You can tell a team is insecure when they make constant changes, characterised more by hope than any sharp observation of ability. Australia have made more changes in this series than they have at almost any other time save the Packer era where they were forced to. When they were winning they were forcing such behaviour from their opponents, rendering opposition players insecure, uncertain of whether they would get another game.
Interestingly the changes have been rung in the bowling. The lead spinner Nathan Lyon got but one game before he was dropped; so did Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell. Sometimes when you fail, you become more aware of what to do because knowing what not to do is education too.
But Australia could never benefit from the learning curve because the bowlers kept getting dropped. On the other hand, Phil Hughes worked out what not to do and while he didn’t set the series on fire, started getting some numbers beside his name.
Australia needed someone early in the series to play the kind of innings that Alastair Cook did in the second innings at Ahmedabad. After the first innings, many experienced watchers, even former England players were talking of 4-0, but Cook showed India could be defied. And then in Mumbai Kevin Pietersen played the innings of the year showing that India could indeed be attacked.
Earlier in the season, Ross Taylor had played a similar innings and Australia had two players capable of doing that: Watson and Clarke. And maybe Cowan to grind out long innings. Only Clarke enhanced his reputation, and so, like here in Delhi, Australia were always reduced to fighting back; fighting the bowling and the conditions. Maybe they didn’t have the defence to be able to attack; defend the tough moments and be around to force the pace when the opportunity comes which is what Pietersen did so thrillingly in Mumbai.
It reminds me of India’s tour to Australia in 1991-92 where the lower order was constantly out-scoring the top order but to no avail because by then the game had been decided. We’ve seen something similar in Delhi. Now for 4-0 to be averted, Australia must snatch the lead and I won’t be surprised if, even on this pitch, they have to turn to Peter Siddle who is fast becoming a captain’s delight with both bat and ball.
Professional Management Group