Australia's weaknesses are getting exposed

People have started asking the question after seeing world champions Australians struggle on a helpful WACA pitch.

updated: January 20, 2008 13:23 IST
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Is this the end of one of the greatest cricketing dynasties of all time? People have started asking the question after seeing world champions Australians struggle on a helpful Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) pitch here in the ongoing third Test match.

According to a report in the Herald Sun, even if Australia wriggle off the canvas and win the third Test, it can be said with some surety that the mighty Australian aura is fading.

Since the start of the Sydney Test, India have stood toe-to-toe and eyeball-to-eyeball with Australia, highlighting some deficiencies and cutting down some lofty reputations.

"Australia are still outstanding, but they are not what they were and nor could they expect to be after the retirement of a handful of long-serving champions. The champs are not chumps but India have proved one thing - they are gettable," the daily said.

The rest of the world will feed off the brazen Indian uprising in a series in which the great Ricky Ponting has averaged just 16, Michael Clarke just 23 and, shock of all shocks, a four-pronged Australian pace battery in this Test has been completely out-bowled by three unsung Indian rivals.

For India to outplay Australia in Perth is like Roger Federer being belted off court at Wimbledon by a clay-court specialist. It is just not supposed to happen.

In two Tests, India have dealt Australia the harsh facts that they have suspect spinning depth, that their No. 4 fast man Shaun Tait still needs refinement and that their top order is vulnerable to quality swing bowling, despite growing fat on the junk food tossed up by rubbish attacks.

Phil Jaques, who looked a superstar on the rise against Sri Lanka, suddenly looks a lesser player. The words of Shane Warne, who said Australia should be more humble and accept that the day would soon arrive when it was not trampling the rest of the world, suddenly appear prophetic.

Former Australian coach Bob Simpson has been prattling on for years about the need for Australian bowlers to rediscover the fading art of swing bowling, following an era where everyone wanted to slap the ball into the deck like Glenn McGrath.

The Indians proved Thursday that the moving ball was still as potent as it has ever been. Irfan Pathan, with his out-swinger to the left-handers given a viperous edge by a gusty breeze, tied Australia in knots in much the same way English swingmen Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard did in 2005.

The great strength of the Australian team is its cavalier instinct. But on days like Thursday, when the opposition was walking with the gods of swing bowling, it can also be its Achilles heel.