The Australia captain expresses his displeasure at another collective batting failure (2:38)
“It’s not working.”
That’s a line captains wish never to say, but Steven Smith had little choice when asked how he felt sitting in the dressing room watching Australia slide to defeat at Eden Gardens by 50 runs.
A wrist-spinner picked up a hat-trick, the openers fell cheaply, there was only one partnership that crossed fifty and this after they had restricted India to 252 in the blazing heat of Kolkata.
Australia lost five wickets for 42 runs in 10 overs between the 23rd and 33rd. And it took Smith back to previous collapses, in the Dhaka Test when they were 158 for 2 and then 244 all out, falling 20 runs short. In the Hobart Test, when they were knocked over for 85 and 161. During the Sri Lanka tour, when they crumbled for 161 in Pallekele, 106 and 183 in Galle, and, finally, even after two top-order batsmen made centuries in Colombo, they fell from 316 for 4 to 379 all out.
“It’s happening bit too often for my liking, to be honest with you, in all forms of cricket,” Smith said. “We’ve had a lot of collapses we need to stop. It’s just easy to just sit here and say it needs to stay but when you get out in the middle, you’ve to change what you’re doing because it’s not working.
“So … watching the ball closer. Maybe the guys are trying to watch the ball too closely and forgetting about just playing the game. It’s a hard one to put my finger on. But whatever it is, it needs to change and we need to make better decisions and start playing properly because we’re having too many collapses and it’s not good enough.”
Smith would not have wanted to be in a position where he had to admit such shortcomings, especially not in his 100th ODI. He produced an excellent half-century, weathering Bhuvneshwar Kumar in top form and even keeping Kuldeep Yadav at bay. He strung a partnership of 76 runs with Travis Head for the third wicket but when that was broken – off a full toss – Australia started to sink. That they managed to get to 202 after being 148 for 8 was down to Marcus Stoinis adding another lone hand to his Eden Park epic.
“We should be getting the target of 253 on that wicket. We made many poor decisions again. Under pressure, we are not executing our skills well enough. We are losing wickets in clumps which we can’t afford to do.
“One of our top four has to go on and make a big score. Heady and I were the two guys who got in and we weren’t able to do so. A lot of the blame falls on us. We got a good little partnership there. We turn 70 into a 140 then the game’s closed. We just weren’t able to do it.”
Kuldeep had fun against a batting line-up going through such turmoil, dismissing Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Nathan Coulter-Nile to complete a hat-trick. When asked if Australia are struggling to read the left-arm wrist-spinner, Smith said, “I’m not sure. I think we played him reasonably well at times today. Just the last few overs our tail-enders probably couldn’t play him as well as the batters. I felt quite comfortable against him today. We just weren’t able to go on and close the game out.
“The guys have trained and trained really well. It’s now about getting in the middle and executing those when you are under pressure. Not panicking as such. I think we panicked last game a little bit. This game we just couldn’t get the partnerships, we are just making silly errors. We can’t allow to do so under a quality line-up like India. Stoinis played very well, didn’t panic, was nice and calm and played good cricket shots. Was nice and positive with his intent. We just needed someone in the top four to go on and if we do that the result could have different.”
Source: ESPN Crickinfo