Australia has dominated world cricket since the mid to late 90s. They have captured consecutive world cups in 1999 and 2003 and until recently, seemed to be on the verge of capturing the next one (March-April 2007) as well. They have been able to crush all opposition, home, or away. With one of the most feared batting lineups led by Ricky Ponting - a skipper who leads from the front, and an accurate and hungry bowling attack to back them up, they seemed indomitable. Until now, that is.
They have fallen from the top spot. the number one ranking in one-day international cricket now belongs to South Africa. They have lost the last four games they have played and have lost a total of five of the last six games they have played - both unimaginable until a year ago or so ago.
So why is it a big deal that just slipping from the number one spot portends doom for the Australians? After all, if there were competing teams, then one would expect this sort of situation to arise time and again.
For one, they have held the top spot since the rankings were introduced five years ago. Second, the current Australian team seems far less confident than the one that won the World Cup four years ago. They are able to post large totals but their bowling department has become very weak and other teams are able to score and make up the runs required to achieve a victory. A case in point being the massive 437 that South Africa chased down last year and the 336 that New Zealand just chased successfully. Also, this is the second consecutive loss to New Zealand - the previous match they lost in the current series was a loss by 10 wickets, their worst loss ever!