Have you been following the Australian cricket team lately? Can't blame you if you haven't, they've been rubbish this southern summer. But on the other hand, mug punters are still backing them at ridiculous odds, so laying them (either to the end or to trade a position) has been a very profitable practice in recent months.
The simple facts are that South Africa are now clearly no.1 in the world in Test and one-day cricket, the Aussies are little better than average. After a period of domination, an almighty fall is bound to occur - just look at the WIndies in the 80s/90s. How will India go when Tendulkar finally retires, given that Ganguly and Kumble have already gone, and guys like Dravid and Laxman can't be far behind.
But the players coming through isn't the problem in my opinion. It's the changing culture of the game Down Under. Aussie cricketers are the most revered of any sportsmen or women in Australia, with the possible exception of the swimmers post-Olympics. And with that comes endorsements, media deals and, worst of all... WAGS.
WAGS is the primary reason that the England football team were a joke under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McLaren. Is it any coincidence that Fabio Capello has booted them out and England haven't lost a game for ages? Wives and girlfriends are a sideshow and deserve to be treated as such. Who gives a toss at the emotional state of Lara Bingle and the other hangers-on? It's unbelievable that they get almost as much coverage as the players in some papers. even the England cricket team have their partners at arm's length. With the exception of that joke Stanford 20/20 event... oh, and what happened there? Coincidence? I think not!
Ricky Ponting is a poor captain, but still one of the best batsmen in the world. Aus cricket history is that once you are sacked as captain, it's game over. So it's either keep hold of that tired relic and continue to lose matches, or move on and give someone else a go with Ricky concentrating on his batting.
Michael Clarke won't be the answer as captain. Far too worried about his other half than his teammates, as shown by the recent dressing room scuffle with Simon Katich in Sydney.
Mike Hussey needs to get his form back before he could be given more responsibility.
Shit, who else is there.....??
But, the saviour could be on the horizon - at least for the batsmen. Philip Hughes has been blooded for the South Africa and will open the batting. I've been calling for this bloke to be in the Ashes squad, now he's got his chance against the best bowling attack in the world. This kid will be a superstar. The last Aussie players to be given the Baggy Green at 20 have been Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Craig McDermott.
As for the bowlers - is there a fit one amongst them? Brett Lee - stress fracture, Stuart Clark - chronic elbow injury, Peter Siddle - minor stress fracture (didn't know there was such a thing), Shaun Tait - too crocked to play anything more than limited overs games these days, Shane Watson - doubt he will ever be fit, Bryce McGain - the new leg-spinner (36 years old) is just returning from shoulder surgery and will hopefully tour England. Mitchell Johnson is shouldering the workload when he should be no.3 bowler. Bollinger, Hilfenhaus and MacDonald are all brand new and decent, nothing more... at this stage anyway.
Any other sport and you'd see the adminstration sacked. The selectors have lost the plot. Too matey with the players and not prepared to make the tough decision. The Matt Hayden decision you say? They would have been lynched had they picked him any longer.
Here's an easy tip for profit - keep laying the Aussies until the betting world works out we are no longer good enough to be favourite in matches against half-decent opposition. If you can't handle barracking against the team, then put a trade in to close out for a tidy profit when the other side becoems favourite. But remember, the head should always over-rule the heart when it comes to betting.