Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke said Australia have been "horrendous" in the shortest format of the game and wants the batters to find ways to score runs in spin-friendly conditions. The T20 World Cup is just two months away and Australia have struggled big time in this format of late.
They have won only two of their last 10 T20Is and suffered heavy defeats in West Indies and Bangladesh. They lost both the five-match series 1-4. However, they were without the likes of Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Jhye Richardson or Kane Richardson.
"That is probably the most disappointing thing about this series, we’ve got worse, not better. We just went to the West Indies in very similar conditions. How have we not improved in the last two months? We have been horrendous," Clarke told Sky Sports Radio.
"I remember when I started my career for Australia our weakness was playing spin bowling. Years moving forward we are making the same mistakes. We still haven’t improved. We have a centre of excellence up there in Queensland that they’ve tried a few things at, they’ve brought in a wicket which does spin a lot for guys to practice on. It’s obviously not helping and it is an area we have to get better at.
Australia were bundled out for just 62 in the final T20I against Bangladesh - their lowest score in this format. They only managed scores of 108, 121/7, 117/4, 105/7 and 62 in the five games and looked clueless against spinners.
"I think the best way to practice spin bowling is not actually in Australia to prepare for subcontinent conditions, it is to take yourself off the pitch. You go to the nets and train, face the fast bowlers on the pitch. If you want to face spin conditions you can get on day four, day five in the subcontinent or in some of these T20 matches when they are playing a lot on the one surface, go and bat on the grass beside the pitch.
"Tell the spin bowlers to bowl to you on the grass. Then you get natural variation, one ball shoots along the ground, one ball bounces over your head, one spins square, one ball goes straight on. That is the hardest time to face spin bowling, when there is that inconsistency. Yet we don’t do it. We continue to bat on Australian wickets where you get consistent pace and bounce.
"That is why I say facing spin bowling in Australia is the easiest thing in the world because even if you are not to the pitch of the ball you can hit it through the line and get away with it. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, you can’t. It is so much slower, so much more inconsistent.
Clarke said he is "surprised" by some of the decision-making and believes Australia are not ready for the 2021 T20 World Cup. "Watching the guys even play in the Caribbean, I am so surprised with their plans. Australian cricket has had a weakness against spin bowling in subcontinental conditions for a long time.
"It is very hard to face spin overseas in those conditions but I feel we are making it hard for ourselves by the way we are playing and trying to score. I just think our plan is the wrong plan. When it comes to sweeping the ball I’ve only ever seen one Australian do it successfully and that was Matthew Hayden. That was built on his style of play, how big he was, his reach, his technique.
"Every other player I’ve seen had success against spin, it’s been playing with a straight bat, playing with the spin, using your feet, getting as close to the ball as you can to prevent spin or going as far back as you can to allow the ball to finish its spin before you play the shot.
"I’m sure Justin Langer will be extremely frustrated. The players will be disappointed as well but my concern is not about the result, it is about how we are losing and how we are trying to play spin bowling. Our form is extremely inconsistent. This is horrible preparation leading into the T20 World Cup."