Glenn McGrath (above) welcomed Michael Clarke's decision to retire © Getty Images
Glenn McGrath (above) welcomed Michael Clarke’s decision to retire © Getty Images

Former Australia pacer Glenn McGrath feels Michael Clarke and co. did not look like wanting to adapt to English conditions which cost them the Ashes. In his column for Daily Telegraph, he wrote, “Australia just did not adapt to English conditions – and it looked like they did not want to either, which was curious and cost them the Ashes. It went wrong for them in every department. We have seen them play well only once and that was on a Lord’s pitch that was close to Australian conditions. Elsewhere, they were found wanting with both bat and ball while England played superbly.” READ: Australia’s humiliating 1st innings is reminiscent of Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany

McGrath also wrote about Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc’s failure to swing and Josh Hazlewood’s dismal performance. “Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc are swing bowlers rather than seamers, who usually do the damage in England. I expected Josh Hazlewood to fill that role but he will be disappointed with the way he bowled here. It looked like he too tried to swing it. He was running in from an angled run-up and trying to slide his fingers under the ball to bowl outswing – but his strength is hitting the seam on a good length.” READ: Steve Smith must lead Australia against England in 5th Ashes 2015 Test at The Oval

“When bowling well, he has a straighter run-up, goes through the crease, hits the pitch hard getting bounce and a little bit of swing. But he lost his bounce. Early in my career, a lot of people told me I had to have a consistent out-swinger to be successful at Test level. So I started swinging it and got away from the reason why I was picked in the first place.” READ: Michael Clarke lived by the sword and died by it

Going back in time, McGrath used a reference from the 1994 Test against England at Gabba. “In a Test match against England at The Gabba in 1994, I swung it but took none for 101 and was dropped for the next three games. It was a good learning experience. I went back to the reason why I was picked in the first place – and Josh is in a similar position now. Hopefully, he can come back because he is a quality bowler with huge potential for a long career.” READ: Michael Clarke’s shocking retirement will make Australia poorer

McGrath also added that Australia depended heavily on their top three batsmen – Chris Rogers, David Warner and Steven Smith.

“On the batting side, we relied far too much on the top three. Chris Rogers batted really well and it was evident from how he handled the conditions that he has played more cricket in the UK than in Australia. David Warner wants to dominate and score. Sometimes it works, other times it does not and that makes it hard to be consistent in difficult conditions.”

“Steven Smith has had a great Australian season but, like many others, he was too aggressive with his batting. He was keen to get out there and take the bowling on instead of waiting for the ball to come to him, which is how you tend to bat in England on seaming wickets. It is the Australian way to meet the ball but they have to come up with a new way to win here in 2019.”

McGrath wrote about packed cricketing schedule hurting the cricketers. “Yet it is hard for players to gain experience of English conditions. With the IPL these days and the packed international schedule, there is no time for them to play county cricket.”

“They have to have played here in the early part of their careers or it is too late. The exceptions are guys such as Rogers and Adam Voges, who have had to wait a long time for their chance at international level.”

“In previous eras, Australia would come over here and play against each county side. Tours lasted for four months so there was a chance to find form. But now tours are short, county opposition is not very strong so it is harder to get yourself out of a rut. Perhaps we are also seeing the impact of Twenty20 cricket on Test match batting. It is probably a little too early to conclusively draw that conclusion but it makes you wonder if it is the reason batsmen have lost the art of defence.”

“Teams are now batting at four or five an over in Test cricket. One day cricket improved Test cricket in terms of fielding and lifting scoring rates but I’m not sure Twenty20 is having the same positive benefit. Yet it is the way of the world. Whenever England travel to Australia, they struggle. The same for India. It is a concern for the game.”

McGrath congratulated Clarke and felt it was the right time for the outgoing skipper to call it a day

“The end of an Ashes tour is always the time to take stock and we already know we will see a few retirements. Michael Clarke made the right call to go. He has been a great player for a long time. His figures are phenomenal.”

“He worked really hard to get himself back after four serious injuries. Each time I thought his career could be over. He fought back for the World Cup and finished that on a high. But he has not played well in England and I am not surprised he has retired. You can’t captain the team if you are not scoring runs and the team is losing. But I would not have been surprised if he had retired even if Australia won the series and he had scored runs.”

“As for wholesale changes, I think you call time on guys only if there are better replacements out there. Australia has plenty of fast bowlers coming through. Pat Cummins is in the wings here, James Pattinson is coming back and Nathan Coulter-Nile has potential – so there are a lot of young guys performing with the ball.”

“The batting is the concern. Nobody is putting up their hand – the reason Voges got his opportunity at the latter part of his career was that he scored more runs back home than younger guys and deserved his chance.”

“Australia play well in their own conditions but it is identifying the guys who can adapt all over the world. That is the difference between being good and being great. There is a chance now for young Australian players to make a mark and grab an opportunity,” McGrath concluded.