Aus­tralia head to Mel­bourne win­ners but not grinners

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia head to Mel­bourne for the Box­ing Day test against Pak­istan with some fes­tive cheer af­ter win­ning the se­ries opener in Bris­bane but Steve Smith’s side will not find many Christmas presents un­der the tree from lo­cal me­dia.

Pun­dits de­scribed Aus­tralia’s 39run win in the first day-night test held at the Gabba as one of the most grip­ping matches of the year. How­ever, they could con­jure only faint praise for the home side af­ter they set Pak­istan a mam­moth 490-run chase and very nearly let them get there on day five.

“Aus­tralia will take a one-nil se­ries lead to Mel­bourne, but it was Pak­istan who skipped off the Gabba like win­ners,” cricket writer Mal­colm Knox penned for Fairfax me­dia.

“For Aus­tralia to skim home with a 39-run mar­gin, af­ter lead­ing by nearly 300 on the first in­nings, sug­gests a litany of blun­ders.”

Af­ter los­ing five tests in suc­ces­sion in Sri Lanka and at home to South Africa, Aus­tralia have hit back to win their last two with a new-look side en­er­gised by two of their three rookie bats­men. Smith, how­ever, is un­der no il­lu­sions about his team’s growing pains. “It showed we’re still not the fin­ished prod­uct,” he told re­porters.


“We’ve got to con­tinue to work hard, and keep the foot on the throat when we’ve got (op­po­nents) in that po­si­tion, and be ruth­less.

The com­ments seemed ironic when weighed against Smith’s waiv­ing of the right to en­force the fol­low-on af­ter Pak­istan were skit­tled for 142 in their first in­nings, 287 runs short of Aus­tralia’s to­tal. His cau­tious field set­tings on day five, with Pak­istan still need­ing 108 runs for vic­tory with only two wick­ets in hand, were queried by for­mer cap­tains Michael Clarke and Mark Tay­lor and slammed as “ridicu­lous” by exEng­land skip­per Michael Vaughan.

Smith’s faith in his front-line seam­ers was ul­ti­mately re­warded when Mitchell Starc broke through to re­move cen­tu­rion Asad Shafiq with a per­fectly pitched bouncer. But it ex­acted a heavy phys­i­cal toll that could have reper­cus­sions for the next match at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground. Workhorse Josh Ha­zle­wood bowled 42 overs in the sec­ond in­nings alone, with Starc, still yet to reach peak form af­ter an in­jury lay-off in the leadup to the home sum­mer, bowling 38.

Along with fel­low pace­man Jackson Bird and spin­ner Nathan Lyon, the pair were spared only three overs’ work dur­ing a hot and hu­mid five days at the Gabba, with part-time slow bowler Nic Maddin­son the only non-spe­cial­ist thrown the ball.

Aus­tralia’s se­lec­tors said they would stick with the same 12 for the Mel­bourne test but then de­ter­mined that the bowlers would be as­sessed and re­in­force­ments might yet be called in. Bowling coach David Saker added to the air of uncer­tainty by lament­ing Aus­tralia’s lack of an all­rounder to help take up the bowling slack af­ter Mitchell Marsh was jet­ti­soned dur­ing the South Africa se­ries for his fail­ure to per­form with the bat. “We have to work with what we’ve got,” Saker told state ra­dio. “There’s been suc­cess­ful teams around the world that have worked with four bowlers, but again you would like one of your top-six bat­ters to be one of your bowlers, but that’s what we have to work with.” —Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.