For years the Australian Cricket team was seen as the pinnacle of Australian Sport, both children and adults alike knew the names and the faces of the fine players that pulled on the baggy green. Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Shane Warne and Adam Gillchrist just to name some of the players that hit our televisions and radios in epic proportions during the November to February period each year.
As we look back on World Cup defeat and another changing of the guard on what was once an unstoppable side, I say, do we hold the Cricketers that take to the field in the gold and green at the top of the tree? Are our cricketers now no longer kings of the playground when it comes to talking about Australia’s favourite team?
The Socceroos (Men’s Soccer) have staked their claim on many an occasion the most recent of those being their efforts in the previous two FIFA World Cup tournaments, where their performances caught the hearts of a nation. The Kookaburras (Men’s Field Hockey) are the only Australian Team sport’s team to win a medal at each of the last 4 Olympics, they hold every commonwealth gold, as well as 7 Champions Trophy victories… And a World Cup win.
On the other hand our Australian Diamonds (Women’s Netball) have seen a huge increase in fan base as a result of television coverage of all games played within Australia. The Diamonds head to Singapore next month hoping to take home a 9th World Championship victory. A side that played on our minds more in the late 90’s early 2000’s was the Wallabies, successful and full of household names. Players like George Gregan, John Eales and Stirling Mortlock seemed fearless in the eyes of our New Zealand rivals but without many big name stars currently gracing the Wallabies pitch, it seems as though they are in for a long haul out of the spotlight of Australian sport. The Wallabies travel to New Zealand later this year in search of their 2nd World Cup win and the first since 1999.
As Australian sports fans, we seem to want to support our codes in games that mean something, World Cups, World Championships or some sort of qualifiers. Teams like our Boomers and Opals get big headlines only for the FIBA World Basketball Championships, or when one of our many Australian talents is putting down points in the big leagues. Many women’s teams have been ten back due to the lack of coverage of their endeavours, for example the Matildas (Womens Soccer) will travel to Germany a the start of July to tackle for 2011 World Cup Glory and also the Hockeyroos (Womens Hockey) who are one of the most successful sporting teams in Australia.
The Reality that to be touted as Australia’s sporting team there needs to be a high percentage of both success and marketability. The Wallabies in the 90’s used the nickname to help develop their brand, the Australian Cricket team of the early part of the century had enough success that marketability didn’t become an issue and for our current day Socceroos, the success over the past years has shown the world that Football in Australia is growing. The Success of the A-League has strengthened that as well as the marketability of its players and our players currently playing at English Premier League clubs has once again enhanced our view of these players as the key to Socceroos success.
All in all, will it just take a name for the Australian Cricket team to once again fill our hearts or have the Socceroos moved their way in like the proverbial step mother that at first we hated but are now starting to get used to? The Wallabies, Diamonds and Boomers all remain within reach with success the only thing keeping them from our love once more. Whilst exposure is still the main issue with our Hockey sides.
If Cricket Australia were to name the Australian Cricket team, what nickname would you give them?