Steve Waugh has said that cramped scheduling had backfired after Australia escaped with a three-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Test.
"I think they thought they would knock them over," Waugh told the Herald Sun newspaper yesterday. "There's no way you'd play five Tests in a row against any nation. It's physically and mentally exhausting. You wouldn't do that against anyone and it's backfired on them."
Australia landed in Bangladesh three days before the match, after flying straight from a three-Test, five-ODI series against South Africa. "Mentally it's such a tough ask, to travel and just have a few days break between that last Test in South Africa, Waugh said. "That was a really tough Test match. It usually takes a week to get over a game like that. Our guys just look tired. They weren't with it on the first day. It's the worst they've played in a long time."
Waugh's comments came after Paul Marsh, Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive, claimed that Australia's poor performance in the Fatullah Test was down to exhaustion. "Something has got to give with the program," Marsh had said. "They are playing too much and too much travel. The new Future Tours Program which will be released shortly is worse than it currently is. The problem is getting worse not better."
Adam Gilchrist also conceded that the strenuous run of tours stretching back to the Indian campaign in mid-2004 had taken its toll. "It is an almost ridiculously busy schedule international cricket keeps at the moment, and it's a tough call to ask players to play in lead-up matches when the schedule is so jam-packed. We were Test match ready but it took us time to get going in these conditions."
Brett Lee voiced his concern about the amount of cricket being played by Australia. "I have bowled a trillion overs," Lee said. "I feel like I am running on fumes at the moment. The petrol's gone."
The players have only two days rest before squaring up again in the second Test on Sunday.