Andrew Johnston

January 03, 2018

WELL, it happened.

Australia won the Ashes.

I originally wrote this after the Perth Test, and it’s now 3-0 after four Tests.

And I’m incredibly proud.

That said, I’m slightly frustrated.

What is frustrating me is the reaction of fans to this result.

Cricket fans are too willing to accept a few good moments as game changers.

Just over 12 months ago, Australian cricket was in turmoil.

We got routed in Hobart by South Africa.

As one of about 1,000 people who went to that Test, I was so angry watching it.

Changes had to be made, and they were.

After the loss in the first Test, in Perth, all-rounder Mitch Marsh had been dropped (remember that, it’s important).

Then, after Hobart, selectors basically bowed to public pressure: Adam Voges was dropped, Joe Burns was dropped, Peter Nevill was dropped, while Callum Ferguson and Joe Mennie were let go after one game.

In came Matthew Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson to debut, while Jackson Bird and Matthew Wade were recalled.

Australia won the next four Tests, with just two changes (Maddinson dropped for Hilton Cartwright, Bird omitted from a spin-friendly Sydney for Steve O’Keefe.)

Everything was great again.

We were back to being the best side in the world.

Also, this was the peak of the ‘‘Nice Gary’’ phase, so we were all pretty content with cricket life.

Here’s my first sign of trouble — three of those victories were against Pakistan.

Pakistan are not a good cricket team, but people were so quick to believe one quick flash of brilliance against them meant everything was perfect again.

We then went to India and won the first Test.

Then it was business as usual.

Loss, draw, loss.

Then we drew one-one with Bangladesh.

Some couldn’t understand how we fell so quickly.

The answer is simple — we hadn’t truly risen yet.

People demanded change this summer.

Renshaw was out, Cameron Bancroft in.

Wade out, Tim Paine in (refer to my previous article for my thoughts on this).

We won in Brisbane and Adelaide, claimed Perth and 5-0 looked a real possibility.

Then in Melbourne, we batted poorly, bowled poorly and our captain, Steve Smith, looked stumped as to what he was meant to do — a common occurrence in his captaincy when things get tough.

His batting, however, saved Australia from a likely defeat.

None the less, we are riding high.

But let’s go back to the reaction to the South Africa series.

Since Mitch Marsh was dropped, he’s been put back in the team and then injured, which likely saved him being dropped again.

He then returned and made huge runs.

And I’m genuinely happy for him.

And so out came all the cricket fans on social media asking ‘‘where are all the Mitch haters now?’’

I can guarantee you they are the same people who spent 12 months calling for his axing, then begging CA never to pick him again.

And they were moaning about him coming into the squad.

And they’re still here.

They just switched sides and hoped nobody noticed.

Like Homer Simpson sprinting out of Moe’s the night the Isotopes won the pennant, only to appear seconds later in full Isotopes gear talking about how he always believed in the team.

On a flat wicket in Perth, against an opposition who clearly did not care, Mitch Marsh made runs.

He still averages 27 batting at six.

Against a weak team on our home deck, Australia have had a summer to remember.

But Melbourne on Boxing Day shows that when the side were actually challenged, there were faults.

Up next, we tour South Africa, then Pakistan (likely in the UAE).

Then we face India in Australia.

I want Australia to be the best side in world cricket.

But I’m not jumping on any bandwagons any time soon.

If I have learnt anything the last few years, it’s about time we as an Australian cricket public start getting a bit more sceptical about false dawns.

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