Australian coach Justin Langer has taken umbrage at criticism from Indian great Sachin Tendulkar of his slow-scoring side on day two of the Adelaide Test.
Test cricket’s greatest runscorer, with 15,921 runs to his name, declared on Friday he’d never seen an Australian team play with such a defensive mindset.
Australia scored at just 2.17 runs per over as they notched just 191 runs on a slow day of cricket in which survival was the key — a point which Australian spin king Shane Warne zeroed in on, accusing them of lacking intent.
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All of Australia’s top five batsmen had a strike rate below 50, while the likes of Shaun Marsh (2 off 19) and Usman Khawaja (28 off 125) went at a snail’s pace.
But Langer went on the attack before play on Saturday, saying criticism like Tendulkar’s “could really hurt us” if the players took it to heart.
Langer, who took charge of the Test team this year in the wake of the sandpaper fallout which claimed the scalps of high-profile players, officials and coaches at all levels of Australian cricket, is working with an inexperienced squad.
And he says that is a key point to note when analysing Tendulkar’s observation — and the comparison with the champion sides of the 1990s and early 2000s.
“I’ve got to be very wary of that as a group because the teams that Sachin would have played against started with Allan Border and David Boon, and Steve Waugh and Mark Waugh, and Ricky Ponting,” he told Fox Cricket.
“(They were) guys that had great Test match experience and they knew their game, were comfortable in their own skin and they knew what to expect.
“Whereas we’ve got a team at the moment who are very inexperienced in Test match cricket, particularly our batting side.
“They’re just fighting as hard as they can, they’re fighting their backsides off, they’re always looking to score but the wicket is tough, and it’s a slow outfield. It was a tough day yesterday.”
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Langer conceded that Australia could’ve showed more aggression in how they played Ravi Ashwin, the Indian spin king who finished with three wickets and an economy rate of 1.5, but said their defensive approach — for the most part — was the right one.
“I remember 25 years ago Allan Border telling me ‘there’s a lot of time in Test cricket’,” Langer said.
“And if you go back the day before, against a very experienced Indian side, and they did the same thing.
“When they went for their big drives on this wicket we got them all out.
“It’s got a lot to do with this wicket, it’s got a lot of grass on it … it’s really, really hard work, it’s nipping around, you never really quite feel like you’re in.
“Maybe Ashwin we could’ve been a little more proactive against.
“Particularly our lefties, we need to have methods of scoring on both sides of the wicket.
“I think Travis (Head) did it really well, I think Marcus (Harris) did it well in his first Test match.
“There’s areas we can get better at, but I’m definitely not getting caught up in this ‘we’re too slow, we’re not attacking enough’ business.”
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