Covid summer brings Australia back to the field after defeats against India and New Zealand

A couple of pummeled sixes from Glenn Phillips, depositing Adam Zampa’s leg breaks well into the outer of the Cake Tin, brought Australia’s men’s international season to an end with a thud. This was not unfitting, since much of the preceding six months had been similarly brutal in terms of exposing where the national team actually sits in the global order, as opposed to where its players, coaches and selectors thought it did.

Two ODI series wins, over England away and then India at home a long way out from the next 50-over World Cup, were all the teams led by Aaron Finch and Tim Paine and coached by Justin Langer had to show for an enormous amount of time cooped up in biosecure bubbles in England, Australia and New Zealand. The frustration of missing the World Test Championship final, a path effectively set by Cricket Australia’s withdrawal from a scheduled tour of South Africa, compounded plenty of questions about losing a home Test series to India for the very first time.

There is, at the base of it all, no more illusion about this being an Australian set-up forging a quick path back to the top of the world after the ignominy of 2018. The return to a more respected place in world cricket made some progress up to 2020, but in performance terms the past summer has seen the national side take rather more steps backward than forward.

And in a T20 World Cup year, series defeats to England, India and lastly New Zealand underlined in bold print how a decade of the BBL has brought plenty of fresh revenue to the game but also taken the Australian short-form team little closer to lifting the one ICC event to always elude them.

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