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The fourth Test is almost over. The Aussie batsmen are following on, and no matter what happens today, the series will end in a comprehensive Indian victory.
Before the series began, with India ranked No.1 and Australia ranked No.5 in the world Test rankings, common sense said the tourists were the favourites, especially because Australia had shot themselves in the foot with sandpaper-gate, relegating our two highest-rated batsmen to local district cricket grounds.
But the first two Tests, leaving the sides tied with one win apiece, dared us to dream that Australia may upend the common-sense predictions. In the end it wasn’t to be, and it went wrong in five ways.
1. The expectations
Our expectations were completely unrealistic. The rational fans were drowned out by parochialism backed by an enthusiastic local media to have us believe we were favourites. India had won only an occasional Test in this country – how could they win an entire series, and for the first time in their history? Well, they could and they did.
2. The batting
India’s team is filled with experienced Test cricketers who have been through the Test mill. Even the reserves are experienced first-class cricketers with sound records.
Our lot had two experienced Test players whose failures always seem to outweigh their successes. As it turned out, this was a series in which their failures seemed to be all we got.
Each Aussie batting card was filled with batsmen who got a start and then played an unwise shot and got out. Only six scores over 50 were recorded and no-one scored over 100.
3. The bowling
When an attack is frequently described as the best attack in world cricket, the only way is down. After watching Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon bowl hundreds of overs on wickets that did not permit lift or sideways movement and then be comprehensibly out-bowled by every Indian bowler, they now have to be referred to as the most exhausted attack in world cricket.
They tried so hard, and apart from Starc’s wayward efforts in Adelaide, they did as well as they could have.
4. Cheteshwar Pujara
He was the rock. No flashing blade, no extravagant gestures – he just defended solidly and picked up runs at an old-fashioned Test cricket pace of under 50 runs per 100 balls. That textbook style drove everyone but the Indians crazy. He must be the man of the series.
5. The Australian selectors
They deserve a lot of the criticism. Knowing the weakened nature of our side, what did they do? They picked the same old failures. If I hear Mark Waugh on Fox Sports say one more time that Shaun Marsh must keep his place, I will launch my remote at my screen.
Why Peter Siddle? Why not Jhye Richardson or Billy Stanlake? What harm could that do? Mitchell Marsh? Forget it. Try Marcus Stoinis. Last and certainly least, there was Marnus Labuschagne as a No.3. I hear Ricky Ponting crying in his beer.
And the one-day side? Peter Siddle again, both Marshes and no D’Arcy Short. Do they even watch anybody play?
I read a Dean Jones article saying that the selectors must be replaced. I agree, and soon.
That’s where it all went wrong.