If Australia is now politically correct instead of Ponting correct, then why aren’t they playing the United States of America? Why aren’t other Full member nations.
In 2004, Australia defeated USA in a One-Day International, except the ease with which his team accounted for the Americans left Ponting feeling like his opponents were not so much a One-Day International team as they were a team that might one day be an international team that his men should face, particularly when it came to a World Cup or a Champions Trophy.
“We want to be tested as players all the time,” he explained, “and I don’t think we were tested too much today.”
He did not mean that Australia should play such teams outside those two events; by the time he played cricket in America, he was so old that he had been retired from the Australian Test team by himself for 35 months and from the Australian One-Day team by the selectors for 45.* Instead, he felt that such teams would benefit from dominating teams of a similar skill level on a regular basis for a longer time to maximize the chances of a competitive campaign. At present, he argued:
“It’s whoever plays well in that one little qualifying tournament who comes up.”
But that was a different time. Back then, Australian cricket was Ponting Correct, not Politically Correct. Now, under the leadership of Tim Paine, no player would consent to a teammate informing the world an international opponent was so nonthreatening that he headed to the gym upon the game’s conclusion,** and the gap between the two teams has narrowed anyway. Australia just aren’t that good anymore.*** USA, meanwhile, have players who have more recent experience, both against similar teams but also in the Caribbean Premier League, most notably Ali Khan. Oh sure, they would still most likely lose, but at least the Australians would be tested.
The ideal place for this test would be the World Cup, but that now resembles what Ponting wanted to the extent that it scarcely makes sense to think of it as a World Cup and is more accurately described as the Long Cup.**** Happily, we’ve since found out that Australian cricketers in America are big news; even drinking a beer by oneself in a public bar and not harming anyone else is apparently news. When external media companies cannot be relied upon to report everything that Australian cricketers do, Cricket Australia nowadays do it by themselves via Cricket.com.au. A bilateral match, therefore, would presumably not be wanting for coverage. Colin Henrys has already made the case for USA becoming a warm-up contest for teams travelling to the West Indies, like the UAE is for Pakistan. Sure, they don’t have to travel to America to play the West Indies, but why not? The schedule, perhaps, but I would argue it is worth it. At least, if Colin’s idea does not come to pass, there are 36 guaranteed games until the end of 2021 for America’s ODI team.
International cricket does not have to make American cricket great again. Not if they decide to make 2019-2021 the greatest years of its life.
*The saddest thing is that Ponting’s team, Warne’s Warriors, might still have beaten the mess that was USA at the time – at least in a T20 game. And that team included Courtney Walsh, who was 53, along with other spring chickens who bowled the age that they looked, such as Allan Donald and Wasim Akram (who were both 49 during that series when their team beat Sachin’s Blasters).
**As Matthew Hayden did after Australia smashed America. You can find that story in Ponting’s 2005 autobiography.
***Ponting’s team was, in fairness, the best ODI team of the 21st century and possibly of all time.
****With the Champions Trophy being the Short Cup. There are only two fewer teams in that competition compared to the World Cup now.