WHEN I was a student at Longford Primary School we had an Aboriginal elder come and tell us some stories. He spoke about some eagles he had seen in the yard at lunchtime and asked how many others had seen the pair of birds circling high above us - none of us had. "That's the problem with people these days," he said, "You spend all day looking for 10 cent coins on the ground and you are missing the stuff happening all around you."
It's ones of those funny little stories that I have never forgotten and, for some reason it has been rattling around my head a bit lately as the media and public's frustration has spilled over at times from the results of our national team.
Until I was 23 I couldn't recall England winning against us. Ever. We had a phenomenal run of success that saw us dominate not only the old enemy, but also the rest of the world. It was a cycle that would inevitably change for the worse - it had to. Sport would not hold the lustre it does for so many if the same team won forever.
I am wired like the regular Australian - I hate losing to England. I hate losing to anyone, at anything. Also, like the majority of sports lovers, I can quickly become an armchair expert on most sports.
Currently, I am very fortunate to have a pretty good view of what's occurring in Australian cricket and I think it's a great opportunity to keep Australian cricket fans looking up to see what will soon be flying above us. Some of the following players have already played for Australia and some will sooner than we think, but these guys, combined with the current squads who are working their butts off to play the best cricket they can, are striving to take Australia back to the top of cricket world rankings.
Our batting has been much maligned over the past year and the battle to replace and replicate players of the ilk of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey is a challenging one. Steve Smith has improved with every opportunity to be around the Australian side and, along with fellow 24-year-olds Phil Hughes and Glenn Maxwell, will feature prominently across all formats over the coming years. All are good chances to be named in the Australian ODI team for the matches against Scotland and England next month.
Hughes, though out of the Test team at present, has scored 24 first-class 100s already - an extraordinary record - and while not always pretty, he has the underrated, somewhat uncanny ability of just knowing how to score runs.
Jordan Silk is a 21-year-old whose cricket and character continue to impress me more and more since he moved to Tasmania. He has two first-class centuries from five games, including the only century in the Sheffield Shield final last summer. Silk's temperament, along with highly-rated Queenslander Joe Burns (23) who has a first- class average around 40, will be well suited to the rigours of the game at the highest level.
Nic Maddinson (21) is a very impressive ball striker from NSW who has impressed on the Australia A tour of South Africa. He has already played 27 first-class games and averages a century every five games at the phenomenal strike rate of 63.
Kurtis Patterson, of NSW, and Victoria's Pete Handscomb are both good young batsmen who have had success within first- class cricket. Patterson scored a high-class 100 on Shield debut, while Handscomb is highly rated within the Victorian squad and will flourish with more opportunity in the coming seasons.
The pick of the bunch may be 16-year-old Jake Doran, whose run-scoring ability and attitude have impressed all he has encountered. A certainty for this year's under-19 World Cup team, don't be surprised if you see his name sooner rather than later in a first- class team. A future captain in the wings.
Many of our exciting young talent with the ball have already had a taste of the game at the highest level. All bowlers will tell you that both physical and, in many cases, mental maturity of the greatest bowlers can come a little later. The fact that James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins have all had a taste of international cricket - with success - has the capacity to hold us in great stead for many years.
Pattinson already has an enviable 47 wickets in 12 Tests, while left-armers Starc and Faulkner have showcased their impressive talent across all three formats. There is really strong depth with the ball throughout the country across the ages.
The continued development of NSW's Josh Hazlewood (22) and Gurinder Sandhu (20) and WA's Joel Paris along with the `mature' Nathan Lyon (25), Jackson Bird (27) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (25) give us a great range of options to suit all conditions for the next five to 10 years.
Unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball and I know that not all of the above will become the stars we so desperately crave. But they all carry some, or all, of the traits that we look for in Australian representatives. And they warrant all the support we can muster as we climb back up the rankings.
The majority of cricket fans will not have heard of all of the players I have mentioned. I am just throwing some names at you that I know in the coming years you will come to support and adore.
It may take some time and you may have to continue enduring reading more negative press than positive at different stages, but it's great to have a different opinion around the water cooler.
To me, the purest and most satisfying thing about supporting an individual or team is being able to say you were `on' them before they become the stars. Having to turn around and jump back on their bandwagon when it suits, or when they start winning, loses part of what is great about being a true supporter.
Keep remembering to look up cricket lovers - the sky is the limit.