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September 6, 2008
Jamie Siddons has warned the Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful that he could soon face the axe unless he quickly turns around his dismal batting form. In the third ODI in Darwin, Ashraful drove in the air to point for 3 when his team needed a platform and he also fell for single figures playing bad strokes in the first two games.
The series has continued a lean run for Ashraful, who has passed fifty just four times in his past 30 one-day international innings, and two of those successes came against not-Test sides Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. Siddons, the team's coach, is running out of patience.
"He's been given a lot of positions in the order and he's still failing," Siddons said. "It's disappointing for him, being the leader of the team. If it were anyone else he wouldn't be in the side. He needs to start making runs. He knows that. We talk to him about that all the time. I'm not giving out any secrets ... it's getting close."
When asked how long Ashraful would be given to battle out of his slump, Siddons said: "I don't know, it's not my decision. But he needs to make runs. For himself he needs to make runs and for his leadership he needs to make runs."
For the coaching staff, just as concerning as Ashraful's lack of big scores is the way he has played. His final dismissal against Australia came from the next ball he faced after being dropped driving lazily to cover. In the first match he was trapped lbw trying an ugly pull and in the second game he flashed at a full, wide Stuart Clark ball and edged behind.
One of Bangladesh's main aims in Darwin has been to bat out their 50 overs and Ashraful's lack of application has rubbed off on several of his team-mates. Siddons was at a loss to why Alok Kapali had tried to pull a straight ball that was much too full from Mitchell Johnson and lost his off stump.
"I haven't spoken to him yet," Siddons said. "Hard to explain, a bit like Ash's shot. It's hard to explain why they would consider playing those shots to those balls."
The 73-run loss was especially disappointing for Siddons, given the terrific effort from Bangladesh's bowlers to restrict Australia to 198. At that point Siddons reiterated to his men what was needed.
"I asked for contributions, it didn't need to be a super-human effort from anyone," Siddons said. "Everything fell into place today. The pitch spun, it was slow, hard for the batsmen to score. It suited our style of cricket perfectly. It suited our batsmen perfectly as well. But for some unknown reason they all threw their wickets away."
The only man to show real resolve was Tamim Iqbal, whose 63 gave Bangladesh hope of an upset. While Siddons said Tamim would need to start converting his regular starts into centuries, the coach was happy with the opener's aggressive but largely controlled display.
Tamim was out to a what he himself called "a stupid shot" when he slashed at a cut shot off Shane Watson and was caught at third man. He was running out of partners but Tamim was angry with himself for throwing away the team's last remaining hopes and his chances of a century.
He said the batsmen were disappointed to continually let down Siddons with loose strokes. "We're working hard and we have a very good coach," Tamim said. "He pushes us in everything.
"We are a young side and have to learn a lot of things. The more matches we play, the more improvement will come. We have to listen to him first. At this moment I don't think we are listening to him."
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