Top Aussie stars such as Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, and Aaron Finch have had failed in IPL 2020 and were branded as flops of the season. Smith's inconsistency hampered Rajasthan Royals' chances for playoffs, while Finch was even dropped from RCB XI as he flattered to deceive, while Maxwell of Kings XI Punjab failed to hit even a single six despite featuring in all except one game in the tournament.
But once these Aussie stalwarts changed their jerseys from IPL colors to yellow and represented their nation, their form changed dramatically overnight, and the trio inflicted the ODI series loss on the hapless Indians Down Under.
So, what triggered these dramatic transformations among the Aussie players in a matter of just a couple of weeks?
Australia have a strong sporting culture
Australia takes their sports extremely seriously and fights tooth and nail for a win. And that's the reason Smith and co took the wrong means to gain an unfair advantage during a Test series in South Africa and were subsequently banned for ball-tampering. It's this culture of winning that motivates them to give their best whenever they turn up in the yellow uniform. Their performances go several notches higher whenever they represent their national team. And that explains the Aussie trio's sudden and mass improvement in the ODI series against India.
Not able to identify with IPL teams
A Kohli or Dhoni would identify with Bangalore or Chennai teams more than anyone else as they have played for this franchise since the first season in 2008. And it would have become their second home now. But for the Aussies, it is hard for them to identify themselves with a particular IPL team as they keep getting traded every couple of seasons. For example, Finch was playing for his eight IPL teams in RCB in the IPL 2020. And hence, they would struggle to develop loyalty for a particular team, and treat it as their own, and that could hamper their performance. But it's entirely different to represent their national team as they would have dreamed all their life to wear the yellow jersey.
Great India vs Australia rivalry
When India last toured Australia in 2018-19, they were unbeaten across all formats. They tied the T20I series 1-1, won the ODI series 2-1, and the Test series 2-1 Down Under. And the win was partly attributed to the absence of Smith and David Warner due to the ball-tampering ban.
Smith loves to make it count when it is a revenge series. He did in his comeback Ashes series against England, and he repeated the feat in the ODI series against India now. And it does not look a good sign for Team India. Besides, Australia vs India series has become a much competitively fought series across formats over the years as it has provided some great entertainment and quality performances, and thrilling results.
Verdict: It's no surprise to see Aussies – Smith, Maxwell, Finch – to put their IPL failure behind, and come out all guns blazing against India as they take great pride in playing for Australia, which also has a great sporting culture.
Cover image courtesy: Cricket Times