This summer has been intense! For us it comes to a closure but for the players it is nearly time to start a new series, a new battle and a challenge against another team in their own backyard straight after.
Fatigue must be kicking in and being so close to winning the Commonwealth Bank series, so close to ending a summer on a high with so many epic memories, now is not the time for the standards they've set to just crash and burn. They're better than this and they can win this series. It all comes down to one last ODI for the summer, one last match for the supporters and one victory that's needed!
The fielding and bowling has been a concern the last three matches.
The intensity of Ricky Ponting with his mad-dog appearance chasing after balls in the inner circle and freakish ability to nail direct hits probably 95% of the time has left a void.
Someone needs to step up, someone needs to take on the role as the most intense, most enthusiastic and deadliest fieldsman there is! That is lacking, it is needed and I believe David Warner has that potential.
The small errors can be acceptable. It's been a bloody long summer and it hasn't been a chilly one at that for the players too. Sri Lanka, in particular, have also shown incredible fight and determination to get one up on us. You almost feel they deserved to win the 2nd final. They had more passion, more intensity and they made fewer errors. We may have lost on the simplest of grounds.
The fielding standard needs to pick up for one last game and there needs to be a leader in the field, not as a captain but as "that bloke" who kicks every other player in the backside to keep their A-game alive.
Matt Wade has a chance to be more vocal, to be more assertive and show he's in control. He's impressed many with his duties behind the stumps this series.
A keeper has a thankless job but his body language and attitude can speak louder than words. Matt has had a slightly mixed time with the bat but he can do the job up the top of the order or in the middle order. He's good enough, he's ready and he's already shown us his worth at the elite level with the bat in hand with three half-centuries and an average around 30.
With the understanding he is not Australia's main keeper yet will weigh heavy on his mind. It has to affect his performances in some way but he just needs to maintain that self belief. What we need from him especially is that attitude from behind the stumps and to create the ripple effect that he's in control, his bowlers are keeping him in the game and that his fielders are on the attack. The supporters can then rally behind all eleven players.
The bowlers, well there's an area of sudden concern. I won't even go down the road of "we need changes", "these guys aren't good enough". No, these guys are not showing enough discipline. They're better than this, they are also dropping their standards so close to the finish line, so close to victory!
Being a bowler is a buggar of a job and Twenty20 smash and lunge skills have complicated a bowlers tasks.
The strain Brett Lee must be under (no jokes about him being an old man now) is immense pressure. His knees, his ankles and his entire body go through so much ball after ball. It's been a long series and even though the bowlers have been rotated for workload management, they can't fall apart now, they can't allow that mental weakness to creep in that will affect their body language!
Body language is the key but most importantly discipline is the key ingredient here as well.
If Craig McDermott can find some magic to get the guys over this one last hurdle before the Windies tour it really will put them in the best frame of mind.
This strategic execution is ideally up to the bowlers. They need to bowl to their field, they need to be disciplined with leeway granted to James Pattinson as he's still finding out about that as a young man.
The leadership is what has been epic the entire summer. That man is Michael Clarke. He tore apart India during the Test series, he walloped MS Dhoni tactically and his ODI series has been brilliant, unfortunate at times with the team results but mostly his injuries create the blemishes.
With Clarkey not confident with his body right now this is quite likely causing issues with his focus.
Shane Watson has returned from a long lay off but is already under pressure with leadership duties. That isn't easy on his part but someone has to step up and be ruthless. The concern is that Clarkey is not in the right mind set but his return, while rushed, shows determination to be there in the middle with his side to try win this series and wrap up a golden summer for himself in particular.
It will be a big loss if Clarkey isn't there in the final match and I'd like to see him rotate the bowlers more which worked so well in the Test series. Yes it is tactically different but it could work to snuff the Sri Lankan momentum with their top order.
But this is about the team, it's about the supporters and that win is one game away. The guys got to the final, that is fantastic but they're up against a team that has shown the most consistency and the greater hunger to win. It's just one game and this side can do it. The batsmen need to play their part and the key players have begun to shine (David Warner with back to back centuries, outstanding, absolutely brilliant mate!) but the bowlers and fielders need to come out glowing, come out ambitious and be brutal!
Respect the opposition but make them work for it. This is Australia, the number one ODI team and this series you have seen a number of moments as to why this is. However, this game on Thursday will stamp that authority.
I believe the boys can do it, I am sure the supporters do too. The question is do the players?
So close to victory boys and think of what a serious wave of momentum it will be when heading over to the Caribbean.
Don't let the standards drop, don't let those elite standards drop!
Highlights of the 1st ODI final courtesy of Cricket Australia TV where David "Pitbull" Warner scored his maiden ODI century of 163 runs. No small effort.
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