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'Soft, reckless, way over the edge': Greats savage sweep-happy Aussies' disaster, Warner's unlucky break - Talking Points

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19th February, 2023
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Just when it seemed like Australia had surged back into the series against India, their chances of an upset victory in Delhi were dashed amid a myriad of botched sweep shots.

Taking an aggressive mentality into Day 3 after a successful counterattack in the evening session of Day 2 led by Travis Head, Australian after Australian fell as Ravichandran Ashwin (3/59) and Ravindra Jadeja (7/42) gleefully cleaned up the middle and lower orders, the visitors collapsing from 1/61 overnight to 113 all out in just 19 overs.

The collapse left India needing just 115 runs for a 2-0 series lead and they did it with six wickets in hand.

Only Head, who edged a pearler behind from Ashwin, fell to a purely defensive shot, with Steve Smith, Matt Renshaw, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins and Matt Kuhnemann paying the price for ill-fated attempts to sweep – Cummins’ ungainly slog across the line the worst of the bunch.

Watching it all unfold on commentary duty was former Australian great Matthew Hayden, who famously swept his way to a whopping 303 runs in three Tests in India in 2001; the legendary opener couldn’t have been more scathing of what he’d witnessed.

“Another sweep shot – it is not bouncing, and it is not turning. That’s disappointing,” Hayden said on Fox Cricket following Cummins’ dismissal.

“I know you’ve got to have a method, but there’s a time and a place.


“You have to trust your defence. Every player that plays well here in the subcontinent, including Indian cricketers, they all do that really well.

“When you hack across the line – you’ve got to give yourself some chance! Just see the ball out of the hand.

“He’s [Cummins] gone in there with an absolute premeditated plan to sweep, ball one, instead of just understanding that your defence should be there.”

Hayden went on to apply the blowtorch to the rest of the Australian batting order, blasting their over-aggressive approach and describing the collapse as a ‘disaster’ unbefitting of quality players.

“These are world-class players, and they’ve got everything to win in this series, and everything to lose,” he said.

“There’s that balance, but the reality is they did it so well last evening in those few overs. Strong scoring rate, good defence, proactive batting. But what we’ve seen here is a disaster for Australia.


“It’s a disaster because they’ve gone way over the edge in terms of their aggressive play.”

Another Australian legend in Allan Border went even harder.

“I’m disappointed, I’m shell-shocked, angry, about the way we went about our work today,” he said.

“It was panicky, frenetic batting. No one got in there and tried to stem the flow with some good, defensive cricket. They were all just getting out playing sweep shots, reverse-sweeps, playing shots to just about every ball.

“You just can’t get away with that on that sort of track. You’ve got to have a method where you’re playing within your limitations… you’re not playing on a flat belter where you can expand your game. You’re playing on a really difficult surface, you’ve got to work out where your scoring options are and batting some time at the crease.”

Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar agreed, expressing his surprise in the change of style from Smith and Labuschagne in particular, given their enormous success in recent times.

Gavaskar was particularly shocked by Smith’s ungainly sweep, comparing it unfavourably to his masterful century on a far more challenging wicket in Pune in 2017.


“There’s one thing being attacking, but you get the impression this morning it’s been a bit frenetic,” Gavaskar said.

“This [Smith] is a guy who got 100 in Pune in that Test match where India got 105 and 107 in two innings. You can imagine the surface there, but Steve Smith got a hundred playing like Steve Smith.

“I think they’ve just gone out of their natural batting approach a bit too much, especially people who have the ability.

“I can understand guys who struggle to get in there, people like Usman Khawaja had to find a way to survive, get runs. Labuschagne and Steve Smith, normal cricket, we saw in the first Test match how they got runs in the first innings.

“They’ll have to rethink that. People with exceptional ability don’t need to do things out of the box.”

“The difference between positive and reckless is the result that you end up with. You have to use the word ‘reckless’, especially a couple of the dismissals. Soft,” added current Indian player and commentator Dinesh Karthik.


Warner comeback unclear

David Warner’s Test future is under a cloud after he was subbed out of the second Test under the concussion protocols.

He also has a small fracture in his elbow after getting scans following a separate knock from Mohammed Siraj.

Australia captain Pat Cummins said Warner was “sore and sorry” but whether he is available for selection on March 1 in Indore remains to be seen.

“(Warner) came to the ground today for a fair while which is good, but we’ll kind of assess him over the next little bit,” Cummins said.

Matt Kuhnemann of Australia is bowled.

Matt Kuhnemann of Australia is bowled by Ravindra Jadeja of India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Travis Head top-scored as a makeshift opener in the second innings. “He was extremely confident coming into this game and that’s the Trav I love,” Cummins said.


“I’m really happy to see him out there competing the way he is at the moment, I thought he was absolutely exceptional. I think having Trav in the side in cricket all around the world in the Australian cricket team especially over the last 12 months or so, it’s been bloody exciting to be a part of.”

Nathan Lyon wants to see Warner return to the top of the order.

“Obviously he’s injured, concussed and a fracture in the arm and your spirits, dare say, go down a little bit,” Lyon said after play on Saturday. “But Davey is Davey, we love having him around the team.

“Talking to the medical staff, it’s one of those ones where you could potentially play if you rest it over the next few days and we’ve got a decent break after this Test match.

“If he’s recovered well, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see him out there again.”