Australia's batsmen told to toughen up

2015-08-02 19:25
Michael Clarke. (AP)

Birmingham - Australia's top order must be that "little bit tougher" if the team are to win the fourth Test against England according to batting coach Michael di Venuto.

The tourists suffered two significant collapses as England won the third Test at Edgbaston by eight wickets inside three days on Friday to go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series.

In their first innings in Birmingham, Australia lost five wickets for 60 runs and the second saw four fall for 30.

Australia have not won an Ashes series in Britain since 2001 and the suspicion remains that, for all their recent success, they are 'flat-track bullies' whose batsmen struggle on pitches offering sideways movement -- as was the case at Edgbaston.

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has scored 28 Test hundreds and has a career average touching fifty.

But the star batsman has yet to get going this Ashes after scores of 10 and three at Edgbaston left him with a series aggregate of 94 runs in six innings at an average of under 19.

But while Clarke is set to keep his place, fellow batsman Adam Voges could be replaced by Shaun Marsh for the fourth Test, which starts at Nottingham's Trent Bridge on Thursday, given his series average of 14.60.

Both sides have made much of their desire to play 'aggressive' cricket but di Venuto, a former Australia one-day international but not capped at Test level, suggested 'smarter' cricket was the order of the day.

"It's decision making at this level .. whether you're going to play or leave the ball, or attack the ball," he told travelling Australian media.

"We saw some indecision in a couple of our dismissals, a couple of bad shots. It's hard work, nobody's saying it's easy especially with the way they (England) bowled.

"We've got to be a little bit tougher," insisted di Venuto, who added that Australia were "slow off the mark" in adjusting to the seaming conditions at Edgbaston.

"It's disappointing when that happens and it's something we have to work on over the next few days," he said.

England will be without James Anderson at Trent Bridge after their all-time leading wicket-taker suffered a side injury at Edgbaston.

But they will make the short journey across the Midlands with fast bowler Steven Finn buoyed by a Test-best return of six for 79 in Australia's second innings in Birmingham.

Meanwhile Stuart Broad, now the senior paceman in Anderson's absence, heads into the match on his Nottinghamshire home ground just one wicket away from taking 300 in Tests.

Di Venuto accepted that no amount of practice could ever fully prepare a batsman for an inspired bowling spell or the sound of a raucous and partisan sell-out crowd.

But he said batsmen simply had to "get through" when conditions were against them.

"It's obviously hard at training to do that sort of thing, but we've all been in those situations before out in the middle," di Venuto explained.

"That's where the two guys in the middle have to take responsibility and get through."

Meanwhile Trevor Bayliss, England's Australian coach, had no intention of writing off Clarke.

"Michael has had a long career and had a few runs of form like this in the past, and he's come back from them," said Bayliss, who prior to taking the England job was coaching in New South Wales - Clarke's home state.

"The last thing I want to do or England want to do is forecast his demise - because that's just giving him ammunition to come out and score a heap of runs."

Read more on:    australia  |  ashes  |  cricket

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