December 11, 2010

Ashes

'A bunch of Clydesdales'

Liam Brickhill

We are only two Tests into the Ashes, but already the debate over where Australia have gone wrong has begun in earnest. In The Telegraph's round table discussion between Ian Chappell, Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan, Chappell was particularly critical of Australia's fielding, saying that they "looked like a bunch of Clydesdales in the field".

Also the Australians are not used to being out in the field for long periods without taking wickets. I mean, Jesus, six for 1,137! It’s easier being a good fielder when the catches are coming along pretty regularly, but when you drop a guy on five and he makes 150 or 200 every so-and-so remembers that. In past Australian sides, if you dropped a catch you knew that another chance would be coming along 10 minutes later.

Former Australia seamer Stuart Clark hit out at the Australian selectors, saying that their "chopping and changing" would severely disturb the team's bowlers in his Guardian column.

One of the major problems confronting the Australia bowling unit at the moment is the confusion surrounding places in the team. When a bowler feels under pressure, he will often lose sight of bowling plans and try to take a wicket with every other ball. That may sound reasonable in theory but, with Test pitches around the world generally flat, it serves only to relieve the pressure on batsmen.

The Spin took a similar tone, with Andy Bull suggesting that the Australian selectors were making all the same mistakes that their English counterparts had made in the 1990s.

Set a thief to catch a thief. If the Australians want to know what they have done wrong in this series so far who better to ask than the English, who for so many years made those very same mistakes. The English wrote the book on Ashes blunders. And there is not one they have not been culpable of committing since they last won an Ashes series away from home, back in 1986-87. There has been a familiar feeling about the mistakes the Australians have been making in the past fortnight.

In his column in The Australian Ricky Ponting insisted he was not considering retirement saying "my absolute focus is on all the things within my control".

I have not stopped for one moment to consider retirement. The question of my future as captain is ultimately a decision for Cricket Australia and categorically the future of Australian cricket must come first. I have every confidence in my ability to score runs and be the experienced batsman and leader that my teammates can rely on.

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Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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