Australia fail to capitalise in Bangladesh

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert


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    After having Bangladesh in big trouble at 5-117, Australia couldn’t press home their advantage as Pat Cummins melted down in the heat and spinner Steve O’Keefe turned in a very rusty performance.

    When Australian spinner Ashton Agar had superstar Shakib Al Hasan caught behind midway through the second session, the visitors had a chance to dismiss Bangladesh for under 200 on a flat pitch.

    But Australia’s attack failed to maintain pressure and Bangladesh’s middle-to-lower order batted wonderfully well to guide the home side to a good position at 6-253 at stumps.

    For the second consecutive Test, Australia ran through Bangladesh’s top order but could not finish the job. At Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed to 3-10 on day one before a big stand between Shakib and opener Tamim Iqbal led them to an above-par score of 260 on a difficult pitch.

    Yesterday it was wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim (62 not out from 149 balls) and middle order batsman Sabbir Rahman (66 from 113 balls) who rescued Bangladesh. While Sabbir took on the bowlers, Mushfiqur was impressively dogged, focusing on playing with a straight bat and eliminating risk from his game.

    It must be said, however, that Australia’s attack looked increasingly lame, both literally and figuratively, as the day progressed. Australia broke from tradition to play three frontline spinners – the first time in 40 years that they had fielded just one fast bowler in a Test match.

    Nathan Lyon of Australia looks on

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    With pace spearhead Josh Hazlewood out injured, the selectors overlooked reserve quick Jackson Bird and leg spinner Mitchell Swepson in favour of O’Keefe.

    O’Keefe was rushed to Bangladesh when Hazlewood went down, after initially being left out of Australia’s squad, and yesterday bowled like a man who was thoroughly unprepared.

    O’Keefe’s trademark is his unrelenting accuracy, yet he laboured to find consistency in either his line or length. Too often he overpitched and allowed the Bangladesh batsman to drive him through the offside. At other times he dragged his deliveries down and created chances for the batsmen to slice him away off the back foot.

    It was, by some distance, the worst O’Keefe has bowled in his nine-Test career, which has yielded him a good record of 33 wickets at an average of 29. Meanwhile, Cummins was badly affected by the 31C heat and sapping humidity of Chittagong.

    After bowling eight overs in the first session, and then three more just after lunch, Cummins spent a significant amount of time off the field in the second session. Even after having a 20-minute break for tea, Cummins was unable to return to the field for the start of the final session.

    Captain Steve Smith saved Cummins for the second new ball, with which he bowled three overs and looked heavily fatigued. This raised questions about Cummins’ fitness given that 17 overs is by no means a heavy workload for a paceman on the first day of a Test, even in humid conditions.

    Cummins did, however, bowl gallantly on a dead pitch which offered minimal assistance to either pace or spin bowlers. Chittagong is the most batting-friendly Test pitch in Bangladesh.

    The average first innings total at Chittagong has been 390 across the past ten Tests at the ground, and 420 from the past five matches. But any score over 300 will be a good return for Bangladesh given Australia’s poor batting record in Asia and their tendency to crumble under scoreboard pressure.

    Australia had been in a position to roll Bangladesh for less than 200 thanks to some brilliant bowling by lead spinner Nathan Lyon. The veteran overcame the docile pitch to grab three wickets in the first session and a fourth just after lunch, before completing his five-for in the final session.

    Tamim Iqbal vs Australia

    (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

    This continued a lucrative patch of form for Lyon, who has the sensational figures of 33 wickets at 21 from his six Tests in Asia this year. Those stats are especially impressive when you consider that, prior to that, he had averaged 43 with the ball in Asia from 11 matches.

    Yesterday he earned four LBWs thanks to his testing length and deceptive changes of pace. The big improvement in Lyon’s bowling in India was his ability to trap batsmen on the crease, stuck between either going back or stretching forward.

    Again yesterday, he found that same perfect length and exploited it by mixing up his pace considerably, sometimes by as much as 12kmh between consecutive deliveries. Agar, too, did a fine job of tying up the Bangladesh batsmen, sending down six maidens from his 17 overs, compared to O’Keefe who didn’t manage even one.

    Australia need O’Keefe and Cummins to overcome their different struggles if they are to square the series at Chittagong.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (71)

    • September 5th 2017 @ 5:41am
      Mike Dugg said | September 5th 2017 @ 5:41am | ! Report

      Aussies are certainly behind in the match. Cartwright will have to contribute with the bat as his bowling showed very little. Maxwell and Wade are hugely under pressure as well. Aussies shouldn’t have taken this tour so lightly

      • September 5th 2017 @ 10:55am
        AGordon said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        which Aussies do you think took this tour lightly? I’m sure none of the players did, having been really tested in India.

        Maybe you’re referring to the geniuses at CA who arranged if all. One (washed out) practice match before the first Test shows me those clowns have no idea how to get a side ready to play at their best

      • September 5th 2017 @ 3:20pm
        Peter said | September 5th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        I don’t think there’s any evidence that we have taken this tour lightly.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 3:50pm
        doogs said | September 5th 2017 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

        there is absolutely no way they have taken it lightly. They faired very well in India and were one good session away from winning the series. They lost the first test here by 20 runs against a side that are no longer minnows. They have been ultra competitive and are certainly not being embarrassed

      • September 5th 2017 @ 4:15pm
        matth said | September 5th 2017 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

        Cartwright is a batsman who bowls a bit. His bowling should not be how he is judged at all.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:09am
      John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      what was our XI for the new years test? Who is missing?


      • Roar Rookie

        September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am
        Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Missing Hazelman but thankfully we still have Cummin, Smyth and Handcomb

        • September 5th 2017 @ 8:50am
          jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

          Nice. We do have Maxxwell and Aggar as well.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 9:04am
          Ouch said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Cummin, Hazelman and Smyth. I used those herbs last night cooking dinner.

          Not Handcomb though. Tastes worse than Coriander.

          • September 5th 2017 @ 9:22am
            John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

            what was our XI for the new years test? Who is missing?

            This is what I ask!

            Smyth is a flat track bully, we all know it in Nagpur

          • Roar Rookie

            September 5th 2017 @ 9:40am
            Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            The only way this post could be better is if it was written by Basil

            • September 5th 2017 @ 11:47am
              Basil said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

              Thanks mate, but I’m just not that clover… I mean clever.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 1:29pm
                jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                I don’t know that Lanceo is really your mate. You need to go speak to Mato.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:13am
      spruce moose said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Was the pitch flat, dead or docile Ronan?

      • September 5th 2017 @ 8:23am
        Liam said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Cummins got quite a bit of bounce with the new ball, and about twenty overs in bowled a bouncer which struck a batsmen on the helmet, square on the emblem.

        Other than that, no swing to speak of, not much in the way of turn. Lyon got his wickets because the batsmen played for spin and the ball didn’t and stayed a little bit low sometimes, so those who are prone to LBW will have issues.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 4:17pm
          matth said | September 5th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          Given our entire team are prone to LBW’s that’s not a great sign. Where is Watto when you need him?

      • September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am
        rock86 said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        all three

        • September 5th 2017 @ 8:39am
          Ross said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:39am | ! Report

          This pitch is dead and just like how it was in the third test in Sri Lanka when it was flag and what does hohns do when there is a flat pitch in Asia he drops khawaja, and that for a all rounder who bowled 4 overs yesterday

          • September 5th 2017 @ 8:52am
            jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

            Cartwright was not picked as an all rounder. He was picked as a batsman who can also bowl the odd over.

            Let’s wait till the end of the test before we judge. Cartwright hasn’t batted yet.

            • September 5th 2017 @ 9:45am
              Stephen said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

              Ross is correct, if Hilton is picked as a batsman then this is absurd selection, khawaja is a world class player and as usual is made the scapegoat for any loss even though all other batsman minus warner failed. Also though Shane Warne performed well in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Warne has a miserable record in India and actually Warne should worry about his record in Asia. But Nice Garry is awesome in India. He is having three five wickets haul in India and Goat bettered his personal best twice in India. But still Nice Garry has to be a match winner. Unlike Warne Lyons has done a really small amount of work for the victory of Australia.

              • Roar Guru

                September 5th 2017 @ 1:52pm
                Rellum said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

                James is correct, not Ross. Cartwright is a batsmen brought in to replace Usman who the selectors think can’t score in the sub-continent. He is not an all-rounder.

            • Roar Guru

              September 5th 2017 @ 1:52pm
              Rellum said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              You are going to struggle Jameswm convince people that a player is not an all-rounder once they are branded as such.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 3:53pm
                doogs said | September 5th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

                yes. I understood he had a terrific average in the latest domestic season and bowled more as a backup.

          • Roar Guru

            September 5th 2017 @ 9:55am
            Ryan H said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            Cartwright is a relief bowler more than anything. Even if he plays in home tests I doubt he’d bowl more than 8-10 overs in an innings. He’s basically a pure batsman who is a useful bowler; he bats in the top four for WA.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Ouch said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Heard an interview with the GOAT this morning and he said it was one of the toughest days of bowling he’d had. Pitch was dead.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 1:33pm
          Stephen said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Pitch was dead, makes sense why Hohns dropped khawaja so he doesn’t get runs in this game and prove him wrong, similar move to what he did in Sri Lanka

    • Roar Guru

      September 5th 2017 @ 8:19am
      Edward L'Orange said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Maxwell deserves his spot, and a run in the team. One drop does not mean he’s worthless.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 8:44am
        Ross said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Yet if khawaja dropped a catch there would be calls to deport him from the country

        • September 5th 2017 @ 8:49am
          jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          Nice, rational comment there Ross. Well done.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:20am
      Liam said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      This was genuinely the worst I’ve ever seen O’Keefe bowl.

      He was too full, every ball; he couldn’t get the ball to dip, the way he usually could, and he bowled to left handers around the wicket, when he had footmarks from Cummins – already – to bowl to left handers over the wicket.

      Either the coaching/captaincy was dead wrong – they told him to keep it tight or to bowl defensively, to give Cummins and others a rest – or O’Keefe has had so little practice that he’s genuinely worse than if we’d brought Swepson in.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 5th 2017 @ 8:31am
        Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        I reckon with his round arm action that he needs a decent amount of cricket to find rhythm. Pretty easy to get it wrong when you’re not bowling straight up and down like a Lyon or Agar. He is massively underdone.

        I thought Cartwright looked better than his limited spell in Sydney. Hopefully he continues to improve with the ball

        • September 5th 2017 @ 8:41am
          Ross said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          Hilton bowled 4 overs mate and that gave no issues to the batsman, he is a good all rounder but bringing him for a batsman when we opened wirj Lyon and cummins again is a complete joke

          • Roar Rookie

            September 5th 2017 @ 8:53am
            Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

            No he is not a good allrounder. He is a top order batsman with a first class average last season over 50 who happens to be able to roll his arm over. My post indicates that he showed some improvement with the ball from his Sydney test and that further improvement would be great to see. He doesn’t need to be constantly neating the bat to be improving.

            He has already contributed more in this test than Khawaja did in the first.

          • September 5th 2017 @ 8:53am
            jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

            What if Cartwright scores a ton?

            • September 5th 2017 @ 9:48am
              Stephen said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

              Its interesting to note that the moment a good batting pitch is on display they drop khawaja, i look forward to reading his book after retirement as surely there is a tint of discrimination once again. And let me understadn this, So we weakened our batting so Cartwright could bowl 5 overs. In a match following one where our batting let us down. Why do our selectors never learn from their mistakes? It’s a good batting pitch, Lyon did extremely well, BD needs to score 350+ to save the match.

              • Roar Rookie

                September 5th 2017 @ 10:34am
                Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

                Have you entertained the possibility that the selectors believe they have strengthened the batting by picking a guy with a first class average over 50 to replace a guy coming off a pair of ones and who is finding run scoring in these conditions difficult? Cartwright wasn’t picked to bowl 5 overs. How about we wait till he bats and keep in mind that if he edges his first ball through slips for 4 he has contributed 200% of what Khawaja did with the bat in the first test

              • September 5th 2017 @ 10:59am
                peter chrisp said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                The Bangas need 350 to save the match? Really? With a score of over 300 today most likely there is no pressure on them at all. With our previous test where we scored 217 & 244 or thereabouts & let’s see how we perform, will we get anywhere near 300? Remains to be seen. Let’s hope i am wrong.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 11:52am
                Basil said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                I like Khawaja but this bleating is getting tiresome.

                The fact is that if Cartwright scores more than 2 for the match then they’ve strengthened the batting.

                Also just because someone can roll the arm over doesn’t dismiss there batting ability. The guy is an out and out top order batsman. Why is this so hard to understand?

              • September 5th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                jameswm said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Not sure Basil.

                Cartwright had a very good Shield season and a reputation for playing spin well. Khawaja is a proven failure in the subcontinent and in the 1st innings at least, looked panicked.

                I love Ussie but if you can swap bowlers in the subcontinent, you can swap batsmen. Ussie is one of the best batsmen around IN AUSTRALIA. There’s a difference Stephen/Ross.

          • September 5th 2017 @ 8:54am
            JoM said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Wasn’t he second top scorer in shield last year? Let’s hope he can do better than 1 and 1.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 9:24am
          John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          Lance, let us pray that Cartwright is the all rounder for Ashes and not Maxwell

    • Roar Rookie

      September 5th 2017 @ 8:32am
      Lancey5times said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Do you call yourself a supporter of Australian cricket?

      • September 5th 2017 @ 8:37am
        Ross said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        Are you talking to yourself