Australian coach Andrew McDonald has defended the team's tactics and preparation against India after criticism from cricket greats such as Michael Clarke. Pat Cummins' men suffered a horror collapse in the second Test, which saw them lose 9-48 to all but end any hopes of winning back the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
The Australians have had no answer to the spin of Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin, while a number of selection calls have raised eyebrows with cricket greats back at home. One in particular was Travis Head missing out on selection in the first Test match.
David Warner's form continues to be scrutinised and the veteran opener is now in doubt for the third Test match after fracturing his elbow and being substituted for concussion. Furthermore, former captain Michael Clarke has led the criticism of the lack of preparation for the India series.
This included some players taking part in the Big Bash only days out from the training camp. Australia opted against playing a tour game in India, preferring to ready themselves for the blockbuster series by training on spin-friendly pitches in Sydney, and then in an intensive training camp in Bangalore.
However, despite heavy criticism falling on the Aussie squad, coach McDonald has moved to defend the team. He said the build-up was good for the series and he doesn't believe he would make any changes.
"I still wouldn't have changed what we did leading in, there's no doubt about that," McDonald said in Delhi on Monday. "I think they had really good preparation in Bangalore, so there's not any excuses.
"At the end of day two, if you said our preparation was good, you'd probably have a different slant on it, but within an hour then people start to critique what happened in the past. I don't think that had a great bearing on what happened in that hour, we were prepared for that, and day three, as well as we could have been and we failed under the examination of India."
Clarke has been one of the leading critics of the preparation in India before the series got underway. And after the second Test debacle, Clarke once again called out the team for a lack of awareness surrounding the tour.
"I’m not surprised by what I’m seeing because we didn’t have a tour game,” Clarke said on Sky Sports radio on Monday. “Major, major, major mistake. There should have been at least one game over there to get used to the conditions.
“Selection for the first Test, major, major mistake. Second Test, blokes sweeping, we saw enough of that the first Test match. They’re not the right conditions to sweep when you start your innings. And they’re never going to be the right conditions to reverse sweep against the spin at the start of your innings.”
Aussie coach questions batting tactics against India
Six of Australia's 10 dismissals came via the sweep shot in the second innings against India, with Steve Smith and Matt Renshaw trapped lbw, and Cummins, Alex Carey and Matthew Kuhnemann all clean-bowled. Greats Allan Border, Clarke and Ian Chappell all questioned the batting tactics that appeared to be reckless and premeditated.
And McDonald claimed that players appeared to change their batting approach and didn't stick to what has worked for them in the past. "Our methods are going to be critiqued, and rightfully so," McDonald added.
"There were some people who went clearly away from the game plan that made them successful over a period of time and that's for us to own as a collective. We've got to be better than that, that's the bottom line, we've got to own it and we are not here to shy away from the fact that wasn't good enough."
Clarke was also critical of Cummins' captaincy after his fielding placement appeared to want to defend the limited runs on the board in the second innings, instead of taking an aggressive approach. “I’m not sure what happened with our tactics,” Clarke added on Monday. “We had just 100 runs on the board.
“At one stage, Patty Cummins had four blokes on the boundary. There’s two-and-a-half days left in the Test match. You’re either bowling India out for under a hundred or you’re losing: one or the other.
“If you lose in 20 overs, or you lose in two days, it’s irrelevant. So fielders get up, bat-pad off side, bat-pad leg side. If the ball turns, if the ball bounces, if the ball shoots along the ground, if you make an error in judgment, you are getting out.
“That’s what Australia had to do with the ball. I know it’s only a tiny run lead, but we had to still try and win the game, and we had mid-off back, mid-on back, deep point, deep square leg. What was I watching?”
Australia will weigh up multiple changes to the squad for the third Test in Indore, starting on March 1. Bowling allrounder Ashton Agar and out-of-form batter Matt Renshaw are contenders to be sent home as both players are unlikely to feature in the remaining two Tests.
Australia wanted to train in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, what would have been days four and five of the second Test, but have been unable to find available facilities.
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