Citing Mike Tyson, Australian great Greg Chappell has slammed the team’s forgettable performance in the first two Tests against India, saying the visitors “punched themselves in the mouth long before the first ball was even bowled”.
Australia have already conceded the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after being hammered in the first two Tests of the four-match series, both games ending under three days and prompting sharp reactions from the country’s former cricketers.
“It was Mike Tyson who said in the lead-up to a fight with Evander Holyfield: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
“My concern after watching the first two Tests is that the Australian team punched themselves in the mouth long before the first ball was even bowled,” Chappell wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
He has also questioned Australia’s planning for the ongoing tour of the country.
“It is one thing to plan, but to base that plan on a flawed premise is an exercise in futility,” he added.
Beaten by an innings and 132 runs in Nagpur, Australia opted to go in with only one pacer in Delhi — skipper Pat Cummins. They dropped Scott Boland and handed debut to left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann.
“Australia needed to play to their strengths to have a chance of winning this series. Spin bowling is not our strength. Picking spinners for the sake of it is not the way to success in India.
“We had to pick our best bowlers and trust them to do the job and back that with sensible batting, based on sound principles.” He said leaving out Boland for an extra spinner was a mistake.
“That Cummins under-bowled himself and failed to use the short ball on a wicket of variable bounce was another mistake. To complete the trifecta, it seems that no one saw fit to tell Cummins that he was under-bowling and that he should use the short ball.” Chappell also gave his views on the Australian batters’ overreliance on the sweep shots — which led to their downfall — in the second innings of the Delhi Test.
“Adding it to your repertoire in spinning conditions can be sensible, but not if it is the only option. There are other shots that are less risky and likely to be more profitable but, because the sweep for most batsmen has to be pre-meditated, the other options invariably fall by the wayside.
“One of the first things to learn about batting in Indian conditions is that you have more time than you realise. The main goal should be to survive the first couple of overs and rotate the strike. If you can survive that, then batting no longer seems as challenging as Fermat’s Last Theorem.”
India won the second Test in Delhi by six wickets despite Australia having their nose ahead at one stage of the game. The visitors reduced India to 139 for seven in their first innings but a 114-run partnership between Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel rescued the hosts.
Then, in their second innings, Australia were going along nicely before committing a harakiri on the third morning.
“What can Australia do from here? Firstly, pick their best team and then play with the passion, tenacity and grit which is our hallmark. Australian fans know that it is tough in India.
“They can accept getting beaten by a better side, but they won’t cop seeing an Australian team playing recklessly and bowled out in a session or two and turning its toes up inside three days. There is red-hot anger, bewilderment and embarrassment in our fans,” Chappell said.
The remaining two Tests are scheduled in Indore and Ahmedabad.