Aussie wicketkeeper Alex Carey has defended his teammates in the wake of brutal criticism from Allan Border around the first Test defeat in Nagpur. The Aussie cricket great took aim at some of the players and suggested that the tourists were too nice during the humiliating innings and 132-run defeat in the Border-Gavaskar series opener.
Not one of Australia's batters registered a half century in the match and the defeat was particularly embarrassing after the tourists were rolled for 91 in the second innings - the lowest total Australia has ever recorded in a series in India. Border urged Pat Cummins' men to "play with a harder edge" in the second Test in Delhi.
CALLS FOR CHANGE: Mark Taylor's message amid fury over selection 'disgrace'
'ABSOLUTE INSANITY': Aussies cash in at inaugural WPL auction
'PATHETIC': Ian Healy lashes India move ahead of second Test
Border suggested the visitors lacked a bit of mongrel or aggression typical of successful Aussie sides of the past. He was especially scathing of Steve Smith, who was seen congratulating India's menacing spin bowlers and even offering them a thumbs-up when they delivered good balls during the Test match.
— Circle of Cricket (@circleofcricket) February 11, 2023
“Play with a harder edge. I mean, we’re giving blokes the thumbs up when they’re beating us outside the off stump,” Border told Fox Cricket after the match. “What the hell is going on? That is just ridiculous.
“Don’t go stupid, but Australia play hard-nosed cricket. We’re even giving someone thumbs up ... bloody hell.”
Border's name adorns the trophy that the two sides are competing for in India, and the former captain is a revered figure in Australian cricket. However, Carey says the Test legend needs to respect that it is a completely different era in Australian cricket and players don't necessarily conduct themselves in the same manner as Border is used to.
"He's (Border) played many games of cricket over here and he's a fantastic leader for Australia," the 31-year-old said. "I guess amongst the group, guys do it differently.
Carey was quick to jump to Smith's defence and said his hand gestures were simply a part of his undoubtedly brilliant batting make-up. The wicketkeeper insists that just because Smith is happy to commend opposition bowlers, does not mean he is lacking fight.
"He (Smith) plays around with his hands and does all that stuff and I think that's probably what gets him pretty focused," Carey added. "They're obviously strong comments (from Border), but as a group, we believe in what we're doing and come the second Test, we're ready to go."
Can Australia level Test series against India?
Australia are confident they can bounce back in the spin-friendly conditions, despite never having won a four-Test series after going down 1-0. Making matters even more daunting for the tourists is the fact India have not lost a Test at the next venue in Delhi since 1987.
Australia are sticking with the plan they brought to the subcontinent, taking confidence out of last year's tour of Pakistan when they secured a 1-0 win in the final session of the series. "It is the first Test of four and we're still very positive amongst ourselves that we'll be able to bounce back in Delhi and get this series back level and continue to believe in what we've done over the past 12 to 18 months," Carey said.
"Unfortunately, it didn't go to plan this first Test, but we're definitely reinforcing the messages we've had leading into the tour and going into the next Test." Australia coach Andrew McDonald said Queensland left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann was a "live chance" to play after being called into the squad.
The tourists will consider playing Kuhnemann with first Test hero Todd Murphy and star veteran Nathan Lyon, only if allrounder Cameron Green (finger) is available to return from injury. Green has been ramping up his bowling at training and is looking more comfortable batting in the nets, but is no certainty to be available for the second Test.
Star quick Mitchell Starc is considered a more likely starter after arriving in the Indian capital on Sunday, having recovering from the broken finger he suffered in the Boxing Day Test. Starc's return would likely push fellow quick Scott Boland out of the Aussie XI, with the luckless Victorian going wicket-less despite an economical 0-34 from 17 overs in the first Test.
The other big selection decision for Australia is likely to centre around Travis Head, with many fans left perplexed that one of Australia's most in-form batters over the last 12 months was dropped for the first Test. Reports from NewsCorp have emerged that Head is being considered at the top of the Aussie batting order at the expense of veteran David Warner, who made 1 and 10 in the first Test in Nagpur and averages just over 22 in his career in India.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.