The last week or so has certainly had its challenges and the team has come under considerable criticism, which is fair enough.
I don’t think any Australian would have been happy with our performance at Lord’s and after a fighting effort at Trent Bridge all was quickly forgotten following consecutive batting collapses. Our batsmen did not perform to the level that is expected of Australian cricketers and everyone in this group knows that things need to improve.
Greg Chappell made a good point in the media earlier this week when he said we need to show faith in those players that have been selected. We have the best 18 players over in England at the moment and we need to keep confidence in this group. From where I sit the team is certainly galvanized and we have the best person for the job coaching them. They are not an experienced side at international level and only time is going to give them that experience. With 6 of the top 7 getting 50s in the first 2 Tests, it shows that we have capability but it also shows that we have not been able to convert these in to big scores.
A lot has been said about the state of Sheffield Shield and how that is influencing the development of our players. As I stated when I sat down with the Australian media pack in London, our ability to bat for a long time and patiently needs to improve. I will be working with the States this summer on how we go about making changes in this area but it is going to be an ongoing process.
Tim Coyle is currently over in Sri Lanka with a group of 6 AIS scholars. They have played four games in a team with some local players against local clubs, winning three of the four matches. Victoria’s Peter Handscomb has scored runs while his State teammate James Muirhead and South Australia’s Adam Zampa have both taken wickets on a spinning deck. Unfortunately the 4th 50-over match was reduced to 20 overs due to rain however, Jordan Silk (35 off 37) and Handscomb (27no off 24) combined to add 45 for the 2nd wicket to virtually seal the game with the win coming in the 19th over.
We have come under fire in recent times for our inability to play spin but the work we are currently doing with both the AIS scholars and U19 team in the sub-continent is allowing us to expose these young players to those types of conditions early and improve their skills in this area.
Australia A are now in South Africa after playing a 3-day match in Zimbabwe. The return of Pat Cummins to bowling has certainly been a positive this week. His rehab program has been carefully managed and it was fantastic to hear he was back with ball in hand and taking wickets. His return to top level international cricket is still to be determined but he will be back once we believe he is fully fit and ready to go. In the second game it was also good to see centuries from Dave Warner and Glenn Maxwell.
Some of our Australian players at home have been taking advantage of the COE this week. The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars spent five days in camp preparing for their Ashes campaign and they depart our shores next week to take on their biggest rivals in a new-look Ashes Series that will be fought out over a Test, ODIs and T20s. George Bailey and Xavier Doherty have also been at the COE this week training with the AIS squad and will return next week with Clint McKay as they prepare for the ODI and T20 component of the England Tour.
Australian teams are currently playing in three different countries. Whilst obviously all the attention will be on the lead up to Manchester the selectors are looking at all players and performances.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia