Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Can Australia come back?



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It has increasingly become hard to figure out if Australia has a bowling problem or a batting problem. Of course, they have both. But teams often rely on the strength of one to negate the weakness of the other.

For example, India have a reasonable bowling attack, but a fantastic batting line-up. Sometimes the cookie does crumble, but more often than the batting line up is able to pile enough runs to put pressure on the opposing team. The bowling unit does a reasonable enough job to wriggle out 20 opposing batsmen with some time to spare. As a strategy, this has served India well.

England too seem to be pursuing a similar strategy where batters are applying themselves more diligently and talking about contributions and partnerships. Graeme Swann who was handled reasonably well in Brisbane became a force when Australia were staring at a mountain of runs. My opinion is that Pragyan Ojha could have run through Australia with the friendly pitch and all.

Australia on the other hand can't seem to find a formula. The team at it's heyday scored runs at a furious pace and unleashed McGrath and Warne against their opposition. The results became a foregone conclusion. On occasions when McGrath and Warne didn't play (like against India in 2003) it became clear what the Aussies were missing. In those games too, Australia played Bichel with Lee. Good batsmen don't succumb to honest triers. And that's what I think Bichel was and so is Bollinger.

And this is where Australia's problem is. Their batsmen may find enough gumption to put up 400 plus scores perhaps, but without a bowler that can threaten to unsettle the English batsmen, they have no hope. So between Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Harris, Watson and Bollinger Australia have one and a half bowler. Siddle being three quarters of the bunch. Australia's desperate search for a spinner is misplaced. Clarke is by far their best spin bowler. So why try to find something that doesn't exist and eat up a test spot?

Unfortunately, the lack of bowling options had led Australia to rely on Shane Watson. He can at best get an honorable mention. But much like India had to dispense with wicket keepers opening the batting, so that the "best" batsmen could play, Australia should invest some faith in true openers. With Katich now out of the lineup, Australia should perhaps bring in Hughes and Shaun Marsh. The latter may not be lighting up the grounds, but in modern day cricket the team needs a Hayden, Dilshan or Sehwag/Gambhir type approach. Maybe Marsh is their answer.

The worst number 6 batsman in the world needs to be dumped and maybe Watson needs to play at that spot. Ponting, Clarke and Hussey need to rediscover their touch too, but if between them, they can manage 400 plus each time, Australia will be ok. The first step though is to ensure the top order fires.

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7 comments:

straight point said...

another bolt in their armour is clarke...

he can't bowl coz of his back... and apparently can't bat (the way he is supposed to) coz of that...

we have been hearing stories since ages about how good is autralia's so called system that can't find a decent opener and no.6 batsman... has to play katich and clarke even with sustained injuries...

karich limping while running for singles was actually the slap on so called system coz they had to play him despite achilles hills coz they thot there was no other alternative...

if these bunch of selectors were in india... we would have already seen their obituary column in newspapers...

Shridhar Jaju said...

I know I am not the first one saying this... but it is just absolutely astonishing to see Marcus North still hold his place in the side. And now the excuses are so blasphemous that they are calling him a part-time spinner to justify his inclusion!

SP, that system had to falter some day or the other... no system on earth is perfect or flawless, and each one of such systems is bound to depreciate over a period of time. Australians are finding that out right now.

Vidooshak said...

SP, Shridhar - Completely agree with you. I think Australia sacrificed flair for method. As a result they are churning out cricketers who lack creativity. I continue to lament their treatment of Andrew Symonds. I just can't imagine North in the side ahead of Symonds, despite his issues. I can't bring myself to agree with anyone who dumps people for anything other than performance.

Freehit said...

@SP-In Australia, the bunch of selectors and players are getting flaked like they would have in India.

I agree with Vidooshak about Symonds. By no standards is he any ordinary talent.He could be very useful and they need to sort out things to make sure they get the most out of him, rather than seeing him doing commentary.

Golandaaz said...

There was an interview with Symonds on cricinfo with harsha. I got the feeling Symmonds has pretty much moved on. I would be very very surprised if he will come back even if asked to.

Subash said...

Australia screwed up quite a bit. By putting on air of "holier than thou" they robbed themselves (and the world) of Warne's captaincy and Andrew Symonds. They both had their flaws but talents like that are once-in-a-generation stuff.

The Aus selectors have ALWAYS been devoid of ideas and were only bailed out by the sheer quality of the bowlers that came through. Now there is a dip in the quality and those muppets have no idea what to do.

It is atrocious how they have handled Hauritz and fast-tracked X-Do for the single fact that he'd get KP out (which he did eventually) :)

The Aus selectors are making the Indian selectors of the 90's look like Einsteins.

Soulberry said...

You've nailed it. They need to get proper openers in and if Watson's to play as an all-rounder, it must be lower down and he's got to bowl enough then.

I think generations evaporated beneath the great ones and now they'll have to wait for the U-19s to grow up.

This is an unavoidable wait for Australia.

Tegards bowling, I think one factor is they completely lacked discipline too. Johnson particularly is more off then on these days.