Australia are in deep trouble heading into the third Ashes Test on Thursday. Prakash Govindasreenivasan feels there are four areas which need to be addressed if Australia, 0-2 down in the five-Test series, have to make comeback.
Australia lost four straight Tests in India and are trailing 0-2 in the ongoing Ashes series. That makes it six losses in a row. One can’t remember when an Australian team last suffered such humiliation. The Aussies needs to undergo a mindset change to bounce back in the series. Quite clearly, this Australian side is shockingly different from any Australian team of the past.
The four critical areas that the Aussies need to address:
The Australian spirit
It was not just the talent and the skill level of the McGraths, the Haydens, the Pontings and the Warnes that defined Australia in the previous decade. It was the indomitable Australian spirit that went along with being an Aussie player that ensured their sustained dominance in world cricket. The present team under Michael Clarke looks anything but Australian; shoulders drop and frustration shows when things don’t go their way. The tiger-ish spirit that epitomised Australian teams of the past is unmistakably missing. The hunger to win is not seen. The current bunch seems to just go through the motions.
The team needs a jolt from coach Darren Lehmann. Having played alongside some of the greats, he knows exactly what the Australian spirit is about and needs to instil it in this team.
Australia’s art of intimidation
For a long time now, Australia have been known to play the game the hard way. There is a hint of arrogance in the air when they take the field. It is something that often disconcerts the opposition even before the contest begins. But one can’t see that famous Australian intimidation gone?
On their last tour of India, the Australian side was struggling to win a session, let alone a game. The only passage of play where they managed to unsettle India was in the fourth Test. No prizes for guessing that this was the only time one could see them charged up and mentally sharp to disintegrate the batsmen.
The current lot of Australians are clearly tentative and lack the confidence due to the mounting defeats. The defeatist mindset needs to undergo a massive change.
Bring back David Warner
If one believes in the age-old cliché that a wounded tiger is far more dangerous than a healthy one, then David Warner needs to be drafted into the playing XI with immediate effect. Here’s one man who can bat with a positive intent at the top of the order. His innings of 193 runs against South Africa A in Pretoria shows that he is in good nick. It is time Clarke unleashed Warner on the England bowling attack with the agenda to unsettle them early on. If he can pull that off, the story at Old Trafford could be refreshingly different from what has happened so far.
Shane Watson needs to go
Australia desperately needs a positive change to arrest their current downward slide. Clarke and the selectors should be brave enough to bench Watson and give James Faulkner the opportunity to make his Test debut. Watson’s form has been wobbly and there seems to be a technical glitch in his foot work. He has been an easy picking for the Englishmen in the last couple of innings. He even wasted a couple of decision reviews on straightforward dismissals. In Faulkner, Australia get a player who can play some attacking cricket down the order — a la Adam Gilchrist. If Warner also returns, the visitors will not need the services of Watson at the top of the order and Faulkner can fill in with the ball. It would be a huge gamble, but Australia have the reputation and the appetite for it.
Old Trafford could trigger a change of fortunes if Australia addresses the critical areas mentioned above.