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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day
Ian Chappell: 'Hogg should get a lot of credit'
January 2, 2008
India had Australia on the mat but let them get off the hook
 
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Ian Chappell: "Andrew Symonds is a much-improved and calmer player now and he ripped the game from India's hands" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I'm Akhila Ranganna and I have with me the former captain of Australia, Ian Chappell, to look back on what was an eventful day of cricket.

Ian, a day that saw everything - wickets, runs, attack and a counterattack - but from 134 for 6 to end the day at 376 for 7, Australia would believe that they have done well to fight back?

Ian Chappell: I think they [Australia] would be over the moon about the situation after having been 134 for 6. Probably at the start of the day, this was the sort of total they would have been hoping for. It's a very good pitch. It was a beautiful day for batting and generally I've found at the Sydney Cricket Ground that if the sun is out, the batsmen have the better of it and if it's overcast, the bowlers have the better of it.

India bowled very well. They swung the ball quite a lot and I thought Harbhajan [Singh], bowling a bit slower, bowled much better. But they [India] would have to be extremely disappointed after having Australia 6 for 134. There's no way in the world, I don't care how good the opposition is, that you can let them get to 7 for 376. Even forgetting the umpiring decisions that went against India - and they were a couple of very important ones that went against them - there's no way you can let the opposition off the hook like that.

AR: 134for 6 ... all the top batsmen back in the hut ... would you say that Australia were a touch overconfident going into the game?

IC: Well I think the Australians always play very confidently and aggressively. And this seems to be a problem for all opposing sides. When Australia are in a bit of trouble, they go on the counterattack and it appears to me as though the opposition tends to wilt very quickly if that counterattack works. I think they go very quickly to a role of trying to contain Australia and that will not work with guys like [Adam] Gilchrist and [Andrew] Symonds. You're not going to contain them, they'll still hit the boundaries and then what you're doing is you're giving them some easy singles. Once they get a little bit of confidence at the start of their innings, then you have trouble trying to pull them back and rein the back in. This is where opposing sides have a real problem with Australia and having seen that it has happened against a lot of sides, the Australians now still seem confident, even when they are in a lot of trouble.

AR: You've spoken about Australia counterattacking, especially in the Symonds-Brad Hogg partnership. Normally one would expect Symonds to be the aggressor, but initially it was Hogg who was hitting the boundaries.

IC: I thought Brad Hogg played extremely well. I reckon he must have been taking cover-driving lessons from Michael Hussey - they play together in the Western Australia side - and that is as good as I have seen Hogg play. He played very sensibly and you're quite right - it was him that got things going for Australia on that counter-attack and it was Symonds who was playing second fiddle, probably until Hogg got past 50. Then Symonds came into his own and he ripped the game right out of India's hands. But Hogg should get a lot of credit for Australia's position tonight because he was the one who did the initial hard work when Australia seemed to be deep in trouble.

AR: But would you agree that it was Andrew Symonds' innings that was the highlight of the day - especially the way he played Anil Kumble?

IC: Yes, he's a much improved and calmer player now, I think. If you go back 12 months or so, I don't think he would have had the patience to play that sort of innings. He could have been panicked into doing something rash and he probably would have got himself out. But now that he's got the confidence of having made a permanent spot for himself in the Australian Test side, he's very confident, very relaxed and he's playing very thoughtfully. His footwork against the spinners was very good but I thought that the Indians gave him too many singles. You've got to try and force him to hit over the top a bit. I mean I know he does it very well and if it's his day you're in a bit of trouble [as the opposition], but early in his innings you need to force him to try and hit the spinners over the top and he might make a mistake. Probably the guy he's most likely to make the mistake against is Anil Kumble because of his extra variety. But he did play Kumble very well today.

AR: Ian, you spoke about the umpiring - we saw two clear instances where Symonds could have been back in the hutch, but instead he's still out there. Your thoughts on the umpiring?

IC: The arbiters haven't had a very good series so far, we have had some poor [umpiring] decisions in the series. The worst one was the Symonds caught-behind today. How they could possibly give that not out is beyond my comprehension. He played a long way away from his body, there was a loud noise and it couldn't have hit anything else. But if you go a little bit further than that - there are some indicators [of whether a batsman is out or not]; they have a sixth sense and it should tell them whether the batsman is out or not. One: the fact that Symonds' head whirled around and that's the sort of thing that you see in your peripheral vision as an umpire. And then he did take a little pace towards the pavilion. That was a terrible decision. All the people who jump up and say that we need to have more replays; well we had a replay today. It went to the third umpire, and we still got the wrong decision with the stumping. As far as I was concerned, Symonds was out, stumped off the bowling of Anil Kumble and it was a very good piece of work by MS Dhoni. What's the point of referring when you don't get the right decision anyhow? It was a very poor day for the umpires today and sadly that's going to create a lot of headlines because it was such a crucial decision - it has made a huge difference in the game. I think that India did contribute a bit, in that they got deflated particularly after the second one [the stumping of Symonds] and they just lost their way.

AR: Australia have put the runs on the board. This pitch that still affords bounce and the the Indian batsmen will have their task cut out when they come out to bat.

IC: It's a very good pitch. We saw that during the Hogg-Symonds partnership. There is plenty of runs there for India if they are good enough. But what they can't afford, especially since they haven't made a change to their batting - they have the same batsmen that they had in Melbourne so you would assume that they bat in the same order - is bat with the same approach that they did in Melbourne. If they do that, then they will be in trouble again. The pitch is a better one than the one in Melbourne; the ball is coming onto the bat so there are opportunities to play shots. But if they [India] get bogged down like they did in Melbourne, they will be in big trouble again.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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