'They have put down too many catches' November 16, 2006

Australia could drop the Ashes - Simpson

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting spills a chance against West Indies during the Champions Trophy © Getty Images

The Ashes could slip through Australia's fingers unless the team's catching improves, according to the former national coach Bob Simpson. The Herald Sun reported Australia put down 17 chances during last year's Ashes series, despite the team's reputation for high-class fielding.

"Since 2002, the Australian team has been dropping too many - a number in the slips - but has been able to mask the problem because the strength of their bowling and the weakness of the opposition allowed them to create more opportunities after the misses," Simpson said in the paper. "But this wasn't possible against England in 2005. There have been a few factors involved, such as wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist standing too deep and thus upsetting the alignment of the cordon. This said, it is not a problem that is confined to the Aussies."

In his new book Simmo - Cricket Then and Now, Simpson said Australia's current slips cordon did not compare with line-ups of the past and the team had struggled to replace the reliable Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh. "Right now, I believe only Shane Warne has the technique and skills to be considered alongside the outstanding slip fieldsmen of earlier decades."