Where to now for the Australian Test team?
Australia were beaten in incredible fashion in the First Test in South Africa, after slumping to a second innings total of a meagre 47 runs.
The result has confirmed Australia’s sudden drop from world beaters to strugglers and has new captain Michael Clarke scratching his head.
However, ahead of the Second Test, Clarke said: “Whoever we think our best 11 is for this second Test match needs to be selected. If that means no changes that means no changes.
“If that means four changes … I want the best 11 to win the game in Johannesburg whatever that 11 is.”
It would be hard to believe that Australia could take the same 11 into the Second Test, considering their performance in the opener in Cape Town.
The biggest disappointments were the batsmen who let their second innings slip to 9/21. That, in itself, is inconceivable for Australian cricket.
And the reality is, had it not been for Clarke’s first innings century, it would’ve been a lot worse.
Despite that, Mitchell Johnson is again under the spotlight for his inconsistent performances with the ball.
“We need him taking wickets, there’s no doubt,” Clarke said. “I’ve got to be able to sit down and look at exactly what’s happened and communicate with the guys firstly, that’s my priority and then I’m sure I’ll have a couple of messages on my phone from selectors.
“Once again I don’t want to hide away from the fact of how bad we played in our second innings but I also don’t want to hide away from the fact that if we had made 600 in our second innings the way we came out and bowled today and … we still would have been a chance of losing. We just weren’t good enough.”
There must also be question marks on Phil Hughes’ status in the team, while Shane Watson as an opener doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Ricky Ponting’s long run without a Test century is an issue, while keeper Brad Haddin is out of form. Mike Hussey is on thin ice too.
The eight-wicket rout has set off claims that this is the worst Australian Test side since the mid-80s. Long gone are legends like Steve Waugh, Alan Border, Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.
Perhaps an interesting discussion is the effect of Twenty20 cricket on Australia’s Test performance, with some of the batting decisions in the second innings inconceivable for the five-day form of the game.
Whatever the case, Clarke added: “Without doubt we let ourselves down with the bat. Full credit to South Africa, for how they bowled and the way they played.
“Every single one of us needs to be disappointed. When you lose like that you don’t just let yourselves down, you let the people who support you down.
“We need to find a way to get back up. Good teams do. That’s how you learn, in my career I’ve learnt more from the not so good days than the good days.”
They won’t have many worst days than this. At least, lets hope they don’t for their sakes.
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