What plans, these?

John Buchanan with skipper Ricky Ponting. The Australian coach has a lot of work to do in the Caribbean.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Australia has, in recent times, somewhat neglected regular net practice with the emphasis on trying to make the training sessions as competitive and intense as a match.The team will have to also devote much more time to their fielding, as they have dropped far too many catches in recent times.

The more I heard and saw of Australia's planning for the World Cup, the more confused I became. I wonder if their support staff was suffering from an overload of information. Unfortunately, much of this information is not relevant to the current situations and pertains more to new and untried theories.

While I am a great fan of new, innovative thinking, I am of the belief that they must be tried and tested before labelling them as facts.

Australia have much work to do and I hope their planning is based on good old common sense with the simple basics of the game given high priority. I have been amazed, since the team's debacle in the Chappell-Hadlee series against New Zealand, at the statements made by the captain for the series, Mike Hussey, and coach John Buchanan who suggested that they will have to monitor the opposition batsmen more closely and design tactics to put pressure on their weaknesses.

A Queensland journalist, Robert Craddock, quoted Buchanan as saying that he wants Australia to plan more specifically for rival teams in the World Cup with training sessions likely to include balls which the team feels will maximise their chances of containing or dismissing the star batsmen of the team they are playing against.

"It is a matter of making sure we do all the homework and do training specific to the team we are about to play," Buchanan said. "That is a major area for us to concentrate on. If you are getting belted around the park all the time you have lost confidence.

"It comes back to being very clear on our opposition and having the ability to execute what we have to do.

"You have to know your rivals and train that way."

This is hardly rocket science, and I imagine since W. G. Grace's time the bowlers and captains have planned their tactics along these lines. Buchanan's statement begs the question: why haven't they been doing this in recent times?

With the amount of resources instantly available for the team this should have been easily picked up and tactics implemented to handle different situations. Quite frankly, a keen knowledge, sharp eye and brain would have isolated the problems, hopefully before they did too much damage to the team.

Australia's tactics must be totally devoted to sorting out the bowling problems, and this can only be done in the nets or in organised centre wicket practice. So, it is back to the basics and hard practice.

Australia has, in recent times, somewhat neglected regular net practice with the emphasis on trying to make the training sessions as competitive and intense as a match. The team will have to also devote much more time to their fielding, as they have dropped far too many catches in recent times.

Perhaps the most worrying and telling aspect has been Australia's poor bowling performance in the last 10 overs of a match. With 6.64 runs per over in those vital times, Australia figure at the bottom of the list of top nations as far as the economy rate is concerned.

Only New Zealand, with 6.68 runs per over, are behind them, while the West Indies, surprisingly, are at the top, conceding only 5.85 per over.

Hopefully, Australia would do better in bowling with the announcement that Troy Cooley, their bowling coach, will travel with them. Until the disaster in New Zealand, Cooley wasn't scheduled to accompany the team to the World Cup.

Even more startling than Cooley's omission from the tour of New Zealand was that he hadn't seen any of the matches on television. His reason: Cricket Australia had not arranged pay TV in his home. Amazing!

But what about the suggestion that Buchanan may have deliberately leaked documents detailing Australia's team plan as part of the mind game he employed as coach?

"Let's not dwell on that too much because it might be something we do again," said Buchanan when asked whether the leaking of sensitive material in Adelaide, England and New Zealand had been an accident.

You will recall that written details of Australian plans for opposition players ended up in the wrong hands — most famously under the hotel doors of journalists who could not believe their luck.

Weird, and all too much for me, though you might now understand why I am more confused about Australia's plans for the 2007 World Cup.