If anyone can fully empathise with the current trials being endured by Australia’s re-cast Test batting line-up, it is the nation’s most-capped skipper, Allan Border.
Not since the traumatic fall-out from the World Series Cricket split in the late 1970s – that brought Border both benefits and scars – has Australia fielded a Test team bereft of at least one batter with 2,500 Test runs to his credit.
Yet that’s the brutal reality Australia’s current outfit has faced in the aftermath of the sandpaper scandal that cost their two most experienced, productive and charismatic batters a year on the sidelines.
Even in the immediate aftermath of the World Series split, when Australia’s men’s players defected en masse to Kerry Packer’s breakaway league, the ‘establishment’ outfit was buttressed by ex-Test captain Bob Simpson who emerged from retirement, aged 41.
But when Simpson finally walked away from the game six months later, Australia was forced to field a greenhorn group led by Graham Yallop whose top seven boasted less than 3,000 Test runs between them.
As the number of hefty defeats mounted and selectors searched for a combination that might be more combative if not immediately competitive, a 23-year-old Border was handed his Baggy Green Cap despite having only two Sheffield Shield hundreds to his name.
Border sees several similarities in the make-up and mindset of Langer’s new-look team to the one that he would eventually lead back to Test supremacy, albeit after years in the wilderness.
“It’s a genuine issue to look at, as to why these guys have struggled over the last little period,” Border, who is part of ABC Radio’s commentary team at the Adelaide Test, told cricket.com.au today.
“What price do you put on a couple of thousand Test runs from at least one or two players, which most countries would surely have?
“I don’t think many people have considered what that actually means.
“Certainly in the last couple of years, we’ve relied so heavily on Warner and Smith that once you take them out, it’s no wonder that we’ve had our struggles.”