After lop-sided loss to Pakistan, Australia cricket in search of Asian spin doctors

Cricket Australia (CA) high performance chief Pat Howard says there are moves in place to address team's weakness on subcontinent.

Pakistan’s Zulfiqar Babar, right, gets the wicket of Glenn Maxwell of Australia in Abu Dhabi. Australia will try to pick up the pieces after crashing to their sixth straight loss in Asia. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
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Australia’s inadequacies in playing spin in Asian conditions will take time and hard work to put right, Cricket Australia (CA) high performance chief Pat Howard said yesterday.

Captain Michael Clarke conceded his team had not learnt their lesson against spin after crashing to their sixth straight loss on the subcontinent against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Pakistan inflicted a 356-run defeat in the second Test in the UAE capital, Australia’s third-heaviest loss in all matches, to take the two-match series 2-0.

Howard said moves were in place to rectify the problem with spin pitches installed at CA’s A$29 million (Dh92.9m) training facility in Brisbane.

He said that CA would continue to use external spin consultants, such as Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan, and conduct developmental subcontinent tours that expose Test candidates to the foreign playing conditions at an early age.

“All of those things will bring about improvement, but in no way are they an overnight solution,” Howard said. “It will take time and hard work.”

Australia were embarrassed by Pakistan, struggling to bat on the same pitches that were made to look easy by their hosts, who have been forced to play all “home” matches on neutral turf since the 2009 Lahore terrorist attacks.

Australia have lost 10 Tests out of their past 15 in Asia since 2008, winning just one against Sri Lanka and drawing the remaining four. “To be a great side, we have to be able to win consistently on the road and it’s clear that we still struggle to cope with dry subcontinental conditions,” Howard said.

The Australians were routed 4-0 in a series in India early last year.

“We’re not looking for excuses for what happened, no one is blaming a coin toss or the pitches,” he said. “Batting, bowling and fielding were well below par.”

Former Test captain Allan Border said the struggles on the subcontinent warranted a formal review, similar to that conducted into Australia’s team performance in 2011, but CA said this was not likely.

Howard said the batting performances of David Warner, Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh were some of the “very few positives” to take from the series against Pakistan.

“Given they’ve all got long careers in front of them, they have showed that they can succeed in those conditions,” he said.

Australia can still reclaim the top ICC Test ranking if they defeat India 3-0 or 4-0 in the December-January four-Test series at home.

Before they think about India, the country will concentrate on the shorter forms of the game as they begin a series of limited overs matches with South Africa.

The first of three Twenty20 games with the Proteas takes place today in Adelaide, with further matches in Melbourne on Friday and in Sydney on Sunday.

That is followed by a five-match one-day international series, which begins in Perth on November 14 as both sides prepare for the World Cup, which takes place in Australia and New Zealand in February and March next year.

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