Sydney: India were unable to cope with the relatively easy-paced wicket for the second Test here and Australia coach Mickey Arthur can’t see how they can turn it around on the dreadfully quick and bouncy WACA track in Perth during the third Test starting January 13.
“They didn’t look comfortable in the first innings. In the second they did but then this wicket, along with the one in Adelaide, is similar to the sub-continent. But WACA is different. It has pace and bounce and sideways movement. It’s interesting how they go there,” was Arthur’s challenging verdict delivered at a press conference.
The Indians have lost the first two Tests of the four-match series by 122 runs and by an innings and 68 runs respectively. The final two Tests of the series will be played in Perth (January 13-17) and Adelaide (January 24-28).
The Indian batting, despite the big names in the ranks, has failed to rise to the occasion leading to suggestions that it might be over-rated and more a group of talented individuals. But Arthur begged to differ.
“I would never say that. They are the World Cup holders. Not very long ago, they held the number one slot in Tests. I would never ever say they are a team of individuals. They have really good individual players but lately they have played as a team and have had some success as a side. I wouldn’t say it (team of individuals) at all,” he said.
Arthur’s move to bring his batters for a clinic just before the Melbourne Test has been seen as a master-stroke on the part of the Australian coach. His Indian counterpart, Duncan Fletcher, on the other hand, looks impassive and uninspirational.
“He’s (Duncan Fletcher) a fantastic coach. He’s one of the best I’ve spoken to. He knows the game inside out. I am sure he would definitely be planning to comeback at Perth. He is a great man, he wouldn’t be taking (these defeats) calmly. He’s a very proud man and he would make sure his team is ready, come Perth.
“As for the batting camp, we wanted to be best we possibly could be in terms of preparation for the India series. I felt a little bit rushed into New Zealand series. We had just arrived from South Africa,” Arthur said.
“I wasn’t happy, I wanted to tick every box and so we went a little bit early in Melbourne, so we could look at Indian bowlers, study them, simulate them in nets.
“So we had a solid game plan in place. Our batters certainly benefited from the couple of days we had (in Melbourne),” he added.
The men who made the most out of it were Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey even though question marks seem to hang over Shaun Marsh who has been a failure at number three. Arthur though gave the young left-hander his whole-hearted support.
“We require a lot from Shaun. He plays when when he leaves (deliveries outside off-stump) well. He probably has been a little tentative since his comeback. But it takes one innings, 25 minutes or 20 balls to rediscover that touch and form and get that confidence back.
“As I keep saying, form is temporary and class is permanent. He’s a fantastic player and he would get a lot of runs for Australia,” he said.
Arthur described Clarke as a truly dynamic player who has worked hard on his game.
“First and foremost, he has an aura around him in the dressing room. Every good leader has that. He is dynamic. He looks a complete package, complete captaincy package as well. He truly is inspirational.
“He was disappointed at MCG; and at Hobart after all the good work he did in Brisbane. He has worked extremely hard to technically get everything working again.
“He is best when he is hitting late and under his eyes. He did so exceptionally well in this Test. There are so many graphics which show he has hit under his eyes and hit late. He gets into trouble when he is hitting far from his eyes,” Arthur said.
With Shane Watson, recently plagued by injury, waiting to get back into the playing eleven, Arthur said he looks forward to it even though he feels his side has the best six batters in the squad they need at the moment.
“We are comfortable with the top six we have available, if all are selected for Perth. He’s (Watson) is a quality all-rounder. He has ability with both bat and ball. He needs more time and would be ready, hopefully by Adelaide and if not then may be in one-day series. We will see how he progresses.
“Indeed, we need eight batters; we need depth in bowling and batting department,” he said.
Arthur also declared in advance that 32-year-old swing bowler Ryan Harris would be picked for the third Test after being on the bench in the first two Tests.
“His chances of playing are very good. He’s a proven quick bowler who has waited in the wings. He has done a lot of hard work in the last two weeks. He was close to getting a game here.
“Personally, I don’t like going into a Test without a spinner for he chances tempo and brings variation. Nathan (Lyon) did a job for us. There wasn’t any huge spin available and then he bowled to the best players of spin in the world.
“It’s interesting; even (Ravichandaran) Ashwin came here with high expectations; he’s a class spinner but his form is the same as Nathan’s. There hasn’t been much in conditions to offer help.
I am certain that Lyon will be needed in the team going forward. He needs confidence but I am sure we would get the rewards in due course,” Arthur said.
Arthur got back to mentioning on the impact of Clarke on the side and rated his triple century as one of the best knocks he has seen.
“Coming at 3/30, he was decisive, aggressive, ran well, was positive and made all the right decisions. He looked in great touch. He worked very hard in the nets leading up to the Test.
“He was in good touch in Melbourne but was disappointed that he couldn’t convert a good start. Then he got a good ball from Ishant in the second. This innings (the triple century) is one of the best innings under pressure I’ve seen,” he said.
Arthur also rated the decision by his captain to declare on the third afternoon when he could have had many more runs than an unbeaten 329.
“We knew where we wanted to go. What we wanted to achieve was two good spells either side of tea. That was his decision, an unselfish, team decision. I’m not surprised for this game is not about individuals but all about team,” he said.
The Australian coach, who earlier had coached South Africa, termed the personality of cricketers of the two nations almost the same.
“The only culture you need to create is that of winning.
“It all looks well when the side is doing well. The dressing room in both the countries is the same. The characters are the same, both are very close in personalities. There’s not a huge shift,” he said.