The joke when Adam Scott won the Masters in April was that he should forget golf for the rest of the summer and slip into the Australian middle order. And bring Jason Day with him. At that point Australia were just a poor cricket team having lost 4-0 in India. This morning they are a shambles.
An escalating sense of disintegration, both on and off the pitch, has led to the desperate decision 16 days before the first Ashes Test of the summer to dump coach Mickey Arthur, who was appointed only in 2011.
It was clear in India that there was a lack of unity and conviction within the squad, and resistance to Arthur’s methods. The kids just won’t be told. Vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja were all disciplined for failing to take seriously a discussion on how the team might improve. Arthur asked for their presentations and was met with blank sheets of paper, a breach which was quickly dubbed 'homework-gate'.
The subsequent drubbing in the Champions Trophy and the additional burden of punch-gate, when David Warner chinned Joe Root in a Birmingham nightclub, deepened the crisis. It seemed Arthur had lost all grasp of reality when he announced that Australia had the deepest pool of Test class bowlers in world cricket. Results tell us that never mind Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath but Denis Lillee and Jeff Thompson could get a game ahead of this lot.
The paucity of talent is ultimately the problem. Australia are a victim of their own success in that they have found it impossible to produce players to replace all-time greats like Warne, McGrath, the Waugh twins, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting. Mike Hussey has been discarded and the skipper is crock. They are where England had been for too long, searching for substance among honest tryers. Given the parlous state of Test cricket across the globe you wonder if the good days might ever come back Down Under.
One thing is certain. It will get worse before it gets better. This scraping of this barrel is a long way from being done.