Take the game 'by the scruff of the neck': Warne

Shane Warne feels Ricky Ponting's men should inculcate the killer instinct and take the game "by the scruff of the neck".

updated: December 23, 2009 14:19 IST
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Australia spin great Shane Warne feels Ricky Ponting's men should inculcate the killer instinct and take the game "by the scruff of the neck" to overcome the transitional problems they are struggling with.

"The team need time to jell together, so that they can win the flag. I just think these players need to stand up. They're playing OK, and they're all doing OK, but they need to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, take it to the next level," Warne was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

"Have we got the right players involved who can do that? Are those players batting in the right spots? Are they being tactically challenged enough? Are we putting them in a situation where they work out how to win a game, how to bowl sides out, how to chase down a big target?

"Has the team had all of those things that help you improve? You only get exposed to that over a bit of time, so over a little bit more time we'll really see where these players are at," he said.

The retirements of Warne himself, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer over the last three years has seen Australia's dominance in world cricket fading away.

But the former leg-spinner said even though Australia is going through a transitional phase, it remained one of the best three Test sides in the world.

"If you look at where they're situated, they're ranked No. 4 (now No. 3) in the world, and I think they're better than that," Warne said.

"I don't think there's three better sides than them. I think South Africa, India and Australia are probably the three main Test teams in the world, although Sri Lanka you could probably throw in there as well."

Warne said the strong performances of some young players in domestic circuit was a positive sign for Australian cricket.

"When you've got players all challenging for spots, that's when you create a team that actually improves and moves forward," he said.

The 40-year-old said for him individual improvement is the yardstick for judging the performance of the Test side.

"The key question for me is whether the Australian players are improving, whether they're gaining experience and learning from their mistakes and getting better. That's the gauge," Warne said.

"The one thing that's been hard for Ricky is the revolving door with the team.

"It's hard when you're losing players to injury or being overworked, and you're getting new players coming in all the time," he said.