The irony out of the ball-tampering saga has been the fact that the Australian bowling coach, David Saker and batting coach, Graeme Hick, one of those South Africans who became a Pom, have both been spared, and until last night not even mentioned in dispatches.
Not that either coach is regarded as a culprit in the affair, far from it. The fact that they are not in any discussions, and fact that us Aussies have just copped a flogging from South Africa, tells me they are about to be.
Legendary spin king Shane Warne, commentating on Fox TV, fired the first salvo when he asked the question: “What’s the batting coach doing. Where are all Australia’s good batsmen.”
While the three now infamous Aussies, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were concocting, and then carrying out, plans to make the ball swing, where was Saker? Was he hoeing into a big lunch, or was he sitting down with his three quicks discussing tactics on that fateful day in Cape Town?
Whatever, our three fast bowlers, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are all wonderful at their trade; all tired and worn after a long summer; and all bereft of ideas when it comes to genuine swing bowling.
Having said that, our bowlers, on most occasions in the first three tests, did a good job of containing the Proteas, with the exception of AB de Villiers in the second test when he cut loose as only the best batsman in the world can.
It was our batsmen who failed miserably throughout the four test series. Not one centurion in eight innings’ is a recipe for failure, and so it was, smashed 3-1, blown away by a far superior bowling attack on home turf, highlighted by Tuesday night’s capitulation, with Vernon Philander taking 6-3 on day five. The hapless Australians crumbled to just 119 all out in their second innings, falling 492 runs short of South Africa’s target.
As an Aussie cricket fan it was totally embarrassing, particularly after watching our friends, the Kiwis, across the Tasman, fighting to the death on the same day to defy the Pommy bowlers and win the three-match series. That’s real fight, real passion and real commitment to the Kiwi cause.
Not us; no, we threw away our last three wickets in the first innings and caved in without a decent fight in the second innings, although Philander did swing the ball prodigiously. How come they can make it swing, and we can’t?
A statistic not known to many, but mentioned by Warne, is that from the last 50 tests played by the Aussies we have scored 72 centuries, of which Smith (22) and Warner (19) have contributed no less than 41, a stinging indictment of the poor performances by our other four top order batsmen.
Of our top six, the Marsh brothers are back to their best, giving slips catching practice, Khuwaja doesn’t hack it as a test number three, Handscomb has a technique in desperate need of an overhaul (where’s the coach when we need him?), Renshaw, showed he is not ready to resume the opening role, while Joe Burns, judging by his second innings effort, could be back in the groove.
While Smith and co are on holidays it might be time to reinvent our batting lineup; bring in some new blood, because it is patently obvious that our current top six are not all up to the job of playing test cricket.
Australia’s all-time leading test wicket taker, Warne, has said heads must roll following their defeat in the fourth Test, and he obviously includes the batting coach.
“Australia have a lot of questions to answer and I believe heads must roll on and off the field,” Warne said to millions of viewers world wide.
“We need new people who are passionate about the game.”
According to Warne, no one should be spared following the South Africa debacle.
“All positions, from the top down, are in jeopardy and need to be looked at,” he said.