Let us say that we don’t actually think that Australia’s batsmen are all that bad. They are good players playing badly, which is slightly different.
Batsmen under pressure are exposed more than bowlers because they don’t get second chances. You do something stupid that gets you out and that’s your day over. Bowlers at least get to go back to their mark and have another stab.
Australia’s batsmen have played pretty stupidly at times during the 2010 Ashes series, but it’s the bowlers putting them under pressure.
Katich, Hussey and Haddin are all fine. If he could stop running his partners out, Watson would be doing a job, particularly when you consider that he’s an all-rounder. Ponting down the order with intact fingers on his hands and without the weight of the world on his shoulders would be fine too. He really would.
Michael Clarke’s gone mental, but it’s more obvious when no-one’s making up for his failures – he’s basically fine. Phil Hughes may or may not be fine, we still haven’t decided. Steven Smith is not fine.
How Steven Smith ended up at number six is beyond us. He’s got a good first-class record, but he’s as easy on the eye as foreskin trapped in a zip. Rule one of all-rounders is that they have to be worth their place as either a batsman or a bowler. Smith isn’t, as far as we can tell. Having him bat at six is tantamount to sabotage.
So what went wrong?
With Smith at six, Ryan Harris notching up king pairs at eight and a bowling attack conceding a volume of runs measured in thousands, Australia’s batsmen had to do more than their fair share of work.
And they knew it.
There are worse things wrong with this Australia team than the batting.