Michael Clarke believes that not playing spin well is still Australia’s weakness

Michael Clarke believes that not playing spin well is still Australia’s weakness

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14 Jul 2022
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Australia Cricket

Michael Clarke believes that not playing spin well is still Australia’s weakness.

Pat Cummins defended Australia’s defeat by calling it a “reality check” but such a stunning collapse shows his uneasy weakness against spin. Sri Lanka lost by an innings and 39 runs on the fourth day of the second Test in Galle and were suddenly reduced to 151 runs in a single session.

The thing to think about is that within 10 days Australia had not allowed the Australian bowlers to run the host team. Australia’s 1–1 result in Sri Lanka follows a 1–0 Test win over Pakistan in March, and India are on their subcontinent tour, with four five-day games scheduled in February–March 2023.

Cummins said Australia’s performances in Sri Lanka this week and last week will be a lesson for the players. But former Australian captain Michael Clarke said the focus has to be on better preparation to play against spin, which he believes is still the team’s biggest “weakness”.

Clarke said of Sri Lanka on The Big Sports Breakfast, “They played very good cricket with the first ball, they assessed the conditions well with the bat and managed to get such a big total.”

“Australia just missed a lot of chances. We didn’t take advantage with the bat and then missed many chances with the ball.

“Again, there is a lot of work to be done against spin bowling. I think it remains our weakness, the players find it very difficult to start their innings against spin bowling in those conditions.

Clarke said Australian batsmen often resort to cross-bat shots to tackle spin – be it sweeps or reverse sweeps – a tactic he described as “very risky”.

Marnus Labuschagne completed his maiden century away from home, but according to Clarke the fact that it took so long was a cause for concern. Scored a century outside the innings,” he said.

“International cricket, you’ve got to find a way to score runs around the world. You go somewhere like South Africa, extra pace, bounce, seam, go to Sri Lanka or India, you know it’s going to turn from the first ball. We have to do some work.”

There have been fresh calls for Australia to consider bringing in Glenn Maxwell for Travis Head, who continues to struggle to play to the best of his ability in the subcontinent. Clarke, however, cautioned against making any wholesale changes to the batting line-up.

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“It’s not that we don’t have the right people in that team,” he said.

“I think we have the right batsmen. You look at that top four – Khawaja, Warner, Smith, Labuschagne – who is as experienced and as good as any top four in the world.”

If Cummins’ remarks are anything to go by, it will be no exaggeration. “I think half our batting lineup and half bowling lineup haven’t played much here in the subcontinent,” he said.

“So the experience on these two different wickets, I think we learned a lot from it to take us to India next year. In Australia you play with only one spinner, so in the background you are trying to groom some other guys so that they get a chance in India.

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