Image courtesy of: The Guardian
“Agreeing to this meaningless ODI tour of India so close to an Ashes series is evidence that Cricket Australia is more concerned with dollars than sense”
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has branded the national team’s limited overs tour of India as “meaningless” since he believes they should be more concerned about being prepared for the second leg of the Ashes series against arch-rivals England in November.
Chappell added that Cricket Australia “is more concerned with dollars than sense” after they agreed to play seven ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 International against the Indians.
“Agreeing to this meaningless ODI tour of India so close to an Ashes series is evidence that Cricket Australia is more concerned with dollars than sense,” Chappell wrote in a column for ESPNcricinfo. “Australia’s mounting Test losses not only hurt in the record book but have also shredded the team’s aura… Australia’s weakness in this bleak period has been batting in general, and coping with good spin bowling in particular.
“The flaws have become so glaring that at a Lord’s Taverners function I attended recently in London, the comments from former players were pointed. ‘What’s happened to Australian batsmanship?’ was the welcome from past opponents before I received the obligatory ‘Oh, and by the way, how are you?'”
Chappell also pointed out that Australia would struggle against India without captain Michael Clarke, who is currently nursing a back injury.
“The glaring batting weakness will be exacerbated in India by the absence of Michael Clarke, easily the best player of spin in the Australian side,” Chappell said. “Without Clarke to guide them and be a steady source of runs, Australia are at risk of again losing in India.
“While few from the ODI team will be in contention for the Test side, a demoralising loss on the eve of an Ashes series won’t help Australian morale, while it will boost England’s outlook.”
The former Australian captain also believes the limited overs tour will make it even harder for the national selectors to pick the right team for the Ashes.
“Not only is the scheduling of this tour badly timed for the players, it also hasn’t done the Australian selectors any favours,” he said. “Normally at this time they would be gauging batting candidates for the No. 6 position in the Test side based on their domestic first-class form. Now they’ll feel obliged to take into account any contenders who put up good performances on the tour of India.
“This could lead to some selection blunders. Runs scored in the relative serenity of a 50-over game are a far cry from those that need to be earned in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of an Ashes Test against a good attack.”
The 70-year-old further noted that “there are a few batsmen in that squad who are vulnerable against spin bowling”.
“I don’t see a potential No. 6 Test batsman in the ODI squad,” Chappell said. “Worse still, there are a few batsmen in that squad who are vulnerable against spin bowling, a weakness the Indians are sure to exploit. This means potential contenders could return to Australia’s firmer pitches with their confidence undermined.
“It has been obvious for some time that the No. 1 priority among cricket administrators is the bottom line, and the timing of this ODI tour is further proof. What wasn’t so obvious was that Cricket Australia isn’t superstitious and nor does it believe in bad omens.”