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SportHow Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed

07:45  19 august  2019
07:45  19 august  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Australia could wield the axe on its batting line-up for the third Ashes Test - yet in doing so, exacerbate a match-defining problem with catching.

That's the call from legendary Aussie captain Mark Taylor, who believes that opener Cameron Bancroft is at risk of being dropped for Headingley.

Bancroft may prove the odd man out from an underperforming top three that also includes stars David Warner and Usman Khawaja.

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Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne are each in contention to play; both may come in if Steve Smith is ruled out with concussion and a player is dropped.

Bancroft made just 13 and 16 at Lord's, having also failed in the first Test, yet took a sensational catch at short leg. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh has branded Bancroft the best short leg catcher he's ever seen.

How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed © PA/AAP Cameron Bancroft is trapped LBW in the second innings at Lord's.

Taylor told Wide World of Sports that Bancroft's excellent fielding may have won him a tight nod over Harris in the first place.

"I suspect Australia favoured Bancroft over Harris into this Test on two reasons," Taylor said.

"Firstly, he'd been playing a lot of cricket over here. And secondly, his fielding is very good; he's a good catcher, particularly in that bat-pad position.

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"But as an opening batsman, the first thing you must do is score runs. So I think he's in more trouble than Warner is, for sure. I think Warner will survive. I think Bancroft could be in trouble.

"Marcus Harris, I thought, played well in the summer last year. Found his way out of the team because perhaps he's not as good a catcher.

"But we do need someone, maybe two of them, in those top three to start making some runs. I reckon they'll be looking very closely at Cameron Bancroft's position."

How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed © PA/AAP David Warner also dropped Stuart Broad in the outfield on day two at Lord's.

While Bancroft brings elite catching to the team, Warner and Khawaja failed in that respect at Lord's. Taylor feels that it's indicative of a greater shortcoming in Australian cricket, where players too often enter international sides without catching expertise.

Warner has been fielding in the slips, not his natural position, and looks far from a Test standard slipper at this stage. It is an unwanted problem, given he has yet to pass single figures in four innings with the bat, coming back from his playing ban.

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Warner missed two chances within an over off Ben Stokes on day four, fielding at first slip with Nathan Lyon bowling. First Warner was wrong-footed, then he dropped a diving effort. Stokes was on two at the time and went on to make 115 not out.

Steve Smith generally fields at first slip but was off the ground due to concussion. Australia, once an elite fielding nation, may have that problem again at Headingley.

"If Australia had have held some catches (on day four), I think Australia could have found themselves chasing 150 and may well be 2-0 up in the series," Taylor said.

"Yes, England finished the game on top for sure, but it was only through Australia's missed opportunities. Stokes could easily have been out three times under the score of 10 yesterday afternoon. I said it yesterday afternoon, that worried me ... he's the sort of player who can take the game away from you and Australia gave him far too many chances yesterday.

"There's pressure right on (Warner), for sure. It's been my gripe for a long time that too many really good batsmen, and it's not just David Warner, are coming into the Australian side and they're not specialist catchers.

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"I know they're good athletes and they run balls down and they slide into the fence and they might save a run here and there, but those things do not win you Test matches. What wins you Test matches are people who hang on to catches.

"And there's never been a greater example of that in this Test match, where dropped catches have cost Australia a chance to win the Test match."

How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy discusses David Warner's current batting struggles.

Khawaja grassed a poor effort on day two, off Peter Siddle. An edge flew from Rory Burns and hit Khawaja in the chest without touching his hands, giving the England opener a life on 16 before he went on to make 53.

Warner is superb deeper in the field but faces a challenge to become a reliable slips catcher, while Khawaja's fielding has long been derided as a serious weakness.

"I know that they're now working on it, but the problem that both Usman and David have got is that they're now in their 30s," said Taylor, an elite first-slipper who took 157 Test catches.

"I was always taught as a young cricketer, when you're making your way up through the grades, make sure you can catch.

"I was probably very lucky that Bob Simpson was the NSW coach when I first made the NSW side and became the Australian coach. I was already a first slipper. I certainly wasn't the ground fielder that David Warner was, but catches it's a great saying: catches win you Test matches. They do.

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"We saw that again today with Jason Roy: he dropped that one off Travis Head (42 not out), and that might have been the opportunity that England needed to take to possibly win that game."

How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Dropped chances, poor reviews, mixed in with the most sublime of catches - it was an interesting day in the field for Australia on Day 2 at Lord's.

Taylor admitted that Smith's potential absence was a serious issue for Australia. He said that Labuschagne had put up his hand to play at Leeds, whether Smith was in or not.

"There's certainly food for thought there, no doubt about that. We've obviously got problems at the top of the order," he said.

"Australia's top three are certainly struggling and it's putting the rest of the order under pressure.

"Smith not playing would certainly be a blow, no doubt about it, but Australia could also feel that they missed opportunities to win the match and they should be buoyed by the fact they're 1-0 up after two games and only need to win one of the next three to hang on to the Ashes."

How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has staunchly defended the performance and tactics of England quick Jofra Archer, following his bowling barrage against Steve Smith on Day 4.

Taylor said that the fiery performance of rookie England paceman Jofra Archer may cause Australia to reconsider Mitchell Starc's omission from the first two Tests.

"They've got Starc and obviously they've got (James) Pattinson to come back in. I think Jofra Archer showed that pace is still a pretty handy weapon to have, so whether Australia counter that with Mitchell Starc or not, I'm not sure. That could depend on the Leeds pitch," Taylor said.

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"I think (Archer) showed all of us that pace is a terrific weapon to have. It unsettles batsmen, it gets them out, but it also makes lie better for the guy at the other end as well. Because all of a sudden, that person at the other end can be a beneficiary of the intimidation that you've instilled from your end.

"I think Australia to a certain extent have had that with Pat Cummins, and I think James Pattinson's best will also be up there as well. Australia have got some options.

"People will say England have all the momentum going into Leeds. I don't agree. Smith is the key, for sure; if Australia don't have Smith, then England will feel they're a real chance. But at the end of the day, Australia are still 1-0 up.

"They weren't hanging on for grim death at Lord's, that's not true. If Marnus Labuschagne wasn't unfortunately dismissed (via a dubious catch), I think they would have gotten through three-down and everyone would have said it petered out to a boring draw.

"They're 1-0 up, they've got bowling options. They've got a problem at the top of their order but apart from that, they're still going quite well."

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How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
How Aussie cricket's hidden failure was exposed
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