Cricket: Aussie bowlers hung out to dry over series loss

The Australian bowling attack shouldered much of the blame by the Australian media today as the Michael Hussey-led side became the first Australian team to lose a one-day series to New Zealand in 33 years.

Australia set the New Zealand 337 to win but could not contain the rampant Black Caps batsmen on a small Eden Park ground in Auckland, who reached the target with eight balls to spare.

The home side chased down the total on the back of a masterful century by rookie batsman Ross Taylor, an unbeaten 76 from Peter Fulton and a blazing 52 from just 30 deliveries by Craig McMillan to secure the series after winning the first game in Wellington by 10-wickets.

The loss also meant Australia dropped to number two in the world one-day rankings with South Africa overtaking them.

"Don't panic (but it's hard not to)" led the Daily Telegraph in response to Michael Hussey's plea to his selectors not to make wholesale changes just three weeks out from the World Cup.

"National coach John Buchanan said yesterday he was satisfied with the side's build-up to the World Cup," it said.

"But alarm bells must surely now be ringing after a near full-strength bowling arsenal was ruthlessly torn apart."

Melbourne's The Age was less tame in its criticism and brought specific attention to Australia's inability to defend large totals.

"None of Australia's four headline pacemen - Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken, Shaun Tait or Shane Watson - threatened the Black Caps' batsmen for extended periods, while the spinners, Brad Hogg and Cameron White, were toothless and directionless on a miniscule ground that forgives neither.

"Of significant concern to Australia's World Cup planners is that, in the past 12 months, the side has conceded the three highest run chases in one-day international history. Yesterday's effort by New Zealand slots between the world record 438 Australia conceded to South Africa in Johannesburg, and the 332 compiled by the Black Caps in Christchurch, both last year."

While The Sydney Morning Herald called for more action and less excuses if the side is to capture their third World Cup in a row.

"There can be no excuses this time. No get-out clauses, no escape hatches, no consoling words. After their best available bowling line-up was dismantled by New Zealand yesterday, prompting their first four-game losing streak since 1997, the Australians must acknowledge a few hard truths before the World Cup.

"Australia were beaten soundly by a superior opponent. To ignore the lessons from recent defeats would be foolhardy.

"John Buchanan acknowledged that an extended losing streak entering the World Cup would be cause for concern. Now, then, is the time for action."

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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