Australia coach Andrew McDonald has admitted his team may need to tone down their high-level aggression as they head to India for next month’s ICC World Cup after three unsuccessful chases led to heavy defeats against South Africa.
Having taken a two-nil lead in the five-match ODI campaign against the Proteas, Australia lost by margins of 111, 164 and 122 runs respectively after opting to bat second in all three matches.
In each of those games, the batting succumbed within 35 overs while chasing totals of over 300 with the first five wickets falling before the halfway point of the innings on each occasion.
Furthermore, Australia comfortably outscored their opponents during the opening 10-over PowerPlay of the last three matches (at a rate of almost eight runs per over, compared to South Africa’s 4.7) before the batting imploded as they continued to a dizzying speed.
Australia can point to the absence of captain Pat Cummins and fellow fast bowler Mitchell Starc along with star batsman Steve Smith (both of whom missed the tour of South Africa recovering from injuries), as well as the loss of opener Travis Head (broken hand). in the penultimate game). ) as mitigation of the loss of the series.
However, McDonald agreed that an ultra-aggressive approach from his top order had proven costly and that the need for a more measured approach to batting beyond the first PowerPlay was one of the issues to review before his start. campaign in the World Cup against India in Chennai on January 1. October 8th.
The approach paid off in the three T20I matches that preceded the ODI series in South Africa, with the team led by interim captain Mitchell Marsh registering a hat-trick of emphatic wins in the shortest format.
But it could not be sustained in the area of people over 50 years of age.
“You always have to strike that balance in the 50 overs,” McDonald said after Australia were bowled out for 193 in the 35th over for 316 at Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“We have to moderate that, we have to evaluate the conditions through those intermediate points.
“We can’t afford to expose our lower-order batsmen too early at six or seven, where we do have good power there.
“That happened too often in this (ODI) series and it’s something we need to strengthen on.
“We have returning staff who can help in that space, but you can’t win many games of cricket if you’re exposed four or five down before the middle of the innings.
“So that’s a key area for improvement.”
The loss of Head for at least the first phase of the six-week Cup campaign means a forced change at Australia’s top level, and Smith’s return will also likely bring a modified approach to batting on subcontinental pitches.
But it was the returns of powerful middle-order batsmen Marcus Stoinis (45 runs in 15, highest score 18), Tim David (45 in 11.25, HS 35) and Cameron Green (18 in his only innings) that proved fundamentals, with wicketkeeper Alex Carey (122 at 24.4, HS 99), the only batsman in that group to register a score above 50.
In contrast, the Proteas middle-order trio of Heinrich Klaasen (243 at 48.6, HS 174), David Miller (202 at 50.5, HS 82no) and all-rounder Marco Jansen (134 at 33.5, HS 47, apart from being the best wicket-taker) proved the difference by turning a 0-2 deficit into a series win.
“The positive is that we are putting pressure on the attacks at the top of the order, and that can certainly unsettle the opponent,” McDonald said, pointing to a possible change of pace in India.
“So that gives us the opportunity to potentially drop back through the middle and respond at the back as well.
“We’ve clearly played against some debutants on this tour, and we’ve been under a bit of pressure with injuries.
“But I think the way we attacked the PowerPlay with that top-order batting with Travis, Davey (Warner) and Mitch (Marsh) in the top three, we had to readjust that because of (Head’s) injury, but I thought that It was something really positive.
“There is a lot of room for improvement and there is no doubt that in the last three games we were a little sloppy in all three phases and a little (bad) in execution and decision making, and we have to fine-tune those things.” reach a World Cup.”
Australia fine-tunes its World Cup preparations with a three-game ODI series against host nation India from September 22-27, then pre-tournament warm-up matches against the Netherlands (September 30) and Pakistan (October 3 ).
The 15-man squad they will take to the World Cup is due to be finalized by September 28, with bowlers Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar the other members of Australia’s preliminary squad who did not take part in the South Africa series.
The other significant change will be the return of Cummins from a wrist injury to take over the captaincy, although McDonald was delighted with Marsh’s role as stand-in captain commanding an ever-changing cohort on the field.
However, while Marsh’s maiden outing as captain of the men’s team ensures that Australia has another leadership candidate ready to consider as needed, no formal decision has been made on whether he will take over the vacant T20I captain’s role on a permanent basis. .
“Mitch did an incredible job here, this being the first time he captained the country in both formats,” McDonald said.
“Three nil in the T20s and I got off to a good start in the one-day series with two nil up, so I was impressed with the way Mitch led.
“We had a lot of moving parts with multiple substitutions every game, some injuries and making sure we were as prepared as possible for the World Cup.
“The way he carried himself and was able to manage the troops was very impressive.
“In terms of future decisions, we will evaluate them, but clearly it was only for this series in South Africa.
“But he’s given us a choice, there’s no doubt about that.”
Qantas India Tour 2023
September 22: First ODI, Mohali (D/N), 6 pm AEST
24th September: Second ODI, Indore (D/N), 6 pm AEST
September 27th: Third ODI, Rajkot (D/N), 6 pm AEST
Australia ODI Team: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis , David Warner, Adam Zampa
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