Australian batting vs spin bowling – a perpetual problem
Graeme Swann is no Dale Steyn. Graeme Swann cannot break your bones – his gentle off-breaks can cause you no physical injury. However, the effortless ease with which he can bamboozle you and knock those bails off your stumps can inflict deep mental scars, which are sometimes more difficult to heal than a broken bone or two.
In the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series earlier this year, the Australians lost all twenty wickets to spinners. Ashwin, Harbhajan, and Jadeja managed to weave their web around the Aussies, and barring a certain Michael Clarke, each and every batsman failed spectacularly against any level of slow bowling.
The rest of the series didn’t provide much respite for Clarke’s men. They were whitewashed 4-0, and it would be a massive understatement to say that they were outplayed by the Indian spinners. They were humiliated, disgraced, shamed, and forced into a state of absolute disorientation by the spin quartet of Ashwin, Harbhajan, Jadeja and Ojha. The numbers mirror the story of the series – sixty five of their eighty wickets fell to spin.
Clearly, something is very wrong. Following the high profile retirements of Langer, Martyn, and Hayden within short intervals of each other, the new legion of Aussie batsmen seem to be totally at sea facing any form of spin.
Practice makes a man perfect. And that’s precisely the problem plaguing the Aussies – their batsmen have little, if not any practice playing against top quality spin bowling. Sure, they may have a few local, everyday heroes in Bryce McGain, Jason Krejza, Nathan Hauritz, and Xavier Doherty, but it doesn’t take rocket science to say that none of these bowlers is anywhere near international quality.
The spinners that the Australian batsmen face in their domestic tournaments are just not good enough to give them any sort of exposure to the real world – a world where bowlers like Ashwin and Ajmal can make you look more clueless than a goat at a Star Wars convention.