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Australia’s lack of preparation hurt them against Bangladesh, says Ian Chappell

Bangladesh created history as they secured their first-ever Test win against Australia in the Dhaka Test and Ian Chappell blamed lack of preparation for the Aussies’ defeat.

columns Updated: Sep 03, 2017 09:14 IST
Bangladesh vs Australia,Ian Chappell,Dhaka Test
Australia were defeated by Bangladesh in the first Test match in Mirpur.(AP)

Not surprisingly, Australia struggled and eventually lost to a Bangladesh side that has lately shown marked improvement after many years of stagnation.

It wasn’t so much Australia’s renowned reputation for ineptitude against good spin bowling in Asian conditions or even the players’ prolonged dispute with Cricket Australia (CA) in the lead up to the tour, that made the loss almost inevitable.

Even though international cricketers are fully professional and play nearly all year round, Australia’s failure was more to do with not playing any competitive cricket in the lead up to the Test series.

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Not only did some Australian players miss out on competitive matches when an A tour to South Africa was cancelled due to the dispute with CA but the team were also then denied a warm-up game in Bangladesh because the ground was flooded.

Some might point to the Indian team and suggest, as a strong cricket nation they had no trouble annihilating Sri Lanka in a three Test series with only the benefit of a leisurely two day warm-up game. True, but the Indian players were involved in the IPL in the lead up and playing matches that count makes a huge difference.

All the nets in the world don’t make up for a lack of match practice before a testing series. It’s a common refrain among cricketers; you don’t make runs or take wickets in the nets. More importantly as a batsman, being dismissed in the nets doesn’t count against your record.

Steve Smith’s Australians did have an intra-squad practice match in Darwin before they departed for Bangladesh. Nevertheless, such a practice match is of minimal help; once again the results don’t go against a player’s record.

I discovered the fallibility of intra-squad matches in 1975 when the Australian team held one in London in preparation for the inaugural World Cup. I captained the squad that was strong in bowling but light in batting. Chasing a solid score by the Greg Chappell-led squad, we were quickly in trouble when the medium-pace offerings of Doug Walters threatened to make a mockery of the game.

When Walters upstaged Dennis Lillee — the leader of Australia’s attack — by taking three wickets in the opening overs, I intervened. I told opening batsman Bruce Laird, who’d already been dismissed by Walters, to pad up and go in again as this was supposed to be practice.

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Upon Laird’s second arrival in the middle to confront Walters, the smart aleck bowler responded with; “Excuse me batsman haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”

The reprieve didn’t help Laird as he was dismissed first ball and I then returned to the crease to face a Walters hat-trick. So much for a contest — Walters took 5/12 and ruined any hope of it being valuable match practice.

For a batsman, a decent score — whether it be at club or first-class level — prior to an international series is crucial. As long as it’s in a match that counts, the runs confirm that the feet are moving well, concentration is honed and consequently, the batsman’s confidence is high. Likewise for a bowler, a bag of wickets tells him his rhythm is good, the ball is coming out of the hand well and again, his confidence is boosted.

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With success achieved, both batsman and bowler feel well prepared for what lies ahead.

Bangladesh’s achievement shouldn’t be devalued; it adds another major scalp to their record and confirms they are finally attaining a level of competitiveness against the top sides. However, Bangladesh shouldn’t relax, since a wounded Australian side is a dangerous opponent; they’ll definitely be better for having played a game — albeit one they lost — that counted.

Australia will also be keen for an improved showing in order to prove they’re ready for the looming Ashes series. On the other hand, England will be desperate to avenge their shock loss to the West Indies; nothing like a bit of competitiveness in the preparation to add spice to an Ashes series.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 09:14 IST