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HindustanTimes Mon,01 Sep 2014

Cricket Columns

Performing trumps conforming
Ian Chappell
March 13, 2013
First Published: 23:09 IST(13/3/2013)
Last Updated: 02:10 IST(14/3/2013)

Now that Australia's management team has streamlined the selection process comes the difficult part - playing the third Test match.

The decision of the Australian hierarchy to suspend four players for ill discipline, begs two questions; how was it allowed to reach that point? Why weren't the problems sorted out in a team environment with some candid conversation over a few drinks, rather than asking individuals to text or email their suggestions?

The suspensions make even less sense when the third Test was going to be Australia's chance to come back in the series on a pitch that will likely suit James Pattinson, one of the four suspended.

The controversial disciplinary action benefits only one player - the number three batsman Phil Hughes.

Wrong approach?
The danger with the Australian team management's "line in the sand" approach to developing a culture is that a strict "one size fits all" style may breed the wrong type of team man. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/3/14_03_13-metro21d.jpg

It's worth remembering that when it comes to winning, performing is far more important than conforming. The best players on the field are quite often those who have a mind of their own once off the ground.

The pitch in Mohali should produce a better performance from Australia, with the suspensions having one of two effects.

The players will either be suitably energised to display a disciplined approach in order to utilise their selection opportunity, or they'll be anxious and caution will override their natural instincts.

The battle within
Against a decimated Australian squad, India's most dangerous opponent will be complacency. For their part, the Indian players must approach this Test match as though they are facing the 2004-05 Australians rather than a ghostly outline of that successful side.
 
On the ball
The form of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Hyderabad bodes well for Mohali. He has shown he can move the ball both ways and bowl tightly enough to trouble top order batsmen; now he has to prove he can do it on a pitch that provides more consistent bounce.
 
The Australians are better equipped both bowling and batting-wise to handle a pitch with more bounce but whatever they do first in Mohali, it's imperative they do it well.

A poor start, coming on top of all the drama they've both encountered and engineered on this tour, could drain the final remnants of fighting spirit from the struggling tourists.

If the Australians do start well in Mohali the two-nil lead will help sustain the Indian team for a while but it will surely test their fighting qualities.

In hunting they say; "beware the wounded animal". Most of Australia's wounds on this tour have been self-inflicted so it'll be interesting to see if this latest laceration makes them turn and fight - or skulk off into the bush.


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