Australia in England 2012 July 2, 2012

Arthur tempted by England traditions


In the space of two matches, Australia have gone from questioning England's balance to thinking about appropriating it. England's use of five specialist bowlers and a top order of Test match pedigree have made the tourists look short on quality over the course of the first two ODIs at Lord's and the Oval, causing Australia's coach Mickey Arthur to suggest it was a path worth taking in next year's ICC Champions Trophy.

There has already been one Australian concession to England's way of playing the limited-overs game, with the fledgling allrounder Steve Smith dropped after Lord's to make way for the considered batting of Peter Forrest at No. 3. The call-up of the Test match bowlers Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson may follow in Birmingham.

"I think in English conditions, they've almost gone back to the old sort of format of one-day cricket," Arthur said. "Three proper Test players at the top of the order, four out-and-out pace bowlers, a really good spinner. They're playing with their specialists, they're playing the one-day game with their best players.

"In England, I think that's a message for every other team, bearing in mind we come back here for the Champions Trophy [next year]. So I think England have a blueprint that works here and it's one we'll probably need to follow in these conditions."

The loss of Michael Hussey for the tour - so he could spend additional time at home with a young family - has proven to be a major blow, and Arthur said others were finding it difficult to replace him. "We were pretty settled I think coming into this tour then Mike Hussey didn't make the trip," Arthur said. "With Mike coming in at five he controls the game but the reality is Mike's not going to be around forever.

"We've got to find another player who can do that role and there's going to be a lot of opportunities this tour for somebody to try and nail that, so I'm looking forward to seeing who puts their hand up."

Smith's brief appearance in the ODI series re-opened the former questions about precisely what his role in the Australian team should be, or if he is deserving of one at all. Arthur depicted Smith's presence on the tour as a learning exercise, and pointed out that he had already played in two tour matches against Leicestershire and Essex. He also suggested that Smith would be a more useful proposition in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later in the year.

"He hasn't done a huge amount of bowling on this tour so far but we're looking at Steve as a bit of a long-term proposition," Arthur said. "We go to subcontinent conditions for the Pakistan series after this, we've got the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka so he could play a prominent role there so we wanted to expose him, bring him back into the set-up and then have a look.

"He's had three chances though because he had Leicestershire and Essex before this one to really make a statement. He's bubbling away, we're working hard with him, trying to get his technique up to speed and we'll continue to do that with him."

Arthur denied that Smith needed to be bowling his leg breaks consistently to be of full value to the team - the captain Michael Clarke being notably hesitant to use him on this trip, bowling only one over in three matches. "If he's not bowling he brings two disciplines; he's fantastic in the field as well," Arthur said. "He's the type of player we're looking at, we just need his batting just to kick on a little bit and it's through lack of trying, we're working extremely hard with him."

Another player in need of hard work is Mitchell Johnson, whose return to Australian colours at the Oval was decidedly unhappy. Arthur is among Johnson's staunchest supporters, having been on the receiving end of his best bowling when South Africa coach in 2009, and said the left-armer needed to recover his confidence in international company.

"Mitch just has to start playing cricket again, he's been off for about eight months now," Arthur said. "He's just got to get out, get his confidence back, and he's got to realise he belongs in international cricket again and he'll do that pretty quickly. He just needs to get some good performances under his belt."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Geoffrey on July 5, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    There is a difference between an excuse and an explanation. Sure England may have lost that 2006 series even with a full strength squad, but no way were they losing 5-0. And next time they toured with a full strength side, the result was 3-1. Speaks for itself doesn't it?

  • Randolph on July 4, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    @Hammond, or should I say the walking talking contradiction, who is making excuses now???

  • Martin on July 4, 2012, 20:46 GMT

    @Amit Kumar Naik. Far from it. Given that England won their last ODI series playing away in West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand, UAE and South Africa we would say that England were to use your phrase; "experts" in those countries as well as here in England. How did India get on when they played in Bangladesh? Or against Pakistan? Or in South Africa in ODIs. Your answer should be short.

  • John on July 4, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    @jplterrors on (July 04 2012, 07:05 AM GMT) So would another side judging by the way the were trounced in the recent T20s vs WI

  • John on July 4, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    @Hammond on (July 04 2012, 12:29 PM GMT) Got to be honest mate , you sound like an excuse maker there and we could have had better prep for that series but we didn't and they walloped us fair and square. However surely only the most recent series/form is relevant

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    In the current scenario in world cricket all teams are.....HOME EXPERTS...........

  • Andrew on July 4, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @Heart_of_Oak - great post. As for an award, I think his last contract & the lure of a performance contract is pretty good reward. He has been one of the ethically finest athletes to have played the game of cricket! @popcorn - I think droping Punter was a reasonable decision long term, it has only backfired now that Mr Cricket is unavailable - meaning a combined 5 or 6 hundred matches worth of experience is ripped out of the batting line up combined! If winning this series was the be all & end all of all things cricket, bringing Punter back for the series would NOT of been a bad move, may even of been an indicator as to whether he could deliver in 2013!

  • Rajaram on July 4, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    At least NOW, will the Selectors REALIZE that they were HASTY in dropping Ricky Ponting in their ZEAL to bring in young blood to replace EXPERIENCE? And bring Ricky Ponting back for ODIs?

  • Geoffrey on July 4, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    @Rooboy that 5-0 ashes loss meant nothing. 3 key England players (including the captain) were unavailable for the whole series. The more important statistic is that since that great series in 2005, England are 3 ashes SERIES to 1. And funny that in the 3 they did win, the full strength side was actually available. England will look to take that to 5-1 by the end of 2014. I can't see this bog average Aussie side being able to stop them.

  • Martin on July 4, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    @Rooboy - nice. The 8 years was deliberately and specifically chosen taking us to 2004. This was the year that marked the appointment of Ponting as Captain and thus the beginning of the end of Australia as a great "all-conquering" side. 2004...? remember? Losing to England in the semi-final of the ODI ICC Champions trophy? 2005 - Ponting leads Australia to its first Ashes defeat in years. 2006 Australia lose a home ODI series to England for the first time in years. And then it goes on... leading to what happened that day at the MCG in 2010. You may not remember @rooboy, but we do.

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