Cricket: Time for Australia to decide which players have a future

By Michael Vaughan

Australia have too many players suffering from the psychological damage of playing against this England team.

In 2009 England won with a side containing Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, James Anderson, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad. The same players were there in 2010-11 when England won 3-1 in Australia, winning by an innings on three occasions. Now Australia are 2-0 down after two games against the same side. Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Phil Hughes, Steve Smith, Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin know only failure against England.

Go back to the 1990s when Australia had a great team and the England players were affected by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne just arriving at the ground. They knew they had endured so many failures in the past, and had been dismissed by those two bowlers in particular so often, that they had a negative mindset.

We had to change that. In 2003, we had a group of new players. The likes of Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison had not been exposed by Australia. We thought, "Wait a minute, we have hardly faced McGrath and Warne."

We did not have any baggage so by the time we played them in 2005 we looked at facing them as a positive.

We did not know how to beat Australia but we also did not know how to lose. That is important.

This Australian side is scarred. The captain has played against England on four occasions and lost three Ashes series, winning the whitewash when he was surrounded by the greats. He is going to lose another series in a couple of weeks, making it four out of five. But he is trying to inspire the rest of the players to beat this England side.

England know how to beat them too. Anderson and Swann, in particular, realise if they turn up and bowl dot, dot, dot, the fragility in the Australian techniques will get them a wicket.

Watson is still making the same mistakes in 2013 he made in 2009. For four years he has planted that front foot over to off stump and played across the front pad. England are delighted to see him continue to play in that fashion.

Compare him with Joe Root. Two or three weeks ago he realised he would be opening the batting and knew Australia were going to bowl full balls at him. He went away and worked hard on coming forward. He did not have an on-drive three weeks ago but now he has added that shot to his game because he has realised you have to learn where the opposition are going to bowl to you.

I do not understand why someone like Watson has not learned that the England bowlers are going to bowl a channel outside off stump and then get the ball to nip back on to the off stump where they know he will play across the line and be out lbw.

Why has he not changed his game? It is down to individuals analysing their own performance and working out exactly how they are going to score against good attacks. These England bowlers are very good. They are clever at spotting weaknesses and you know they are not going to bowl badly for a prolonged period, so as a batsman you have to be strong technically and mentally.

But I do not believe you can be mentally strong and confident to bat for long periods against a good attack when you have the technical deficiencies of Watson, Hughes and Steve Smith. England have too many areas where they can attack them.

To survive it starts with your technique. Will it get you out of trouble if you make a misjudgment in line and length? If you go back to a ball that you should have gone forward to, will your bat come down straight and head be over the line of the ball to compensate for the mistake and help you out of trouble? In Joe's case yes it did. He went back to a lot of full balls at Lord's but his technique was good enough for him to adjust and survive.

I look at the Australian batsmen and believe they have to play perfectly to every ball. If they misjudge the length of a delivery or the line, I do not think their technique is going to protect them.

As a player if you know your technique is not going to look after you in difficult times, it drains you mentally. You bat with less confidence because you think: One mistake and it is all over.

I fear for Australian cricket.

The only way to get anything out of this tour is to stick with the current players for the remainder of the series, minus the injured James Pattinson. The Ashes have gone. They have zero chance of winning the series. But they might as well use the last three games to find out once and for all about these batsmen. Can they cut it at test match level? Can they overcome failure and disappointment?

By the time the series is due to end on August 25 Australia will know whether Hughes, Smith, Usman Khawaja, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers are test players. Once and for all they will be able to draw a line under this crop of players and decide if it is time to bring in fresh blood.

If that happens it will be hard for the new players starting off against England this winter but you are better off with fresh minds than old baggage.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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