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August 30, 2008
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, believes several of his batsmen were scared of Mitchell Johnson's speed and he blamed their "silly shots" for the team's dismal effort against Australia in Darwin. Chasing 255 for victory Bangladesh capitulated for 74, which was their lowest total in an ODI, and a clearly frustrated Siddons was searching for answers after the match.
He was particularly critical of some of the batsmen falling to premeditated shots and he singled out the captain Mohammad Ashraful, whose ugly attempted pull to a Johnson ball that stayed low trapped him dead in front. "I can't control their mental frame of mind when they get out there," Siddons said. "The shot selection - premeditated shots like Ash's, it's a little disappointing."
The unfamiliarity of the debutant Brett Geeves, who bowled quick and picked up 2 for 11, contributed to the middle-order struggles but the main damage came at the top. It was the first time several of the players had faced Johnson, and Siddons said they played him on his reputation rather than his efforts on the day.
"A couple of the guys had it in their mind about Mitchell Johnson and so on, and I don't think Mitchell bowled that fast today," Siddons said. "The wicket slowed him up a fair bit. So the batsmen can probably have a look at that now and say, well, it's not the type of wicket that he's going to bowl 100 miles an hour.
"We can take away the unknown now. They've seen Geeves, they've seen Mitchell Johnson. They don't need to be frightened of their pace any more. Most of the guys got out there and faced either of those two. They can take that away and come back the next game and play some better shots and be a bit more patient."
Johnson also picked up Tamim Iqbal, who had belted the slower Nathan Bracken for a couple of boundaries but fell when he tried to slash Johnson over third man. Tamim misjudged the shot and it fell into the hands of Geeves, leaving Bangladesh's middle order exposed too early in the match.
"It's something that you see a lot with our guys," Siddons said. "They don't look uncomfortable at that level, but they get out with some silly shots. I can yell and scream at them or I can take them to the nets and keep working at it. I think I'll take them to the nets."
Siddons was concerned that "the occasion was too big" for his players and he is keen to make top-order changes for the second match on Wednesday. He was obviously unsure whether Mehrab Hossain jnr, who made an eight-ball duck, was the right man to open, but whoever goes out first should take note of the patience displayed by Michael Hussey and Shaun Marsh, who ground out an 85-run partnership.
It was not pretty but it was highly effective and it gave Hussey a solid enough platform to cut loose towards the end, driving Australia to the 254 that set up their 180-run triumph. He finished with 85 and was the main reason Australia picked up 49 from the final five overs, an effort that drew praise from the stand-in captain Michael Clarke.
"Talk about it every game with Huss, don't we?" Clarke said. "He's a freak ... he stood up, he made sure he was going to be there at the end. He helped the boys around him, he played that support role through the middle and then enjoyed the last few overs."
Clarke was also thrilled there were a couple of wickets for Geeves, who was a late inclusion in the squad after Brett Lee became unavailable. It gives Australia a tough choice on who to leave out on Wednesday, if Shane Watson is ruled fit after missing the opening game with soreness in his lower leg.
"Geevesy really looked forward to today, once he found out he'd been selected he was very excited, he was dying for an opportunity," Clarke said. "It shows the strength of Australian cricket. Guys just keep coming in and keep stepping up."
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