FORMER Australian cricket team manager Steve Bernard says the current Australia Test team just doesn’t have the cattle to compete with the world’s best teams and we, as a nation, should remain patient with the current crop of players.
“We don’t have that outstanding side anymore,” Bernard, an Orange City Cricket Club great, told the Central Western Daily.
“We’re so used to winning but we just don’t have the personnel anymore.”
Bernard’s comments come just 24 hours after one of Cricket Australia’s most tumultuous days.
Dubbed homework-gate, Australian vice-captain Shane Watson, alongside James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson, was sensationally dumped for failing to complete a document on team and self assessment ahead of the third Test in India.
Watson may even retire from international cricket.
But Bernard, manager during arguably Australia’s greatest period in international cricket, backed both Australian coach Mickey Arthur and the team’s skipper Michael Clarke.
“It’s a set back, but management have made a stance and it’s up to both sides now to sort it out,” Bernard said.
“Watson’s obviously an important player for us... we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
This week’s falling-out in India comes on the back off two big losses on the sub-continent.
Amid the rotation, resting, clay-like pitches, scorching heat and now a 2-0 series deficit, reports are surfacing suggesting a rift in the Australian camp.
But Bernard said the answer as to why the current side wasn’t performing to expectation was simple, and it had nothing to do with rotation.
“If you don’t have the cattle it’s always going to be harder. We just have to be patient,” he said.
Labelled a “rebuilding period” by the man who helped steward a side containing greats Shane Warne, Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath, Bernard said the talent was coming through the ranks - it just needed time to develop.
“Shield cricket is an extremely good nursery,” he said, although admitting it may be a touch weaker now than in the 1990s with less Test players playing for their state when not on international duty.
“We had the greatest team, arguably, of all time. We can’t stay at the top forever.”
Having only won a series on Indian soil twice in Test match history, Bernard isn’t surprised by the team’s performance on the sub-continent.
“It’s an extremely difficult place to play,” he said.
He was, however, confident the Aussies would give a better account of themselves in back-to-back Ashes series.
“I think if I’m being realistic England has the better all-round side, but that’s not to say we can’t beat them,” Bernard, a former fast bowler, said.
“I think it’s going to be a hard series, but we have more of a chance against England than India in India.”