In the wake of Australia's Test thumping at the hands of India in the first of four matches for the Border-Gavaskar trophy, the former captain the trophy is partly named after has ripped into the side for their efforts. Allan Border implored the Aussies to play with a 'harder edge' in the second Test after their defeat by an innings and 132 runs.
Australia were all at sea with the bat in Nagpur, crumbling in the first innings before an even more calamitous collapse in the second innings. However it was one act from players, in particular Steve Smith, that left Border baffled.
He noted that several batsmen, notably Smith, had been commending Indian bowlers on many of their good deliveries. Smith even offered a thumbs up to one, leaving Border unimpressed given Australia's dire struggles with the turning ball across both innings.
In the second innings a whopping six Australian batsmen were dismissed LBW, with Smith the last man standing unbeaten on 25. Just three Aussies made it to double figures, and none made more than 20 save for Smith.
Speaking on Fox Cricket after the match, Border said the Australian team didn't need to go over the top with aggression in the second Test, but that offering encouragement to their rivals was a bridge too far.
“Play with a harder edge. I mean, we’re giving blokes the thumbs up when they’re beating us outside the off stump,” Border said. “What the hell is going on? That is just ridiculous.
“Don’t go stupid, but Australia play hard nose cricket. We’re even giving someone thumbs up ... bloody hell.”
— Circle of Cricket (@circleofcricket) February 11, 2023
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) February 11, 2023
Love how Steve Smith gives Ravindra Jadeja a thumbs up every time Jadeja beats him silly 👍#INDvsAUS
— Sushant Mehta (@SushantNMehta) February 11, 2023
The visitors have a week to ruminate on the loss before the second Test gets underway on Friday. They have never won a series after losing the first Test in a four-match contest.
However, captain Pat Cummins is confident Australia can bounce back and put in a more competitive showing in Delhi. "Everyone came with pretty clear plans," Cummins said.
"The challenge is, under the furnace to be brave enough to be proactive at the time. That will be the conversation over the next couple of days.
"We faced some pretty tough bowlers at times. Playing in India, the game really speeds up. All their bowlers bowled really well, really put the pressure on us and next time we've got to find a way to manage that."
Aussies face selection crunch ahead of second Test against India
Australia will travel to the Indian capital full of selection dilemmas, with fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood - as well as allrounder Cameron Green - pushing to prove their fitness after missing the first Test.
Another Australia great, Mark Waugh, urged selectors to make "changes" during a commentary stint. Travis Head, the world's No.4-ranked batter, was controversially axed for the series opener due to his poor record in Asia.
Playing his first Test since January 2019, Peter Handscomb was serviceable at No.6, but Queensland left-hander Matt Renshaw had a nightmare batting in Head's usual position. "We were confident it was our best XI this week," Cummins said.
"We know the quality Trav is. He's a huge part of this team but we were confident in the 11 guys out there.
"He's been really good around the group, he's been out the back working really hard on his game like he always does."
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