Brydon Coverdale
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day

No reason for Australia to get carried away yet

They know that to regain the No. 1 Test ranking, they'll almost certainly need to beat England, a different proposition from a crumbling Indian outfit

Brydon Coverdale at the WACA

January 15, 2012

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Australia get together after winning the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day, January 15, 2012
The exciting squad that is developing under the watch of Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur has the feel of a group that can challenge England © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Michael Clarke
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
Teams: Australia

There have been plenty of promising performances from Australia in this series. David Warner scored a 69-ball hundred. The captain, Michael Clarke, made an unbeaten triple-ton. Ricky Ponting broke his century drought in style. Ed Cowan has emerged as a solid opener. Ben Hilfenhaus has been reborn as a strike bowler. James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris have all bowled well.

But arguably the most encouraging sign came after the innings victory at the WACA. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy had been won, continuing Clarke's record of not having lost a series as captain, but he was adamant that his men would keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. "We haven't achieved much at this stage," Clarke said.

He's right. Since Clarke took over as captain in April, Australia have won a Test series in Sri Lanka, drawn in South Africa, drawn with New Zealand at home, and beaten India. The comprehensive nature of their victories over India has been remarkable, but it cannot be ignored that their opponents have been in disarray.

Australia's goal under Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur is clear. They want to return Australia to the top of the Test rankings. It is a simple objective that will be anything but simple to achieve. It is also a task that, due to how far they have slipped down the ICC table, is unlikely to be possible until the 2013 Ashes. They rose one place by beating Sri Lanka but still sit fourth. Avoiding the snakes in their path and climbing every ladder won't be straightforward.

It is easy to get carried away with a handful of victories. But it's important to remember that this side was beaten by New Zealand in Hobart last month, and bowled out for 47 by South Africa in Cape Town in November. Clarke took those failures personally. He knows that complacence, even in the next Test in Adelaide, would carry the risk of undoing much of their good work.

The very best teams are insatiable and aim to crush their opponent at every opportunity. So far in this series, Australia have done that. Their rotating group of fast bowlers has worked together to suffocate India's experienced batting line-up, and bowled them out six times for an average total of 229.

Their batsman have demoralised India in the field. From the time Cowan went leg-before to Zaheer Khan in Sydney until the moment Cowan was bowled by Umesh Yadav in Perth, India took 1 for 836. The Australia batsmen displayed concentration and a determination to completely dismantle their opposition.

It is easy to get carried away with a handful of victories, but it's important to remember that this side was beaten by New Zealand in Hobart last month, and bowled out for 47 by South Africa in Cape Town in November

But there remains room for improvement. Shaun Marsh has scored just 14 of the 1601 runs Australia have racked up in the series. He needs runs in Adelaide, especially with the prospect of Shane Watson returning for the tour of the West Indies in April. A prolonged lean patch for Marsh would almost certainly make him the man squeezed out to accommodate Watson.

The vice-captain, Brad Haddin, must hear the rapturous applause every time men like Ponting and Warner walk out to bat and wonder where the Australian public's love has gone when he heads to the crease. His duck at the WACA continued his poor patch during a series in which he has been noted mainly for his batting failures and dropped catches. In a winning side, though, it is easy to ignore such disappointments.

Australia will win 4-0 or 3-0 - or in the event of a miraculous Indian turnaround, 3-1 - and head to the West Indies full of confidence. But they know how much work remains ahead in order to regain the No.1 ranking. To get there, they'll almost certainly need at some point to beat England, an altogether different proposition to a crumbling Indian outfit.

But the next Ashes series is a year and a half away, and the exciting squad that is developing under the watch of Clarke and Arthur has the feel of a group that can challenge England. Warner, Pattinson, Pat Cummins, a rejuvenated Hilfenhaus and Siddle - this is a side full of promise. Things can change quickly, but for now they appear to be a team on the way up.

If they do stay together and knock off England in 2013, Clarke can say his men have achieved something great. For now, they deserve to celebrate regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. But this time next week, their focus needs to be back on the job.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by dunger.bob on (January 18, 2012, 7:19 GMT)

@scoopster35: Exactly what I was thinking. In fact, you've inspired me. If you eat Boyc's hat, I will use David Boons sweaty box as a butter dish !!

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 18, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

@OhhhMattyMatty: "absolutely nothing to fear". You said it twice in the space of a few lines man. In the words of one of your script writers, 'Methinks the lady doth protest too much'. Getting a bit worried are we Matty?

Posted by Meety on (January 17, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

@ Sanj747 - you've changed your parameters in the one arguement! To get to #1, you have to be more consistant than other sides & improve on your previous series results. England for example lost 1-0 to India the previous time they played in England. A 4-0 whitewash is a massive reversal.Australia have every bilateral test series bar one (the Ashes) now in their keeping. The reason why we have slipped is that despite drawing or winning in AWAY series (SL & Saffaland) the Ozzys performances were not as imposing (SL we won the previous series there 3nil). I do agree that to be a "great" number 1 team, you have to win everywhere. England losing in India won't mean they are not worthy #1s, just not great #1s!

Posted by David_Bofinger on (January 17, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

Sanj747, if no team has yet had "a sustainable period of winning away first and then at home" does that mean no team is number one? That seems illogical. I think we can recognise England as number one, without saying they are as good as Australia or the Windies at their peaks.

Posted by pepsi_challenge on (January 17, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

@donda Are you really suggesting that the aussie cricket side (or any sporting team) should not bother about winning... just go out and slog and then bowl lots of bouncers and half volleys so the opposition could score quickly also?

How much cricket would you watch if australia "Entertained" their way to 8th on the ICC rankings?

Posted by Tinderfan on (January 17, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

exactly right, not much has been achieved, one of the concerns is that it is still a very old team, the new blood introduced (Cowan, Marsh etc) are closer to the end of their careers than the start. The selectors must introduce some youth, starting with the replacement of Haddin, and bringing back Khawaja, who did not get the chances that Marsh is getting.

Posted by Busie1979 on (January 16, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

This Indian series has been encouraging, but has papered over the batting and wicketkeeping cracks of the Australian team.

To be number one, we need to find a good batting line up.

The only convincing guys in the top 7 are Warner, Clarke and possibly Hussey or Ponting in the short term.

Watson is an al rounder and should not bat higher than 5 or 6. He only has 2 hundreds (as many as Warner has scored in 5 tests).

Hussey is an opener and should open and Ponting should bat at 3 - there needs to be top order experience to transition the new guys in. Pushing Ponting down the order so he can do a lap of honour is not good for the side. Ponting and Hussey need to step up and then step aside when someone in state cricket makes a compelling case.

Haddin's keeping and batting are not good enough. Wade needs to come in. The Adelaide test is the perfect time to do it.

My top 7: 1. Warner 2. M.Hussey 3. Ponting 4. Clarke 5. Khawaja 6. Watson 7. Wade

Posted by ian_ghose on (January 16, 2012, 19:49 GMT)

I wonder if we can send India home, and call New Zealand over to play the final test. I'd definitely be more of a contest...and shall indeed be a fitting conclusion to a wonderful, but unfulfilling 2 match series.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 17:25 GMT)

As long as India dont win comfortably in Australia, England and South Africa, India cannot be a realistic contender for the No.1 Spot. And the same argument holds good for all these three teams as well. As long as they dont win convincingly in the sub continent, they cannot really be considered No.1. The world still awaits its most dominant cricket team since the decline of West Indies and fading away of the Aussies... England have a made head start now beating Aus fair and square in their own back yard and Aus seem to be building a nice young team with plenty of bench strength... Hope more teams become competitive and make this magnificent game interesting...

Posted by bobmartin on (January 16, 2012, 16:13 GMT)

Speaking as an England supporter, I have to admit that I see the potential in this current Aussie side and the good players who are, for one reason or another, not in the team. It certainly augurs well for the future. However, as the article says, they haven't yet been tested to any degree, although I guess it was hoped that the Indians might provide sterner opposition than they have. They may well have the potential to get back to number one in the ICC Test Table, but that is largely a matter of luck, such as that which found India in that position. Whether this current crop will ever emulate the success of the eighties squad I find extremely doubtful but in a few years time I can see the number one position changing hands fairly regularly with England, Sth Sfrica and Australia battling it out.

Posted by Nigels on (January 16, 2012, 15:17 GMT)

i always like to read your articles Mr Coverdale as they are well done...keep it that way..! coming to this issue, people must not buy about the English being number one until they start dominating their opponents and winning in the sub continent...they have a good squad but i do not forsee them retaining the Ashes come 2013..the Aussie's would be smarter and slicker....bring it on.!

Posted by PiyushD on (January 16, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

I think the point system should be zone based rather than home and away as England in SA, Australia and NZ gets almost home like pitches and ditto for teams from Subcontinent get alien conditions at all these places but not in subcontinent so my case is treat pitches in subcontinent for subcontinent teams as sub home in case of its not their actual home and win shud fetch less point, similarly a win for Australia anywhere out of subcontinent should fetch less point no matter who they beat, around the globe we just have 2 type of teams one which play well on fast pitches and other which play well on slow pitches and both are equaly valuable skils.Today no team is excellent at both.

Posted by zenboomerang on (January 16, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

@Brydon Coverdale... A good time to remind everyone that the Oz team is currently transitioning through some major shake-ups... The fast bowling looks good while the spinners seem a bit short stocked atm - O'Keefe in the wilderness - surely must be selected for the WI & sub-continent... Openers are showing some promise & hopefully can continue their success... Numbers 3 -7 still seem very uncertain with all of them showing regular inconsistencies with the bat, contributing to batting collapses in all of our recent series... Clarke & Ponting are not going anywhere but Marsh & Haddin are on very shaky ground & must be considered a weakness to the total team performance... I would seriously consider Wade or Neville for the up coming tri-ODI's...

Posted by Marcio on (January 16, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

There may be a long way to go, but Australia should be congratulated for the way they have turned things around in such a short time. Forget about batting and bowling for a moment. the fielding has been superb! Compare that to the awful fielding during the Ashes! The team has become disciplined and determined. the discipline in bowling is just unbelievable compared to a year ago. These guys have really done their homework and know what they are doing. The skill level has also gone through the roof. Even Siddle is swinging the ball! Compare this to the shambles of the - quite frankly - lazy and poorly prepared Indian fielding and bowling. The real issue for AUS is batting. We need Warner to come on consistently, and someone to replace Marsh, who - despite great talent - just doesn't seem to have the head for this level.

Posted by big_al_81 on (January 16, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Great balance to this article. Genuine praise for what has been a good performance (but has not had to be a great one to beat awful opposition) and optimism of an appropriately cautious sort about the future - it is very early days though - excellent judgement as is often the case with Mr Coverdale. Keep up the good work...

Posted by scoopster35 on (January 16, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

Surprisingly for an English fan to say, I'm very impressed with the Aussies' attitude and all-round talent. Admittedly, Warner will struggle to do that again, but so what? Ponting won't be his best ever again but contrary to what I believed, looks like he still has runs in him. And Clarke? Not a lot to say apart from his whole approach is refreshing. The bowling attack has responded well to McDermott's insistence on bowling a full length, although this Indian side don't move their feet so are sitting ducks. But you can only beat what's in front of you. I know there's more to cricket than the Ashes, but both sides should be mature and ready when the next Ashes start. And if that is not for the number one spot, I'll eat Geoffrey Boycott's hat. Bring it on!

Posted by mishim on (January 16, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

I don't think that Australia should ever again become a team that crushes all in their path. The near-invincible team from 1999-2007 was as much bore-inspiring as awe-inspiring for the simple reason that the result of matches involving was virtually a foregone conclusion viz. default result: Australia win worst case scenario: (mostly) Australia DON'T lose! A highly competitive but still beatable team will make the Aussie team more unpredictable and thereby more exciting. This is what has made the Indian team of the past 5 years more interesting than the Aussie team of the past 15 years: India are capable of tremendous highs and tremendous lows therefore their unpredictability made them exciting. I don't wish Australia to fluctuate as extremely as India but vulnerability should be be their alongside formidability! Cheers!

Posted by Percy_Fender on (January 16, 2012, 11:45 GMT)

Michael Clark has had a good beginning as captain having won two Test series and drawn one. M S Dhon itoo never lost a single Test series home or away till the disastes in England happened and now the Australian one which has prompted the author to write this piece.He has the distinction of winning for India the inaugural 20/20 World Cup in 2007 and the 50 over World Cup in 2011 as well.He took over as captain in the VB series in 2007 in Australia which he won 2-0. In Tests he took over mid series from Kumble against Australia at home and won 2-0. Before that he had beaten South Africa at home again in the only Test he captained after India lost the second Test badly, the first having been drawn. Playing South Africa when they toured next, he lost the first Test badly but thrashed them in Calcutta to draw the series.In South Africa he lost the first Test badly but beat them in the second and almost won the third in 2010. It is sad that he has fallen in bad times.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

Only south Africa and Australia can be number 1 and keep it because they are the only ones that have talent. half of the England team is south Africa so they have admitted they are better at creating players. pace has always created better teams and number 1 England can not handle 90+ bowlers. they are the one to fear.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 16, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

While England are undoubtedly the no.1 test side, it's worth noting that they beat an Australian side in as much disarray as this current Indian team. Hilf & Siddle were leading wicket takers while Clarke scored 3 centuries in the 09 Ashes, and we know how they performed last year. England are yet to come up against a side in form, lets hope Pakistan & SA provide that test. As for Aus; Haddin out - Wade in.

Posted by ravi_hari on (January 16, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

Pages will be filled to explain why India lost the series. But, it would be interesting to see why Aussies have won. They began the series as underdogs so to say. Facing No.2 side, the best batting line up, fit bowling line up, cool and successful captain, etc. Critics gave them little chance to match up with India. The only +ve was playing at home. By the time the series got into day 3, things started reversing. Zaheer couldnot reverse it but Aussies did it as a team. This victory is definitely the bowlers'. The way they executed the plans is amazing. Drying up runs, bowling tight lines and using pace and swing to beat Indians' defence all done with precision. The way Dravid is being bowled repeatedly, Laxman & Dhoni getting caught of edges, the way the tail is being demolished all shows how much home work has been done. The moment they take Dravid, the aggressiveness doubles and all others are made to crumble. Full credit to Aussies. This way they seem good to beat anyone and be No.1

Posted by crikey on (January 16, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

Needless to say that south africa were bowled out for 96 in the same game and if it hadn't been for Smiths 37 they could have been out for 59 as well ! Aus had the luck of a few things going our way in this series but in sth africa the home team batted in perfect conditions in their second innings. Also the second NZ game was lost by 7 runs, hardly a flogging and with a 40 run turnaround would have been classed as a good win. Also who is to say that by next year england will be as strong as they appear to be now? They also have beaten an india team in the same disarray!

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (January 16, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

It would be interesting to see how ENG batsman cope against the likes of pattinson and cummins. If we had to face bowlers like Jhonson, bollinger then who knows the result would have been different. But then you never know. IND gave another life to Hilfenhaus, ponting and Hussey but they dont look that great against other oppositions.

Posted by on (January 16, 2012, 8:17 GMT)

Australia shoudl be reading too much into this India Series, as England should not into their triumph over India. India might have been no.1 test team going into England and the ODI world Champoins, but there performances have been below standard, even by the standard of the minnows. So thrashing them like Australia have is no reason to rejoice. There are few chinks in the australian armory that have not been plugged yet. They still do not have a world class spinner. their wicket keeper is still is weak. Ponting and Hussey will have to go sooner than later. Also, their pace bowling attack will have to do well on flat decks of WI and sub-continent. They must not forget how easily their own batting has collapsed in SA, against NZ and even against India at perth (after Warner). It is time for Australia to remain honest and keep looking for answers to these problems.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 5:37 GMT)

Balanced if somewhat pessimistic. I think Australia has made significant progress. Beating Sri Lanka at home is a big deal. I can tell you that. I would be very keen to see what England does in the sub-continent when they tour here. I also think the victory in South Africa is not to be sneered at. South Africa are a darn good side at home and beating therm there was significant. Hobart was largely because Australia was dumb enough to give the kiwis a new zealand wicket to bowl on. I know Australia are 'work in progress'and will be so more for some more time. But they deserve credit for a few things- The captaincy for one is far better. Warner has progressed while Pattinson and Cummins could send tremors down any batting line up. I think the way forward is to get a couple of young batsmen in- Ferguson maybe? You must remember that they were at the bottom of the pile and don"t you think this team should take some credit for sending India into disarray? sridhar

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Congrats, Australia: you outplayed (an admittedly feeble) India in every department. Warner's already a technically superior & far more thrilling Sehwag Mark 2, Cowan's bedding in nicely, Ponting & Hussey have made many of their critics - including me, I'm happy to admit - eat their own words, Clarke has the makings of an exceptional captain, Hilfenhaus, Siddle & Harris have all upped their games significantly since last year's Ashes debacle, & Cummins & Pattinson are shaping up to be international cricket's next great pace spearhead. The 2013-14 Ashes marathon is already a mouth-watering prospect for both our teams. A note of caution, however: take stock of the way that India's so-called 'legends' have been allowed, embarrassingly for all, to linger past their sell-by dates & be wary of allowing the old guard of Ponting, Hussey & Haddin the same luxury. The next Ashes is 18 months away: ensure that Cowan, Khawaja, Paine & even Hughes are given plenty of exposure before then.

Posted by KarmatBaig on (January 16, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

Pat Cummins, Pattinson, Starc, Siddle, Hilfenhaus and add a couple more in the next two years the attack would be awesome and then thay also have the chance to apply the rotation policy to provide rest to players between the tiring cricket calendar. Also if the bowlers keep them away from the IPL.

Posted by landl47 on (January 16, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

India have been so demoralised that the holes in the Australian side haven't really mattered. However, they are still there. Beating India by an innings in Perth is great. but Australia only scored 369 after a 214 opening partnership and none of the batsmen from 3-7 made 20. Cowan and Warner batted well in this game,but their 3 previous opening partnerships were 46, 13 and 8. Ponting and Hussey batted well in the first two games, but the inconsistency that comes with age is still there and it will get worse. Watson can't bat and bowl in the same game, and his recent bowling success has come at the expense of his batting. There's still no spinner worthy of the name. Haddin's keeping and batting has been dismal. There are a couple of good young quick bowlers, but they lasted 1 and 4 tests respectively before going down with serious stress fractures. There aren't any exciting batting prospects coming up and Marsh hasn't lived up to his early promise. #1 is still a long way away.

Posted by tmd1 on (January 16, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

Until England can win a test let alone a series with 11 English born players in their team the rest of the cricket world will continue to not take them seriously.To have only 7 English born players playing test cricket compared to South Africa's 14,Pakistan 13 (when Kawaja plays for Aust),Australia 12 (Browne from NZ was born in Perth) has to speek loudly for the lack of talent in England.A pure English team would be well below the points they have on the ICC rankings.

Posted by donda on (January 16, 2012, 3:08 GMT)

Good job australia. I believe instead of aiming for number 1 ranking every team should play to entertain cricket fans in a manner australian did in last match. Australia ruled the world for 10 years but what happened nothing changed, i mean cricket remain as cricket. Australia should promote the concept of wining and losing both for the sake of entertainment. Other than Shane Warne and Ghilchrist i don't believe any of australian legandry team of 00s was entertaining at all. They were excellent as team. The best ever.

If test cricket has to live then it has to provide fans the entertainment. Play to entertain the world not to rule the world. Learn from Warner, he went for 6 on his 100 and got out trying to hit 6 on 180 where he could easily took singles and complete 200 but he did not. He wanted to entertain cricket fans. That should be the spirit. Best of luck to australia for great effort and entertaining cricketing fans.

Posted by Sanj747 on (January 16, 2012, 3:02 GMT)

To be number 1 it has to be a sustainable period of winning away first and then at home. Aussies are a long way from doing that. England need to show they can win test cricket on the sub continent. The present ratings are irrelevant. Sustainable form like the WIs in the 80s and the aussies in the 90s/2000s is what makes a great number 1 team

Posted by BlueyCollar on (January 16, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

What is pleasing from an Australian prospective is despite the brittle batting and only average spinners the Aussies find ways to win against more talented opposition through sheer spirit. Add Faulkner to the mix as back up for watson, Kawahja for Ponting and Paine or Wade, (Who are both batsmen and keepers as opposed to batsmen/keepers), behind the stumps the only hole left to fill is to find another world class wrist spinner before the next Ashes series then bring it on!!!!!!!.

Posted by satish619chandar on (January 16, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

Well.. Aussies were excellent in this series and they can only get better.. Their only challenger could be England who have an upper hand after two consecutive Ashes as of now.. Pakistan might challenge them to some extent.. Apart from that, they can beat an team unless they play poor cricket or opponents are brilliant like NZ did.. I wouldn't add SA to that because they lost a close match and won a match where there was a fanatic session of play followed by change in conditions which flattened out the track to unbelievable extent.. Eng-Aus or Eng-Pak or Aus-Pak are the only series that might be challenging in England and Australian home pitches just because of the bowling attack those teams got..

Posted by Swingit on (January 16, 2012, 1:55 GMT)

So once again there seem to be a suggestion for a team to completely overlook a tour to the West indies and instead look ahead to a match up with England. Less we forgot that is how the current downward tumble India find themselves in started. I would suggest that Australia first concentrate on demolishing the Windies, are task that is not as easy as it would appear. India went to the Caribbean found themselves in a heap of trouble and only just escaped with a 1-0 series win, then we all know what happened next......

Posted by subbass on (January 16, 2012, 1:24 GMT)

There for sure on the up but the batting still looks a bit weak and so far no world class spinner and of course as hopeless w/k. it seems India found a way to be even worse than they were in England, which is tbh quite remarkable.

Posted by Itchy on (January 16, 2012, 1:17 GMT)

Totally agree Brydon - England are the undisputed No. 1 as SA and India (& Aus) are yet to show any consistent form either in both home and away series. The current form of Australia is encouraging but the loss to NZ was poor (more so than being routed for 47 by SA). To beat England in their home conditions would be sweet and justification of Clarke's approach which has been a breath of fresh air.

Posted by Meety on (January 16, 2012, 1:03 GMT)

Well said. The team is still a WIP. I think Watto for Marsh is the only change that I think is a must. The other change would be to bring O'Keefe in for Lyon. That been said I don't know if O'Keefe would take ore wickets than Lyon against India. The fascinating issue I think is, how well can Craig McD maintain the rage? Can he keep his boys bowling the right lines & continue to keep their variations working? Also I found it amazing to see how much Starc got out of about 20 minutes with Wasim! If MJ is going to return to test cricket, cric Oz need to book a coupld of weeks for MJ with Wasim that's for sure!

Posted by jkaussie on (January 16, 2012, 0:51 GMT)

Well said and spot on. The thing I like about Clarke at the moment is that he is saying just that and they don' seem to be gettign carried away. By all means enjoy and celebrate the win, then move ont the next one.

Posted by tigerz80 on (January 16, 2012, 0:41 GMT)

when is the next ashes series??

Posted by smudgeon on (January 15, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

Quite true - there is still a ways to go for Australia. India have been dreadful this summer, which is a bit puzzling, so it's good to see these wins kept in perspective. Despite how seemingly easy the wins have been, I think we're all a bit surprised by the lack of fight (excepting a few displays here and there) the Indian team has shown. Kohli showed a bit of intent yesterday by steadfastly leaving deliveries with a bit of width - just a shame he was alone. Anyways, there are some good signs in Australian cricket - the most promising being the selectors now seem to have direction and are selecting based on a mix of performance and potential. We're still in for a bumpy road over the next few years (especially when Hussey & Ponting go - regardless of their form over recent times, they have immense value to the team), but I really do believe that Australia are back on the way up.

Posted by Patchmaster on (January 15, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

I still see some serious weaknesses, although they are improving and definitely heading in the right direction. Haddin MUST be on borrowed time, as he is dropping sitters and adding ducks to his record. The Indian attack is wayward at best, and SA and ENG bowlers wouldn't give Warner and Clarke the freedom to play, so there's fascinating times ahead. All we need is the ICC to GIVE US MORE TEST CRICKET PLEASE !

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 15, 2012, 21:40 GMT)

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Take it one game at a time and win as many as you can. There are no shortcuts to the top. The bowling is going pretty well atm but the batting is still shaky. India have obvious problems with their aging middle order but so have we. Ponting and Huss have to be replaced sooner rather than later but there is no-one knocking loudly on the door. It won't be a case of replacing like for like. When they go it will more than likely be substituting lead for gold. Worrying times ahead but all we can do is keep plugging away and hope that someone steps up.

Posted by Buggsy on (January 15, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

Well said, well said. I'm sure there will be plenty of people commenting that Australia think they're back and on top of their game, but the team itself knows all too well how much work is yet left to do. The batting is still a major concern; a fact certainly not lost on Clarke and Arthur so I doubt complacency will appear any time soon. At the moment, Ashes 2013 is looking to be a cracker; assuming of course England continue their dominating ways and Australia keep improving.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

No word on the need for a good spinner? Australia might want to consider giving some young guys middle order experience in the batting dept. Hussey n ponying time is not too far away

Posted by scdkee on (January 15, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

Australia's batting appears brittle and will be their biggest hurdle before the reclaim that no.1 spot. Its not just Shaun Marsh or Brad Haddin, even Ponting, Clarke and Hussey seem to falter at crucial times, like the instances quoted in the piece (against NZ and SA). More so, Ponting and Hussey are nearing the end of their careers. They should be able to make it to the 2013 ashes, but their forms may not be the same, if the example of the big 3 in the Indian batting line-up is anything to go by. I think Australia needs to find new batting faces and play them with the experienced batsmen in order to build a sound foundation to first attain and then maintain that no.1 ranking. If not, I fear they will keep faltering at key junctures.

Posted by Mitcher on (January 15, 2012, 19:48 GMT)

So true, batting in particular is still too fragile to challenge England and bowlers need to be ready for much sterner resistance. Very promising progress but we can't get carried away. England would often have good runs in between Ashes series, getting their hopes up, before thudding back to earth with defeat to Australia. We can't make the same mistake. Lots of work to do before getting back to the top. Good to see Clarke making that clear.

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 15, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

the aussies will do well to beat the WI. i could see good things at home and away WI v india, with a little more luck could/should have won 1 test. the aussie bowlers all bowled well v india. but i still think they are wanting another couple of class batters. even with warner 2 100s im still not sure about him. the spinner not seen enough to say hes any different to the list of spinners who played before him. mind i also heard he will become a super star. mind iv also heard from the that same source aussies will get to # 1. england will be a big stumbling block in their way so could be a few years away. dpk

Posted by moBlue on (January 15, 2012, 19:06 GMT)

IND lost 10 for 161 and everybody called it a drubbing - as they should. AUS were 214 for no loss. guess what happened next? AUS lost 10 for 155, didn't they? i guess i am the only one that noticed that this proves that this team is not ready to become world champions yet - not by a long shot, considering that when IND got that first wicket with AUS, our bowlers were so weak and pathetic they had taken 1 for 800-plus!!! yet this weak bowling unit bundled AUS out from that point on: 10 for 155. can you imagine what steyn and gang would do to this team?

Posted by pj3000 on (January 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT)

I hope the selectors already pretty much know what our best XI for the next four years looks like and are working towards getting those guys all on the park at the same time for as many Tests as possible ahead of the 2013 Ashes. In my view, seven of those places should already be locked in: 1. Watson. 2. Warner. 3. ? 4. Clarke. 5. ? 6. ? 7. ? 8. Pattinson. 9. Harris (to be replaced by Copeland when Ryano hangs up the boots). 10. Cummins. 11. Lyon. The selectors have got to be decisive about where they want to go with guys like Khawaja, S Marsh, Christian and Wade. Whichever guys they want batting at 3, 5 and 6 - and whoever they want to keep - get them now and get the team settled and confident ahead of the Ashes. I feel for David Hussey: such a class act, but looks certain to see the next generation of bats pass over him for Test spots.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

Honestly, they don't need to feel too confident. Beating a team like India - mind you, a team that has crossed 300 only once in about 15 Away innings.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 15, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

England served India up on a plate for Australia to take, which has got to be a first. It was England that humiliated the once great 'fab four' of India, crushed their confidence so much that everytime Laxmann/Sehwag and co stride to the wicket, all they can think about is Jimmy Anderson knocking them over. England thrash Australia and India and India are thrashed by Australia: So this series is, and always was from the beginning, a play-off between two middle-ranking teams.

Posted by Leggie on (January 15, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

Glad to see a balanced point of view. We have seen statisticians often disregard runs scored against teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and associate nations. This Indian bowling line-up can only be marginally better than them. Zaheer the front-line bowler averages 32, Ishant an average of 38 and the rest are rookies. Batting records against such attacks should be taken with a pinch of salt. On helpful conditions, even this ordinary attack managed to get Aussie batting on mat in Melbourne, early Sydney and post Warner blitz in Perth. If Australia is to get back to their glorious era, the batting certainly has to click. Australia will face the same situation that India faced when they tour England next year. They will have a Pointing close to 39, Hussey at 38 and a struggling keeper batsmen. Will the Australian selectors take cue from Indian mistakes? Only time will tell.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 15, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

Well I agree that the Aussies have beaten a 'flat' Indian team who have forgotten how to win games overseas. However, I do feel the Aussies have a good decent team now that could win the next Ashes. The bowling especially looks potent enough to trouble England. It will be hard to see how Australia perform away from home. You see, that's the way a team has to be judged. India have taken their test and they have received a big 'F'. Now England and Australia have to take their tests. England's test will begin shortly against Pakistan in the UAE. So it's hard to say Australia are on their way to the top. Certainly such performance against a mediocre Indian team is not the right catalyst to judge a team's mettle.

Posted by TheArmChairCritic on (January 15, 2012, 17:07 GMT)

If Aussies bowl as well as they have done so far, they will give England a run for their money. Nothing more exciting than watching a bowling attack getting batsmen out the way the Aussies have done to India. Bigger challenges in the form of flatter tracks and hungrier batsmen await. Need to find a really good spinner. Lyon does not inspire much at the moment.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 16:53 GMT)

India has a captain not worth his place in the side, An opener who keeps throwing his wicket away with no regard to the team or team mates, an ageing line up that nobody has the balls to replace, a pop gun bowling attack that concedes over six hundred runs without taking a wicket, a fielding team that is a shambles, an IPL schedule that takes up two month in a year when the players should be resting, the IPL that make millionaires out of mediocre players and takes away the incentive of playing for the national team. Club cricketers like Saha and Vinay Kumar in the National side. the first corrective measure should be the entire board of the BCCI stepping down followed by the sacking of the selectors, Dhoni, Sehwag and Laxman the employment of a full time bowling coach with the pedigree of a Donald, Akram or Mcgrath and including people like Ganguly and Kumble in the Indian . Enough reasons for Australia not to get carried away

Posted by Faizan_Bahadur on (January 15, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

Well i dont know if Australia will get carried way or not.but looks like Brydon has certainly got carried away.Just a 1 series win and already talking about regaining No 1 Test ranking..Slow it down buddy

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 15, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

AND australia have been without shane watson!

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 15, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

if england were on the WACA this weekend, at the SCG last test or in melbourne on boxing day, they would have been duely spanked, maybe not to the tune india have been but they would have gone down.

Posted by Vpx23 on (January 15, 2012, 16:17 GMT)


Posted by SnowSnake on (January 15, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

First, congratulations to Australia for the series win. Now, the analysis. Ironically, India has become the worst test team outside India. So be careful in interpreting this win. England thought that they are the best team after beating India and now Australia may think they are the best. The only thing that is certain is that India is the worst. Jury is out on who is the best. Currently, Australia, England and SA appear to be better teams.

Posted by StJohn on (January 15, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

Austalia's demolition of India also puts England's series win against India last summer into prespective. It'll be interesting to see how England perform in their 15 Tests this year, but at the moment I'm not sure England are quite as formidable as this article suggests.

Posted by AbdullahShaikh on (January 15, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Yes boys, dont get carried away. the famed Indian batting line may fre anytime now. after all according to the law of averages, these boys are overdue bigtime now. If Sehwag fires every one will forger Warner and if the Wall & the others fire, then 5 days will not bne suffient to get 10 indian wickets, forget 20.

Posted by Peterincanada on (January 15, 2012, 15:20 GMT)

A very good piece. The bowling looks extremely promising but the batting is something else again. They must uncover some batting in order to challenge England in 2013. Cowan and Warner look promising and Watson if fit and Clarke are fine but what will Ponting and Hussey be like two years down the road. It's much too early to count the chickens.

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 15, 2012, 15:17 GMT)

It is good to see that they are being honest about their current reality. They are far from the team they were and have beaten a very poor team.While you can only beat what is in front of you there are still some issues.Wicket keeper might be the worst ever,They have no decent spinner,The batting is still fragile and their bowlers get injured very easily.Apart from that though yeah they look set for world domination

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

Bring in Watson and Paine for Marsh & Haddin. If India has to learn lessons, let them learn from the best Australian team. Not the one with two weak links, which is the case now. India can still scale higher levels of defeat -- an innings and 300 odd runs? At least that should (may not, though) wake up the BCCI and its bunch of selectors from pandering the spoiled golden oldies and start building up teams for the future, both for tests and for the shorter formats.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

3-0 or 4-0 it doesnt matter. Australia cant keep winning. The buck stops at the sub continent and their turning tracks. Australia lacks spinners. The glorified 140krs gets exhausted under the tropical sun. And how will the batters fair against genuine spin on a spinning track. Harbajan and Murli had Pontings number. Have they forgotten the Dusra. Ya until you face some genuine Dusra attack and win you will never be no 1. David Warner cant apply himself and bat out for 2 days to save a test. He will hit a century in 2hrs and get out. That is a problem when you are chasing some 400 runs in the third innings. The Australian team circa 1990 to 2009 was well rounded with a great wicket keeper, great openers and good bowlers (McGrawth, Warne, Lee).

Posted by ElvisKing on (January 15, 2012, 14:34 GMT)

Its not that Australia played very well, it was just the Law of averages catching up with India and may be some planning to give no leeway to Indian batsmen. But the fact remains that Australia did not bat as well as they should have, do not think about the big scores Clarke and Warner did at Sydney and Perth. They have been not been allowed to score runs by this inexperienced Indian bowling outfit and that speaks volumes about the Indians. That Australia scored big in Sydney was a good sign but it was the only green patch for their batting and and bad patch of bowling performance from Indians. Once the Indian bowling line up learns to bowl well India will be back in buisness. The main problem for Indian team was a missing good opening pair. They had other options but chose to persist with seasoned players instead of experimenting with the new ones. Those following this series have seen Ashwin bat better than the opening pair in the 2 tests he played and help get team a good score.

Posted by meeransb on (January 15, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

Congrats to Australia. They have simply outplayed an Indian team filled with grand fathers (in terms of sport). The key Indian batsmen have simply aged and the reflexes are that fraction of a second slower. So no surprises that they have been found out on bouncy and fast pitches. And BTW, BCCI does not think Test matches are important and with that attitude India might never be competitive in test matches in the following years. Remember England bought the bouncer rule when they didn't do well against WI bowlers. India needs a similar rule to remain competitive else forget Test matches with India in the coming yrs.

Posted by Kaze on (January 15, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

Still it is excellent that we can start by thrashing India :)

Posted by Rags57 on (January 15, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

The more I see Clarke as a captain the more I admire him. Feet on the ground and looking upto what more needs to be done to get back to number 1 ranking. Andy Strauss and Anydy Flower did that for England and they have emerged a fantastic side. There was an arrogance about the Australian side a few years ago under Ponting that was their undoing. You need to be aggressive and ruthless but not arrogant. Clarke is doing that splendidly. India were never ruthless under Dhoni so they could never stay on the top for long. Now I see the competition for the number 1 ranking to be between England and Australia. Good luck Australia - you deserve to get there under Clarke.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

Australia has the fast bowling to challenge England or any other team. They do lack a quality spinner. Battiing wise they are just where they were a few months back. To be frank I dont think that Warner can hammer South African or English bowling like he did against India. Cohen is still not really tested against good bowling. Marsh hasn't done anything worthwhile. Ponting is past his prime. watson, Clarke & Hussey are decent players. Forget Haddin. That doesnt look like the batting line up of the world's number one team. Looks like they have too many slots to fill. So dont read too much into the results against india. The reults of this series is good for Indian cricket in a way. Hopefully it will act as a wake up call for BCCI.

Posted by RoJayao on (January 15, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

Yep, all fair enough, good points, good conclusions. Couple of things though: it is the Aussie team that has made a shambles of India, who we're favourites before the series, please don't underplay the Aussie dominance one bit; On the surface, losing to NZ and being bowled out for 47 looks terrible in isolation, but the Aussies lost by a whole 7 runs in a competitive game they largely dominated against NZ, and yes the 47 in SA was dreadful, but so was SA losing 9/40 right before them, so kinda think the bowling conditions had a little bit to do with that! Just getting a bit sick of those two results being used as question marks over what the team has achieved the last 4 months. Just sayin' is all.

Posted by crh8971 on (January 15, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

If Australia is to continue it's rise up the rankings they need to be ruthless when it comes to mediocre performance. The time has come for Brad Haddin to go. His batting has been below par for over a year now and he looks like he has no answer at all when at the crease. To top it off he has dropped more catches in this series than Healy and Gilchrist did in a career. There is a highly promising young keeper who is in fantastic form and ready to step up. The series has been won and Adelaide is the perfect timing to make the move to Matthew Wade. Sean Marsh hasnt looked at all like a test number three this summer but is lucky that there is no first class cricket for others to mount a challenge. If Watson was fit he should come back in at three.

Posted by maddinson on (January 15, 2012, 13:54 GMT)

Australia still have Faulkner (All-rounder), Cutting, Hazlewood as very good fast bowling prospect and Wade along with Paine as ready made replacement for WK. Batting look bit slim but Khawaja along with Maddinson, Lynn and Forrest looks very promising

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Very good article. I felt Clarke did a very good job at the press conference, keeping cliches to a minimum. As for Australia getting complacent, I don't believe they will do so under this captain. Besides, the batting failure at Perth after the opening partnership points out that the batting order looks far from settled. Far too inconsistent, but they've managed to hide these deficiencies to an extent because of playing against an insipid Indian team. I think the drawn series against South Africa showed this team's stomach for a fight more than this series. Anyway, the team seems to be heading in the right direction and I hope Clarke gathers the boys, and inspires the faltering batting unit too to greater heights!

Posted by OhhhMattyMatty on (January 15, 2012, 13:44 GMT)

This side will still contain Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Hilfenhaus, Harris and Siddle by the next Ashes. England have nothing to fear. We were beating sides packed out with Katich, Hauritz and North who are far better than Warner, Lyon and Marsh. Absolutely nothing to fear! Only downside is no Hughes and Johnson any more! LOL!

Posted by dsig3 on (January 15, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

Our batting is woeful or wonderful. Have to get that right. Bowling is different though. Cant wait for the next few series to make sure its not just a fluke. Best team bowling I have ever seen.

Posted by tearsinblue on (January 15, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

Winning at home and winning away from home are two different propositions altogether. As much as people are bagging India for their current performance, I haven't seen any of the current test teams do particularly well outside their own turf. Let's just wait and watch.

Posted by CricIndia208 on (January 15, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

Don't get carried away sweetheart. Australia will not be able to defeat India in India. INDIA IS THE BEST.

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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