Australia in India 2012-13 March 11, 2013

Australia's batsmen must 'go against instincts'


Australia's batsmen must find a way to ignore their instincts if they are to have success in India, the team's batting coach Michael Di Venuto has said. Australia's captain Michael Clarke said after the Hyderabad Test he had been disappointed by the number of players who were out to cross-bat shots or hitting against the spin early in their innings, and the coach Mickey Arthur was angry at the sweeps that proved costly for Phillip Hughes and David Warner.

Matthew Hayden, who is in India commentating, said the secret to batting success in the country was to play straight, but the batsmen have struggled to adapt over the first two Tests. In his first Test tour since being appointed as batting coach in February, Di Venuto has the challenge of turning those woes around for the third Test in Mohali, and he said the major thing the batsmen needed to get their heads around was that what comes naturally is not always a good plan in India.

"I think a lot of batting is done on instinct," Di Venuto told ESPNcricinfo. "The guys have been brought up in Australia and playing in Australian conditions where if you see a ball on a certain length, it normally bounces a certain height. Then you come to a foreign country and all of a sudden it doesn't bounce like it does at home. You've got to go against your instincts.

"You've got to play with your mind and train with your mind. That's something that we haven't adapted quick enough here. The nature of cricket is that you learn from your mistakes but you just don't make that mistake once and that's the last time you do it, you make it over and over and over again. Eventually, through experience it sinks in. But the best seem to learn quicker than most. We've got a talented young group of batters and hopefully they can learn quickly."

However, not all the batsmen are inexperienced in these conditions. Michael Clarke has had great success in India in the past and is again thriving against their slow bowlers, but the other batsman who has played Test cricket in the country, Shane Watson, is yet to have an impact. Last time Watson played a Test in Mohali he scored 126, which remains his last Test hundred.

Watson made 84 and 60 in the tour match in Chennai but in the Tests has failed to build on his starts, scoring 28, 17, 23 and 9. He had looked good during the first innings in Hyderabad until he tried to pull a ball that did not bounce as high as he expected and was trapped lbw by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Di Venuto said it was a classic example of instinct batting.

"He looked unbelievable in the tour game and has looked terrific in his Test innings to date for starts," Di Venuto said. "That's the disappointing thing. The captain needs a bit of help and people to stand up. He looks in terrific touch but the runs just haven't happened.

"His first-innings dismissal [in Hyderabad] was an instinct shot. He pulls so well off length in Australia. The ball stayed down. But if he plays that with a straight bat then he's still in and you don't know where his innings could have gone. He's just got to keep working hard and has got to get better, it's as simple as that. The talent is there, the skills are there and he looks in good touch."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • S on March 14, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    The difference between the English and Aussie support staff are that while the batting coach of Australia is Di Venuto, that of England is Gooch.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    @Landl47. A lot of the guys are not only inexperienced at test level but at FC level too! Warner, Lyon, Patto and Starcy have barely even played 20 FC matches apiece.

    @ZenBoomerang, yes a lot of these guys played last year in the Carribean, they didn´t get much time in the middle there either. Only Maxwell and Mike Hussey looked good in the UAE series, Hussey is gone now and there doesn´t seem to be a lot of faith in Maxwell to pit him in at no.6 where in my opinion he should be batting for this series. Of the batsmen only Hughes, Watson and Clarke remain from the SL series. I don´t think Watto will ever learn how to get the best out of himself. I have no clue what is going on with Hughes and Clarke is making plenty!

    In hindsight, that wonderful beast, the Aussies would have been much better off taking an A tour to India last year rather than England, or perhaps even both. Funny that barely any of the batsmen from that tour are even in the frame now.

  • Roo on March 11, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    All these articles about Oz having very little experience against spin are just plain dumb... What about the WI tour 12 mths ago where the pitches spin much further than these Ind pitches?...

    What about the tour to SL 18 mths ago & the recent series at home?... What about the ODI tour to UAE against Pakistan - the best spinners in the world? Also an Afghanistan match... Watto has been given every chance & still failed - try & get some experience in Shield if you can - the comp is in complete disorder...

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    Di Ventu pointed out some good facts,but it requires lot of practice to play the turning ball ....I m nt sure whether they will be able to do it in such a short time,but definitely there will be some improvement...heading in right way. I suggest all countries must have venues for different type of pitches ,it will help in producing good competitve cricket around the world without neglecting the strengths of the home teams.

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    all hopes lost of aussies to fight back in the series. The duo of Ash-Bhajji is doing their work. And no one can forget Jaddu, who has just amazed everyone with his arm balls and many times his magic balls. well all I can say is that India lifts the Border-Gavaskar Trophy this time.

  • Brenton on March 11, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    Mitty2, you are absolutely correct. The great Australian teams of recent past didn't need many tour matches because they were so good and experienced. I don't think it's any coincidence that England's rise has coincided with them planning more tour matches prior to the first test. We saw it with the last Ashes series over here, 3-4 matches against state and second 11 teams. What do we expect from such an inexperienced young Aussie team where 1/2 of them have never set foot in india before.

  • John on March 11, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    I remember the hoots of derision when England lost 3-0 to Pakistan in the UAE a year ago. England then were in the same position as Aus now: they hadn't played tests on subcontinental wickets for over 3 years and didn't have the tools to succeed. England learned pretty quickly and won the ODI and T20 series that followed the tests and eventually that led to beating India.

    Aus now has the same learning curve to tackle and if anything it's even harder for them, with an inexperienced (at this level) batting line-up and without England's spin resources. Aus will learn to tackle subcontinental wickets, but it doesn't look as though it will be in time to save this series. Still, you never know.

  • Hamish on March 11, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    The result has been inevitable. With us having little to no preparation and having two Australian teams playing on the same day because of the scheduling disaster, it would've been almost impossible to perform in the first two tests. Clarke and warner had not a single tour match, and the only reason Clarke has prospered is because he is the best batsmen in the world (in terms of aggregate of runs). Most of the bowlers and batsmen just had a single tour game, and many arrived just a week before the test started.

    Just compare england's preparation. England had three tour games and all of the players arrived in India at least two weeks before the test. They did not have another series to focus on, they had plenty of time from sufficient scheduling. Not to mention the sub continent experience in pak and SL

    With Australia only having one series win in India since some time in the 60's, it can't have been expected for us to do well, especially when considering our batsmen's inexperience.

  • Brenton on March 11, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    I agree, Watson has been the biggest disappointment. He's played a lot in India and should know the conditions well and the importance of following through with starts. Warner is the next biggest diappointment, he's also played a lot in Inda. Hughes is doing his best but was woefully underprepared for these conditions, which is not his fault. 1 tour match only to prepare for a big test series in totally foreign condition is not adequate.

  • corey on March 11, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    c'mon guys pull your head in think about it but dont forget to hit the crap balls. and there will be plenty of them. the indians are over rated. world cricket needs you guys to be more competitve as you were a decade ago