STEADY HAND: Tim Paine has done a great job under difficult circumstances as captain of the Australian Test team.
STEADY HAND: Tim Paine has done a great job under difficult circumstances as captain of the Australian Test team. AAP

Working out this summer of discontent

HOPING for an early end to Australia's Indian summer?

Not me. I'm happy for more cricket, tennis, soccer and basketball before eight solid months of footy.

It's been a difficult time for Australian cricket supporters, but most realise there needs to be some short-term pain for long-term gain after all the turbulence last year.

One shining light has been Tim Paine, whose maturity, good humour and calm demeanour - not to mention his outstanding work behind the stumps - should be the rock on which we rebuild a struggling team.

He received a great ovation from the crowd at the SCG in the Fourth Test and as captain he is undoubtedly the man for the moment.

But until the Tests against Sri Lanka roll around, it's back to back-to-back BBL.

While not having heard every one of the dozens of commentators on Channel Seven and Fox Sports, here are a few observations.

Phil Tufnell might have been an occasionally amusing presence on the field when he was in the England Test team as a left-arm spinner (albeit with a bloated Test bowling average of 37 and batting average of 5).

But it sure as hell doesn't work in the BBL commentary box, where he comes across as just any other Cockney git.

Bring back Freddie Flintoff!

Brad Hodge was insightful and funny with a microphone pinned to him as a Twenty20 captain and Kerry O'Keeffe's opinions and offbeat humour worked well on radio.

Neither seems to have made a successful transition to TV coverage.

Ricky Ponting is about the best they have. His comments are always spot-on and he is quick to turn the conversation back to the game when it all gets too silly.

Englishwoman Alison Mitchell has an authoritative voice that works well on radio and on TV.

And, love him or hate him, Shane Warne is good value too - when he sticks to the cricket. Top marks for being one of the few to criticise the Australian fast bowlers in the Tests against India when everyone else just wanted to pile in on the under-performing batsmen.

As for the BBL, it appears to have reached a critical point. With poor tracks (too many drop-in wickets) producing some dud games, crowds seem to be down a bit.

Seven and Fox might be wondering now whether they forked out too much for the TV rights.

One great thing about this time of year is that most of the rugby league journos are forced to take a few weeks holidays.

Unlike in winter when they can write about the games, their summer is spent telling us about how the girlfriend of some pea-brained five-eighth has shed 10kg after her first baby or where a boofhead prop forward went to the beach.

The NRL can be a great spectacle on the field but most people couldn't care less about the other rubbish in the media that seems to go with it.

On the tennis scene, Ashleigh Barty has had a great prepration for the Australian Open and admits her year off playing cricket in the WBBL did her the world of good.

Would one or two surly, self-centred Australian men's players also benefit from taking a break in a team sport?

At least we shouldn't have to put up with Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic for too long in the Australian Open next week.

Kyrgios has drawn 16th seed Milos Raonic in the first round and Tomic 6th seed Marin Cilic.

We're probably only a couple of losses and a surly press conference or two away from not having to hear from them again this summer.

Might not be so lucky with "Screamer” Williams, who even at the age of 37 remains a big chance in the women's singles.

Hopefully there will be no tantrums and if there are they will be called out for appalling behaviour rather than a myriad of excuses.

Tennis is like that, though. The demise of the Davis Cup as we know it just confirms what we've thought for a long time - money transcends all other considerations in the sport.

There's plenty more to look forward to this year, including the footy.

Australia may not be the great sporting nation it was 20 years ago when we won nearly everything we had a crack at in 1999 and shone at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

It might be wishful thinking but let's hope we can turn it around in 2019 with soccer's Asian Cup (not a great start, admittedly), rugby union, basketball, netball and cricket world cups, as well as The Ashes.

It should be an interesting year.