November 7, 2008

Australia have lost their presence

Australia's batting is formidable still and Krejza might still spin them to victory but their manner in the field in the series so far has been an admission of ordinariness
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Australia's strategy has mainly involved bowling four feet outside the off stump and begging batsmen to have a go © AFP
 

It took a hat-trick ball and a No. 11 batsman for an Australian field setting to make its first appearance in this series. Ricky Ponting crowded six men around Ishant Sharma after Jason Krejza had removed Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra off successive balls. By then India had 437 runs on the board.

It has been strange watching Australia in the field on this tour. In the last four Tests against India, including Adelaide earlier this year, they haven't looked like taking 20 wickets in a match. Television doesn't always reveal the full picture. Watching Australia's struggle on the field, it is easy to sense the subtle difference: they have not looked to take 20 wickets.

It will be wrong to say this is a poor imitation of the great Australian teams of the recent past. This team feels decidedly un-Australian. Admittedly the bowling resources have been thin, the spearhead hasn't fired, and till this Test they haven't played a bonafide spinner. More than anything, though, they have lacked intent. It has been apparent from the first Test, the one they had the chance to win, that their big strategy has been to bore the Indian batsmen out.

The strategy drew inspiration from Australia's tour here in 2004-05, when they adopted defensive tactics to choke the free-stroking Indian batsmen. But then Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz strangled the Indians by bowling straight and homing in on the stumps. This time the strategy has mainly involved bowling four feet outside off stump and begging batsmen to have a go.

It's a plan based more on hope than expectation. It has made for tiresome watching, and it has sent a clear message to the Indian batsmen: we can't get you out without your collaboration in your dismissal.

Occasionally the Indian batsmen have obliged. Rahul Dravid has twice got out chasing wide balls - uncharacteristic strokes that speak of an uncertain mind; Sachin Tendulkar has twice lobbed catches to cover; and Virender Sehwag dismissed himself on Thursday by trying to create a stroke. Mostly, however, they have been ruthlessly professional and have ground out the runs clinically. They have manoeuvred the balls skilfully into the gaps and still managed to hit plenty of boundaries. Consequently the Australian gameplan has looked effete and confused. By depending on the batsmen's charity, they have let the opposition dictate the course of the match.

Ponting has been eager to push his men back at the first hint of an offensive. When Sehwag welcomed Krejza on the first morning with a four and a six, mid-on fell back to the ropes and out went forward short-leg. It was Krejza's first over in Test cricket and only the 13th over of the Test and there were four men on the boundary.

 
 
For years the Australians have set the pace in cricket. It was left to other teams to raise their game to match Australia's. India have managed to do it consistently; England overcame Australia by playing brilliantly in 2005. But the rules - and the roles - have changed in this series: Australia have done the chasing
 

One way of describing it would be tactical retreat, but it felt like a surrender.

Despite the defensive field, the Indian openers still scored at more than five an over through the morning session, and eventually two attacking moves fetched their wickets: Shane Watson got M Vijay by following up one short sharp ball with another, and posting a man at silly point pushed Sehwag into a back-foot stroke. It also must be said that Ponting kept Krejza on after he had gone for 32 in three overs.

On the evidence of Krejza's performance in this Test it would now seem a scandal that Cameron White, who doesn't even think of himself as a bowler when he captains Victoria, was preferred to Krejza in the first three Tests, and to Stuart Clark and Peter Siddle in this Test. The most plausible explanation for this could be that Ponting values White's batting at No. 8, a strangely diffident approach from a team that must win the Test to keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

It mustn't be missed that Krejza earned his wickets. Eight wickets are a bit flattering, but he worked for them. The Indian batsmen went hard at him, lofting, sweeping, pulling and reverse-sweeping, but he didn't panic into lowering his trajectory or quickening his pace. Along with his eight wickets he also secured the unflattering record of having conceded the highest number of runs on debut; without him, though, India might have got to 600. Single-handed he has kept Australia in the game.

On England's tour of India in 2001, Nasser Hussain got his pace bowlers to bowl wide outside off stump, and Ashley Giles outside leg, to frustrate Sachin Tendulkar. To an extent he succeeded. Tendulkar charged down the pitch in Bangalore and was stumped for the first time in his career. From the beginning, though, it was an admission of weakness from Hussain. To watch it coming from Australia now, still the No. 1 team in the world, is jarring.


Jason Krejza has single-handedly kept Australia in the Test © AFP
 

For years the Australians have set the pace in cricket. It was left to other teams to raise their game to match Australia's. India have managed to do it consistently; England overcame Australia by playing brilliantly in 2005. But the rules - and the roles - have changed in this series: Australia have done the chasing. They have been handicapped by meagre bowing resources, by the flatness of pitches, and by losing successive tosses. But it is undeniable they have lost their presence.

Their batting is formidable still, and who knows, Krejza might still spin them to victory, but their manner in the field in the series so far has been an admission of ordinariness.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • livespaces on November 11, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    All this heartburn on Australia's decline and the innumerable reasons attached to it, only shows that people have not studied the game well enough.If u look at the success rate of of any great teams in history you will notice it is not the batsman of the team but the bowlers who make the teams great. once you have great bowlers in your side even an avarage batsman becomes a giant. This is what happened to the teams of Australia with Mcgrath and Warne in their side. Cricket is equally a mental game and the presence of good bowlers boosts the confidence levels of the batsmen and the teams start looking invincible.Look at India, Four great batsmen could hardly achieve much for the country till some good bowlers arrived.

  • AP_Devils on November 8, 2008, 17:00 GMT

    If its not "Australian Way".. then its not the "Right Way". This is what i take out from most of the Aussies commenting here. The "Bowler Unfriendly Pitch" have been same for both teams.. so if Indians can take 20 wickets then why cant Aussies. Time to stop the sorry cry from you all, accept the series loss and not be "Sore Losers".

    It has been only one Team of the cricketing world that seems to challenge and beat the Aussies at their own game and that is TEAM INDIA. They have shown the world how to beat Aussies.. more than once. Its just a matter of time that we will see rest of the world sticking it to the Aussies.

    Oh by the way Popcorn.. Aussies weare just 333 shy from 689 and the DREAMS of inflincting series win is just a Pipe-Dream. So eat some of your popcorn and enjoy rest of the game.

  • ptoodle on November 8, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    1-0 down and the critics are out already, We have underdone players, Not our best spinners OR batsmen for that matter in the side, India will lose 5 great players over the coming year or 2, Who have the Aussies got, They have Nannes, Bollinger, Tait, Hilfenhaus to name a few in the bowling and Marsh, Symonds, Rogers, Ronchi and co. just waiting to get a game, India beat a second rate Pakistan side 1-0 got spanked by Sri Lanka, drew 1-1 with SA, Even with doctored batting tracks flatter than a car tyre that suit thier strength and take our 3 great pacemen out of the equasion, Sharma is going to be a great bowler, Khan's playing above himself, No other fast men in the side, Theyv'e lost thier great spinner in Kumble, I'd be panicking if i was India, Thier 3rd on the rankings and will drop once Dravid and co. retire, Australia will always be in the top 3 and that's being generous as i don't think they will drop out of the top 2 to be honest.

  • ullasmarar on November 8, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    I love this...every time someone criticizes Aussie tactics, the question of bias comes in. Interestingly, most criticism of Aussies has been limited to the way they have played this series. Everyone admits that they are still No.1. But some people don't see reason, do they?

  • SamD on November 8, 2008, 6:01 GMT

    On another note - there seems to have been quite a bit of noise from India about overtaking Australia as the leading side in the world. (Anyone asked South Africa what they think of this one?) It may indeed happen, but not while you have a team that is one nil up in a series and with a sizeable first innings score playing negative, defensive cricket. Yes, that's right - bowling outside off to an 8-1 field is not about the aggressive pursuit of victory - it's about trying to hold on to what you've got. And that's not what makes a team great like Australia. There's more to it than a 1-0 series win. It's a mindset that other teams respect in you. And it's something that India, if they are serious about being the best look like they might have to learn.

  • SamD on November 8, 2008, 5:37 GMT

    Once gets the feeling that Sambit can't help but let his snide resentment of Australia's success (yes Sambit - we have been noting your writing for a while now...) colour his analysis of this series. The fact is that the team is in a transitionary period - as happens to all teams. To call a team un-Australian is to deny the fact that teams change. Are all future teams that play a different style of cricket to the past 'un-Australian? Did Steve Waugh in re-inventing the style played by Aussie cricketers during his reign render his team 'un-Australian'? It's a ridiculous and rather fatuous idea really. Essentially what we have here is a team trying to redefine itself in a country that produces featherbed pitches to suit it's home team (pitch-doctoring during the recent SA v Ind series anyone?). Oh, and a rather ungracious chief editor...

  • valvolux on November 8, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    Settle down - it's 1-0. jeepers. remember, the aussies are playing with an undercooked hayden, their first choice spinner limped home before the series, the thorn in india's side symonds is missing - stuey clark got hurt and wasnt up to his usual standard. then throw in a heap of inexperienced players....you can't expect them to go hell for leather. in fact the tactics so far have been spot on - and mostly have been working. they have lost one test - and if they lose the series 1-0 big deal. as we saw in australia, this unit minus mcgrath and warne is capable of smashing this indian side when fully fit. if australia can pull this test off...youd have to say they have been the better team - they had the better of india in the first and third tests after all. it is india who should be concerned that they cannot easily defeat this weakened aussie team in their own conditions.

  • kalbavigr on November 8, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    In this series India has dominated so far. However, the Aussies have not only taken the 10 wickets they needed to at Nagpur, but have gotten off to a great start. Clearly, they are batting very well indeed. I don't believe any of the nonsense about India being arrogant in attacking Jason and giving their wickets away. This test will be the first test of the series where India is going to be tested to the limit. Can they continue to be agressive and win this game or will they go on the defensive and lose it?

  • adelaidemax on November 8, 2008, 0:35 GMT

    I agree that India have been the better team this series, but this fawning over India is a little over the top, they have only won one test... perhaps when India can win consistently OUTSIDE of India, then we can all gush about how fantastic they are. It's also worth pointing out that the Aussie team are in a transition phase at present, similar to what India are about to embark on... in other words, wait until India are ranked number one in the world (not third) and can stay there for at least a decade before starting this one-eyed love-fest.

  • JoshC on November 8, 2008, 0:34 GMT

    A fact Sambit Bal has conveniently ignored in this article is that the pitches prepared for this series have not exactly been bowler-friendly. His bias towards the Indian side is as obvious (and irritating) as Roebuck's.

    I hope that Australia manage to scrape a win here, not just for pride but also to shut Roebuck and Bal up for once. They deserve to eat some humble pie.

  • livespaces on November 11, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    All this heartburn on Australia's decline and the innumerable reasons attached to it, only shows that people have not studied the game well enough.If u look at the success rate of of any great teams in history you will notice it is not the batsman of the team but the bowlers who make the teams great. once you have great bowlers in your side even an avarage batsman becomes a giant. This is what happened to the teams of Australia with Mcgrath and Warne in their side. Cricket is equally a mental game and the presence of good bowlers boosts the confidence levels of the batsmen and the teams start looking invincible.Look at India, Four great batsmen could hardly achieve much for the country till some good bowlers arrived.

  • AP_Devils on November 8, 2008, 17:00 GMT

    If its not "Australian Way".. then its not the "Right Way". This is what i take out from most of the Aussies commenting here. The "Bowler Unfriendly Pitch" have been same for both teams.. so if Indians can take 20 wickets then why cant Aussies. Time to stop the sorry cry from you all, accept the series loss and not be "Sore Losers".

    It has been only one Team of the cricketing world that seems to challenge and beat the Aussies at their own game and that is TEAM INDIA. They have shown the world how to beat Aussies.. more than once. Its just a matter of time that we will see rest of the world sticking it to the Aussies.

    Oh by the way Popcorn.. Aussies weare just 333 shy from 689 and the DREAMS of inflincting series win is just a Pipe-Dream. So eat some of your popcorn and enjoy rest of the game.

  • ptoodle on November 8, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    1-0 down and the critics are out already, We have underdone players, Not our best spinners OR batsmen for that matter in the side, India will lose 5 great players over the coming year or 2, Who have the Aussies got, They have Nannes, Bollinger, Tait, Hilfenhaus to name a few in the bowling and Marsh, Symonds, Rogers, Ronchi and co. just waiting to get a game, India beat a second rate Pakistan side 1-0 got spanked by Sri Lanka, drew 1-1 with SA, Even with doctored batting tracks flatter than a car tyre that suit thier strength and take our 3 great pacemen out of the equasion, Sharma is going to be a great bowler, Khan's playing above himself, No other fast men in the side, Theyv'e lost thier great spinner in Kumble, I'd be panicking if i was India, Thier 3rd on the rankings and will drop once Dravid and co. retire, Australia will always be in the top 3 and that's being generous as i don't think they will drop out of the top 2 to be honest.

  • ullasmarar on November 8, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    I love this...every time someone criticizes Aussie tactics, the question of bias comes in. Interestingly, most criticism of Aussies has been limited to the way they have played this series. Everyone admits that they are still No.1. But some people don't see reason, do they?

  • SamD on November 8, 2008, 6:01 GMT

    On another note - there seems to have been quite a bit of noise from India about overtaking Australia as the leading side in the world. (Anyone asked South Africa what they think of this one?) It may indeed happen, but not while you have a team that is one nil up in a series and with a sizeable first innings score playing negative, defensive cricket. Yes, that's right - bowling outside off to an 8-1 field is not about the aggressive pursuit of victory - it's about trying to hold on to what you've got. And that's not what makes a team great like Australia. There's more to it than a 1-0 series win. It's a mindset that other teams respect in you. And it's something that India, if they are serious about being the best look like they might have to learn.

  • SamD on November 8, 2008, 5:37 GMT

    Once gets the feeling that Sambit can't help but let his snide resentment of Australia's success (yes Sambit - we have been noting your writing for a while now...) colour his analysis of this series. The fact is that the team is in a transitionary period - as happens to all teams. To call a team un-Australian is to deny the fact that teams change. Are all future teams that play a different style of cricket to the past 'un-Australian? Did Steve Waugh in re-inventing the style played by Aussie cricketers during his reign render his team 'un-Australian'? It's a ridiculous and rather fatuous idea really. Essentially what we have here is a team trying to redefine itself in a country that produces featherbed pitches to suit it's home team (pitch-doctoring during the recent SA v Ind series anyone?). Oh, and a rather ungracious chief editor...

  • valvolux on November 8, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    Settle down - it's 1-0. jeepers. remember, the aussies are playing with an undercooked hayden, their first choice spinner limped home before the series, the thorn in india's side symonds is missing - stuey clark got hurt and wasnt up to his usual standard. then throw in a heap of inexperienced players....you can't expect them to go hell for leather. in fact the tactics so far have been spot on - and mostly have been working. they have lost one test - and if they lose the series 1-0 big deal. as we saw in australia, this unit minus mcgrath and warne is capable of smashing this indian side when fully fit. if australia can pull this test off...youd have to say they have been the better team - they had the better of india in the first and third tests after all. it is india who should be concerned that they cannot easily defeat this weakened aussie team in their own conditions.

  • kalbavigr on November 8, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    In this series India has dominated so far. However, the Aussies have not only taken the 10 wickets they needed to at Nagpur, but have gotten off to a great start. Clearly, they are batting very well indeed. I don't believe any of the nonsense about India being arrogant in attacking Jason and giving their wickets away. This test will be the first test of the series where India is going to be tested to the limit. Can they continue to be agressive and win this game or will they go on the defensive and lose it?

  • adelaidemax on November 8, 2008, 0:35 GMT

    I agree that India have been the better team this series, but this fawning over India is a little over the top, they have only won one test... perhaps when India can win consistently OUTSIDE of India, then we can all gush about how fantastic they are. It's also worth pointing out that the Aussie team are in a transition phase at present, similar to what India are about to embark on... in other words, wait until India are ranked number one in the world (not third) and can stay there for at least a decade before starting this one-eyed love-fest.

  • JoshC on November 8, 2008, 0:34 GMT

    A fact Sambit Bal has conveniently ignored in this article is that the pitches prepared for this series have not exactly been bowler-friendly. His bias towards the Indian side is as obvious (and irritating) as Roebuck's.

    I hope that Australia manage to scrape a win here, not just for pride but also to shut Roebuck and Bal up for once. They deserve to eat some humble pie.

  • bon_viv on November 7, 2008, 23:35 GMT

    For all those who say that this piece is biased. I think Sambit has maintained that Australia is still the number one team and they still might win this match. He also mentions flat pitches, lack of bowling resources and crucial toss losses which most of the readers are cribbing about. There is no denying that Aussies are still the number one and India, a team which is now playing to its potential, still not close to match their consistency and performance abroad. His point is that this Aussie team doesn't have the same presence, attitude and that hunger to win as the previous Aus teams that have toured India. Even if they draw this series, most of the aussie fan would agree that the team which lost the series in 2001 was far more dominating and aggressive. Sadly, even if they remain the numero uno, they will always be compared by the high standards they had set in the last decade. No other team ever came close and probably never will. Frustrating? Ask Sachin and he can share the pain.

  • bon_viv on November 7, 2008, 23:33 GMT

    For all those who say that this piece is biased. I think Sambit has maintained that Australia is still the number one team and they still might win this match. He also mentions flat pitches, lack of bowling resources and crucial toss losses which most of the readers are cribbing about. There is no denying that Aussies are still the number one and India, a team which is now playing to its potential, still not close to match their consistency and performance abroad. His point is that this Aussie team doesn't have the same presence, attitude and that hunger to win as the previous Aus teams that have toured India. Even if they draw this series, most of the aussie fan would agree that the team which lost the series in 2001 was far more dominating and aggressive. Sadly, even if they remain the numero uno, they will always be compared by the high standards they had set in the last decade. No other team ever came close and probably never will. Frustrating? Ask Sachin and he can share the pain.

  • kingofspain on November 7, 2008, 23:19 GMT

    What is "limo" on about? South Africa recently drew a test series in India and there's nothing to suggest only India can replace Australia as the best team in the world. I don't think India could go to SA and win a test series. I think Australia, India and SA are fairly equal, SL slightly behind and England a little further behind.

    SA will be the best team in the world within a year's time. India have to replace Ganguly and Kumble and Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman aren't going to be around too much longer. Are there 4 or 5 batsman playing in the Ranji trophy that can replace those batsmen? I'm not aware of any.

  • afridi102 on November 7, 2008, 21:56 GMT

    to Mr limo : I just read what limo said, australia are second best team? who is first? India? India lost their test series in australia, drew 1-1 agains south africa at home by making an un-pratcibale pitch in the last test, and the lost in srin lanka recently. They were even destroyed in sri lanka. So can you explain how they are the best team in the world? Just can't understand........

  • Night_Rider on November 7, 2008, 21:49 GMT

    I have one observation/comment for Mr. Bal and his co-reporters from Cricinfo: if India is such a great cricket team as you all make it to be, with waxing eloquent on every single Indian performance, why is it that their Test and ODI rankings are where they are:

    #5 in ODI rankings #3 in Test rankings

    It is very easy to slag the opposition, but like Ponting put it, there are several experts and pundits out there who would give anything to have an enviable record like Australia's.

  • Rusty_1 on November 7, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    The Aussies have never played well in India... looks like nothing much has changed with the current side. I think we have to wait till after the NZ tests, and home & away with SA to decide if Australia is on the decline. The batting line up is settled. All that needs work now are the bowlers. With the strongest domestic competition in the world, I doubt we will have to wait very long for the same to be said about the bowlers.

  • __PK on November 7, 2008, 20:42 GMT

    Australia HAVE lost their presence, their aura of indefeatability. But these things are only perceptions held by the other teams in world cricket and so are coloured by wishful thinking. Australia have been totally outplayed in this series, like in England in 2005, but, also like in 2005, they are coming into the last days with a real chance of escaping with a drawn series (effectively a win). THAT is the real test of a great side, to get the best result when playing at your worst against a side playing at its best. That and the ability to produce consistent performances over time. What's happened to England since 2005? The same WILL happen to India (especially when the whole middle order retires), who have already shown themselves incapable of playing teams other than Australia, in venues outside their home countries. Mr Bal, your last paragraph is your wisest.

  • Harrows on November 7, 2008, 20:15 GMT

    Looking at some old footage of the West Indies circa 1993 and there are some real similarities to the current Australian side. An ageing cranky opener who once scared all attacks (Haynes - Hayden), a captain who was an integral part of the glory years as a batsman and now shows signs of frustration at his current team (Richardson - Ponting), a left handed batsmen with a ridiculous average (Lara - Hussey), an elegant right handed batsmen who can bowl spin and make fielding look easy (Hooper - Clarke). Australia's batting will always be in good stead - it's the bowling that looks eerily familiar. Lee has never had the figures Ambrose and Walsh had and they carried th Windies attack for a few years further. I can't see the Aussies dropping like the Windies sadly did - there is too much interest in Australia. What will hopefully happen is we return to test series always being competitive (like in the mid-eighties - even NZ caused trouble then, but twenty20 has hit them badly).

  • Mervo on November 7, 2008, 20:06 GMT

    THings have changed for Australia with retirements as they are about to for India over the next 12 months. Losing 4 coin tosses takes away the initiative to a great extent in India where if you lose the toss there goes the chance of winning. The art of turf wicket making is lost in India and all we have seen is rolled mud to blunt anything that Brett Lee and Stuart Clark could produce. That has been the main difference. These two bowlers have been so successful for the last 2 years that every effort was made to stop them. They ARE good bowlers who have been made to look hopeless by the succession pitches that have been prepared. "Lions at home and lambs abroad" was the old saying about India's cricket for these reasons. They really don't need to do this anymore as they good young players coming through and experienced older ones. A little more courage in their ability would have been good preparation for Australia and England and the West Indies.

  • Ecca on November 7, 2008, 19:25 GMT

    Dear Sambit, you are so right. The solution is to sack the selectors and the captain. Over recent years the selectors have tried so many bowlers for a test or 2 and not given them a decent chance, and the White/Krejza fiasco is their worst blunder. Ponting should never have been preferred over Gilchrist and Warne (brillaint if flawed) as captain. He has always been too defensive and conservative. His long conversations with bowlers shows lack of confidence. Surely one works out the tactics before play, not after EVERY ball, Regards Ecca

  • limo on November 7, 2008, 19:14 GMT

    Everyone in the indian, australian and outsite media seems to conveniently ignore the rising standards of indian cricket team...it's not just a retirement of a few players from Aussie side that is affecting their performace against India....when did Shane Wanre had a great success with ball against India ? When did Mcgrath gave a match winning performace in India ? Gillaspie was never considered of the same class as Binga...so you can't miss him so much...It's the indians who have started playing to their potential fearlessly thanks to the gen next cricketers - that made seniors to come along and fight it out...which was missing for long. Let poms and SA fancy their chances against Aus but I think this same Aussie side can still beat anyother team in the world...but can't defeat this side who have started beating them in their own game....Aussies are a second best team now in the new world order.

  • digitaleye on November 7, 2008, 18:57 GMT

    Ridiculous Mr.Sprewell!!. Everyone supports their team but most of us happen to enjoy and observe the game while cheering for our teams. In 2001-02 series, when India were 20 runs away from a series win with 5 wickets left, Jason Gillespie ran in and bowled a 150 Kmph bouncer that almost took Samir Dighe's nose away. India won that match and series, but no cricket lover would have walked away thinking that the Australians did not try. All the previous Australian tours of India had been marked by intent, even though the wickets were designed to destroy their spirits, but they stood tall. The current bunch looks and plays like a second-tier Australian local team when compared to the Australia of the old. And, please!, stop that 'fast-pitches' drumbeat, remember Shaun Tait?, remember "WACA is at its hardest, bounciest...will be over in under three days..."?. Yeah!, you remember it very well, but it didn't turn out that well, did it?

  • Maui3 on November 7, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    While it is true Australia has been negative in bowling at Indians, it is not surprising. The primary reason they were able to attack in the last 10 years was McGrath (not Warne). Not only did he take vital wicket, he could bowl on and on in tough conditions without giving aways runs, enabling Wrane and Gillispee to cash in. Look at the all the time Australia struggles with their bowling in the past decade: In 2004 against India in Australia - McGrath and Warne were missing. 2-1 Ashes loss in 2005: McGrath was missing in the 2 test they lost. Even the 2-1 series Win against india early this year their bowling struggled after the first test. The only success, anyone had against McGrath was Laxman/Dravid in Kolkata in 2001 and Lara in those 2 test matches in Windies. Take McGrath out and teams (esp Indians) have had a lot of success against Aussies Bowlers.

  • Night_Rider on November 7, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    This kind of writing is in very bad taste.

    Most of the writing here is too India centric. It is all over, with Shastri, Gavaskar and Bhogle on TV - they talk up Indian performances like the greatest thing since sliced bread, and keep on dissing other teams.

    It is acceptable - because India has the most money in world cricket.

    But if you would like to call yourselves cricket journalists, and have any respect for history and tradition for the game, you will not slag a great team like Australia. For all that your article is worth, remember that India was on the mat in both Bangalore and Delhi and had to get on the defensive to save those tests. I completely agree that Mohali was a rout - and Aussies thoroughly deserved it. But it is not anywhere near to say that they are struggling big time.

    I am a huge Indian cricket fan myself, and always enjoy their victories. But please maintain some dignity and give the opposition the respect it deserves.

  • JCLange on November 7, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    Great article, Sambit. And I'm an Aussie through and through. The worst thing about this series from my point of view is not that we may lose (as others have said, winning in India is a difficult task!), but the way we have gone about our cricket. From the 2nd test on, it has looked like we haven't tried to win the test - a heritage set down by Taylor and Waugh before - defensive fields, bowling without trying to take wickets and a general desire to allow the Indians to dictate the game to us. Full credit to the Indians for the way they have played the game, but I can't help feeling Australia have allowed this to happen. Or is that we are finally being bullied into submission as we have done to others over the past 10 years?

  • Limplash on November 7, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    One can easily see that the indian pitchs are batting heavens... it depends on the toss mostly in india ... the test that Australia lost to india was due to the fact that the aussi batsmen went after the indian bowling and got unlucky you have to fight inorder to win a game ... rest all the matchs were the same none of the side bowled well ... how can they once the pitch offers no support what so ever mostly it just depends on the last day once the pitchs become dead ... i think the pitchs should be made fair so that the match is interesting ... sambit is right on the fact that aussies balled negative but on these pitches you need the batsmen to make a mistake

  • Sprewell on November 7, 2008, 15:30 GMT

    Huh, I cant believe i have wasted 2 minutes of my life reading this rubbish. Though this Sambit Bal has managed to get me so annoyed i had to express my opinion about this article. It is clearly angled from an Indian view point, as is most of whats written on this site unfortunately. India have won 1 test in 3 matches, the pitches are ridiculously favored to batsman and boring viewing. Australia are #1 side, India are not even second... Sth Africa are better then India who struggle anywhere outside India with the odd good match. Their batsman are not consistent. Australia have the best bat lineup in the world and when the selectors make the correct selections also have a great pace attack and maybe a new found spinner. Their fielding has been superior to Indias this series. Tosses have gone Indias way and i'd also point out rub of the green especially in Mohali. See the Aussies play the second best test side in december in australia, Sth Africa then we can start knocking the Aussies

  • Cric_Boss on November 7, 2008, 15:27 GMT

    Very well agree, Even on the 2nd Day of the 4th Match today, Pointing opted Watson to bowl wide of off stump attempting to dry up runs and bore Indian Batsmen. I am impressed by Jason, well earned all the wickets..none of them was gifted apart form Dravid's which was for due to his own reasons. Thanks to Aus selectors had he played from the first game the series score wouldnt have been the way it is now. The way he Jason was attacked by shweag yesterday was due to the fact Aus is on a back foot in the series. Pointing he started the series Criticizing Indian fielding and running between Wickets. He also said he would feel successful if he got 1 runout, which never happened in the series infact Hayden was runout today. Many butter fingers in Aussie team and also sloppiness. Well done Ricky keep talking, Indian's will enjoy.

  • vishnubhau on November 7, 2008, 15:06 GMT

    it is rightly said by sambit. I would like to add that the absence of mcgrath & warne has not only made the bowlers to work very hard to take 20 wickets but also made their top order batsman more pressurizesd. I mean to say during the mcgrath-warne era, they were very confident of even defending 200, so they batted carelessly & that was reflected in the hayden-langer-ponting trio scoringaveragely 350 within themselves, many times very ruthlessly murduring the bowlers. but now the top order thinks of the target they need to bat-out the opposition & in the process their care-free skills have reduced considerably & hence the gap between them & others is sure to narrow down, even in the other future series with newzealand, south africa back to back 8 tests in 4 months from now.

  • aristrocrat on November 7, 2008, 14:58 GMT

    dis is wat i expect from a foolish and overoptimistic supporter of indian cricket.australian team is going thru transition and there performance in the current sereis is commendable.Mr bal questions Australian strategy and says its un australian...dude wid the team they hav and such limited bowlin resourses they hav to change the strategy...they dont hav the services of the likes of mcgrath warne and gilly...andrew symonds has missed the series he cud hav been a big threat to indian bowlers i base this fact coz of his current form...and his offsin cud hav come handy on the wickets which provides bread and butter to the indian spinners. ( 200 out of his 300 scalps in test cricket has been in india,yes im talking bout the turbanator.)no team which is goin thru transition can perform the way this team is performing at this point in time. thay are still the world champions and they certinly will create a team in 1 yr which ll be no lesser than there previous best team.

  • Idol on November 7, 2008, 14:27 GMT

    It is wrong to even coin a term such as un-Australian. The attacking spirit that you describe, Sambit is neither proprietary to the Australian cricket team, nor an aspect related to Australian cricket. It is, simply - an attribute of a team that knows its strengths and which has the resources to win under all conditions. Australia no longer have a balanced bowling line-up ( I dont want to be charitable and call it an attack). It has a captain who has usually not delivered when under sustained pressure (Ashes- 05,CB Series-08,Perth-08,Mohali-08, CB Series-06).TO their credit, they have realised this now and are behaving accordingly. India, or any other team, will behave in a similar fashion when a similar situation faces them. This happened to India is some parts of the Sri Lanka test series. This is nothing to lament about. It is high time that Australia stops being the benchmark. BTW, the gentleman named popcorn is clearly on drugs!

  • coolieno1 on November 7, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    I agree when you say that the Australian tactics in this series have been negative. Now the problem is that if the no 1 team in the world applies such negative tactics then how come we expect big crowds to flock in to the stadium to watch test match cricket. Sambit - Also I would like to highlight one point. 2 to 3 yrs ago, Ricky Ponting was considered as the best captain in the cricketing world. All the experts praised the way Ponting handled the australian side & recommended other captains to follow the suit. But after the exodus of some australian greats (Mcgrath, warne, gilchrist etc.), the captaincy of ricky ponting has been questioned time & again. This just shows that a captain is as good as his team.

  • mike123 on November 7, 2008, 13:56 GMT

    Possible statistical error: "On England's tour of India in 2001, Nasser Hussain got his pace bowlers to bowl wide outside the off stump and Ashley Giles outside leg to frustrate Sachin Tendulkar. To an extent, he succeeded. Tendulkar charged down the pitch in Bangalore and was stumped for the first time in his career".

    - It should have said Test Career. For sure we all remember Mark Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar at Bombay during a famous world cup. That is one stumping that we can remember at the least :)

  • Champ2000 on November 7, 2008, 13:47 GMT

    Sambit, you probably are little too harsh on australia, agreed that the approach to whole thing has scaled down but poor bowling had been the reason. When they were powerful they could attack and intimidate others, thats natural. BTW on Krejza perspective, it still think he is not as good bowler as it seems on scorecard. He was hit all over park, and simply lacked variations. Indians didn't think much of it and then that gave him so many wickets, Indians somehow treated gim more like they did to panesar. He guarantee Krezha will be defused more like Hirawani did.

  • Rajesh. on November 7, 2008, 13:35 GMT

    At last, something I have really enjoyed reading on Cricinfo recently after all the trash about the 'seniors'. A very well balanced article. Sambit doesn't shout from roof top here, doesn't claim that Australia are gone, doesn't claim India are already the best........ Instead he so nicely describes what exactly has been in this series so far.... Australia have surely looked un-australian in this series.

    Australia are still the World Champions and might regroup and play at their best once again from the next series or might even go on to win this Test as Sambit has pointed out but have definitely been un-Australian in this series.

    It's articles like this that we look for when we open the pages of Cricinfo, not the ones baying for the blood of cricketers when they turn out a couple of average performances or the ones that hype a cricketer as 'great' after a couple of very good performances.............. Look forward to seeing you write more Sambit. Cheers !!!!

  • bunty9912 on November 7, 2008, 13:28 GMT

    sambit has aptly described the apathy of current touring side. Hardly this new age side looked competite and aggresive. After katto & hayden shed their inhibitions they are looking better. Had they shown some intent they would have swept the 1st test. Nervous nights ahead for Mr. Hilditch (for sending white).

  • popcorn on November 7, 2008, 13:09 GMT

    Sambit Bal is talking nonsense.He forgets that it took 35 years for an Australian Team after Bill Lawry's Team won for Adam Gilchrist andricky Ponting in 2004 to win a series IN INDIA. That tells you how difficult it is for a touring team to win in India, given the dust bowl pitches. If you look at the current series objectively,Australia came close to winning in two of the three Tests. The Mohali Test loss was an aberration. Mark my words, Australia will score 689 by tea on Day Four,declare their innings, and inflict an innings defeat to India on Day 5. Or draw the match. A 1 nil series loss to India IN INDIA speaks creditably about Australia. For India to even dream of emulating the Aussies, their percentage of victories AWAY should be close to that of Australia. For the present, that is a pipedream for India.

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  • popcorn on November 7, 2008, 13:09 GMT

    Sambit Bal is talking nonsense.He forgets that it took 35 years for an Australian Team after Bill Lawry's Team won for Adam Gilchrist andricky Ponting in 2004 to win a series IN INDIA. That tells you how difficult it is for a touring team to win in India, given the dust bowl pitches. If you look at the current series objectively,Australia came close to winning in two of the three Tests. The Mohali Test loss was an aberration. Mark my words, Australia will score 689 by tea on Day Four,declare their innings, and inflict an innings defeat to India on Day 5. Or draw the match. A 1 nil series loss to India IN INDIA speaks creditably about Australia. For India to even dream of emulating the Aussies, their percentage of victories AWAY should be close to that of Australia. For the present, that is a pipedream for India.

  • bunty9912 on November 7, 2008, 13:28 GMT

    sambit has aptly described the apathy of current touring side. Hardly this new age side looked competite and aggresive. After katto & hayden shed their inhibitions they are looking better. Had they shown some intent they would have swept the 1st test. Nervous nights ahead for Mr. Hilditch (for sending white).

  • Rajesh. on November 7, 2008, 13:35 GMT

    At last, something I have really enjoyed reading on Cricinfo recently after all the trash about the 'seniors'. A very well balanced article. Sambit doesn't shout from roof top here, doesn't claim that Australia are gone, doesn't claim India are already the best........ Instead he so nicely describes what exactly has been in this series so far.... Australia have surely looked un-australian in this series.

    Australia are still the World Champions and might regroup and play at their best once again from the next series or might even go on to win this Test as Sambit has pointed out but have definitely been un-Australian in this series.

    It's articles like this that we look for when we open the pages of Cricinfo, not the ones baying for the blood of cricketers when they turn out a couple of average performances or the ones that hype a cricketer as 'great' after a couple of very good performances.............. Look forward to seeing you write more Sambit. Cheers !!!!

  • Champ2000 on November 7, 2008, 13:47 GMT

    Sambit, you probably are little too harsh on australia, agreed that the approach to whole thing has scaled down but poor bowling had been the reason. When they were powerful they could attack and intimidate others, thats natural. BTW on Krejza perspective, it still think he is not as good bowler as it seems on scorecard. He was hit all over park, and simply lacked variations. Indians didn't think much of it and then that gave him so many wickets, Indians somehow treated gim more like they did to panesar. He guarantee Krezha will be defused more like Hirawani did.

  • mike123 on November 7, 2008, 13:56 GMT

    Possible statistical error: "On England's tour of India in 2001, Nasser Hussain got his pace bowlers to bowl wide outside the off stump and Ashley Giles outside leg to frustrate Sachin Tendulkar. To an extent, he succeeded. Tendulkar charged down the pitch in Bangalore and was stumped for the first time in his career".

    - It should have said Test Career. For sure we all remember Mark Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar at Bombay during a famous world cup. That is one stumping that we can remember at the least :)

  • coolieno1 on November 7, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    I agree when you say that the Australian tactics in this series have been negative. Now the problem is that if the no 1 team in the world applies such negative tactics then how come we expect big crowds to flock in to the stadium to watch test match cricket. Sambit - Also I would like to highlight one point. 2 to 3 yrs ago, Ricky Ponting was considered as the best captain in the cricketing world. All the experts praised the way Ponting handled the australian side & recommended other captains to follow the suit. But after the exodus of some australian greats (Mcgrath, warne, gilchrist etc.), the captaincy of ricky ponting has been questioned time & again. This just shows that a captain is as good as his team.

  • Idol on November 7, 2008, 14:27 GMT

    It is wrong to even coin a term such as un-Australian. The attacking spirit that you describe, Sambit is neither proprietary to the Australian cricket team, nor an aspect related to Australian cricket. It is, simply - an attribute of a team that knows its strengths and which has the resources to win under all conditions. Australia no longer have a balanced bowling line-up ( I dont want to be charitable and call it an attack). It has a captain who has usually not delivered when under sustained pressure (Ashes- 05,CB Series-08,Perth-08,Mohali-08, CB Series-06).TO their credit, they have realised this now and are behaving accordingly. India, or any other team, will behave in a similar fashion when a similar situation faces them. This happened to India is some parts of the Sri Lanka test series. This is nothing to lament about. It is high time that Australia stops being the benchmark. BTW, the gentleman named popcorn is clearly on drugs!

  • aristrocrat on November 7, 2008, 14:58 GMT

    dis is wat i expect from a foolish and overoptimistic supporter of indian cricket.australian team is going thru transition and there performance in the current sereis is commendable.Mr bal questions Australian strategy and says its un australian...dude wid the team they hav and such limited bowlin resourses they hav to change the strategy...they dont hav the services of the likes of mcgrath warne and gilly...andrew symonds has missed the series he cud hav been a big threat to indian bowlers i base this fact coz of his current form...and his offsin cud hav come handy on the wickets which provides bread and butter to the indian spinners. ( 200 out of his 300 scalps in test cricket has been in india,yes im talking bout the turbanator.)no team which is goin thru transition can perform the way this team is performing at this point in time. thay are still the world champions and they certinly will create a team in 1 yr which ll be no lesser than there previous best team.

  • vishnubhau on November 7, 2008, 15:06 GMT

    it is rightly said by sambit. I would like to add that the absence of mcgrath & warne has not only made the bowlers to work very hard to take 20 wickets but also made their top order batsman more pressurizesd. I mean to say during the mcgrath-warne era, they were very confident of even defending 200, so they batted carelessly & that was reflected in the hayden-langer-ponting trio scoringaveragely 350 within themselves, many times very ruthlessly murduring the bowlers. but now the top order thinks of the target they need to bat-out the opposition & in the process their care-free skills have reduced considerably & hence the gap between them & others is sure to narrow down, even in the other future series with newzealand, south africa back to back 8 tests in 4 months from now.

  • Cric_Boss on November 7, 2008, 15:27 GMT

    Very well agree, Even on the 2nd Day of the 4th Match today, Pointing opted Watson to bowl wide of off stump attempting to dry up runs and bore Indian Batsmen. I am impressed by Jason, well earned all the wickets..none of them was gifted apart form Dravid's which was for due to his own reasons. Thanks to Aus selectors had he played from the first game the series score wouldnt have been the way it is now. The way he Jason was attacked by shweag yesterday was due to the fact Aus is on a back foot in the series. Pointing he started the series Criticizing Indian fielding and running between Wickets. He also said he would feel successful if he got 1 runout, which never happened in the series infact Hayden was runout today. Many butter fingers in Aussie team and also sloppiness. Well done Ricky keep talking, Indian's will enjoy.