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Aussie batsmen playing 'scared': Saker

03 October 2017

Martin Smith, Ranchi


Martin Smith, Ranchi


Stand-in head coach believes recent ODI failures stem from batsmen not playing with freedom

A three-match T20 series could be just what Australia's struggling batsmen need, having played "scared" at times in their ODI thumping at the hands of India.

That's the opinion of stand-in head coach David Saker, who concedes another heavy series defeat away from home means the Aussies need to reassess their plans for their World Cup defence in 2019.

Despite a breakthrough win in Bengaluru last Thursday, a 1-4 series loss to the world No.1 Indian side means Australia have won just one of their past 13 completed ODIs away from home and the blame for their recent slide lies mostly with their batsmen.

While David Warner and Aaron Finch both scored centuries and performed strongly against India, the likes of Steve Smith, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade were all below their best, with the latter pair even dropping out of the side during the series.

Saker denies the batting woes are a personnel issue but rather stem from a lack of confidence that comes with a losing streak.

"It's not mainly personnel, I think it's mainly just their mindset and where they are in their games," Saker said ahead of the first T20 in Ranchi on Saturday.

We weren't consistent enough: Smith

"A lot of them are playing a little bit scared, which we try not to do. We try and make sure they play with a lot of freedom and express themselves as much as they can.

"But when you're losing, you play scared, you go insular and you start looking after number one.

"I think there's little bits of that. It's not dramatic and we know we can fix that. I think the talent is there."

While optimistic the current dip in results can be reversed, Saker conceded a wider review of where the one-day side is headed is needed if they want to defend their World Cup crown in the UK in a little more than 18 months from now.

"Obviously, our away form has been quite dreadful so we have to have a look at that," he said. "The next World Cup is away (from home).

"I don't think it's all doom and gloom, I think there's some talent in that team.

"But there's no doubt we have to probably re-jig a few things and see where we're at."

In the short term, Saker believes a change of format and a change of teammates could be exactly what the touring party needs.

T20 additions Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Moises Henriques, Tim Paine and AJ Tye have started to arrive in India for the three-game series while one-day squad members Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner and Hilton Cartwright have all returned home.

"Bringing almost half the squad in who haven't been here for the four weeks so far is going to be exciting, and exciting for them," he said.

"In Twenty20 cricket we're definitely going to go out there (to) express ourselves and have some fun.

"After a long tour, India can sometimes get you down and wear you down but getting five or six new guys into the squad after what's happened in the one-day series, we'll be really determined to bounce back."

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, AJ Tye, Adam Zampa.

Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: India won by 26 runs (DLS Method)

September 21: India won by 50 runs

September 24: India won by five wickets

September 28: Australia won by 21 runs

October 1: India won by seven wickets

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

About the Writer

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.