Sport Cricket Nothing out of the ordinary to test cricket fans in long, hot summer

Nothing out of the ordinary to test cricket fans in long, hot summer

Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah congratulates Rishabh Pant on day five of the First Test at Adelaide Oval on Monday. Photo: Getty
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Australians have often mythologised about the virtues of the ordinary bloke.

Stoic, modestly talented but honest and hard-working, this new-look Australian cricket team is cut from that unremarkable cloth.

And Aussie cricket fans are going to have to wear it, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.

India’s win in the first Test was determined by a touch of class from India’s Cheteshwar Pujara (123 and 71), who was named man of the match, and an Australian top order that never got going.

The Adelaide Oval scoreboard highlights the top-order woes in the second innings. Photo: Getty

Travis Head’s first-innings knock of 72 and Shaun Marsh’s fighting 60 in the second dig were the only Australian scores that crept beyond 50.

Usman Khawaja (28 and 8), Aaron Finch (0 and 11) and Peter Handscomb (14 and 34) were performances that left Australia with no fat on the bone.

As much as the lack of runs are a worry, the manner of the dismissals were disappointing for Justin Langer and his coaching staff.

Finch’s cavalier shot in the first innings that resulted in his stumps being splayed all across the park before most people had taken their seats on day one was emblematic of a lack of temperament and technique that dogged this Australian line-up.

Similarly, Khawaja’s frustration at his inability to get the scoreboard ticking over in the second innings (eight from 42 deliveries) resulted in him taking an agitated, lofted shot at a Ravi Ashwin delivery that was caught in the deep.

At that stage of the game the Australian No.3 needed to play for time, will himself into the game and not succumb to his impatience.

This batting line-up currently looks incapable of mustering a score beyond 300.

Nathan Lyon’s heroics with the ball were matched by his batting on Monday. Photo: Getty

As good as Nathan Lyon and his fast bowling partners are, they will not be able to defend such meagre totals too often.

They certainly shouldn’t be asked to pick up the bat and find the runs themselves as was the case here.

Lyon was magnificent. The New South Wales off-spinner took eight wickets in the match and produced more than 50 runs with the bat.

As the victory target loomed on the distant horizon he may have allowed himself to dream of a glorious 10th-wicket batting heist to steal the win.

It wasn’t to be, and the Australians will need to regroup quickly, with the second Test starting in Perth on Friday.

Australian captain Tim Paine will have to do plenty of thinking to pick up the morale of his team before Friday’s second Test. Photo: Getty

Selectors are unlikely to make changes for that game given its close proximity. Nor should they, not at this stage.

Australian cricket is clearly trying to replenish its batting stocks and revitalise its spirit.

Despite being beaten, continuity is important for the fragile confidence of a team that will now be chasing the series.

Mitchell Starc came under pressure in this match for some wayward bowling (2-63 and 3-40) and questions have been posed about his status as leader of the attack.

Perth might offer an opportunity for the big left-arm quick to reset and find form.

Certainly, he could take his cue from the Indian fast bowlers who came with a plan to bowl at the stumps and expose Australia’s lack of technique at the top of the order.

Ishant Sharma (2-47 and 1-48), Jasprit Bumrah (3-68 and 3-47) and Mohammed Shami (2-58 and 3-65) all made telling contributions.

This is clearly the best Indian pace attack that has toured Australia, and with Perth beckoning, its momentum may be irresistible.

For a country of cricket fans who assume summer should deliver a dominant season of cricket by the men in baggy green caps, these next few weeks may prove to be challenging.

They could be about to discover that Australia struggling on home soil is nothing out of the ordinary.

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