Lucknow, Oct 13: Australia’s campaign in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup is in early trouble after the five-time champions suffered a humiliating 134-run defeat to South Africa. With them at ninth place and yet to get off the mark, former players have started to slam the national side for its twin defeats in the competition.
Former wicketkeeper-batter and Test skipper Tim Paine was shocked to see Alex Carey axed so early in the tournament as Josh Inglis came in. “It was interesting, I must admit. We spoke about him, and a lot of people did speak about him, but again, my comments were more around his body language, his confidence levels, and his intent when he walked out to bat.”
“I wasn't seeing the Alex Carey that I know and know is successful at international cricket just in terms of those three things that I'm used to seeing. But last night when I turned on the telly, I was shocked that he'd been dropped. I said he would eventually come under pressure with Inglis in the background, no doubt,” he said on SEN Radio.
Paine also questioned why Carey was dropped from the playing eleven post playing just one World Cup game, the opening clash against India in Chennai. “But my issue with it is we're one game into a World Cup. This World Cup would have been planned for over a year, ‘How we want to play, what our set up of our team looks like’.”
“For that to change in one game, I was shocked. It is fascinating. “I just don't understand, if they didn't think he was the man or they thought he was that close to being dropped, then why go with him in the first game?”
“We've had a year of planning for this. So, the two balls that he faced against India was, ‘Oh, no, he's done, we can't pick him again’. Is that it for the World Cup? It’s going to be hard to get him back in,” he elaborated.
On the other hand, O’Keefe believes more poor showings are earmarked for Australia in coming matches. “We’ve got Sri Lanka then Pakistan coming up, so Australia can ill afford to lose another game. I think that would be it, maybe one more. But I don’t expect Australia to continue in the vein they’re in at the moment… they’ve been poor in every facet. As team performance goes, they’ve certainly been lacking.”
Apart from the batting failing on both occasions, Australia were below-par with the catching, dropping as many as six chances against South Africa in Lucknow, which left O’Keefe baffled and called it as ‘uncharacteristic’.
“It’s not panic stations, however there are so many uncharacteristic efforts from the Australians. They dropped five catches. Australia over the last 12 months are competing in the field at 66.4 per cent in regards to catch attempts. We sit just above Nepal. You think of great Australian teams in the day, they would turn half-chances into full chances.”
“Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Mark Waugh, these sort of guys turned World Cups just with their fielding efforts and Australia at the moment… a couple of the catches were tough ones and were at the backend of the innings, but you’re looking for silver innings in this group.”
“Success leaves clues but so does mistakes and when you’re looking at fielders and the fielding unit isn’t switched on and dialled in and we’re making that many mistakes… maybe being tired is a reason, but its certainly no excuse two games into a World Cup. The fielding is a look into the psyche of these guys.”
Australia’s next World Cup game comes against Sri Lanka on Monday, also at Lucknow and Paine felt the side was nowhere near their best against South Africa in every aspect of the game. “I thought last night watching from the absolute get-go, we just looked a bit flat. I don't know if it's been the build-up of the South African games into the Indian games, we’ve played a lot of cricket, which is a bit unusual.”
“They've tried all sorts of things, flying to Test matches in Pakistan to play the next week, whereas the World Cup build-up felt like it went on for a while and the players looked ready about a month and a half ago to me. When that South African series first started, they were playing beautifully and that was with guys out that were injured.”
“But as soon as I turned on the telly last night and watched … I'm not saying they are, or I know, I'm just saying to the eye watching them last night, they looked a bit flat. Our fielding wasn't as sharp. Our movement off the ball wasn't as sharp.”
“We dropped catches or we didn't get hands to balls that Australian teams swallow if they're at their best. Our body language looked a bit off. We didn't get off to a great start and it just snowballed on from there.” (IANS)