Former captain Michael Clarke has slammed Australia's preparation for the tour of India ahead of a must-win game in the second Test match. Australia were humbled by an innings and 132 runs after capitulating in an embarrassing second innings to be all out for 91.
The selectors sprung a number of shocks in the first Test match, which included picking Matt Renshaw for Travis Head. While Renshaw made a golden duck and two runs, debutant Todd Murphy was the best player for Australia having picked up 7-124 on a spinning Nagpur pitch.
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Peter Handscomb also came into the team and performed admirably in the first innings. While Clarke has a gripe with the selection of the team, the former captain has pinpointed the build-up to the first Test as one of the mistakes that had already occurred before decisions on the line-up were made.
Before the tour, the players claimed that a warm-up match wasn't needed. This was ruled out because of the heavy schedules and there was a feeling the players needed to be fresh. Steve Smith had also alluded to the last time they played a warm-up match in India, they were served a green top.
Clarke has previously labelled the lack of a warm-up match as 'ridiculous'. The former captain said before the series that the team needed to get a sense of the conditions before the first Test match.
And, speaking on SEN Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke agains doubled down and thought it was nonsensical for Australia to have played no warm-up match ahead of one of the biggest challenges posed in world cricket. “I think the bit that gets me about it all is - and we talked about it before the series started - were they as well prepared as they could be? And the general consensus, if you talk to anyone on the street, is ‘no, they weren’t,” he said on Tuesday.
“No practice game, no tour match, turn up ... and got dusted in a manner people are pretty disappointed about. Say what you want, they got smoked. India are a pretty good team in their country, but I just don’t think they were prepared well enough.”
Michael Clarke questions selections for second Test
Clarke and former teammate Stuart Clark were also questioning the manner of the team selections. Head's absence for Renshaw sparked a number of Aussie cricket greats, including Steve Waugh, to call out the decision. Debutant Todd Murphy was the best player for Australia having picked up 7-124 on a spinning Nagpur pitch.
However, Clark has questioned whether the selectors will make a string of changes because of how it would look. The selectors have rushed in spinner Matthew Kuhnemann into the squad, which suggests they are seriously considering picking the left-arm spinner for variation.
This poses a problem. While Lyon didn't perform up to his standards in the first Test at Nagpur, he has been Australia's premier spinner for the best part of a decade.
This would then leave Murphy as the other spinner to lose his spot. This would be remarkable since he took seven of 10 wickets for Australia. The other option is a third spinner, if Cameron Green is fit and plays as the second quick option to captain Pat Cummins.
Former captain Clarke didn't think two right-arm off-spinners was the way to go, but agreed with his former teammate that you couldn't drop either bowler.
"Our spinners did a good job but I don’t know if two offies is the right balance for us as well. But as Stuey just said, how do you drop one of them? You can’t," he said. However, Clark said the selectors have backed themselves into a corner following the calls made before the first Test.
“I think they’ve painted themselves into a corner where it’s very difficult to change the team,” Clark added.
"It’s such a corner that they’re almost stuck and unless they get some injury relief — ie. Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green come back — I don’t see how they can make any changes without looking like, A; there’s a massive over-reaction to what happened in the first game, or two; accepting they got it wrong, and I don’t think they want to do either of those.”
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