time to time about things as mundane as how the training grounds “do a little much”, or “that an LBW leg was missing”, or “the party pies at the afternoon tea were too hot”, but this summer they were locked up and tied up while trying to play their best and entertain fans on the pitch, viewers and listeners. Whinging was an effective part of the mental health solution.

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The entire sports industry has been challenged over the past two years, but especially this one.

A few weeks before the first test at the Gabba, England hedged their bets on their tour. It was seen as a posturing for better conditions, more preparation time, less quarantine etc, but when you look back at the multiple isolations the players had to endure (and that includes the Australians who had gone to the West Indies, then Bangladesh and the T20 World Cup) in the months leading up to the start of the series, so empathy for them must be strong.

OK England played poorly – after all it was the Ashes and England expect every man to do their duty, keep calm and carry on – but those were/are interesting times and even the professional athletes succumb to difficulties.

England found a reason to omit their all-time best bowlers for the Ashes ignition and Australia found Scott Boland. Boland has created his own Dreamtime story, which may well continue in Rawalpindi and the northern provinces when he faces Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and his team in a few weeks.

Cricket’s autumn still has a few domestic WNCL and Sheffield Shield games to play, but players are now taking advantage of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and, gracefully, there could even be a few games played beyond the Iron Curtain. in the golden west.

Tests against Pakistan begin March 4; the IPL in April. Summer never ends. This Australian summer – quarantined, bruised, distanced, infected, locked down, exempt, vaccinated, excluded, exciting, disappointing but controversial and eminently watchable – can breathe the deepest sighs, wave to the crowds and hobble off stage for a few well deserved R and R.

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