Over-rate still a worry for Australia
Expect to see the Australians running faster between overs during the first Test against New Zealand following their costly failure to keep up with the required rate in Nagpur this month. A new series begins on Thursday and the hosts are looking at ways to be more efficient in the field after a match that ended in a team fine and contributed to the 2-0 loss to India.
Ricky Ponting remains upset by criticism that he put his own interests ahead of his side's when bowling part-timers at a crucial stage in an effort to lift the rate instead of facing a suspension for falling behind. The former captains Allan Border and Ian Chappell criticised his decision making and neither man is in Ponting's immediate plans for a chat.
"I haven't spoken to either of those two gentlemen and probably won't for a while," Ponting said during a lunch in Brisbane. "That's fine, I understand people are going to have opinions on players and my captaincy. A lot of times you totally respect that. I don't mind people questioning tactics of mine, but the thing that worried me the most was everyone thinking I put myself ahead of the team and its interests. I thought that was a little bit unfair."
If Australia had fallen six overs behind, Ponting could have been banned from the first Test, but after using Cameron White, Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke along with Jason Krejza they finished two overs below the target. Ponting was fined 20% of his match fee and the players were docked 10%.
Clarke, the vice-captain, said the team had held more discussions on how to lift the over-rate during the first Test. "It's just something we are going to have to continually talk about, and keep at the forefront of our minds during the game," he said. "If it means bowlers leaving their hat at fine leg instead of giving it to the umpire, if it means running between our overs, it's just something we are going to have to continually work on."
If Australia choose a four-man pace attack it will increase the length of time for each delivery, a problem they encountered in Perth last year when Shaun Tait was elevated to the team. Clarke did not expect the issue to have any influence over whether the offspin of Krejza was preferred to another fast bowler on a Brisbane surface that has been under cover since the weekend.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo