Australia in India 2012-13 March 8, 2013

Indian failures no Ashes barometer - Arthur


Australia's coach Mickey Arthur has said the team's struggles in India cannot serve as an accurate indication of how they will fare in England later this year due to the vastly different conditions. However, Arthur also said the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey had sent the team's batting plans almost back to square one, because the selectors expected both veterans to be part of the Ashes campaign.

The losses of Ponting and Hussey have left Australia with a top six seriously lacking in experience and Test runs. Michael Clarke is the only member of the current batting order to have scored more than three Test centuries, and in the first two matches against India, he is the only member of the top six averaging more than 30.

Phillip Hughes' problems against spin have been severely exposed by R Ashwin, leaving him in danger of being dropped for the third Test in Mohali. Hughes returned to the Test side for the home series against Sri Lanka in December as the No.3 batsman and replacement for Ponting. He scored a pair of eighties in the Sri Lanka series and would be more suited to playing in England than India, but the question is whether he will now get the chance.

Shane Watson has shuffled between No.3 and 4 recently and could be back at first drop if Hughes is axed, but wherever he bats he needs to soon end his two-and-a-half-year drought without a Test century. Ed Cowan and David Warner have struggled to have any significant impact in India and the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has been asked to play at No.6, a necessary move if the selectors want an allrounder while Watson is not bowling.

"It's probably not that fair a barometer," Arthur said of India compared to the Ashes. "I was pretty scared when I looked at the schedule because we'd been building a top-six and a team. We were nearly the finished article, then we lose 300 Test caps. In my thinking Ponting and Hussey were coming to the Ashes. We had them pencilled in to come to the Ashes so we had some stability in the top six. We thought we had experience, some good young players and it was the perfect blend. We then lose both those players.

"Then I thought we've got to go to India, and on every tour to India I've been on there's been casualties. We don't want those casualties going into the Ashes because we've got to back what we think are our best players. We've got to keep the team as stable as we possibly can. We can't go into the Ashes thinking 'what's our best top six?' We can't be using the first couple of games as a trial. We need to be clear in our mind as to who those players are. I was clear in my mind ... but I'll talk to you again after the next two Tests."

The loss of Ponting was half expected, for although he piled up the runs in 2011-12 at home against India he had a disappointing tour of West Indies and a miserable series against South Africa. But the departure of Hussey was the major blow. Batting at No.6, Hussey provided an invaluable buttress between Clarke, the team's best and most in-form batsman, and the lower order.

It was all the more frustrating for the Australians given that Hussey had scored three centuries during the home Test summer. During the 2012 calendar year, Hussey made 950 Test runs at the average of 59.37 and was comfortably second to Clarke on Australia's list of averages for the year.

His footwork and skill against spin would have made him a vital member of the side in India, where he had scored 493 Test runs at 44.81 on past tours. Instead of being with the squad as they settled in to Chandigarh on Friday, Hussey was in Adelaide scoring 99 for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match. His retirement was based on a desire to spend more time with his young family, and Arthur said nothing would have changed his mind.

"That was Huss's decision," Arthur said. "We couldn't try and persuade him either way and it was right for him. Everything he has said subsequently has made me think that the time was right for him. We can't change that. That's his decision. It was disappointing to lose him though ahead of what is such a big year. A year I guess that will define Michael and my leadership. It was disappointing because it was almost back to square one again in terms of experience."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sri on March 11, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    Believe it or not they lost all the ashes series that happened right after their india tour since 2004 (2005 in eng (toured india in 2004-2005), 2009 in eng(toured india in 2008), 2010 in Aus(toured india 2010 ) They did not visit india right after their loss to eng in 2005( and before they regained in 2007).

  • Andrew on March 11, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    Dear oh dear Mickey! The ages of Ponting & Huss had to mean that there should of been some sort of succession plan in place. Given that we see the team discussed in HRM terms with words like "culture", a succession plan should of been high up the list. The REAL problem for the Oz team is that this tour has not been properly planned for. The team arrived as rabble & played like one. We have a squad that "Covered all bases" - yet missed out the best performed spinner on the domestic circuit, & failed to include a reserve keeper (no disrespect to Phil Hughes). @ Imsrk - Ricky Ponting had the best 5 year form surge of any batsmen ever (except Bradman). From 2002 to 07, nobody was near him. I will not bag Sachin or Lara, but they were all comparable in their careers. As for Huss, if you had a health scare with a new born, maybe your priorities would change. So I would suggest you comment on Baseball, as you are clueless!

  • Roo on March 11, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    As much as Mickey opens his mouth occasionally, we all know that Clarke & Inver's run the NSP with the rest just being pawns...

    Re: Hussey - "if" the NSP hadn't made Watto VC & selected Huss instead then there wouldn't be a problem atm - by not also selecting Hadds 2 years ago as VC sent a big message from Clarke that the seniors were not part of the leadership group...

    Now we have a vice captain that has been the worst of the current top 7 in batting with an average @25.2 during this time - even Marcus North @35.48 was in better form (over 2 years) when he was sacked...

  • Mahesh on March 11, 2013, 0:46 GMT

    Hey Mickey, what do you mean "on every tour to India there's been casualities"? If you make a cricketer play basketball, to stay in shape for cricket, you will get casualities. Anywhere in the world!!!!

  • Thomas on March 10, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    Hey Mickey, Ian Chappell doesn't agree with you and nor do I. Yes, the conditions and opposition will be different in England but our batters are down on form and confidence. I expect our quicks to succeed but that is only half the equation, so everyone knows you are just talking it up for the media.

  • Siddharth on March 10, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    David Hussey,Brad Hodge need to be in the squad for the 10 ashes tests....and I think people like Cameron White,Adam Voges etc would do much better than steve smith/glen maxwell.These players can bring real experience and variety to the squad.Doherty deserves no sympathy and needs to be axed immediately.And haddin is much better than terms of both batting and keeping.Lyon and Hauritz/O'Keefe should be the two spinners.

  • John on March 10, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    @Imsrk on (March 9, 2013, 17:03 GMT), talking about selfishness when a player is in a team is one thing but expecting a player to remain part of a team that is away from home for several months each year when his heart is not in it is something else altogether. No doubt Hussey was thinking of himself when he made the decision to retire and quite right he was to do so. What I find to be unacceptable selfish is when fans expect players to make great sacrifices for them. As long as a player is in the team, they owe the team and the fans their best. Most sportsmen play their sport because they love it. If they don't love it enough to keep playing then I say they have no further responsibility to team or fans.

  • j on March 9, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    What I think Mr Arthur is lacking in understanding about here is the gulf in skill between the two competing Ashes teams. This is more than evident in the fact that England have just toured India. And England won handsomely in India too. Australian selection is in literally in freefall, with the entire top six looking to be completely 'reorganised' next test match. Add to the year-long Lyon saga and you've got just the tip of the iceberg for the current Aus test team.

  • Michael on March 9, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    Arthur's comments are very worrying. "... because we'd been building a top-six and a team. We were nearly the finished article, then we lose 300 Test caps." Both Ponting and Hussey were nearing the end of their careers - they had a huge amount of experiene but neither were at the stage where you build a batting order around them, simply because they were due to retire. The problem was identified when Simon Katich was dropped several years ago. At the time they said there were too many 35+ year old batsmen, and they were right. Unfortunately they held on to Ponting for a year too long (he should have retired after the Indian summer, when he would have gone out on a high following several poor years), and given another batsman a year in the team while Hussey was there to support Clarke. Unfortunately Cricket Australia yet again held on to the champions with no succession plan. I would have thought they'd have learnt, but apparently not.

  • Allan on March 9, 2013, 23:14 GMT

    @hycIass some good points mate and I like the 2 allrounders you have listed as well though Moses was impressive for me. Like most of you hoping that Khawaja gets a hit in the third test and that its part of a long hit for him and not just 1 game as he is one of our better test prospects. Mitchell Marsh is the one I've been thinking about as well. He *could* be the genuine hard-hitting no.7 bat, 15-overs-a-day bowler we are looking for, good to see some young allrounders coming through in Moses and Marsh.

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