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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014
Aussie reserves no match to India’s
Ian Chappell, Hindustan Times
March 09, 2013
First Published: 23:43 IST(9/3/2013)
Last Updated: 01:17 IST(10/3/2013)

The best news Australia have received while touring India is the report of England's monumental first innings batting collapse in New Zealand and Graeme Swann's elbow operation.

The worst case scenario for Australia was they would depart India with their top six in the batting order in turmoil. Unless there's a major turnaround in the last two Tests, that's the situation they'll find themselves in as they prepare for a tilt at regaining the Ashes in England.

Australia know they can match England in fast bowling but their batting and spin departments were always going to be a concern. Australia's batting frailty is being blamed on inexperience and the sudden decision of Michael Hussey to retire at the end of the home summer.

I'm not so sure those excuses withstand close scrutiny.

No replacements

While Australia have lost the valuable services of Ricky Ponting and Hussey in a short space of time, India have also recently had two stalwarts retire in Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. In addition, Virender Sehwag has fallen flat on his face during the series against Australia.

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Whilst the comparison is somewhat biased because the India batsmen are being judged in their own conditions, there's a world of difference between Australia's rebuilding efforts and those of MS Dhoni's men. Those India batsmen who have been promoted exude talent, technique and flair; they are also reasonably young.

In addition to Cheteshwar Pujara and Vijay Murali, both of whom looked capable when they debuted in Test cricket, India have a depth in batting reserve that Australia don't possess.

The Australia batting production line has been faltering for some years and one of the main flaws is exposed when you look at recent history. For a country that used to consistently produce talented young batsmen ready for the Test side in either their late teens or early twenties, Australia have only had Ponting and Clarke (as long-term successes) in that category since the former made his debut 18 years ago.

Late bloomers

Where the early twenties used to be the normal debut age for an Australia Test batsman, it's now blown out to the late twenties and occasionally even thirty. Clarke aside, the current Australia batsmen aren't inexperienced (they've played a lot of first-class cricket), it's just that they haven't established their Test credentials under a variety of conditions.

Consequently, the top order is currently a "dog's breakfast" and there's no real opportunity to resolve the issues before the England tour.

It's all well to say Australia's performances in India won't have any effect on the Ashes series and they'll bat better in England. Confidence is a big part of batting once a player has reached the highest level and lack of it plays an adverse role in the same way as an abundance helps.

Again, apart from Clarke, the batsmen's credentials aren't yet established under seaming conditions. Australia have little choice now but to stick with what they have for the Ashes.

That's why Australia will be delighted to know that England's batsmen have had some issues adapting to New Zealand conditions.

And having been mesmerised by Ravi Ashwin's off-spin so far, anything that hampers Swann's preparation will also provide welcome relief.


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