MELBOURNE: Captain Tim Paine admitted Sunday Australia badly needed the banned Steve Smith and David Warner back in the side after more woeful batting in the third Test against India.
Other than tailender Pat Cummins, no Australian passed 50 in the 137-run defeat in Melbourne, exposing their lack of depth, poor discipline and questionable technique.
Paine acknowledged that not having world-class batsmen was hindering their chances of competing with teams like India, ranked number one in the world.
“I think it’s inexperience, it’s pressure, India’s bowling attack is probably as good as most of us have ever played,” he said.
“I think it’s pretty clear that if you take two or three of the best players out of anyone’s line-up around the world, you’re going to struggle a little bit at times and you are going to have inconsistent performances.
“The silver lining is that we do have world-class players that are available soon to come back into this side, and clearly when they do they will make a huge difference.”
Smith and Warner’s year-long suspensions for ball-tampering run out in late March.
Australia were skittled for 151 in their first innings reply to India’s 443 for seven declared. That total was built on the back of Cheteshwar Pujara’s patient 106 and Virat Kohli’s restrained 82.
Australian batting coach Graeme Hick said his team needed to look and learn from Pujara and Kohli.
“We spoke about how Kohli went about it (his 82). We knew Pujara, and even Kohli, one of the most explosive batters, got to 20 off 25, 26 balls, then the rest of his innings took whatever it was,” he said.
“For the best player in the world to change his innings and play like that, if you can’t be on the same field as him and watch him and learn from what he is doing, then you are in the wrong space.
“There are certainly things our players can take out of that. It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of patience and, on top of that, you have got to bat with intent.”
Aaron Finch again struggled at the top of the order, with his role as a Test opener under intense scrutiny with growing speculation that he will be axed for the next Test in Sydney this week.
Mitch Marsh also failed again with the bat, and fellow all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne has been added to the squad.
Paine wouldn’t be drawn on what changes might be made.
“I think they’ll be a lot of things on the table in the next day or two and of course I have some thoughts on what I think but I will share them with JL (coach Justin Langer) before I share them here,” he said.
“But I think we have the best group of players available to us at the moment and we’ll pick the best combination of that group that we think will win this last Test.”