Australia’s slide started with India series: Roebuck

January 1st, 2009 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 1 (IANS) Eminent cricket writer Peter Roebuck, who called for Ricky Ponting’s sacking in the aftermath of Sydney controversy, traced Australia’s downfall to that series against India from where he feels the world champions lost their stomach to fight.”Thanks to abysmal umpiring, India lost that match and almost went home. Happily tempers cooled. The Indians had the last laugh, winning in Perth, taking the one-day series and hammering the Australians on subcontinent soil. Along the way, they played some scintillating cricket. It is a new country whose players nowadays emerge from the same tough back streets that produced Ponting and company,” Roebuck said.

“Among the cricketing nations Australia never had a colonial mindset, or played the game by English rules. Quite the opposite. It took a long time but eventually India embraced the same emancipation. They did not add to their charms but it did make them harder to beat,” Roebuck wrote in his column in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia have not beaten a strong side since Sydney Test.

“The Australians were subdued but Virender Sehwag was back and Matthew Hayden was missing. Hayden’s lean spells have coincided with Australia’s bad trots. Cause or effect? It is quite something to field an opening batsman capable of intimidating new-ball bowlers. After Sydney, though, the senior players fell back. Andrew Symonds became distracted, Brett Lee lost form, Hayden endured injuries and the team did not recover its rhythm. In hindsight Sydney can be understood only as the last desperate struggle of a falling champion.”

Roebuck said Ponting and company easily beat the second division sides like West Indies and New Zealand but the bowling was too weak to trouble powerful batting orders.

“Gradually the side began fray at the edges. The veterans were torn between lashing out and sitting tight. Some players did progress, notably Simon Katich, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson, but momentum was lost and the team lacked belief and penetration.”

“Frustrated by injuries, the selectors became flustered and started neglecting the basics that Australia usually applies better than any rival. Cameron White played as a bowler, specialists were ignored, wounded players retained. Elsewhere dubious appointments were made and contracts were blithely extended. Desperation took hold.”

“Australia have forgotten how to win. As much was evident in the absurd tactics pursued in Nagpur and in the equally ill-advised response to criticism from retired players. As much could be told from the failure to press in Perth and Melbourne. And yet all is not lost.”

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