India vs Australia: Australia needs to get its priorities straight

Cricket Australia has been running the Sheffield Shield and the Big Bash concurrently, which has not helped the side’s Test preparation.

When batsmen lose concentration and get out to forgettable strokes after settling down, as the Aussies did at the MCG, it shows a lack of mental discipline.   -  ap

The Australians do not seem to be getting their priorities right. In other words, is enough importance being given to Test match preparation?

Or, are commercial interests hurting Australia’s cricket at its very core?

Just consider this. Peter Handscomb was dropped from the Australian team for the third Test at the MCG since the team-management felt all-rounder Mitchell Marsh’s seam bowling could take some load off the specialist pacemen.

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Handscomb, though, is retained in the squad for the fourth Test in Sydney. And how does he prepare for the Test?

Handscomb does so by blasting 70 off 35 deliveries for Melbourne Stars against Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League (BBL)!  

Not quite the ideal way to focus on a Test match, particularly when you are still part of the squad.

A systemic fault

Actually, Handscomb is not to be blamed. It is the system that has been put in place by Cricket Australia.

These are days when Australia’s domestic first class competition Sheffield Shield clashes with the BBL. And this is not helping the side’s Test preparation.

Batting in Tests is a lot about getting your mind tuned in to the demands of the longer format. When batsmen lose concentration and get out to forgettable strokes after settling down, as the Aussies did at the MCG, it shows a lack of mental discipline.

At the MCG in the second innings, it took Pat Cummins to show the more accomplished batsmen what pride of the baggy green cap meant.   -  getty images

 

Indeed, some of the stroke selection by leading Australian batsmen in the ongoing series has been disappointing. Application, that ability to focus for long periods, has been absent for most part.

In the past, Australian batsmen would hold their ground, play out spells and win sessions. At the MCG in the second innings, it took Pat Cummins to show the more accomplished batsmen what pride of the baggy green cap meant.

Also read: We are not going to stop here, says Kohli

Getting priorities straight

It’s easy to blame the batting capitulations on the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner. But then, the Australians are not playing India in the sub-continent. They are meeting Kohli’s men in familiar conditions, at home. Surely, they should have done better.

Also read: 'We will go to Sydney to level the series'

The influence of limited overs cricket has increasingly affected Australia’s batting depth for Tests and Cricket Australia is not helping the side’s cause by running Sheffield Shield and the Big Bash concurrently.

Peter Handscomb has been retained in the squad for the fourth Test in Sydney.   -  getty images

 

To make matters worse, players who are in the Test squad of an ongoing series are being allowed to play in the BBL Twenty20 cricket.

Even the BCCI, for all its faults, does not mix the IPL or the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 competition with the Ranji Trophy.  

Truth to tell, if the Aussies are indeed missing Smith and Warner even at home, then the side’s batting resources are very thin indeed.