They obey the fundamentals

TO use the most over-used word in sport, Australia's performance in their devastating first Test victory against South Africa was "awesome".

They were totally in command in every department of the game and it all looked so simple. And indeed it was, for at their best they obey the basic fundamentals of the game.

The old saying "keep it simple stupid" has been the backbone of this current fine Australian team for over 15 years and when they do, they are a magnificent combination.

They have deservedly been showered with accolades from all quarters, but when you get down to the "reason why" they are so successful it is also so simple, they obey the basic fundamentals of the game and couple this with great concentration and urgency.

In fact, they are the only Test nation at present who have accepted this philosophy. While other countries are trying to reinvent the wheel, the Australians are reaping rewards by intensifying their skills in simplifying the very simplicity of the game.

Australian cricket is at its best when it hustles the opposition. By this I mean they excel when they are mentally aggressive when they bat, bowl or field. They set the aggressive pattern from the first ball.

This is beautifully demonstrated by the opening combination of Langer and Hayden who unlike most of the opposition believe even the new ball, a loose ball, is a scoring opportunity which has to be taken advantage of.

They set the tone and put pressure on the bowlers. They are good at hitting fours but even better at rotating the strike, to keep the scoreboard ticking and taking the pressure of themselves.

Even when they let a ball go it is done in a positive manner, designed to show the opposition they are in total command.

Their thinking when facing every ball, is can I hit it for a 4, 3, 2 or 1 and then damn it, I will just have to accept I can't score of this delivery.

Good positive mental aggression which transfers the pressure on to the bowlers.

Compare this with South Africa's batsmen whose thought process is the opposite, try not to get out first and then try to attack. By the time this decision is made it is too late.

This is clearly demonstrated by the number of balls the South African batsmen and particularly the openers let go without offering a shot.

Often they let pass by over fifty per cent more deliveries than the Aussies.

Letting the ball go is almost an art form, so varied and studied are the methods and style used.

As a result the Australian new ball bowlers are given more lattitude and can bowl with more aggression and set attacking fields without the fear that the opposing batsmen will counter attack.

When you add the simple tactics and the wonderful control of line and length you can understand why the Australian bowlers apply so much pressure.

This, in my view has been the main reason why Australia has been so successful for so many years.

In this period day in and day out Glenn McGrath has been superb. "Why. " He is not lightning fast, he doesn't cut or swing the ball at will, he hasn't a unpickable slower ball, nor the best bouncer in the game. No he doesn't, but he can bowl all of these deliveries with greater accuracy and perseverance than any pace bowler I have seen.

He is unrelenting and patient and will happily spend over after over for as long as it takes to frustrate the batsman into making a mistake.

Interestingly, off the field he becomes bored easily and is a real pest and nuisance in the dressing room when in this mood.

People often ask, "Why is Shane Warne so good?" Undoubtedly it is his accuracy, like McGrath's, which is his greatest asset.

He applies great pressure by this, but he also spins the ball a great deal. Undoubtedly he is the most accurate big spinner ever in cricket and in my view the finest leg spinner of all time.

The other Australian bowlers feed off McGrath and Warne and whenever possible following the lead by concentrating on line and length.

At their best, as we saw in Johannesburg you get very few easy pickings from the Australian bowlers.

Perhaps the thing that pleased me the most in Johannesburg was the Australian fielding.

Over the last twelve months I have been very disappointed in this aspect of their game.

Sure they have taken some great catches in the last 12 months but they have dropped far too many.

They were also less committed and lazy often attempting spectacular one handed pick ups when two were possible.

I had seen them practise in recent times and their work rate and attention to detail was below what it should be.

Obviously they have worked on this and the fielding in South Africa was excellent.

So you are asking what has gone wrong with our one-day cricket when we are so attacking and good in the Tests.

Good questions, require good and simple answers.

Let's stop trying to invent the wheel in one-day cricket, pick our best team and don't stray far from the players and their style that have made us the world's outstanding Test team.