Posted On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 09:17:52 AM
|Taylor believes that Australia’s hopes will rest on their fast bowlers and that Shane Watson (above left) will be most pivotal to their chances
Mark Taylor is one of the most respected and authoritative voices in world cricket. In a telephonic interview with the Mirror, the former Australia skipper dwelt on the India-Australia series starting on February 22. Excerpts…
• It is being said that spin will be the key factor in the series. Can the Aussies handle it?
It is going to be a challenge. Having played in India, I know it’s a different prospect. Matthew Hayden was not a good player of spin in his career but in 2001 he came up with a strategy to sweep. By showing aggression, he came up with a lot of runs. The Australians will have to do something similar. If Australia can score runs, they can defend them.
• Australia have come here with a formidable pace attack. Do you reckon the pace bowlers will be that much effective in the dust bowls in India?
You have got to play to your strength. If Australia were to win the series, then the fast bowlers will have to bowl very well. They must try for some reverse swing, they must bowl straight and obviously must bowl very well. If the fast bowlers make the initial breakthroughs, then Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell can be effective. If Australia’s fast bowlers don’t bowl well, then they will be in trouble.
• You are conceding that the Australian spin bowling does not have the depth of England to test India?
That is true. The England attack of Mony Paneswar and Graeme Swann was much more experienced. Lyon is an intelligent spin bowler and Clark’s tactics with spin bowlers is second to none. His captaincy and strategic work will help the spinners but before that the quicks must bowl well.
• The teams seem to be in a similar situation. India have lost Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and Australia don’t have Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
Even Don Bradman had to retire at some stage. It is sad when the great players leave the game but it also leads to expectations on how the young guys fill their shoes.
Both sides are very much in a transition. I don’t know much about India but I’m looking forward to young Australians stepping in. Australia badly need a couple of young batsmen.
• Who will be the key players in the series do you reckon?
David Warner and Ed Cowan are the key players but Shane Watson will be the pivotal player. Australia cannot rely too much on captain Clarke who is batting very well. Watson should support him. From Indian side, it will be their spinners.
• So, the series will be a contest between the Australian pacers and Indian spinners?
When Australia last won in India under Adam Gilchrist, the pacers had done well. The spinners did well too but the quicks made the breakthroughs. If Lyon and Maxwell come in at none for 100, then it will be difficult for Australia.
• How do you compare the two captains?
Clarke is strategically better and MS Dhoni is very good leader of men and leads by example. Tactically, Australia have the edge. India have the edge in spin.
• Will the series be a big test for both as Dhoni is under pressure to win after loss to England and Clarke is still not tested outside Australia?
That is right. India will start the series as favourites and that puts pressure on Dhoni. Home conditions and spinning wickets give advantage to India. Australia have not done too well in India and so the expectations are not too great.
• The series is about to start and there are no mind games between the teams.
That is because the teams are playing a lot more against each other. Fourfive years before the IPL the players did not know each other very well.
One of the good things about the T20 revolution is that the players know each other a lot better. That is why we have the less of the trash talking. I don’t think the mind games stuff was serving any great purpose anyway.
• Do you mean to say the IPL has solved the mystery about India for the tourists?
The cricketing world has become comfortable touring India. Most Australian players play the IPL and they have much better understanding of the Indian conditions. The conditions are a challenge but not as much as they were in my time.
• How do you rate Sachin Tendulkar at this age?
The Sachin I saw 10 years ago is no longer there. He is past his best, no doubt about that. But there is no doubt that he can still make runs. Big runs! Runs don’t come for him as easily as they used to.
So he will feel the pressure and Australia will try to target that. If they get him cheaply in the first games, then pressure will start building up on Sachin. If he scores in the first Test, he can put pressure on Australia.
• Do coaches -- Duncan Fletcher and Mickey Arthur – have a role in the series? Will there be strategy going behind the scenes?
I don’t think so. Mickey Arthur, sure, would working behind the scenes but Clarke would take the final call on strategy. Dhoni would probable be doing the same in India. The coaches play a role in preparing the teams but not in deciding the series.
• Finally, what do you think will be the outcome of the four-Test series?
If Australia had Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, they would have been the favourites. The worry for Australia will be can they make enough runs and can the quick bowlers make enough inroads. I don’t like to predict but India are the favourites. If Australia win the first Test, they will be unstoppable.