Australia plans to spend the lead-up to Trent Bridge in reverse-swing protection mode as the batsmen try to find ways of countering England's stunning use of the tactic. Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones have combined for 29 wickets in the first three Tests and have regularly confused the opposition order with their wild movement.
Simon Katich, who has 143 runs in six bats, and Adam Gilchrist, who collected 120 with a top score of 49 not out, have struggled to absorb the method and Ricky Ponting said after his 156 at Old Trafford that he would prefer going in early than dealing with the middle-order danger. "There is no doubt it is the most difficult time in the game to bat," he said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "I would take facing a brand new ball that's swinging than facing a 10-over-old ball that's reversing the way it has in this game."
Ponting said Flintoff had used the tactic well and made it tougher by going over and around the wicket. "He swings it both ways as much as anyone in the game," he said. "And he does it at 90 miles an hour. `Gilly' is in the same boat. Any of the left-handers that he has had a chance to bowl to in the last couple of Tests he's really troubled."
Mark Taylor said in The Australian the batsmen should try not to strike so firmly when the ball was swinging. "They're so used to hitting the ball hard and hitting boundaries," he said. "When you've got a couple of quality bowlers and they're swinging the ball late it's not always possible to bat that way."
Taylor said Allan Border tried a short back-lift to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to counter the movement. "The best way he found was almost to play French cricket at times," he said. "A really short back-lift and just hit the ball in the gaps and pick up ones and twos and deflect the ball more so than try and hit it."
As well as looking at it from a batting perspective, Australia's bowlers will also try to find a way of copying it. "We've got to work out how we can do it better," Ponting said. "There is no doubt in the last couple of games it's played a key role."
Michael Vaughan said Jones had always been able to move the old ball and he was teaching his team-mates. "Some of our bowlers are new to reverse-swing and controlling it," he said. "Simon is helping all the bowlers. In both games we have used it very well."
Australia have arrived in Scotland and will train today before a one-day match at The Grange tomorrow. Ponting told AAP the batsmen had to start turning starts into big scores.
"There haven't been any real extravagant shots that have cost us our downfall, we've just made little mental errors more than anything," Ponting said. "Matty Hayden probably has got 30 every time he's batted in the series, Justin Langer has been a bit the same, Damien Martyn has made 20 every time, so guys are getting in and getting starts - we're just getting out from there." The fourth Test begins at Trent Bridge on August 25.