After a humiliating first innings collapse on Saturday, Aussie cricket fans should hit panic stations.
Another summer of cricket and yet another top order batting collapse. Australia was rolled for a humiliating 85 all out first innings total against South Africa on Day 1 of the 2nd Test in Hobart, but is anyone at all surprised they folded so cheaply? What worries me is the excuses being offered by Cricket Australia and I'm sick to death of being told not to panic. At the end of Day 1, Australia is paying 9.00 odds with William Hill to stage what would be a remarkable comeback, but even that seems like massive unders. In recent years, it looks like the only approach being taken by Australia is one which encourages excess risk-taking as we try and walk all over our opponents. When our boys pull it off we win handsomely, but when we don't, we lose atrociously. A Test is won in completely different ways to ODIs or T20 games. Limited over matches are essentially dominated in periods. Teams can dominate power plays, at the ends of innings if enough wickets are in hand or through strong bowling at the death. But in Test cricket, sides have to be able to dominate sessions. Not spells, not bowlers, not whole days, but sessions. It's that bloody simple. To dominate a session first-and-foremost requires a stable base, namely a partnership aimed to address challenges posed by the bowlers. Most simply, a good partnership is about problem-solving, something our national side failed at miserably on Saturday. So enough of this 'play your natural game' rubbish, what Australian batsmen need to do is to be able to adapt. You win Test matches in many ways, not just by scoring 500 runs at 5.00 an over and constantly hitting the spinner out of the attack. It's about being able to identify when restraint is required, otherwise Australia will keep finding themselves beaten by more patient and sensible teams. Our batsmen need to realise it's not all about crushing hundreds and attacking stroke play, but also knowing when to weather the storm. Looking ahead, does anyone think we have a realistic chance of beating India at home in early 2017? Me neither. A 4-0 series whitewash is almost foregone conclusion and Cricket Australia's focus must be on the next summer. Despite a cracking 48 not-out from Steve Smith, who would've made a hundred with a batting lineup that was even the slightest bit competent, our lack of young talent is troubling. Along with the captain, both David Warner and Usman Khawaja are world-class batsmen while Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood are elite bowlers. But what about the rest? If we're being brutally honest, the other six guys would struggle to get a game for Bangladesh at Test level. If anyone says Mennie, Voges and Ferguson are the future, tell them they're dreaming. Then again, if the selectors did get it right and this side that just got bowled out for 80-odd is the best lineup we can currently field, then it's genuinely time to for Australian cricket fans to hit panic stations. Written by Tim Alexander