Former captain lashes out August 16, 2005

Hughes blames 'pathetic' preparation

Cricinfo staff

Kim Hughes: 'The standard of world cricket has been very, very ordinary for a number of years' © Getty Images

Kim Hughes, the former Australian captain, has said lack of match practice against world-class bowling is one of the main reasons for Australia's batting problems on the current Ashes tour. Hughes felt the Australian batsmen had fattened their averages thanks to some ordinary bowling on the international scene and their tecniques were exposed when confronted with a quality attack.

"Once you get to 32 or 33, the only time you're exposed is against pace," Hughes said in The Australian. "Our blokes could go back and play the rest of the Test countries over the next two or three years and still average 55, and they'd do that standing on their head, because there is no other decent attack. They [England] have exposed a lack of footwork and technique. The rest of the series will be a real test for them."

Hughes, who captained Australia in 28 Tests, said the pace of Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, who consistently bowled at speeds of 150 kmh, highlighted an ageing Australian side with only three players below 30 - Michael Clarke (24), Lee (28) and Simon Katich (29). "Our batting has looked very, very ordinary," he said. "Spear-headed by Harmison and Flintoff they're a good attack but you certainly wouldn't say they're the West Indies of 20 years ago - far from it."

Hughes also pointed out that the general standard of world bowling over the past decade or so was "pathetic". "Honestly, the standard of world cricket has been very, very ordinary for a number of years," Hughes said. "As a former player you never want to say that because it always looks like sour grapes.

"The West Indies are pathetic, Pakistan had half a bowler last season. The two sides out here last season [New Zealand and Pakistan] wouldn't have won our Sheffield Shield." Both New Zealand and Pakistan suffered humiliating whitewashes at the hands of the Australians last season and New Zealand received another thrashing in the home series that followed.

The Australians have a one-day match against Scotland on Thursday and a two-day game against Northamptonshire beginning on Saturday before the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.