Warne exposes ugly elephant in the room
AUSTRALIAN cricket legend Shane Warne has added to the bad news after losing the Boxing Day Test, revealing even our bowlers aren't as good as we thought.
While batting collapses and high profile shuffles have dominated recent memory, the Australian bowling attack has remained constant.
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, when fit, are among the first players picked.
But on Cricket 360 following India's resounding 137-run win over Australia, Warne revealed statistics showing Australia's attack is struggling just as much as the batting order.
"The opposition number 1-6 batsmen when we are bowling has Mitchell Starc with 17 wickets in 10 Test matches at 47," Warne said. "Josh Hazlewood has 18 wickets at 40. Nathan Lyon 29 wickets at 43. Pat Cummins 30 wickets at 23.
"So if you lose a toss and the opposition decide to bat and you have to try and knock them over, our new ball bowlers in Starc and Hazlewood are averaging 47 and 40 with a new ball - that's not good enough.
"That's not very good at all and it is not good enough."
The statistics are damning but against batsmen 7-11, Cummins also leads the way with 14 wickets at an average of just over 12, Starc with 14 wickets at just over 16, Lyon 20 wickets at 19.60 and Hazlewood with eight wickets at 20.
Cummins, who starred with 6/27 in the second innings and backed it up with a Test high 63
with the bat, generally bowls first change and is the lone bowler who comes off well in the stats.
Starc has been no stranger to criticism this series with plenty of criticism following a lacklustre new ball display in Adelaide with Warne even saying he was "under pressure to hold his spot".
Warne said the inability to take wickets at the top of the order was adding to the pressure on the batsmen.
Australia's top six may have struggled to make over 300 runs but opposition teams are piling on the runs, meaning Australia has only claimed three wins in Tests this season.
"At times when the bowlers have done well and knocked a side over, Australia have actually made over 300 in the first innings," Warne said.
"But when the opposition have made 346, 488, 482, 443, 386 - and I could keep going - in their first innings, that puts a lot of scoreboard pressure on our batsmen.
"The pressure is on to come out and make a decent score to try and not give up a big lead."
Fellow Fox Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist pointed to a statistic which makes the news even more damning.
"For the first time in nearly 60 years there has been more five wicket hauls taken than centuries scored," Gilchrist said.
"So that shows you there has been a strong advantage to the bowlers, yet these numbers show the Australian attack is struggling."
Cummins and Lyon each have two five-fors each, while Starc as one while Hazlewood missed out in 2018.
For Australia's batting, the side has averaged about 26 runs per dismissal, the lowest since 1978.
Earlier this week, a Fox Sports column from Tom Mitchell pointed to the lack of first-class runs and the side full of first-class crickets averaging around 35.
Virat Kohli praised the Ranji Trophy for the success of the side in Australia.
"Our first-class cricket is amazing, which is why we won. Credit must go to first-class set up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad," the India skipper said.
Jaspit Bumrah also praised the Ranji set up.
"We train very hard and we are used to bowling a lot of overs in Ranji cricket, so the body is doing well," he said.
Former Australian star Tom Moody said they were interesting comments and revealed plenty about where the sides are at.
For India, the year has been a bumper one after becoming the first Asian captain to win Tests in Australian, England and South Africa, all in 2018.
But the bowlers have been impressive with the pace trio of Ishant Sharma (41 at 21.80), Mohammad Shami (47 at 26.97) and Jasprit Bumrah (48 at 21.02) taking 136 wickets between them in Tests this season.
While the news may add more pressure to the bowling attack, Warne called for improvements.
"So I'm not saying drop them all because we have a very good attack, but they need to get better," he said.
"They need to be put on notice and say guys 47 and 40 with the new ball opening the bowling to the top six batsmen isn't good enough.
"Yes the batting has got to get a lot better, but the bowlers need to get better too and the numbers don't lie."