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May 28, 1999


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Aus boys blow their fuse

Dean Jones

The Australians are gone! They have been beaten in every department. Their batting is very poor; batsmen are not playing straight enough. They're playing 'dink shots' , whereby they are trying to run balls down to third man, instead of hitting the ball down the ground. Gilchrist is struggling to cope with the swinging and seaming white Duke ball; so is Ponting. He cannot cope with the situation of coming in early all the time. His technique has been found out.

Steve Waugh The Aussies middle order is constantly under pressure. Steve Waugh is simply struggling to score runs consistently at the moment, and his position as captain is currently under criticism. The tailenders have not made a run, and poor, old Michael Bevan is under so much pressure, which is not funny.

The fielding is simply shoddy! There are so many misfields, particularly from the skipper, and it has become unbearable for me to watch. The team spirit must be down, and the Aussies have lost the edge, that bubble that can turn close games into easy wins.

Even Ponting has not even come close to running someone out or even hitting the stumps. This will test Geoff Marsh, the Aussie coach, who has had it pretty easy over the last couple of years. Marsh will have to dig deep and try and find a spark to raise the confidence of every player.

Shane Warne The bowling has been so inferior where bowlers cannot bowl straight and on one side of the wicket. The Australians have averaged around 10 wides a match. In 1987, the Aussies averaged three wides a match. The performance at this World Cup shows a lack of confidence and discipline among the bowlers. The use of the fifth bowler has hurt Steve Waugh. He just does not know who to turn to at the moment. The fifth bowler is averaging over 65 runs per 10 overs. Australia has no true international all rounder despite the endless experimentation with the likes of Tom Moody, Shane Lee, Brendon Julian and Ian Harvey.

Arjuna Ranatunga The off-field dramas of Shane Warne has not helped the team focus on this very important tournament. Firstly, Warne was caught smoking after a hugely publicised endorsement to promote a product that helps to stop smoking. Secondly, his boneheaded and foolish article on Arjuna Ranatunga was simply stupid. The timing of the article and the already bad relations between Australia and Sri Lanka is now overflowing with a bad taste in everyone's mouth. This has put the Aussies under pressure in every facet of their game.

Many journalists are commenting on the fact that a good few of the Australians are suffering from fatigue. Well, that might be true, judging from the fact that the Aussies have been on the road since mid February. But I will not, and shall not, take this as an excuse, the reason being that many Australians are now negotiating county contracts with many clubs. Now, either these Australians are dumb or just plain greedy. Surely, every player who is worth his salt must try and keep himself as fresh as possible. Many county professionals are earning between US $70,000 to 240,000. I know this is a lot of money, but you earn every cent when you are playing six days a week for six months. This exercise can be very harmful, particularly to bowlers. Shrewd management is needed here, and I hope players and managers are not in the game for the fast buck.

The Australian Cricket Board has some problems to sort out, not just regarding the amount of matches played by its contracted players in first class and Test cricket, but also they must look at Steve Waugh and his efforts as Australia's one-day captain. The Australian selectors have been looking at every player's efforts over the last eight months. The glaring problem for the selectors is the poor form of Steve Waugh. His last 40 matches as skipper shows that he averaged just over 26, and totally 900 runs. His bowling is also poor, where he has only averaged three overs per match and taken 15 wickets. Not good enough for the number two Test batsman in the world.

Adam Gilchrist I personally believe the selectors would be looking at Adam Gilchrist as a future Australian one-day captain. If I was his manager, I would be advising Adam to leave western Australia and relocate himself back to New South Wales. It is no secret to anyone in Australia that if you play for NSW then you are close to Australian selection. If you are captain of NSW, then you are the heir apparent to the Australian captaincy. Enough said.

Simply, the Australians have not adapted as quick and as well to the conditions as the others have. Why not reorganise the batting order, with both the Waugh twins opening the batting and allowing Gilchrist to bat at number five, not having to worry about the new ball. My thought process here is to have your most technically competent batsmen up the order to cope with the new ball and your big shots and sloggers down the order.

In conclusion, I would like to pass on my condolences to the Tendulkar family over the passing of Sachin's father. Sachin's response with a great hundred only proves to everyone what a little master he is.

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