Calcutta: Cricket Australia has found a new critic, and this time it is none other than Ian Chappell. Coming down heavily on Cricket Australia for agreeing to the upcoming ODI series against India, the former Aussie captain said the “badly timed” matches will dent the team’s morale by exposing its “glaring” batting frailties on spin-friendly tracks here.
India and Australia will clash in a Twenty20 and seven ODIs starting October 10 in Rajkot. Chappell commented that the entire series has been planned just for money.
“Agreeing to this meaningless ODI tour of India so close to an Ashes series is evidence that Cricket Australia is more concerned with dollars than sense,” Chappell wrote in ESPN Cricinfo.
“Cricket Australia obviously doesn’t believe in omens - certainly not the bad variety. Prior to the 2010-11 Ashes in Australia, the team toured India. They lost the Test series 0-2 and followed that with an adverse Ashes result at home.
Having recently lost an away Ashes series by 0-3, Australia are tempting fate by embarking on another Indian tour ahead of another home Ashes,” he opined.
“Australia’s mounting Test losses not only hurt in the record book but have also shredded the team’s aura... Australia’s weakness in this bleak period has been batting in general, and coping with good spin bowling in particular,” he explained.
“The flaws have become so glaring that at a Lord’s Taverners function I attended recently in London, the comments from former players were pointed.
‘What’s happened to Australian batsmanship?’ was the welcome from past opponents before I received the obligatory ‘Oh, and by the way, how are you?’” he added.
“The glaring batting weakness will be exacerbated in India by the absence of Michael Clarke, easily the best player of spin in the Australian side. Without Clarke to guide them and be a steady source of runs, Australia are at risk of again losing in India.
While few from the ODI team will be in contention for the Test side, a demoralising loss on the eve of an Ashes series won’t help Australian morale, while it will boost England’s outlook,” Chappell wrote.
He, however, maintained that the only good news surrounding Clarke’s withdrawal from the Indian tour is that it might mean he will get some much-needed red-ball match practice under Australian conditions.
On the other hand if his injury curtails his cricket in Australia, it’ll be a huge handicap to the team if he's either unavailable or underdone for the Gabba Test.
Chappell said the series will also make it more challenging for the Australian selectors to pick the right squad for the Ashes next month. “Not only is the scheduling of this tour badly timed for the players, it also hasn’t done the Australian selectors any favours,” he said.
“Normally, at this time, they would be gauging batting candidates for the No. 6 position in the Test side based on their domestic first-class form.
Now they’ll feel obliged to take into account any contenders who put up good performances on the tour of India.
“This could lead to some selection blunders. Runs scored in the relative serenity of a 50-over game are a far cry from those that need to be earned in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of an Ashes Test against a good attack,” he opined.
The former skipper feared that the Aussie weakness against spin bowling would be exploited by India and that would hit the confidence of young or non established batsmen.