The test of time

AS the Arctic weather continues to decimate the sporting calendar, it is heartwarming to wake up and discover that Australia's cricketers – led by an irritable Ricky Ponting – are repeating so many of the mistakes that dogged England sides.

Given that English cricket proved to be no match for Australia's invincibles for nearly two decades, the performance of the Andrew Strauss-led Test side is testament to the decisions, taken years ago, to build academies and such like.

It did not happen overnight. It took time – a lesson that impatient football owners need to learn. But, in many respects, there is a far more important sporting story emerging from Down Under in the small hours.

The reason that Australian sport is facing a slump is because grassroots investment dried up following the successful staging of the Sydney Olympics a decade ago. Once an integral part of the daily curriculum, school sport has been marginalised with Australia now soaring up the obesity league tables.

It is why this Government must ensure that the London Olympics passes the test of time and heralds the start of a new sporting era rather than the beginning of the end.