Despite batting a shoulder injury Will Pucovski could resume for Victoria next week


Test opener Will Pucovski has been picked in Victoria’s squad for a Sheffield Shield return next week but is no guarantee to play as he battles a lingering issue with his shoulder.

Pucovski, who made his Test debut against India in January, avoided surgery after partially dislocating his right shoulder while fielding in the match at the SCG.

He couldn’t play the Border-Gavaskar Series finale in Brisbane and has been receiving cortisone injections in order to try and play for Victoria when the Shield resumes next week.

Pucovski will be given “every chance” to play against NSW in a match which will feature a bevy of Test stars available after the postponement of the Test tour of South Africa.

“The busy back half of the season has enabled us to provide opportunities for a number of players across both competitions,” Cricket Victoria Chairman of Selectors Andrew Lynch said.

“The availability of the Australian Test squad is a boost for the domestic season. Marcus Harris was in great form for Victoria earlier in the season and James Pattinson has fully recovered from a rib injury, so we‘re looking forward to him leading our attack.

“We‘re continuing to monitor Will Pucovski in his recovery from his shoulder injury. He’ll be given every chance to play in the Shield match but we’ll make a final call closer to the start of that game.”

The Vics have named a bunch of Big Bash performers in the squad for Monday’s one-day clash with NSW, before the Shield game.

Mackenzie Harvey, Jake Fraser-McGurk and Zak Evans are all in the 12-man squad, with both Victorian teams to be captained by Peter Handscomb.

Victoria will play a NSW outfit being captained by Aussie star Pat Cummins for the first time, with Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon also in the line-up for the match at North Sydney Oval next Monday.

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England vs Sri Lanka Test match scores, day one batting slammed by greats


Former England captains Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton and Michael Vaughan led the outrage after Sri Lanka capitulated in disgraceful fashion on day one of the First Test in Galle.

The hosts were rolled for 135 as spinner Dom Bess took five wickets despite admitting he hadn’t bowled very well.

Almost every batsman fell to an innocuous delivery, including being caught off long hops and while attempting reverse sweeps.

“I think abysmal is being kind – it was absolutely ridiculous,” Hussain said. ”You think of some of the greats Sri Lanka have had – what must they be thinking looking at a batting performance like that? It was farcical.

“I’d love to know how many of those Sri Lankan batsmen walked into the dressing room and thought ‘I got out to a decent delivery’, it was none of them. It was a joke by the end.

“There were people diving in, people reverse-sweeping – that was the most farcical 46 overs of Test cricket I have seen in my life and if Sri Lanka lose this game it‘s because of how abysmal they have been.”

Atherton described it as “some of the worst Test match batting I have ever seen”.

“It’s great for Dom Bess that he’s got a five-for but he’s never going to get a cheaper one than that because he really didn’t bowl all that well,” Atherton said.

Vaughan was similarly dismayed, tweeting: “Those 46.1 overs have been the worst possible advertisement for Test Cricket … it’s supposed to be the pinnacle … that was utter garbage Sri Lanka.”

Bess, who returned figures of 5/30, combined with paceman Stuart Broad, who took three wickets, as Sri Lanka were all out in two sessions as the two-Test series resumed in Galle after the original tour was aborted over the coronavirus in March.

But the off-spinner admitted he got away with a few easy strikes. “I probably haven’t bowled as well as I could have done, and probably got away with one or two, but that’s cricket,” Bess told reporters after the day’s play.

“Flip it and look how well Broady and Sammy (Sam Curran) bowled at the top. It was exceptional and certainly set the tone early on.”

Bess got wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella caught out at point on a long hop after the batsman played a sloppy shot and the off-spinner said it “isn’t my best wicket”.

Dasun Shanaka’s wicket was also lucky after his shot caught Jonny Bairstow’s boot at short leg and lobbed off for an easy catch to gloveman Jos Buttler.

England lost their openers early but skipper Joe Root, on 66, and Bairstow, on 47, steered the tourists to 127 for two at close of play. They still trail Sri Lanka by eight runs.

The batting duo put on an unbeaten partnership of 110 after Dom Sibley, for four, and Zak Crawley, for nine, fell to Lasith Embuldeniya’s left-arm spin.

Root, who successfully reviewed an lbw call in his favour after being given out by the on-field umpire on 20, reached his 50th fifty in 98 Tests. He has 17 centuries.

Bess remained the hero of the day with his second five-wicket haul in his 11th Test as the venue witnessed its lowest first-innings score, well below Sri Lanka’s 181 against Pakistan in 2000.

Sri Lanka suffered a pre-match jolt when skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was ruled out of the first of the two Tests with a fractured thumb.

Stand-in-captain Dinesh Chandimal scored 28 and put up some resistance in a 56-run stand with Angelo Mathews, who made 27 on his return from a hamstring injury.

Broad struck twice in an over to send back opener Lahiru Thirimanne, who had scored four, and Kusal Mendis for nought – his fourth straight duck – to spell early trouble for the hosts.

Spin was introduced in the 11th over and Bess, with his second ball, got Kusal Perera for 20 when the batsman top-edged a reverse sweep to England captain Joe Root at first slip.

Sri Lanka had slumped to 25 for three but Mathews and Chandimal stood firm till lunch.

Broad came back in the second session to break the stand as he got Mathews caught at slip and Chandimal, who survived a dropped catch by debutant Dan Lawrence before lunch on 22, departed two balls later off Jack Leach.

Mathews, whose hamstring injury kept him out of the 2-0 Test series defeat in South Africa, went past 6,000 Test runs during his knock before Bess soon ran through the middle and lower order.

“I have been with the team for a year and that’s the worst batting I have seen from the team,” Sri Lanka batting coach Grant Flower said. “It’s purely mental I think, I don’t see another other reason to explain that.”

– with AFP

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Mark Taylor, Tim Paine defend Steve Smith over shadow batting furore


Smith, however, has been urged by captain Tim Paine to review his behaviour in order to avoid similar controversies in the future.

One former international teammate close to Smith believes he was too traumatised by the ball-tampering episode and his 12 months out of the international game to consider deploying underhand tactics.

Australian players have launched a strident defence of Steve Smith against claims of unsportsmanlike conduct.Credit:AP

It was also noted Smith did not take part in the verbal exchanges that prompted debate about Australia’s on-field conduct.

There was a strong response from Australian players to the criticism directed at Smith, including from former captain and Cricket Australia director Taylor, who is noted for his even-handed analysis and commentary.

Taylor believed Smith, who took guard as a left-hander in the footage that went viral on social media, was attempting to put himself in the shoes of a captain to work out how to dismiss Pant.

“I can recall doing similar things myself when I was captain and [Shane] Warney was bowling,” Taylor said.

“You stand roughly where the batsman is going to stand, look at where the rough is going to be and work out ‘is your bowler bowling too short, too full’, those sorts of things.

“I don’t think it would be any more than that. I dare say the people who are making these comments, and I don’t know who they are, are making more of a name for themselves rather than actually commentating on the bloody game. I think there’s a few conspiracy theories going on out there.”

Paine refuted allegations Smith was trying to deceive Pant by scratching a new mark, saying his teammate was “really disappointed” how his actions had been interpreted.

“Steve’s quite upset about it,” Paine said. “It’s something we always have a laugh about because he just loves batting so much and even when he’s out on the field he’s shadow batting and marking centre,” Paine said.

“I’m sure if people are happy to look back at the footage, you’ll see it happens probably more than once a Test match with Steve.

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“There’s no way in the world he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that. Now that it’s come up as it has, it’s something he might have to look at because of the perception of it.”

Lloyd was scathing in a column for the Daily Mail. “Let’s start with Steve Smith’s decision to rake his size nines on the crease where Rishabh Pant had marked his guard,” Lloyd wrote. “That was plain childish. He’s trying to irritate the batsman.

“But with all the cameras around these days, and Smith’s history with the sandpaper, you have to reach the conclusion that he can’t have two brain cells to rub together.

“What was he thinking – if he was thinking anything at all? If I’d been umpiring that game, I’d have gone straight to the captain to tell him that I’m reporting his player, and that he’s got to take responsibility for the behaviour of his team. Absolutely disgraceful.”

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Australian batting woes, New Zealand, Kiwi’s sledge, bats for sale, Number one


A fan at the Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan has delivered a brutal sledge across the Tasman that hits just a little too close to home.

But it also shows the Kiwis are getting just a little bit cocky as the side is set to overtake Australia for the world No. 1 team on the Test rankings.

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New Zealand appear destined to put the hurt on Pakistan after stumps on day 2 of the Test match with Kane Williamson — the recently crowned number one Test batsman in the world — hitting another century to finish not out on 112 with Henry Nicholls adding 89.

Just three wickets down, New Zealand are just 11 runs short of Pakistan’s first innings score of 297 at 3/286.

But cameras found a supporter that may have been getting too far ahead of themselves.

With a smug smirk, the supporter held a sign reading “Cricket bats for sale. Barely used. Call: S. Smith, J. Burns @ Cricket Australia.

New Zealand appear set to claim the world’s number one Test team ranking and are provisionally ahead of Australia at the moment. The ICC only officially update the rankings at the end of a series.

A win for Australia in Sydney would return the Aussies to the top of the provisional rankings while India can snatch the World No. 1 with a 3-1 win. A drawn series between Australia and India would mean New Zealand stay on top of the rankings.

Kiwi fans have a bit of a short memory as Australia hasn’t lost to New Zealand in a Test match on either side of the Tasman since 2011, the only time in the past 27 years in Test matches, including a 3-0 drubbing in the series between the teams last year in Australia.

Steve Smith only averaged 42.8 in that series.

And Smith was also named the Test player of the decade just last week after scoring more than 7000 runs at an average of more than 65, the best since Bradman.

But the fan may have a point.

It was revealed that Australia’s current dire batting performances are the sides worst in 133-years with scores of just 191, 194 and 200 in completed innings’ against India.

AAP reporter Scott Bailey revealed the team’s average runs per wicket this season (21.50) is the lowest in any home summer since way back in 1887/88.

It also saw Burns dropped after a horror run of outs saw him under fire.

Smith is averaging just 3.33 having scored just 10 runs and he dropped down to third in the Test batting rankings behind Williamson and India’s Virat Kohli.

Williamson hit 251 against the West Indies and 129 in the first Test against Pakistan, as well as the 112 not out in the second Test to take the number one ranking.

Australia have been talking up how Smith can get out of his funk with all the Aussie batsmen looking to bounce back.

“It’s more about the method now,” assistant coach Andrew McDonald said.

“He’s working hard. He’s clearly hitting the ball well.

“Technically (both Smith and Marnus Labuschagne) are ready to go.

“It’s about how they are going to score their runs and how they’re going to combat these tactics from Indian bowlers and captains.

“There’s a challenge there for Steve to rebound, the world’s best players usually rebound and I think he’s in a really good space to perform come Sydney.”

Australia and New Zealand are set to play a five-match T20 series in late February and early March.



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BBL live scores 2021: Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Thunder, live stream, live blog, how to watch, Ollie Davies, batting order, runs


The Sydney Thunder will be looking to continue their strong form when they face the Melbourne Renegades on Friday night.

The Thunder have only lost the one game this season (by 22 runs to the Melbourne Stars) and only last week thumped the Renegades by a whopping 129 runs.

The dominant victory was the second-largest in BBL history as rising star Oliver Davies hit 48 off 23 to help the Thunder to 209 runs.

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Thunder obliterate Stars

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Travis Head dropped, Shane Warne reaction, selection, batting statistics cricket news 2020


Following Australia’s humiliating eight-wicket defeat at the MCG, most critics understandably targeted the batting line-up.

In two Test matches against India, only one batsman in the top six has managed to score a half century and, ironically, that man Joe Burns will almost certainly lose his spot in the side next week.

The loss in Melbourne was the first instance where no Australian batsman reached fifty in a home Test since 1988.

Specialist batsmen also dropped five regulation catches in the second Test, and the national selection panel may be forced to reinvigorate the starting XI ahead of the New Year’s fixture.

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David Warner and Will Pucovski are on the verge of returning from injury, while Moises Henriques and Marcus Harris have been patiently waiting in the wings.

It would therefore come as no surprise that cricket pundits have called for selectors to swing the axe, and Travis Head has found himself on the chopping block.

Head prospered in the Sheffield Shield earlier this season, scoring two gritty centuries for South Australia ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

But the left-hander has struggled to replicate that form in the Australian whites, averaging 20.67 with the bat against India.

The most frustrating aspect of Head’s Test career to date has been his inability to convert starts into large totals.

Far too often he’ll plunder an elegant 30-odd before unnecessarily flashing at a wide delivery and throwing away his wicket.

It was a worrying trend last summer against New Zealand, and he seemingly hasn’t learned from those past failures.

During the first Test at Adelaide Oval, Head chipped a half volley straight back to Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin for seven.

In the first innings of the Boxing Day Test, he compiled 38 before firmly prodding at a Jasprit Bumrah delivery without any footwork, giving the gully fielder some catching practice.

Then on Monday, Head once again reached double figures before slashing at a length delivery from debutant Mohammed Siraj, edging the Kookaburra through to the slip cordon.

Former Australian bowler Merv Hughes said on ABC Grandstand: “I’m dumbfounded by that shot when you think about the situation Australia are in.”

ESPNcricinfo reporter Daniel Brettig tweeted: “Head is a long-term investment. The disappointment is that he doesn’t seem to be learning his lessons.”

Speaking to Fox Cricket on Tuesday morning, Australian great Shane Warne thought the 27-year-old had the makings of a successful Test cricketer, but conceded he was “frustrated” by the modes of dismissal.

“The selectors might be getting a little bit frustrated with Travis Head,” Warne said. “I’m getting frustrated as well.

“He’s continually getting out the same way.

“I’m a huge fan of Travis Head — I was hoping he’d be a future Test captain for Australia.

“But I think it’s time to say, ‘You know what, go back to Shield cricket and sort those technique problems out, and then come back in’, and hopefully he’ll get another chance.

“Burns and Head will be on the discussion for the selectors, I would have thought.”

READ MORE: Ricky Ponting’s most stinging call yet

Head’s numbers in Test cricket are by no means horrific — to average 39.75 with the bat after 19 matches is commendable, and ranks him among several modern greats at the same point in their career.

Regardless, former Australian captain Ian Chappell is not convinced that Head is good enough to succeed in the Test arena.

“As a top order batsman, you can’t be vulnerable in so many ways,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“If I’m looking at him as an opponent, I’m thinking there are quite a few ways we can get this guy out.

“He was almost out first ball against the short delivery, he’s got a problem with that, he’s got a problem with nicking into the slips, he has trouble with the spinners, I can see ways there that an off-spinner like Ashwin would be confident in getting him out.

“As a top order batsman, you can’t be vulnerable in that many areas.”

BATTING AVERAGE AFTER 19 TEST MATCHES

Travis Head — 39.75

David Warner — 39.46

Matthew Hayden — 38.74

Michael Clarke — 38.10

Steve Smith — 37.60

Mark Waugh — 34.60

Justin Langer — 32.25

Steve Waugh — 27.56



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David Warner’s return won’t completely fix Australia’s batting issues after MCG Test, but they do need him back


Before play on day four of the Melbourne Test, Justin Langer was asked to assess the performance of Australia’s opening batsmen in this series.

“It hasn’t been great,” the Australian coach replied. It was an understatement to rank with Ajinkya Rahane’s comment that India had merely put in a few bad sessions in Adelaide.

The more pertinent questions might have been: why was Joe Burns, as short on form as any Australian Test batsman of recent times, selected in the first place? And what function does Australia’s battalion of coaches actually perform if Burns and Travis Head are being sent into the fray with technical deficiencies so glaringly obvious to even untrained eyes?

There was an acute sense of missed opportunities on day four at the MCG, where it was not enough that the Australian tail wagged to set India 70 for victory. They achieved it with eight wickets to spare.

Cameron Green, the newest member of the line-up, looked the most assured in the midst of another collapse.(AP: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

In the morning, rookie Cameron Green showed that any batsman prepared to wait for the right ball would have cashed in and ensured a far trickier chase for India. Pat Cummins survived longer than Burns, Head, Steve Smith and Tim Paine combined.

Green’s square drive to the fence off Jasprit Bumrah that moved him into the 40s hinted at lavish talents, but more impressive was his ability to learn from his mistake of the first innings, when he fell to the off side and was trapped by Mohammed Siraj’s in-swing. Other Australians repeated their errors. The corollary crime was denying Melburnians a longer look at Shubman Gill.

There is some symmetry to Australia’s anaemic batting efforts. Two summers ago, the absence of the suspended David Warner and Smith — the latter present in this series but so-far neutralised — cleared the way for India’s historic first series win on Australian soil.

The question is what transformative impact Warner will have if he returns in a week’s time in Sydney.

David Warner grimaces as he plays a cut shot.
David Warner’s record on home turf is enviable, but not against all comers.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

We know his image as a flat-track bully, averaging 65.94 at home against 33.17 on foreign soil. But his home averages against Pakistan (140.83), New Zealand (80.15) and West Indies (75.33) obscure his more human performances against India (49.5), against whom he’s scored in giant clumps or not at all.

It is safe to say Australia needs a few of those giant clumps.

Beside the loss of Warner’s runs, attitude and basic intimidation factor, his absence has revealed unacknowledged weaknesses elsewhere.

There has always been a tendency to focus on his strike rate and boundary-hitting sprees, which take scoring pressure off his batting partners. But equally valuable is his general busyness and rotation of the strike — a fundamental strength of the best openers, and a building block of the sorts of long partnerships Australia has lacked in the last fortnight.

Australia batsman Joe Burns sits on the floor, surrounded by Indian fielders during a Test at the MCG.
Opener Joe Burns looks almost certain to be axed for the next Test.(AP: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

By contrast, even when Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are making runs, their running between the wickets is a liability and they’re usually completely absorbed in their own batting worlds.

Warner has been accused of a certain unsophistication at times, but it can also be a virtue in a team sport because it keeps things simple and predictable for those around him.

The two Tests so far have also shown how difficult it is to replicate Warner’s combination of symbolic and statistical output.

In the first innings at Melbourne, Matthew Wade took his mantle of provocateur but got too aggressive too quickly with the bat, holing out when he was settled and ascendant. In the second innings, Wade seemed to expend half his energy in a war of insults with Rishabh Pant, but he was forced into a stodgier hand than he’d normally play, so pressure built at the other end.

India's Rishabh Pant, raising his hand, and Australian Matthew Wade exchange words on day three of the second Test at the MCG.
Matthew Wade’s on-field talk has garnered headlines in the past, but his batting is now a key cog for Australia.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Wade’s application provided a compelling case to keep him in the team. Ideally, he’ll be dropped down to number five, squeezing out Head, who can no longer hide behind a Test average skewed by his boot-filling series against the subpar Sri Lankans of two summers ago.

Australia would then use whichever combination of Warner, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris is available. If fit, it will be the first two. The neglected specialist inside Australia’s quarantine bubble, Harris has surely chewed his fingernails to nubs watching Burns scratch around.

Australia’s misfortune is that its next-generational batting talent is so prone to injury. Like Warner, Pucovski is racing against time to prove himself fit for the Test debut he would have made in Adelaide if not for the latest in a series of worrying head knocks. They are the only blot on an impressive copy book. His 495 Sheffield Shield runs at an average of 247.5 this season have included two double-centuries.

With Pucovski comes a degree of the unknown. Warner, on the other hand, is the man who is never uncertain, never down on confidence, never rustled, never wrong, and never short of the unshakeable belief that he can bend the bowlers to his will and win the game off his own bat.

English cricket writer Rob Smyth once labelled him “a bad guy who is emphatically good for the game”. Right now, he’s also what Australia is sorely missing.



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Australia vs India Second Test scores, result, batting statistics, selection, changes, reaction


It’s time to call Australia’s start to the Test summer against India what it is – the worst batting we’ve seen at home in 40 years.

Not since the West Indies dominated us in the mid-1980s have we looked so helpless against a visiting attack or had every single member of the top six look so out of touch.

Not one player has stood up and found a way to score runs – or been spared criticism in a strong reaction from some of our past greats.

Former Test captain Ricky Ponting refused to make excuses for the Aussies on day three of the Boxing Day Test as we wilted again to finish the day at 6/133 despite favourable batting conditions.

“You can’t blame the pitch. The pitch has been absolutely perfect today,” Ponting said. “It’s a little bit of spin, yes, but you’d expect that (on) day three of a Test Match.

“(There’s) very little on offer for the fast bowlers, but it’s just been poor batting. Very, very poor batting.”

Without top order bully David Warner to set the tone and with every batsmen either out of form or overburdened by the pressure to perform, scoring has come at a snail-pace and it’s allowed India to control proceedings.

“It’s been one of the reasons they’ve eventually got themselves out playing rash shots. They haven’t been able to tick the scoreboard over on a regular enough basis,” Ponting said. “When pressure builds, bad shots come.”

Ponting isn’t alone in airing his frustration. Here’s a look at each member of the top six.

JOE BURNS (63 runs at 21)

Burns has almost become a sympathetic figure because he’s looked so “at sea”.

It would be one of the shocks of the summer if he was picked for the third Test, even if Warner isn’t fit.

“You just can’t pick Burns again, you’d be doing him a disservice by picking him again,” Ian Chappell told Nine.

“He’s shot on confidence so you’ve got to try something else. You’ve got to hope like hell that Warner is fit, that is the first thing. (But even) if he is fit, I’d be seriously thinking about bringing Marcus Harris in with Warner and sliding Wade back into the middle order.”

MATTHEW WADE (111 runs at 28)

Wade gets a pass because he’s playing out of position to help out the team – and he’s also averaging more than any batsman outside of Marnus Labuschagne.

But he hasn’t quite figured out whether he wants to try to emulate Warner’s style as an opener or just bat time – and his status has also been helped by how badly everyone else is going.

A series average of 28 and the way he got out in the first innings in Melbourne would normally be the kind of cricket that has people calling for your head.

MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE (129 runs at 32)

The unavailability of Warner and potential new opener Will Pucovski plus the poor form of Steve Smith and Travis Head has been compounded by Labuschagne experiencing the second-year blues.

At a time when Australia has needed him more than ever, the world’s fourth-ranked Test batsman is struggling to combat committed Indian plans to deny him runs.

It’s far more likely he’ll figure it out rather than being remembered as a flash in the pan, but it might not happen quickly enough for Australia to save the series.

STEVE SMITH (10 runs at 3)

Australia has relied too heavily on Smith for years and is finally getting a taste of what it’s like to have him not save the day.

“He’s not having much go his way at the moment,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.

“I think he would have liked to have his time over with his first-inning dismissal here, he would have played that differently.

“But he’s one of the all-time greats of the game – everyone is allowed to have a few bad games here and there.

“The one thing I do know is that Australia need Steven Smith to stand up, especially against this bowling attack India have.”

TRAVIS HEAD (62 runs at 21)

While it’s become almost mean-spirited to pick on Burns, Head-bashing is in vogue.

The nature of his dismissals – which often come when he should be starting to look set – has left Chappell questioning his future.

“He hasn’t convinced me at any point that he is good enough for Test cricket,” Chappell told Nine.

“As a top order batsman, you can’t be vulnerable in so many ways.

“If I’m looking at him as an opponent, I’m thinking there are quite a few ways we can get this guy out.

“He was almost out first ball against the short delivery, he’s got a problem with that, he’s got a problem with nicking into the slips, he has trouble with the spinners, I can see ways there that an off-spinner like Ashwin would be confident in getting him out.

“As a top order batsman, you can’t be vulnerable in that many areas.”

CAMERON GREEN (40 runs at 20)

Green is another who has been exposed by the lack of solidarity in the batting line-up.

It’s not ideal to debut young talent against the best sides in the world, better to save them for series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan at home when they can come in with the score at 4/300 instead of 4/100.

But it would also be nice to see Green showcase the batting talent that saw him score a hundred against India A sooner rather than later.

“I think Green deserves another opportunity,” Chappell said.

Not all of his teammates do.



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Former Indian captain Kris Srikkanth claims Australian batting is ‘not very strong’


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“I think Virat summed it up very well when he said the positive intent was missing. They went into more of a shell, the Indians,” Srikkanth told The Age and the Herald.

“The mindset I think was too defensive. They have to regroup. They have to have a bit more positive intent. The best way is just to go for it.

“But when you miss King Kohli, it’s going to make it difficult let’s be honest. And Shami [as well]. But I’m sure they’ll come out and fight.

“Everybody [in India] is disappointed but then everyone has taken the view [to look at it] as a bad dream.”

Srikkanth said that Australia remained beatable, especially in the absence of opener David Warner who remains sidelined as he works his way back from a groin injury.

My belief is the Aussies’ batting is 30 per cent Warner, 30 per cent Smith, all others put together is 30 per cent. But the bowling is very good.

Kris Srikkanth

“Let’s not forget, the Aussies’ batting is not great. My belief is the Aussies’ batting is 30 per cent Warner, 30 per cent Smith, all others put together is 30 per cent. But the bowling is very good,” he said.

“The Australian batting is not very strong.”

Uncapped opener Shubman Gill is widely tipped to be included for the Boxing Day Test with Prithvi Shaw in the firing line after twin failures in Adelaide.

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That could lead to a reshuffle of the batting line up, with the experienced KL Rahul also waiting in the wings for an opportunity.

Quicks Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and T Natarajan – none of whom have yet played at Test level – appear the main contenders to replace Shami.

Spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja bowled an extended spell during training at the MCG nets on Wednesday, having seemingly overcome the hamstring and concussion issues he suffered during the white-ball portion of India’s tour.

Jadeja is yet another option for India’s selectors, who could theoretically opt for a five-pronged bowling attack, including Jadeja and fellow tweaker Ravi Ashwin, who starred in Adelaide.

Back-up wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant batted ahead of incumbent gloveman Wriddhiman Saha during Wednesday’s session amid widespread calls for Pant to replace the veteran.

Teams have bounced back from humiliating lows before, with Australia beating South Africa in 2011 having been bowled out for 47 in the preceding Test.

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