x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Australians are losing their aura

The aura that surrounds the Australia cricket team seems to be crumbling after they suffered their worst Test series defeat in two decades in India.

The aura that surrounds the Australia cricket team seems to be crumbling after they suffered their worst Test series defeat in two decades in India. The last time they lost a series by a two-Test margin was the 3-1 defeat at home in 1988-89 to the West Indies. Since then their domination has been absolute, winning 47 Test series since and losing just 10 and seven of those defeats were before the turn of the millennium.

Looking back at that era of Australian supremacy, Ian Chappell, the Aussie legend, said teams have been guilty of laying down their arms before battle commenced. "The thing that has been disappointing for me is that, apart from the challenge Australia has had from India and one series in England in 2005, you have almost got the impression from the rest of the world that they have sort of looked at Australia and said, 'oh, they are too good'," he said.

"You hear opposing players saying before the start of a series that 'this is the greatest team ever'. You shouldn't even be thinking that in the dressing room, never mind saying it in public. "To me that is an excuse before the series. 'OK, if we get beaten by Australia and if we get beaten badly, we have been beaten by the best team of all time'. "That smacks of the rest of the world waiting for Australia to come back to the field, rather than saying what [former Pakistan captain] Imran Khan did to his side.

"Pakistan were the one side that continually challenged the West Indies when they were at their peak. "That was purely because they had a leader who said, 'right, this is the best team in the world and that is the standard we got to get up to'. "That is the approach you have got to take. "But I just got the feeling that a lot of the teams around the world just looked at Australia and said, 'too hard... we will try and if we don't beat them, we will just wait until they come back to the field'.

"Australia had a very good side, but if you are playing international cricket, you expect to come up against good sides. That is surely why you play international cricket." Chappell said Australia's slip from their pedestal is due to the exit of the bowler Shane Warne. They have not been able to find a worthy replacement in the spin department since his retirement from Test cricket. "Compared to the Australian sides of the recent past, this team is flawed," Chappell said.

"They have got a reasonable pace attack, but they haven't got a spin attack. "There has been arguably just one team [the West Indies of the 1970s and 1980s] in the history of the game who have won with pure pace bowlers, and that was because of the quality of those bowlers. "Australia have not got that quality of pace bowling. "They are not going to win consistently with pure pace." In the last two decades the Australians have drawn just seven of the 64 Test series they have played in.

But Chappell believes that statistic will change in the future. "The thing that is going to happen to Australia is that they are going to lose more matches," he said. "But they are also going to draw a lot more matches. "If you look at their results in this period of domination, they either won or they lost, there were very few draws. "They were winning at about 75 per cent, which is a ridiculous percentage to win at anyhow.

"To me, if a team is winning at 75 per cent, it is more an indictment on the other teams." arizvi@thenational.ae