Handing out marks for Australia's performance is too easy following the 2-0 series defeat. Unlike the tourists' batting, there would be far too many threes and fours. It's more revealing to look at what changed over the past five weeks, and what contributed to the team losing its tag as the undisputed Test champion.
That over-rate decision
There were many things that contributed to Australia's 2-0 defeat, but the most recent mistake remains the freshest, and most significant. Two days later and it's still difficult to believe that Ricky Ponting used his part-time bowlers to improve the over-rate when the match and the series were in the balance. With India 166 for 6, Australia had the chance to chase less than 300 to level the contest, but with Cameron White, Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke being used along with the highly effective Jason Krejza, India were able to extend their lead to 381, costing the tourists their opening.
Ponting faced suspension if the over-rate didn't improve and defended his choice as a "spirit of cricket" issue. Allan Border wasn't the only one who couldn't believe what was happening, and Ponting was accused of putting his own interests above the team. At the end of the game he was fined 20% of his match fee, but will be free to play against New Zealand in Brisbane next week. It will be interesting to see if there is any backlash by the supporters following the captain's part in the departure of one of the game's most important trophies.
The selectors don't need to be criticised for not calling on Krejza until the fourth Test, but they do deserve a reprimand for their slow-bowling choices in the tour squad. Even before the legspinner Bryce McGain went home with a shoulder injury the side looked strange without the inclusion of the incumbent Beau Casson. Then White, who apparently told Bishan Bedi he was a batsman when offered spin help in Delhi, was called in and used in the first three games.
White doesn't rate himself enough to bowl often for Victoria, the side he captains. What happened over the past five weeks is not White's fault, and he performed better than anybody expected. But it was unfair on him to be given such a big role and for that the selectors must take blame. The only reason Krejza, who struggled so early in the tour, was given a chance in Nagpur was because the tourists had no other slow-bowling options. Krejza starred with 12 wickets, but it should not be seen as a selection masterpiece. He bowled courageously and attackingly, showing what might have been if Australia had phoned a specialist spinner before the first Test.
Too many coaches spoil the players
On this trip the head coach Tim Nielsen had, at various times, the help of Troy Cooley (bowling coach), Greg Chappell (batting coach), Mike Young (fielding coach), an analyst and a batch of support staff. Three years ago England surprised the Australians with reverse-swing and the same thing happened in India. This time Cooley, who was with England three years ago, was the one looking on as his bowlers could not match India's curve.
What was more surprising was that with all the video analysis, nobody spotted India's opening bowlers delivering across the seam early in an innings over the previous year. Being in the dark over the wicked movement cost Australia throughout the series, but particularly in the first two Tests. It's hard to believe that with so many resources and so much technology that they couldn't spot the development until it was too late.
Another area of concern was Australia's regularly shoddy fielding. Watching a team's fielding is the way to judge the overall mood of the outfit, which was sloppy and inconsistent. There were overthrows, regular misfields, wild throws and only two run-outs in four Tests. Like the players, the coaches seem to do well when the team is on top, but aren't sure how to lift when they're down.
Chappell's time with the squad coincided with the Mohali Test, where Australia batted awfully in both games and the Indian sledging went along the lines of "he ruined us, now he's ruining you". It's an entertaining line, but it's hard to blame Chappell, who popped in for a look before heading back to run the Australian academy.
Not the next Gilchrist
Brad Haddin has a difficult job being the next man after Adam Gilchrist, but his standards during this series were low. India is not an easy place to keep wicket, but Haddin made it look particularly hard. It seemed that in every innings he was taking his glove off and shaking his hand in pain due to a fumble, which can't give the bowlers much confidence.
In the first Test he let through 39 byes, but improved significantly, not giving away more than 10 in a match for the rest of the series. However, the fumbles didn't stop and, as the wicketkeeper sets the tone, they spread through the side. In the last game Haddin made a strange error when he threw his glove at the ball to stop it going past him, costing the side five penalty runs. It wasn't the kind of move expected of a man who captains his state and has been waiting for years for a full-time promotion.
Haddin's batting was always a worry, especially his poor shot selection, and he battled to 163 runs at 27.16. Like Gilchrist, he is desperate to attack, but is much better at picking the wrong ball to hit. The Indians knew he would get himself out and he did. In Mohali he drove wildly at Harbhajan Singh's first flighted offbreak outside off stump and was bowled. On Monday he chipped Amit Mishra limply to mid-off. They were the shots of a one-day player, not those of a Test No. 7. It was only Haddin's second series and he should have some time at home to show what he can do, but he must improve in both disciplines if he is to be a regular in the side.
One of the long-term repercussions of the retirements of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Shane Warne was that none of Australia's bowlers had played a Test in India before this series. It was expected to be a setback rather than a series-turning development, but that changed once the Brett Lee-led attack could not dismiss India on the final day in Bangalore.
Only in the final Test did they manage 20 wickets, and more than half of those came from the new boy Krejza. Lee entered the series slightly under-prepared and suffered, taking only eight at 61.62. In Nagpur he was sick and bowled bravely, but it was already too late to cover up his lack of impact. Mitchell Johnson started strongly but tended to bowl too wide, too often. His 13 wickets in four games led Australia's list, but Shane Watson's 10 at 32.10 came at the best price of anyone except Krejza. Inexperience in India is a big deal, unless you're a debutant offspinner.
So who's defensive now?
Australia thought they were attacking because they were always trying to win. India thought they weren't defensive because they were being successful. The tit-for-tat became as tiring as hearing the tourists talk about being aggressive in deed, and then being unable to match it on the field. Australia will have to turn into a more defensive-minded outfit because it is no longer capable of attacking in every situation.
For long periods Australia set suffocating fields to India's batsmen and waited for wickets that didn't come. When India posted an 8-1 field on the fourth morning in Nagpur it was almost a spirit of cricket incident against the Australians. Neither tactics were those of a team that was attacking.
Ponting won the toss in the first Test in Bangalore and Australia delivered their best performance in the series. In the next three games India batted first and the tourists were basically out of the game by the end of the first day. Part of this was to do with Australia's poor bowling, but they were also unlucky at the start.
This is particularly crucial in India. "Losing three tosses in a row, if you don't actually get yourself back in front after the first innings, it's very hard to win here," Ponting said. He even practised his calling at training, but couldn't will the coin to fall his way.
When Hayden's gone, so are Australia's chances
Only once in the series did Matthew Hayden pass 20 in the first innings of the series and it was the only time the batting order looked really solid. Starting the series with 0, 13, 0 and 29, Hayden escaped some patchy form and umpiring decisions to post 83 as Australia almost matched India's 613 for 7 declared in Delhi. Along with Ponting, Hayden is the last great batsman of the previous era, and his side needs his muscular contributions at the top. Without consistent starts on the opening days, Hayden, now 37, may soon find the selectors feel it is time to consider a younger model and continue the side's evolution.